Thursday, January 15, 2015

EMMDEV 2015-01-15 [Apostle's Creed] Suffered (2)

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 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. Isaiah53:1-5

When we share our faith with others, one of the most frequent objections that emerges is "Why would a loving God allow suffering?"

It's a tough question.
Theologians have even categorised these kind of questions into an area we call "Theodicy" (Questions about the justice of God in the face of evil, suffering, pain and injustice.)

Isaiah 53 offers an incredible answer to these questions:
God enters our suffering and defeats suffering by suffering.

Sound incredible? Hard to imagine?
It may seems that Isaiah thinks so too when he asks "Who has believed our message" but his parallel line asks "and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?" And then he goes on to describe the Messiah growing up like a tender shoot and then suffering. To paraphrase him, Isaiah is saying: "It may seem hard to believe, but actually it's plain for all to see - just look at that the tender shoot that grew up and then suffered. Look at the cradle and the cross.

Christianity doesn't offer a cheap answer for the question of theodicy. The answer it provides is incredibly expensive:
What did God do about suffering?
- He entered it - became a tender shoot
- He experienced it like one of us (no special treatment, no beauty or majesty.)
- He suffered: He was despised, rejected, sorrowed and made suffering a companion.
- He took up your and my suffering - and we did not recognise it
- And by His wounds He heals us.

Stop and consider this great truth: "God enters our suffering and defeats suffering by suffering." And then bow your head in humble adoration and pray "Lord, I can barely grasp what this cost You - Thank You for this most expensive answer to our pain."

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Theo Groeneveld theo @ emmanuel.org.za

You can see past EmmDevs at emmdev[dot]blogspot[dot]com/

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