Original photos by Jacy Lee Pulford. All rights reserved.
Very rarely in life do we experience messages that hit us right between the eyes almost instantly.Last night at church, my pastor preached a message that the point hit hard and right away...time did not pass before I "got it", you know what I mean?
He started with scriptures (as always and always appreciated!) It was the entire chapter of Isaiah 53. I encourage you to read it in it's entirety but I'm only going to highlight what I feel the Lord wants me to share with you today. There was a lot to take in with this message...things I have to personally deal with. There is one main point though that I'd like to try my best to get across to you now.
My pastor's message was entitled "The Anguish of Christ." Immediately, we think of the physical beatings that Jesus took for our sake. We cannot down play that...it was horrible abuse and it stirs up our hearts because He didn't deserve any of it.
But the worse thing to happen to Christ wasn't the physical...it was the rejection He experienced from others, especially the ones He loved and claimed to have loved Him back.
I mean, think about it. Don't you still remember when someone said something nasty to you? How did that make you feel? That feeling of not being accepted, not being good enough, maybe even despised and hated. People making fun of you because of your looks or your clothes. Didn't that hurt more than anything physical?
The prophecy of Jesus in Isaiah 53:2-3 says this:
"For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
Jesus had no form or comeliness which meant that he was not very good looking. When people saw Him, they saw no beauty. Oh we can all relate to that, right?! I mean seriously...when was the last time you looked in the mirror and cursed God for how you look? Maybe not cursed Him, but you were not happy with the reflection.
The anguish that Christ suffered worse than any of the physical beatings was the emotional abuse He received from others! Even when He was walking toward Calvary, His own disciples hid themselves. They did not even want to be associated with someone who was rejected by men, even though they claimed to love Him. Isn't that horrible?
The point of all of this can be found in Isaiah 53:5:
"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
Jesus's love for us was all that mattered! He was despised, rejected, abused, and cast down BUT it was all because He loved/loves us, and because He endured all that physical AND emotional pain, we can be healed!! God's love is limitless and there is a limitless supply of love that He is ready to pour out through us!
We have been accepted by Christ with love, so we have to start accepting other people with that same love. I hear that all the time, but when I heard my pastor's message last night, about all the emotional turmoil Jesus dealt with, it really made me realize how much I've done that to people. Who am I, to despise someone else, when Jesus accepted me while I was still dirty and lost?
My pastor told the story of a young boy who was always getting into trouble; everyone came to him to complain about the boy's behavior. My pastor sat down with him and asked what was wrong. The boy put up a front, at first, acting like he had no problems. When my pastor became honest and open, the boy confessed with tears that he wasn't liked. He felt rejected, and as a defense, he pushed others away. My pastor told him that he knew how the boy could have friends. Oh did he perk up, all ears! Pastor said "Act like they are already your friends. Treat them like you want them to treat you." (I'm paraphrasing here)
Since that point, pastor never received another complaint about that boy! He started to have friends and was happy.
We need to be the kind of people that they know they will be accepted by, no matter what! The world has already criticized them, beating them down emotionally. Why would they go to church to experience that same emotional abuse? Church should be a haven of love and acceptance!
In Jesus Name, let us approach the Lord so that our hearts may be more like His! Loving others first, long-suffering and forgiving. We have been accepted and healed by His stripes...let's spread that joy today!!