sojourner, hearer, & follower of Jesus

Category: Grief

A Suffering Savior: Lenten Blog Tour 2011

6 Like sheep we had all wandered away,
each going its own way,
but the Lord let fall on him
all our crimes.
7 He was oppressed and tormented,
but didn’t open his mouth.
Like a lamb being brought to slaughter,
like a ewe silent before her shearers,
he didn’t open his mouth.
8 Due to an unjust ruling he was taken away,
and his fate-who will think about it?
He was cut off from the land of the living,
struck dead because of my people’s rebellion,
9 His grave was among the wicked,
his tomb with evildoers,
though he had done no violence,
and had spoken nothing false.
10 But the Lord wanted to crush him and to make him suffer.
If his life is offered a as restitution,
he will see his offspring;
he will enjoy long life.
The Lord’s plans will come to fruition through him.
11 After his deep anguish he will see light,
and he will be satisfied.
Through his knowledge, the righteous one, my servant,
will make many righteous,
and will bear their guilt.

Isaiah 53:6-11 (Common English Bible)

"Crucifixion" by Giotto Assisi

We have all wondered away, says the prophet, done what we wanted to do, lived the way we have wanted to live, made decisions. Maybe we have not realized that we have wondered away, our lives might not be full of self-determination, or the ability to choose differently. We have lived separate lives, “each going its own way.” One way or the other humanity has not lived up to the wholeness of God’s intent, to the possibility of new creation.

Who shall rescue us from such a place?

According to the writer of Isaiah, it is not who we might suspect. This “savior” is not coming with power like we are familiar with: violence, manipulation, control, intimidation. Our return to God’s place is dependent on one who carries our brokenness, who suffers our fate, and who takes our sin.

Sin is not something we are comfortable talking about. Missing the mark is something we would rather mention about someone else. They need salvation, they need repentance, they need to be restored. We are not good about “bearing each other’s burdens” or suffering on behalf of others. At this point, Ash Wednesday, with our confessions, I’m sorry’s, and promises, seems so long ago.

Now we are reaching a point in the story we can no longer ignore. We have been focusing on our own practices, learning about the meaning of discipleship, and preparing for Easter. But before we can celebrate we have to once again face our mortality, face our brokenness, and acknowledge that God became one of us so that we could be restored, so that we would not have to die. We also need to remember that the call of discipleship at its core is a call to deny self, take up the cross, and follow Jesus.

Maybe this is what caught the attention of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40). A savior who is a suffering servant does not make sense. “Tell me, about whom does the prophet say this?” asks the eunuch. Thankfully the Christian community had already answered the question for themselves. They had mined the wisdom of the prophets and had interpreted the utterances in light of their experience of Jesus. Philip, as a follower of the way, proclaims the good news and the eunuch immediately wants to receive baptism.

There are many today who might read this text and wonder who the prophet is talking about? What kind of savior is this? As we enter these last days, the most difficult days, of the Christian salvation narrative let us not miss an opportunity to tell the story, so that others will be able to be rescued from sin and death, so that others will be able to find their way home.


It has been a blessing to be part of CEB‘s Lenten Blog Tour. Do not miss yesterday’s post by Tracey Bianchi & tomorrow’s by Jennifer Grant.

Bible in 90 – Day 23: Grief

The king was shaken. He went up to the upper chamber of the gateway and wept, moaning these words as he went, ‘My son Absalom! O my son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son!’

II Samuel 19:1

"David Mourns" by Guy Rowe

Absalom thought his father was an enemy, obviously his father did not agree. Absalom wanted the kingdom, thought it was time for his father to retire, David did not agree. So Absalom went to war against David to claim the throne. David asked his men to spare his son, in the end a terrible accident (his hair got tangled on the limbs of a  terebinth tree: see 18:9-18) placed him in a vulnerable position and he was killed.

Although David had the kingdom, he did not have his son. His grief was public and it expressed the desires of any parent in his situation.

At times of sorrow it is natural to look back, what could we have done differently? Could it have been avoided? Are only some of the questions that run through our minds. When it comes to our children we wonder about our parenting. We could have spent more time, cautioned more, not allowed, protected.

In the end the tragedy is the same, nothing can be changed, all that is left is grieving and attempt to carry on.

The king was not grieving like a king should. A few verses after this “news” Joab, his commander & the man who killed Absalom, tells him to stop weeping, for in the end Absalom was his enemy. How many times in our weeping have people told us to stop, to move on, for it makes them uncomfortable?

I can’t imagine the agony and pain. Walking with many who have experienced intense grief I know that shaking and weeping are common expressions. The realization of a life gone, a love lost, and a future unfulfilled are reasons to weep, moan, and wish for something different.

I am thankful for the biblical narrative that continually mirrors our experience with life, with each other, and with God. No matter how difficult they might be!

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