I noticed a couple leave our worship service yesterday morning just after I began to preach. I didn’t take it personal but I did wonder if they were offended by the message. The thought of that bothers me a little but let me explain why. (Please don’t get the wrong idea I don’t think it’s about me at all.)
I began my message the way I usually do, since I preach in series, I was catching everyone up on where we were last week. So, I shared that God has the power, through the Gospel, to reach anyone no matter how far away they seem to be. I announced that we were all born into this sin problem and God has the power and ability to fix it; and He has. That’s just good news!
I did wonder, however, if some of the first time visitors to our church yesterday found themselves uncomfortable and offended by my statement that we’re all born sinners. If you struggle with this, just please know that this statement is completely biblical and the gateway of truth that opens up into the greatest news in all creation. This is why I say if someone is offended by this message it bothers me a little. They didn’t stay around long enough to hear the truth that relieves all the tension:
There’s a good that can only be found on the other side of the bad.
I would suggest that no passage of Scripture demonstrates this better than Isaiah 53. The words of Isaiah in this passage are just desperate. I don’t know how else to describe it. Line after line he writes of pain that actually begins back in chapter 52 with a man beaten beyond recognition. In the midst of all these descriptive words of agony like stricken, smitten, afflicted, wounded and crushed there is a ray of hope that this was all “for us.”
Why would Isaiah write about such punishment and brutality which could be surmised in one simple English word; bad? All these words are written to culminate in one attention gripping statement, “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him.” What?! The will of the Lord?
If you don’t already know, as Isaiah writes such soul piercing words he is actually writing about Jesus and what He ultimately did on the cross; and it went just as Isaiah said. He was beaten beyond recognition, He was mocked and yet did not return a word and he was buried in a borrowed tomb. This is where the good news comes in.
He did it all for us! There is a good (though the word “good” can barely describe this) that comes in complete contrast of the bad. In other words, what happens because of all these words of desperation is a promise of good that’s equally as breath taking as the words of wounds. Isaiah 53:11 sums it up completely:
“Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:11, ESV)
Isn’t that awesome news! “Many to be accounted righteous,” on account of the pain that Jesus suffered.
So, maybe those I noticed leaving our service had a stomach ache or a family reunion. I hope it was something like that. Not because it’s about me but because the news is so good. I want everyone to hear the entire message of the Gospel. There’s a difficulty that we have to deal with, that is, things are not ok. But, because of the work of God through Jesus, there is a good that we can realize on the other side of what seems so bad and that “good” ultimately affects every aspect of our lives. God is good!