Recently I did a Lectio Divina reading on Isaiah 53, here are my thoughts on the passage.
God extends his powerful arm in Christ, but Christ is not what anyone expects - We expect the powerful arm, but not a silent God that takes our punishment to bring us peace. There is a cacophony of voices surrounding Jesus, yet he says nothing. He does not fight when we turn our backs, reject him, or even hit him. We look on him as a loser, not something to be attracted to, or desired. Our heroes are strong and powerful, not kind-hearted forgiving servants. However, when the story is seen in completion we are attracted to Jesus because he loves with such abandon. He does not strike back, but willingly suffers for me and others - he is safe because he takes my punishment on himself. His punishment brings peace, his wounds heal ours. They turned on him, as we all do, and he is oppressed, yet silent in his obedience. Quietly, he performs the sacrificial act of being crushed for those that do the crushing. He undermines the system and wins his battles through love and grace!
That is unlike us, every sinew and fiber of our being wants to fight back; to control and hurt others when they 'oppress' us. To wound. The lie we swallow is that we find peace by fighting for our rights, telling others to shut up, that their opinions do not matter, or that they are wrong and we are right. We think that by winning the argument, we win our souls - on the contrary peace is found in looking our enemy in the eye, taking the pain and the arrows, realizing that those that abuse don't really know what they are doing. In wielding the power of the sword, whether literal or figurative, we lose our souls.
Silence and sacrifice gives clarity to the place my enemy operates from; I become Christ-like, seeing into those who oppress me, to understand what drives their misguided anger. I find that they are usually just afraid; their blows are driven by an internal cowardice to face themselves. I finally realize that I am like them, and that only Christ was fully brave and truthful - he did not shun the cross. To react like him puts me in his place as a child of God - I hide under his power. It humbles me, frightens me, but encourages me at the same time. I am both like them, but see through the noise to what is really important at the same time. It softens my approach. I don't need to say as much, realizing that problems in relationships are usually exacerbated by my desire to say more and win the argument - but arguments are silenced when I sacrifice in love. Not that words are not important, but that I put too much value in them. Not to suggest that we should take the pain, or the arrows, in a wormy insecure way - there were situations where Jesus spoke very plainly and strongly. However, in the issue of saving someone, he took the abuse and sin on himself. To be like him means I can maturely look beyond the heat of relationships, into the heart of the other person, as well as myself. Allowing them the freedom to make mistakes as Christ affords me the same luxury - to redirect relationships by my willingness to serve and sacrifice - to redirect them to Christ, not winning arguments or being 'right'. To be peaceful, and to embrace the peace he gives me through his sacrifice for me. His example makes me want to be more like him - I respect him for being able to do what I cannot.
The hardest thing is to die to self. To die to my rights when I find myself in the place of false accusation, or spears thrown at me without just provocation. I want the 6’5" Davidic King, ruddy and handsome, who can wield sword against all my enemies and subdue them with force. The king who kills bears and mountain lions. I want him to prove me right, but I forget that the enemy lies within me as well, and it must be killed off by sacrifice and obedience; that what wins favor and allegiance is not the sword, but sacrificial love. Oh to be like Jesus....simple, yes....easy, no.