I’ve been reading through Isaiah this past month. It’s been a wonderful journey revealing God’s relentless pursuit of people who he loves despite their lack of trust and obedience. I arrived at Isaiah 53 this morning which foretells with amazing detail the crucifixion of Jesus - it’s severity, his silence during the inquisition, the nature of his burial, and most amazingly the reality-altering fact that he would not stay dead!
“But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.” Isaiah 53:10-11
God’s “good plan” was that by Jesus’ giving up his life others would gain life. Jesus would take on himself the sin of the world and by his death and resurrection make it possible for many others to be “counted righteous.” Jesus knew throughout his whole earthly life that God’s good plan was to bring life to others through his death. That is why as the time of his crucifixion drew near he said:
“Unless a kernal of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But it’s death will produce many new kernals - a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Those who want to be my disciples must follow me, because my servants must be where I am.” John 12:14-25
I usually stop at the wonderful realization that God invites me to gain life by trusting in Jesus’ death for my sin. But the passage continues with a further invitation for Jesus followers to give up their lives so that others may gain life. I realized this morning that my willingness to sacrifice, to give up my life for others is the evidence of my belief in Jesus and his kingdom. If Jesus isn’t true and his kingdom is not real, then why sacrifice my time, resources, or enjoyment? But if Jesus is the Life and His Kingdom is the life I long for, then why would I not be willing to give up the things of this world that I can’t keep anyway?