“Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever set out down a path you knew wasn’t going to end well? Or, let me change that just a bit. Have you ever set out down a path that you knew was going to eventually have a good ending, but the journey to get there was going to be exceedingly difficult? When God the Son left His throne in heaven and came to earth as a baby, He knew just what He was getting into. How do we know? Because He told us long before He got here. Isaiah tells us about it in this passage.
Jesus’ life was going to be hard if for no other reason than He was born in the time that He was. Life in what we now know as the first century was generally short and hard. Starvation was a real possibility for most of the world. There were no medicines to help fight off even the simplest of sicknesses. Travel from place to place was difficult and dangerous. It was nothing like we know today. If He had wanted an easier time in terms of the sheer mechanics of life, He could have come a few hundreds of years later and had at least that.
Then there was His message. The message He was going to proclaim was going to be wildly divergent from what anyone else was saying or had even ever said. He was essentially going to be telling people that up was down and down was up. He was going to challenge long held assumptions and assure people that their deeply held religious beliefs were backward to reality. That’s never a recipe for smooth sailing.
The fact is, even today, as much as we like to celebrate what is “new” or “edgy,” we still react very negatively to things that don’t fit the accepted prevailing cultural narrative. Jesus’ message didn’t fit the mold. At all. As soon as He opened His mouth to speak, things were going to go downhill for Him.
Finally, there was His mission. This is where things were going to get harder than we can really grasp. This is what Isaiah was outlining here in chapter 53. Jesus’ mission was to take our sins upon Himself and pay the price we couldn’t in order to satisfy the justice of God on our behalf. He knew—and we know this because He shared it with His prophet 700 years before it happened—that this was going to result in a life of rejection and suffering, culminating in an unimaginably painful death.
All of this is to reemphasize the point that the path stretching out ahead of God the Son when He burst forth into the world as a little boy on that first Christmas day was going to be fraught with difficulties and dangers. Very little was going to be easy for Him.
What’s the point? This is: He came anyway. He knew just how hard it was going to be and He came anyway. Why? What could motivate Him to do something like this? One word: Love. His love for us was and is so great that no challenge was too big to keep Him from coming for us. His love for you is beyond what you could ever fully imagine. Christmas is a powerful proclamation of just how big is God’s love for you and me. Now that is something worth celebrating.