Monday, April 9, 2018

Jesus Is The Way

"We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way;
and the LORD has punished Him for the iniquity of us all."
Isaiah 53:6

When I was younger, I was more of a country gal than I am now.  I lived in Podunkville, USA and in the very center of agriculture and farming.  Each day, you could bank on seeing a tractor mosey down a main highway, stopping up traffic for half a mile or so; smelling the dingy dust of a turkey farm that - if you had never had an allergy in your life - could cause the need for an inhaler; sprinkler and irrigation systems running for miles into farmland, which, if hit just right by the sun, could render miles of mists and color; and of course, don't forget the flocks of sheep bumbling, bumping into one another as farmers and 2 or 3 Collie mutts drive their sooty-white, wooly bodies across yet, another main stretch of highway. This too, can stop up traffic for a good half mile.

I never once wished to be a farmer on one of those drives.  NEVER.  Never once did I have ambition or desire to care for a group of 100+ seemingly lost and stupid sheep from one area of pasture to another. To me, that was a waste of life!  Sheep are not obviously intuitive and have an astounding lack of direction and will.  They go where they feel the rest are going, continuing on a path no matter how dangerous its potential.  They'll follow one another into pits, creeks, barbed fences...basically, if the poor sheep-farmer doesn't keep them all in check, he'll have not one sheep remaining after the 15 feet of crossed pavement! 
As the country-wanna-be-city girl, I pitied those dumb animals.  "Why would God make a creature and leave it without some form of defense mechanism," I'd wonder.

I read this passage in Isaiah not long ago, and it hit me - God does provide a line of defense for those sorry life forms: it's man.  Man protects his flock, guides his flock, waters his flock, defends his flock, leads his flock; sheep ultimately live from man's provision and care.  Without man, well, does the phrase, "sheep to the slaughter" mean anything? 

Isaiah is so poetic throughout his book.  Once I heard someone refer to it as the "gospel according to Isaiah," before and can totally get on board with that rendering. The gospel according to Isaiah; the "good news" put forth in Isaiah's form of writing.  Look how beautiful...
"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.
 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.
 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"  (vv. 4-10)
We, like sheep have gone astray?  Did you know you're a sheep?  Did you know I'm a sheep??
So it turns out that my need for a Protector, a Leader, a Provider is as strong as a sheep's dire need for the protection of its owner.  Without it, that poor sheep is lost - I am lost, and apparently wandering without my Shepherd.  But God provides for this "sheep," much like He does for my wooly friends - only Way better. :)
In my flesh, I reject this.  In my heart, I acknowledge this.  In my soul, I rejoice in this.  Say what?  Rejoicing in weakness?  Rejoicing in ineptness?  Rejoicing in neediness?  Absolutely.
Jesus told Paul, "for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  (2Cor. 12:9)
So where's the connection between our being sheep and rejoicing in that?  Jesus.  Jesus is our connection.  How?
Read v. 7 of Isaiah 53:  "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."
Jesus, too, is likened to a sheep.  NO!  Jesus isn't wandering.  He's not inept, inadequate and needy!  He doesn't need a constant protector and supervisor.  Nope, He doesn't.  
Jesus was the perfect lamb - a spotless sacrifice - for the rest of us sheep.  God, took on the life form of a human in Jesus Christ, became like us BUT WITHOUT SIN, and offered Himself as the greatest and most perfect of sacrifices, satisfactory to the wrath of God Almighty.  Conquering the grave and hell by giving Himself on the cross, He is now victorious, sitting at the right hand of God in glorified form!  Our Lamb.  The Lamb who was slain for our weaknesses.

The gospel message is this: Christ died, was buried and was raised for our sins.  We are all sheep that have gone astray, and because of Jesus, we have a Way.  In Jesus, we know THE Way.  Jesus is THE Way to everlasting life with the Father.  He's the ONLY Way to eternal life in glory.  He's ALWAYS been the Way God has provided for the "sheep" that have gone astray, so that we may have direction, protection and life!

Jesus is the Way!  Our triumphant, amazing Lamb who makes us strong and gives us direction.  Our Shepherd who provides our every need; who reigns powerful in our poverty!
Praise Jesus, and Amen!
Much love,

IG: @mrcfuldeeds2010
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1 comment:

  1. Love this I feel like I just went to church with this blog post! Thank you for highlighting this in Gods word for me today! Beautiful colors