Let's begin with something we all enjoy: story time. Last week, I picked up my wife after her weekly student ministry lifegroup. She walked out the front door of our friend's house loaded down with baby stuff. You see, we are expecting our first child this December (woohoo!), and since our friends have two little girls who are finally outgrowing their baby things, they have graciously offered us pick-of-the-litter when it comes to baby supplies. I was overwhelmed. I mean, this kid isn't due for another seven-and-a-half months. What do we need all this stuff for? After talking things out, I learned that they were ready to get as much of that stuff out of their house as possible. We were doing them a big favor by taking these things off their hands. That made it easier for me to swallow. Then my wife said something very interesting. She said it helps during those times when the devil tries to make us worry about not having enough to support our child, to go in and look at all this stuff we already have. We've only known we were having a baby for three weeks, and we have practically everything covered - except a car. A bigger car would be great. Big, nice, shiny new car... *wink* Anyway. My wife said that though our friends had promised it, having some of these supplies under the bed and in the closets helps reassure her of all that the Lord is doing to provide for us. I immediately replied by saying, "Oh, I don't have to see it, I trust David and Heather." And it hit me immediately...
The Lord has been dealing with this in my life the past week. I didn't have to see the things we were promised, because I trusted our friends weren't lying to us about having baby supplies, or that they would let us have them when our child came along. And yet, I do have to see things the Lord has promised me in order to have confidence in His promises to supply everything I need. I felt it in my spirit the moment those words left my lips, "Why don't you think that way about Me?!" That is the very definition of faith - believing without seeing. Hebrews 11:1 lays it out for us clearly: "Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the
title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we]
do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as
real fact what is not revealed to the senses]" (AMP). It is believing that you possess what the Lord has promised you, even before you see the concrete evidence.
I believe that our friends have the supplies they promised us, because I have seen their little girls. I believe them because I know them; I know their character; I know their hearts. I trust them. The same should be true of all of us where the Lord is concerned. We should know His heart; know His character; trust Him. Jesus paid an awesome price so that He could provide for us His Blessing. Paul explains part of what Jesus has done for us in 2Corinthians, when he says, "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us" (2Corinthians 1:20, NKJV). The Apostle John tells us that when we pray in accordance to the Word of God, He listens to us, "And if (since) we
[positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know
[with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our
present possessions] the requests made of Him" (1John 5:15, AMP). Because of Jesus, I am covered. My baby is taken care of. I do not have to see the back room of Heaven to know that the supplies for my family are already there, and that He will see to it that I get all that I need (see Philippians 4:19). When I told my aunt I was having a baby and was concerned about providing for him/her/them, she squashed that worry with a simple sentence: "God's not going to give you a baby and then not provide for you to take care of 'em." Problem solved.
06 April, 2012
He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him. Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole ~Isaiah 53:3-5, Amplified
Why did He take the beating? Those of us who have been around church for more than about ten minutes know that Jesus died to forgive us of sins. He died to redeem us and make us new and allow us to go to Heaven when we die. However, I believe that is as far as most of us go with regards to what happened on that Friday all those long years ago. It was so much more...
Isaiah 53 is the quintessential passage for teaching on Jesus' redemptive work at Calvary. You can't preach about Easter without this passage. And yet, it has been mistranslated far too often. That is why I chose to use the Amplified translation, to unpack the fullness of what was really being spoken of. Isaiah was looking into the future, some 800 years away, when he was given this vision of what was to happen to Jesus. This gives us a very poignant description of going on in the spirit on that day. Jesus didn't just die so we ca go to Heaven one day. He was beaten so that we could be free from every curse this world is under.
In most translations, we see that Jesus bore our sorrows and our griefs. However, those two words are quite frequently translated throughout the Scriptures as "sickness" and "pains." That is why Isaiah goes on to say "by his stripes we are healed." Those stripes that Jesus took prior to his crucifixion were to pay for complete restoration of the body. Go back and look at everything Jesus bought and paid for: peace, well-being, healing. He took upon Himself more than just sin; He took everything. And it says that God did it...
Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief and made Him sick. When You and He make His life an offering for sin [and He has risen from the dead, in time to come], He shall see His [spiritual] offspring, He shall prolong His days, and the will and pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand ~Isaiah 53:10, Amplified
See that? This is the only time in the totality of human existence where God made someone sick. With each blow of a Roman, God struck Jesus with grief, pain, sickness and disease. It was so that not only sin, but the deadly consequences of sin, could be put to death and conquered once and for all. That is why Isaiah saw a man who was not esteemed, but seen as forsaken of God. Jesus looked far worse on that cross than religious movies portray. We know He bore all the sins of the world in his body on that Cross. That in itself is enough to drastically change one's demeanor. Haven't you ever been around a person so entangled in their sins that their countenance is radically different? You can see it in their eyes, they're dark and cold. I have been around people who were so far away from God I could tangibly feel the evil radiating from them. They look "off." Jesus would have looked exponentially worse, because He was carrying every sin of every person of all time. But there was more...
This prophetic passage of Scripture tells us that He also carried every sickness and disease known to the world. Imagine how terrible He must have looked. With each bruise, He was stricken with a new ailment. That's what Scripture tells us. He was hanging on that cross carrying every sin, sickness and disease of humanity, so that all of it would be put to death. Jesus didn't have to take a beating to be crucified. They could have just nailed Him up and walked away. But it was the will of God to have Jesus go through that, so that He could take upon Himself sickness and grief and disease, so that all symptoms of the curse would be put away. In doing so, it allows for the apostle Peter to quote this passage with one glorious "tweak": "He personally bore our sins in His [own] body on the tree [as on an altar and offered Himself on it], that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed" (1Peter 2:24, Amplified, emphasis added).
We are free, this very moment, from the power of sin and death. We are free, this very moment, from sickness, disease, oppression, depression, sorrow and fear. It was paid for. It is not the will of God for any of us to have these curses in operation in our lives, because He placed them on Jesus to be overcome. That doesn't mean we are to walk through life without ever facing a challenge. Symptoms will attempt to come upon us all; but they are not the will of God. He has equipped us to overcome them all. We are over-comers (Romans 8:37), but you can't be an over-comer without something to overcome. Remember the words of Jesus: "... in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]" (John 16:33, Amplified, emphasis added). That's the full power of the cross. Happy Easter.