by Byron Davis
This past December we celebrated, as we always do, the birth of Christ and the tradition of gift giving. I love the holiday season. I love the cold (even in Los Angeles it gets somewhat cold), the gatherings, the singing, the food, the giving of gifts, the intentional kindness and grace that seem to be in fashion—everything.
A Seasonal Shift
What disappoints me, though, is the let down that comes in January. It’s as if we make a seasonal shift from a spirit of giving, kindness, and grace to a spirit of “my” goals, “my” agenda, and “my” intentions.
I was reading Isaiah 53 during the holidays when a profound feeling of wonder, astonishment, and shame came over me. I’ve read the passage many times. I appreciate its prophetic “call-out” to the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ. But this time I was stopped in my tracks by Isaiah’s prophecy.
Verse three reads: “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”
I felt as if Isaiah was talking not just about the people of Jesus’ day, but about all people past, present, and future. We are included in his prophetic “call-out” of shame and disgrace.
Verses five and six read, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
An Undeserved Gift
How powerful and awesome, embarrassing and pitiful, yet liberating is this truth.
Jesus was born to die so that we could live. Sadly, we demonstrate time after time that we do not deserve it. His coming was so important and profound that it would be announced years before, and his redeeming impact would reach years beyond to cover our perpetual shortfalls.
Lord, please forgive us, and thank you!
Byron Davis is director of Dream of Destiny at Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, California.