The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. (Isaiah 53:3-4)
If you have ever thought all the 'things wrong with you' are a bit much for anyone to actually love or 'handle', think again. Christ actually took all our disfigurements and ALL the things wrong with us upon himself - carrying those pains to the cross. He took the punishment that made us whole. Think about the intensity of that love for a moment. Nothing he deserved, but everything he did just because his heart loves us so very much.
Our disfigurements - most of us think of these as the things that 'scar' our lives. Why do scars occur? Isn't because there has been some injury that resulted in the scar. I have lots of physical scars, but far more emotional scars than I'd like to count. Did you realize a disfigurement is also any manner in which our life has been 'malformed' over time? The things that misshape our lives are numerous, but none of them has to create a 'permanent' malformation.
I have trees in the rear of my house that have been 'malformed' by the winds - some almost twisted beyond what we imagine could support the weight of that great tree any longer. Yet, they stand. Why? They are rooted and their 'malformation' doesn't matter when they are rooted. They continue to grow beyond their 'malformed' parts. Christ doesn't just help us grow in our malformed way - helps us grow beyond our malformation - actually taking that malformed condition of our hearts and minds upon himself and replacing them with what will helps us grow strong BEYOND that malformed part of our lives.
All the things wrong with us - none of us has probably finished counting those things yet, have we? What's wrong in your life? Is it easily identified, or elusively hidden in the recesses of your heart and mind? Regardless of how easily it is identified, Christ bore all those wrongs upon his heart as he went to the cross. He didn't cast them down, trying to be free of them, but rather 'bore up' under their weight until the work of you and I being free of them was accomplished.
Our mind and heart can be free of those wrongs, but there is nothing worse that Satan could imagine possible for us. His desire is for us to continue to believe there is no freedom from our disfigurements - malformations of character. His tactic is to continue to fuel the fire of our doubts and fears so that our minds and hearts will continue to see nothing more than the wrongs we have committed and believe there is no way of escape. BEYOND the malformation - this is where Christ made a way for us to live - not WITHIN those malformed parts of our character.
How about it - do you want to live BEYOND those malformed areas of your character? Malformed by the wrong choices you have made - memories fueled over and over until the remembrance of those bad choices about crush you with their intensity. It is time to live BEYOND them - time to let the finished work of the cross have the last say over those memories. Give them to Christ - he already owns them because he already carried them on his heart all the way to the cross and the grave. He arose so we could live BEYOND, not WITHIN. Just sayin!