Isaiah 53:6 (NIV84)
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Though it seems that many long-held principles and values in our culture are disintegrating before our eyes, we remain a people passionate about justice. Many of us remember being part of a classroom or a sports team that “suffered” group consequences for an individual’s infraction. “That’s not fair” is the cry that rises up, but what we really mean is, “That’s not just.” Punish only the rule breaker with the loss of recess time or extra sprints. Not us who have done nothing wrong. Do the crime, do the time.
In movies, we love seeing bad guys lose and be destroyed at the end. We desire revenge where the great wrong is finally righted and the guilty get what they deserve. We aren’t satisfied anymore with the Scooby-Doo ending where the criminal is simply led away in handcuffs, we want to see the villain suffer pain and regret what he has done. We love when our idea of justice falls upon the guilty and crushes them. Movie makers know this so they create as much tension and mystery for as long as possible. Leaving us frightened that the bad guy will get away and we won’t get the satisfaction of justice.
In real life, like the Psalmist, we grit our teeth when the wicked prosper (Psalm 73) because that goes against our concept of justice. Evil should be punished and good should be rewarded. That is the justice we have always been passionate about.
Yet that innate understanding of justice causes us to shiver with fear considering our status before a holy God. I can try hard to excuse and rationalize my thoughts, words, and actions, but I know the truth of the words -- I am by nature sinful. I deserve punishment. There is no real argument. Crime receives punishment, evil merits destruction, sin deserves death. We might be terrified instead of passionate about it, but it is still justice.
How strange then are the words of Isaiah! He speaks of the most unjust thing imaginable. What he says should make us cry out- Unfair! This cannot be! But it is. Instead of gnashing our teeth, we have every reason to weep with joy over this injustice.
We are the sheep who have gone astray. We all have turned away and the Lord has unfairly laid our punishment on Jesus. We have foolishly, arrogantly, and recklessly chosen evil. We are the villain to be destroyed. But a gracious God has chosen to place all guilt and evil and sin on his own Son. The innocent one suffered the punishment that the wicked deserve. When Christ goes to Calvary he goes in my place, in your place. There he pays the price and bears the guilt for me, for you, for all.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You became what you were not, and made me to be what I was not. Let me never tire of remembering and rejoicing in this gracious truth. Amen.