June 19, 2011

Isaiah 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

This is one of the first verses I consciously memorized as a child, and it’s still worth meditation and reflection. The first point is how inclusive it is. There is no human being to whom it doesn’t apply. It is a reflection of our human nature that we don’t like to take instruction. I’ve never tried to tend four-legged sheep, but I’ve read stories and watched videos of how they act, and this is certainly an apt image. God certainly has His hands full with us! However, the most important part of the verse is the last part, because by rights, our actions would destine us for the slaughterhouse. Rather than consigning us to the destruction we so richly deserve, God laid the penalty for our sin on His Son. That He would do such a thing is mind boggling any way you think about it, and some people simply can’t bring themselves to believe it. The incredible thing is that others take it for granted! There is absolutely nothing that would force God to do anything besides wiping us out of existence, except for His love and grace. He is incredibly merciful, and the better we grasp that, the more joyfully devoted to Him we will be. That understanding is the essential foundation of discipleship.

Just because I memorized this before I was a teenager doesn’t mean I’ve always appreciated it fully. As I recall, at the time I was being made to memorize it, I was rather resentful of having to do so! I have done my share of wandering off on my own path, and God has so graciously brought me back each time. As David said in the 23rd Psalm, His rod and His staff are indeed a comfort, even if they happen to be painful in their application! As I seek to lead the believers into full discipleship, I need to remember God’s grace toward me, and also that I’m not the one who bears anyone’s guilt. Jesus did that on the cross, and my job is to help people understand that and trust and obey Him in response.

Father, this is indeed foundational. Help me walk in grateful obedience in response, not adding to Christ’s load but expressing the character of Christ in my own life. Use me to open the eyes of many so that they will receive Your saving grace as well. May we as a church be mightily effective in tearing down the lies of the devil and setting captives free to repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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