One morning a friend and I were studying Isaiah 6. As we read through each vision and discussed their relevance in our own lives, my friend pointed out something I had not considered but had originally planned to discuss in a later chapter of Isaiah that day. She pointed out the pain. The redemptive hot coal that touched Isaiah’s lips in verse 7 surely must’ve hurt. And isn’t that the way?

Are we not all brought forth in pain? Whether in our birth in the flesh or our spiritual birth, there was pain involved.

I wonder if Isaiah walked around with blistered lips for some time allowing everyone who saw to question and thus provide a witness.

In this era of mega churches with their clean and comfortable learning centers, upbeat worship music, and an assortment of bumper stickers, T-shirts, and plaques to proclaim our salvation, I think it necessary to think about the pain.

Studying the redemptive power of the blood of Christ lead me to question the pain. The soul-for-soul reconciliation of Jesus’ blood poured out for me can at times become detached from the further meaning of the cross. I accept the payment made, but somehow can keep the blood in a neat little package devoid of the torture. If blood was all that was necessary to redeem me from sin and give me audience with God, could not Jesus simply have slit His wrists and poured it into a goblet to offer His Father the life-for-life payment?

Why the pain? Why the mocking? Why the spit? Why the insults? Why the shaming? The name-calling? The beatings that tore His flesh? The slow, agonizing death on the cross? What does it mean for me, one saved by the blood of Christ, to ponder the torture given my Lord 2000 years ago? Should I even go there?

Is it healthy for Christians to focus on pain when we’re called to peace and be free of anxieties? Does the Bible give any direction for us to focus on the pain? I believe this is the point of a ritual we are commanded to keep.

Whether we gather for communion on a daily basis or once a month, we are told to “celebrate the feast” and “do this in remembrance” of Him (1 Corinthians 5:8; 11:24). What do you think about when you partake? I think about a lot of things. I remember how Jesus delivered me, I think about all the brothers and sisters I am joining with all over the world, I think about heaven, I pray for the deceived, I praise God with thankfulness that He called me to partake of His divine nature. But there is a specific directive we are called to focus on whenever we eat the bread and drink the wine.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

What does it mean to “proclaim the Lord’s death?” I can’t help but be drawn to Isaiah 53 and see the pain of His death. I believe it is necessary for us to see it in all it’s ugly and gory details.

Isaiah 53 opens with,
“Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”

Who has believed? What is at the core of our Christian belief? Is it that we have a comfortable place to go on Sunday morning? Is it that we’re stirred by the worship music? Is it that we love being part of a social network? Is it that we agree with Jesus’ moral teachings? Is it that we now have a purposeful path to follow? Is it the security of knowing we have heaven waiting for us? While all these things are part of our Christian life, they are not the basis of belief Isaiah points out in the following verses. What does he prophesy about the one who would bring us peace and heal us?

I see a simple, ordinary man who was despised, rejected, and familiar with suffering. (Isaiah 53:3) And I am drawn to Him as an equal, for I know of such things. I see His humanity.

But I also see His divinity in the next verses.

Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4, 5)

How can He carry my sickness, be pierced and crushed for my sins over 2000 years ago? It is something I believe and yet can not explain. It has to be divine. That is why I go to God’s own word for definition.

″Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Perhaps you’ve heard the advice, “give it to Jesus.” Well and good, but how? Have you asked, ‘How do I give to Jesus this pain? How do I endure another day? Will Jesus just remove me from the situation? Will He just cure me of this cancer?’

In this life we all have a load to bear. Give it to Jesus. He says “come to me” doesn’t He? Meet Him in Isaiah 53. Let Him take the blows, He’s strong enough. Don’t be afraid to see Him lashed, to see the spit in His face, to feel the weight of rejection. It is the punishment that brought us peace. Let it be. By His wounds we are healed. Thank you Jesus, here is my load, I give it to you to suffer, I no longer have to carry any of it. ANY OF IT!!!!

I no longer have to beat myself up over my own sins, you have taken the beating Jesus.
I no longer have to hold in prison those who have hurt me, I give them to you Jesus. You have already suffered for them, though they are still sinning against me (Romans 5:8).

I am lighter now, able to move, able to live freely. I was weary and burdened and you have given me rest. Why would God do this for us? The illustration I was given was that of a loaded down backpack. God wants to dance with me and I can’t do it with a load on my back. I am free to dance with my Savior now.

But we must keep the festival. Every day, another weight is put on. Give it to Jesus. Proclaim the death, proclaim the pain. He takes up our infirmities, sorrows, transgressions, and iniquities. We must be reminded often because it’s not a one time thing. We are free one day and burdened the next until we feel the weight of that load drive us to our knees and give it to Jesus. He’s strong enough to bare it and invites us to come to Him. At the core of Christian faith is the fact that we were once enemies of God until we believed in the cross of Christ. Not merely the moral teachings of a man 2000 years ago, but the bloody death of Him on a cruel cross for each of our afflictions. Keeping the faith means continually bringing all of it to that cross. Proclaim His death for yourself, it’s like the hot coal on the unclean lips of Isaiah.

See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for. (Isaiah 6:7)

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie