Those of us who are Christians, who are followers of Jesus Christ, know that we are to emulate him. We are to be like him in character, words, attitudes and deeds. We are his body, his representatives to the world around us, and to one another. As his body, we are his hands, his feet and his mouth, as well as we are his mind, heart, passion and compassion. We, who are in Christ, by faith in him, are continually being conformed to the likeness of Christ. For this reason, we were “born again” of the Spirit of God. By faith, we were created in him to be like him in true righteousness and holiness. A Man of Sorrows Isaiah 53:1-3 ESV Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Jesus did not try to impress people with his good looks. He was not flashy. He did nothing to try to draw people to his physical appearance. He was not witty, charming or manipulative. He didn’t have to be an entertainer or a comedian for people to listen to him, either. If people were drawn to him, they were drawn to him because of the things that he did – the miracles, the healing of people, the delivering them from demons, or the raising of people from the dead. Or, they were drawn to him because of his wisdom, his kindness, his love, and his compassion for the people, and because of what he taught. But, not everyone was drawn to the Lord. Even many who initially followed him, probably more out of curiosity, or because of his miracles, ceased to follow him when they realized the cost of following him (John 6:35-66). And, many hated him for who he was, and for the things that he did, because they were jealous of him, because he didn’t conform to their traditions, because he claimed to be God, and because he told them the truth about their sins. They didn’t like the truth told, because it exposed their hypocrisies, their wickedness, their secret sins, and their false faith. He Bore our Griefs Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Jesus Christ, God the Son, left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human flesh, and suffered and was tempted as we are, yet without sin. Because of the hatred of some, mainly coming from the religious leaders within the temple of God, Jesus was put to death on a cross, although he had done no wrong. And, yet, this was God’s plan that he should die on that cross, for in his death he became sin for us, so that when he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him, never to rise again. But, praise God, Jesus did not remain in the grave. He was resurrected from the dead, victorious over the grave, sin, hell and Satan, on our behalf. Because he died, we can die with him to sin. And, because he rose again, we can live with him to righteousness. We no longer have to be enslaved to sin, for Jesus died to set us free! Amen! This is the GOOD NEWS of the gospel of our salvation, not just that we escape hell and go to heaven when we die, but that we are no longer slaves to sin, controlled by the lusts of the flesh! Like a Lamb Isaiah 53:7-9 ESV He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Jesus, although he was oppressed by his enemy Satan, mainly via those who were being controlled by Satan, and even though he was afflicted by them, yet he did not return tit for tat. He did not retaliate. And, when it came time for him to die on a cross for our sins, he did not resist arrest, even though he was being arrested on false charges. But, he went willingly with his captors, and withstood a mock trial, and he took up that cross and died for us, even though he was God, and he had done no wrong. Yet, this is not to say that Jesus never defended himself against his opponents, for he did, multiple times during his years of ministry, and even some to his captors and persecutors when he stood trial on false pretenses. So, this is not teaching that we can never speak for ourselves in self-defense if we are being accused wrongfully. Paul often spoke up for himself, as did Peter and John, and perhaps others. Yet, when they defended themselves, they were also defending and protecting the truth of the gospel, too. The Will of God Isaiah 53:10-12 ESV Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. Jesus, although he certainly struggled in the flesh with the thought of all that he would have to endure by becoming sin for us on that cross, submitted to the Father in heaven. He, being God himself, knew it was the will of God that he should have to suffer and die on that cross for our sins. For, he knew this was the only way that the people of this world could be made right with God, delivered from their slavery to sin, and have eternal life with God. It was the only way in which they could be made righteous. Yet, we will never be called upon to suffer and die in the exact same way as Jesus did, taking upon ourselves the sins of the world, so that they can go free, because we are not God, and we are not perfect, and because Jesus already did this for you and for me, and what he did is complete. Yet, we are called to suffer for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of his gospel, and for the freedom of people from sin. We are to bear one another’s burdens, and care for one another, and be compassionate with people who are trapped in sin or who are hurting because of others’ sins, or because of the curse of sin and what it has brought upon us and on the world. We are to emulate our Lord in all his character, his actions, his heart, his compassion, and in the words which he spoke, which were the words of life. We should be less concerned with what people will think of us, and more concerned with people’s eternal destiny, and with their freedom from slavery to sin, and with the healing of their lives. Daily we should take up our cross and follow our Lord, denying ourselves, die to sin, and walk in the Spirit in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. We should be willing to be hated, despised and rejected of men, too, because we are being Jesus’ hands, feet and mouth to the world, and to the church, too, whom we are to encourage in the Lord so that we are not hardened by sin’s deceitfulness, and in order that we, the body, might be mature in Christ. Yet, we must be prepared that some will hate us, reject us, persecute us, falsely accuse us, mistreat us, and maybe even put us to death, and for all the same reasons (or most of them) that they hated and persecuted Jesus, and that they put him to death. But, it is the will of God that we should suffer thus, too, and it is for our good, too, to humble us, to purify us, and to make us like Jesus, so that we can minister God’s love and grace to a world who needs Jesus, and who needs to be set free from their sins. When in The Stillness An Original Work / September 26, 2011 When in the stillness of this moment, Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray. Be my desire, set me on fire, Teach me to love always. Help me to walk in fellowship with You, Listening to You; sit at Your feet. Whisper Your words to me, Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth. While we are waiting for Your blessing, Lord, in our hearts be King today. Help us to live for you ev’ry moment, List’ning to what You say. May we not stray from your word within us, Help us obey You, Lord, in all things, Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence, Our offerings to You bring. Help us to love You, Lord, our master; Be an example of Your love, Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen, Showing them Your great love. Teach them to love You, follow You always, Bearing their cross and turning from sin; Walking in daily fellowship with You, Making You Lord and King. Thursday, April 19, 2018, 5:40 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from Your Word. May you bring its truths home to our hearts. Amen!