Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 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. –Isaiah 53:4-6
There is a Native American story about a schoolboy who appreciated his teacher and wanted to give her a gift she would enjoy. He knew that his teacher loved seashells. One weekend, the boy walked to the ocean–a twenty-mile distance–found a beautiful shell and walked back home. Monday morning, the boy gave his teacher the shell. She thought it was beautiful. It took a moment, but then it dawned on her what the boy had gone through in order to give her the gift. She asked the boy, “You mean you walked all that way to the ocean and back just to give me this shell?” The boy looked at his teacher, and with a tear in his eye, he said, “The long walk is part of the gift.”
It can be tremendously easy to gloss over the suffering of Jesus, even while believing in His sacrificial death on our behalf. I confess that over the years I have become desensitized to the words of the gospels describing what Jesus went through. It’s as if my mind passes quickly over Jesus’ suffering and moves to the resurrection. The resurrection, of course, is the “feel good” part of the story! Everyone loves a happy ending! And we know that the “good news” of Jesus’ resurrection is the ultimate happy ending! Yet, we would do well to linger a bit more on the Scriptures that tell the story of the pain and agony He undertook on our behalf to provide us with the gift of a restored relationship with God.
We must never forget nor take for granted Jesus’ suffering as — “the long walk is part of the gift.” As the prophet Isaiah foretold, “By his wounds, we are healed.” Today, may we gain a fresh understanding of the extent and cost of God’s love.
1. What difference in your life does it make to be reminded of the suffering that Jesus went through on your behalf?
2. Pray, giving thanks for God’s great love — and for Jesus’ willingness to undergo such extreme suffering to pay the penalty for our sins.
1 Peter 2:22-24; Hebrews 12:1-3