From Isaiah 53:2-3
This past summer, my brother and I rented a car in Brussels, Belgium, and drove about two thousand miles, crossing the entirety of France from the western Brittany coast through Paris to the French/German border town of Strasbourg. Our last leg followed the windy, castle-studded road that hugs the Rhine along the western edge of Germany.
We saw loads of memorable things, to say the least. But when I got back home, one image stuck out more than any other, and I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget:
Driving through the French countryside, we passed a farm with an elaborate sprinkler system set up in the middle of the field. The system had crushed several rows of wheat in order to be set up and water the rest of the plants, and it struck me, sometimes a row of us must be crushed, torn down, eliminated in order for others to survive. If we refuse to lay ourselves down, a whole field may die of thirst. But if we are willing to be crushed for the sake of another, a whole population is fed. It’s all for the greater good.
I couldn’t help but think of this while reading Isaiah 53 this week. Talking about the Suffering Servant, the coming Messiah, the Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace who would come to earth and offer His life to save all of humanity, Isaiah wrote:
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (vv. 2-3 ESV)
If anyone would willingly be crushed, it would be this Man. And one day, about a thousand years after Isaiah, He was—for you, for me.
Jesus said of His life, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:18). The stalks in the French field had no choice. Jesus did. But He chose love. He chose the greater good. He chose to lay down His life so others could be watered (John 4:13-14).
He chose to do this for you, for me.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). This is the kind of love Jesus modeled and the kind of love His followers are called to emulate (Philippians 2:3-8). The kind of love that sees the field, not only my own stalk. The kind of love that says, “I will lay myself down so you can survive.” Wow. A kind of love that’s anything but easy, but by which His disciples are known (John 13:35).
A word of hope? When His calling seems too much, too unfair, too impossible, just say so. Confess it to Him (He already knows), and “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7)—yes, even the sin of I’m-not-ready-to-be-crushed.
You may be surprised what He’s able to do with your honest, contrite heart.
Next week’s reading: Isaiah 59–66.