The trees and bushes looked dead. Only days before there was nothing there, and then one morning the limbs swelled to life. Only days more, and leaves will appear, flowers will bud. The gray brown look on the hills will take on a faint green haze. New life is the miracle we see each spring.
Before the new comes the old must go away. A death must happen; the seeds fall but the plant dies. The leaves wither and die, and the tree is barren…for a time.
As we come to the days we celebrate as Good Friday and as Easter, we must contemplate the death that had to happen. The way our culture celebrates death is muddled. Even babies sport onesies with skulls all over them. Our kids, and adults, kill thousands as they play violent computer games. Hollywood has made billions on death, and we enjoy the thrill of it on the big screens. What a confused obsession we have with the very thing that our Savior came to destroy. But before he could destroy death he had to experience death. Isaiah gives us a picture that would probably even be too graphic for our video games. Isaiah writes that Jesus would be marred, disfigured to the point that he would horrify those who looked on him. In fact, Isaiah said Jesus would be disfigurement itself (Isaiah 52:14).
Before we celebrate, we need to mourn. Interestingly enough, with all the violence people display through their dress and adornment, and with all the death and destruction we experience through entertainment, we are told that the story of Jesus’ death is just too unpleasant to talk about! Taking the Lord’s Supper, with its reminder of Jesus’ broken body and shed blood, will turn visitors away. Really?
Truth—our salvation did not come cheap. Jesus was slaughtered like a lamb. The prophet declares:
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. Isaiah 53:4-5
Do not miss the death that came before your new life. He went through that for you….for me.
1 Peter 2:23-25; 2 Corinthians 5:21
(Check out “Going Deeper- Planting Seeds for Easter” for a discussion of this week’s Isaiah passage.)