The Astonishing One
Our own bed! No matter how good the trip, it is wonderful to be home again. Late Tuesday, Don and I crawled into bed with little unpacked. We missed our Paigey, who usually comes up to cuddle between us for a few minutes before going to sleep. But she was still at Mary’s, who cared for her while we were gone.
Wednesday we drove to Tracy to pick up our pup. She wagged her tail and was eager to get into her carseat (which Don built) to go home. Mary and her pups took great care of Paigey and, while she sometimes ran from the little pups who wanted to play (after all, in human years she’s 84!), her tail wagged at the same time. I think she was ready to be an only dog again!
Jet lag is still with us. But … we unpacked. Did laundry. Ate at Taco Bell. And started back into a normal rhythm again.
This morning it was rich to be in our church again – a fuller service, few masks, wonderful worship and a message about the exaltation of Christ. He was astonishing in so many ways.
This is a prophecy made about seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth. And it speaks of the agony Jesus suffered, the disfigurement of persecution, the thorn of crowns thrust down onto His head, the beatings He suffered before even being nailed to that tree which He had created!
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.Isaiah 53:1
No beauty or majesty to attract us. Our culture is focused on beauty, youth, power. But Jesus had something else, something far greater than any of these. He was God, come to earth to redeem mankind. He held love in one hand, by which He gave his life for us; He held justice in the other, because justice had to be satisfied against this world that had turned its back on God. And He did this for you and me!
And His hearers either loved or hated Him. Men turned their backs by seeking power and fame and beauty and considering themselves their own god. “I will make the world what I want.” This happened in large and small ways–the rulers who required that men worship and adore them, men who included Caesar, Nebuchadnezzar, and others. The religious systems that required much (tithes, offerings, gifts, obeisance) while giving little or nothing in return. The common man and woman who tried to run their own lives, to “be good” in order to attain the kingdom of God.
But none of us is good enough for that! Scripture says we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) And yet, in grace He also says “For the wages (payment) of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
God is not immune to the suffering of mankind, in Ukraine, in Israel, in Taiwan and in the hearts of men and women everywhere. He is very familiar with suffering; and He tells us to cast all our cares on Him, because He cares for us! (I Peter 5:7).
As we move toward Easter Sunday, let’s rejoice that our God is still sovereign over the affairs of men, and that Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
“Father, we see so much evil around us. Anarchy, war, tensions between and within nations, fear, and the sin that so easily takes hold of us as individuals, even when we love You. We pray for Your wisdom for our leaders, for an end to the war in Ukraine that retains their freedom, and most of all, that many will grasp how high, how wide, how deep and how long your love is for us, no matter the situation in which we find ourselves. Bring hope to the hopeless, sight to the (literal and figurative) blind, rest to the weary. Thank you for the forgiveness Jesus brought through His death and resurrection. And may Your kingdom come.”