Tuesday, July 27, 2010
R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Scars and Stripes
In 1947, a young Bedouin farmer was tending his flock in the desert area called Qumran near the Dead Sea. It was there he discovered several caves in which he found clay jars. In those jars were scrolls which are dated back (about 150 B.C - 70 A.D.) to the Essenes. The Essenes (known as the Sons of Light) was a communal group of men who dedicated their lives to God in preparation of the coming Messiah. One of their practices was to write onto scrolls the Old Testament. In these jars were portions of their writings. The only book that was found in these scrolls, in its entirety, was the book of Isaiah.
I have had the privilege of seeing these scrolls three times. Twice here in Southern California and once at the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem. It is amazing to see these writings that date back before the birth of Jesus. I find it very interesting that the only book that has every page is the book of Isaiah. I remember standing in front of Isaiah 53 and being in awe of what I was seeing.
As we have journeyed through the scripture over these past months, we can clearly see that man was unable to be completely obedient to the Lord. Isaiah was the prophet who God used to introduce the Messiah to His people.
This week as we read through Isaiah 49-66, I was reminded of the scars and stripes that Jesus took for all of us. I love Isaiah 49:16 that says, "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;..." This reminds me of the conversation Jesus had with Thomas. Jesus was standing there with his disciples after his resurrection with the scars of the nail piercings in his hands. (John 20:25-27) Not that Jesus ever forgets our names, but we sure easily forget what he did. Those scars are our reminder to us, that he never forgets us.
Isaiah 53 is a very familiar passage. For those who have seen the movie, "The Passion of the Christ" have a very visual picture of this description. In the New King James translation, chapter 53:4-7 says this, "Surely He has borne our griefs, And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth." This sounds so poetic in writing, yet this act, when it happened was so violent. To think that Jesus took a beating that made him even unrecognizable, that eventually lead to his death, is truly the ultimate sacrifice.
If we ponder on some of these words that are used to describe this act, it becomes such a visual of sin. The word wounded describes the infliction of the sins of others done against us. The word bruised is a visual of the sin we have committed. We know that blood is precious to God because it represents life. Did you know the reason you bleed first when you get a cut is because the blood is the body's natural way of cleansing the affected area. The same goes with a bruise. Blood is released to cleanse the damaged area. And for every lashing Jesus took on his body, it was for our healing. Not only our physical healing, but our emotional and spiritual healing as well. He also dealt with our shame so that we no longer carry that scar. If you truly think about it, the pain you feel emotionally, spiritually, physically and even shamefully, he carried and felt for everyone that has been, is and will be at that moment! We can't even imagine. What a heavy burden!
I hope you will read Isaiah 53 again. I also recommend you to read Isaiah 61 as it is the healing and restoration we have received from His sacrifice. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you through his eyes and understanding a more personal connection. I pray that that passage will come to life for you and that by his scars and stripes you are healed.