Read the Description

Online shopping has taught us to be very careful about reading descriptions. Size, color, texture, weight, and even other people’s reviews are all helpful as we are trying to discern what a product is actually like. If you have ever ordered something without paying attention to the description, this may have been part of the learning curve for you. It was for me! In the beginning of the pandemic, I panic-ordered hand sanitizer from an unfamiliar source and failed to look at the description closely. Where the picture (and the price!!) was indicative of a large bottle that would sit by your kitchen sink for family use, the actual product was a very expensive pocket-sized container. Well, thank goodness I ordered two!

The scriptures are full of descriptions of Jesus. John 3:16 gives the most concise description: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (I did that from memory … the King James Version was all the rage when this kid was in Sunday School. Truth be told, it was the only version we had in Sunday School.)

Reading the description makes us much more aware of the qualities and special aspects of the subject. I don’t think anyone would argue that some of the best descriptions of the Messiah come from the book of Isaiah. This Old Testament prophet had a working knowledge of the suffering servant that was yet to come. His description came with no reviews, as he was describing something that hadn’t happened yet. Unlike the eyewitness accounts of the Gospel writers, Isaiah only had prophetic visions to rely on … and yet he provided some of the most accurate and beautiful language about our Savior.

Isaiah 53:4-6 (Common English Bible)

It was certainly our sickness that he carried,
    and our sufferings that he bore,
    but we thought him afflicted,
    struck down by God and tormented.

He was pierced because of our rebellions
    and crushed because of our crimes.
    He bore the punishment that made us whole;
    by his wounds we are healed.
Like sheep we had all wandered away,
    each going its own way, but the Lord let fall on him all our crimes.

Isaiah wrote that the coming Messiah would be pierced because of our rebellions. This savior would be crushed because of our sins. He would bear the punishment that made us whole. And praise God, by his wounds we would be healed. And that is exactly what happened on the cross, when our suffering savior took the sin of the world upon himself, allowing us to be free. Even though we had all wandered away, our faithful savior paid for all our crimes.

This is something to ponder today. Who is Jesus to you? If you were to write a description of him, what would you say? How would you describe our Wonderful Counselor? I challenge you to actually write these words down in your Bible somewhere.

And when you’ve finished with your written list, write it again on your heart.

Weathered Star by Michelle Robertson


 Many of you know that my daughter is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed when she was a junior in college and like many cancer patients, she had a series of surgeries as part of her treatment. Each one left a scar, and surely there are emotional and spiritual scars that went along with the physical ones. We were vacationing together a few years after it was over, and we noticed a young man on the beach with large scars on his neck running up the back of his head. As we speculated about the cause, she leaned over to me and said, “You know, Mom, scars are like tattoos. They just tell better stories.”

Scars that brought healing indeed do tell of hope and redemption. The stories they tell of survival, triumph, and victory become a badge of honor to the wearer.

In our passage in Isaiah today, we read about the future Messiah’s scars. His will be so deep that he will appear disfigured and even somewhat inhuman. Yet while his appearance will be unlike any other human, it will astonish and silence everyone. His scars will tell a much, much better story.

Isaiah 52:13-15

Look, my servant will succeed.
    He will be exalted and lifted very high
14 Just as many were appalled by you,
    he too appeared disfigured, inhuman,
    his appearance unlike that of mortals.

15 But he will astonish many nations.
    Kings will be silenced because of him,
    because they will see what they haven’t seen before;
    what they haven’t heard before, they will ponder.

As I read that today, it made me wince. I was taken back in time to the severe beating that Jesus endured on our behalf before they forcibly nailed his broken bones to a rough wooden cross. I saw a picture of our lovely savior so damaged that his disciples might have had to look twice to pick him out from among the three who hung there that day. I grieve my sins that put him there.

But Isaiah didn’t just put him there and leave him in this passage. Indeed, he began with the bold promise that this suffering servant would not only succeed but would be exalted and lifted very high. When Jesus ascended back to his Father, the story was complete and the good news was delivered once and for all. This is why our crosses in United Methodist churches are empty. Our broken, battered Lord is no longer there, but was made whole and beautiful again in his resurrection.

What scars do you bear that can help you tell your story of hope and redemption to others? Did Jesus come into your life to lift you up and make you whole again? We have an opportunity to be wounded healers if we are willing to share our stories with others so that they might find him, too.

Our sins may have put Christ on the cross, but they didn’t keep him there. Because of the resurrection, we all are invited to participate in the greatest story ever told. Do you believe that? Do you believe in the resurrection?

If you do, go and tell. By his wounds we all will be healed.

Exalted by Michelle Robertson