Closing in on Good Friday

“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 ourpains 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, The Message).

I realize that we’re still a few weeks away from Passion Week leading up to Easter Sunday, but these were fitting words that turned up on Bible Gateway’s Verse of the Day.

The next time you walk into any Target or Wal-Mart or any other store and see all the displays of Easter candy and fuzzy rabbits, remember that Isaiah 53 encapsulates what this holiday is really all about.

I can almost imagine cartoon Charlie Brown yelling out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Easter is really all about?”

“Sure, I can tell you that,” Linus replies. Then he proceeds to recite Isaiah 53. Jesus did it all for the love of you and me. He bore the penalty of the sins we had earned and died the death we deserved.

But Easter Sunday is more than just death. Jesus didn’t stay in that tomb. As the popular worship song goes, the tomb was borrowed for three days. Just a rental.

“The resurrection completes the inauguration of God’s kingdom. . . . It is the decisive event demonstrating thet God’s kingdom really has been launched on earth as it is in heaven. The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it” (N.T. Wright).

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