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Isaiah 53:1-6 (NIV)
53 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 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. 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
This passage is most often associated with Good Friday (the day we commemorate the death of Jesus) but is still important for us during Advent because Jesus did not come the way most people would have expected. According to the Bible, the God that created everything, the sun, moon, planets, and all living things, came in a way that no one expected. As Isaiah said, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him”. Why? His mission was not to impress with power, majesty, and awe, but to suffer and die in order to bring forgiveness and adoption into a new family. God became weak to show us that He loves us in a way that is not manipulative or oppressive. God became weak so that we would understand that power is meant for service and authority is meant for justice. It was God’s will for Jesus to be an “offering for sin” and to give forgiveness to all those who desire to be reconciled to God through faith. Ever since the first sin in the Garden of Eden, humanity has tried to find meaning, purpose, and glory through our own efforts. We reject that God loves us, cares for us, and knows what is best for us. We reject that God has authority over our lives. Faith says, “I don’t have everything figured out. I need help. I believe that God loves and forgives me and wants me to be a part of his family”. So at Christmas, because Jesus came with the mission to forgive our sins and give us a new relationship with the Father we can sing loud and strong as members of his royal family: “Hark the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King! Peace on earth and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled’”. Let us pray: Lord of grace and mercy, we praise you for showing your great love for us through the suffering that you endured on the cross. Help us at Christmas to remember that you came not in power, but in weakness offering us forgiveness and adoption into the family of God. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.