December 20, 2010

The Punishment That Brought Us Peace

Lights, candles, gifts, happy music, favorite foods, hymns and carols, Christmas Eve worship service, special decorations, family and friend gatherings…it sounds like Christmas.

Time away from work or school, perhaps time spent alone or with one or a few others. Sleeping late, watching movies, reading, cleaning house, remembering those who once lived and then left us, loneliness, isolation, extra work hours, rushed meals, feeling a slight or deep dread of what the new year may bring…it sounds like Christmas.

Wherever is going on in my life this Christmas, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him.

“Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. 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.” –Isaiah 53: 5 (NIV)

Why doesn’t peace just bring more peace? In a way, it seems odd that someone’s punishment would bring peace. But sin is an odd thing, an unnatural thing, a thing that wasn’t planned for us from the beginning, a thing that must be accounted for in some way.

Sin is accounted for by punishment. I accept Jesus’ punishment as my punishment, or I take on my own punishment. He has given me that option. Taking on my own punishment wasn’t something that really appealed to me. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him.

I don’t know anyone in this world who would willingly choose to pay for every mistake error, or shortcoming of mine. Every now and then, a good friend comes along who will cover for a mistake. A family member or dearly loved one may help pay a bill, co-sign a loan, or help with a major purchase. Jesus voluntarily chose to take on the punishment required by the holiness of God and restore me to the path of wholeness.

Wherever I am this Christmas, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him. That is a great starting point for a new year.

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