Sunday, December 11, 2016


My righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.
Isaiah 53:11 (NLT)

I've been reading in the book of Isaiah lately, and the ancient prophet makes many references to the promised Messiah of Israel. Today we know he was talking about Jesus, the baby who was born to Mary and Joseph. On the night of His birth, an angel was sent to shepherds watching over their flocks at night and made this announcement: "I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people."

In my previous blog, I talked about Jesus bringing the Good News that "The Kingdom of God is near."  In essence, the angel was saying the same in announcing the birth of the Christ-child. "A Savior has been born to you…peace to those on whom his favor rests."  God had come near to bring salvation, peace, and joy, as the prophet Isaiah had proclaimed hundreds of years before.

In Isaiah 53, we read about Who was promised, what He would be like, and His purpose. In verse 11 it says, My righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.  This is the cornerstone of God's Kingdom. His mercy and forgiveness counts us as righteous.

We are loved. We are forgiven. We are free.

Later in the Gospels, we can read a wonderful story that shows what this means for one woman. She responds to this free gift of salvation by attending a dinner-party held in Jesus' honor and washing His feet with perfume and her tears. The host of the party is disgusted by her actions because she is a "sinful woman", but Jesus is moved by her gratitude and love.

"I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love."

In contrast, the man sees himself as righteous with no need for forgiveness—or at least not as much as this woman. Other than inviting Jesus to dinner, he doesn't do anything to honor Him. Why? He doesn't understand how much Jesus has given him. He hasn't been made righteous through forgiveness, but rather is self-righteous, thinking he hasn't done much that needs forgiving, and he can easily make up for his shortcomings by having the Messiah over for dinner. (Surely that will cover it.)

But it doesn't work that way. Hundreds of years before, God had said, My righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for HE will bear all their sins. The "sinful" woman understood this, the "righteous" man did not. He didn't understand that he and the woman were the same: sinful but forgiven. That's the only scale of righteousness God has.

We all make mistakes. No one is perfect. We're all sinners. Perhaps you see yourself like the man who wasn't "too bad"; or maybe you see yourself as the man saw the woman. In his eyes, she was beyond forgiveness. Her sins were "too great". But in God's Kingdom, neither reality exists.

All of us like sheep have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on HIM the sins of us all.

The sins of us all…I pray you believe that. You are forgiven. No matter what mistakes you have made, no matter what you need forgiveness for. You are. You are counted as righteous.

As the woman in the story who washed Jesus' feet with her tears, may your motive for loving God and showing Him that love be the same. Not from a heart of guilt and shame, nor from a heart of self-righteousness. But rather as one who owed a debt that couldn't be paid, so He paid it for you. Go in peace, dear one. You have been forgiven.

Scripture taken from Mark 1:15; Luke 2:10-11, 14; Luke 7:47 (NLT); Isaiah 53:6 (NLT)
Woman photo by Benjamin Earwicker,

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