Yet the Eternal One planned to crush him all along,
to bring him to grief, this innocent servant of God.
When he puts his life in sin’s dark place, in the pit of wrongdoing,
this servant of God will see his children and have his days prolonged.
For in His servant’s hand, the Eternal’s deepest desire will come to pass and flourish.
As a result of the trials and troubles that wrack his soul,
God’s servant will see light and be content
Because He knows, really understands, what it’s about; as God says,
“My just servant will justify countless others by taking on their punishment and bearing it away.
Because he exposed his very self—
laid bare his soul to the vicious grasping of death—
And was counted among the worst, I will count him among the best.
I will allot this one, My servant, a share in all that is of any value,
Because he took on himself the sin of many
and acted on behalf of those who broke My law.”
My friend and I were talking last evening. We talked about perspective and how we can’t judge someone too well by what we see in only a matter of days or weeks. It might take years to actually figure out what a person is like. And good thing, probably. We talked about a family we used to know who somewhat proudly would tell anyone they met that in their last 15 years, they had lived in 12 different places. This was a military family so this was very possible. In some ways, it sounded pretty impressive. After all, they told us, all of the places had been simply awesome with such great people. They must have experienced lots of people, places, and had had many adventures. Interestingly, though, as we got to know these people better it came to us that there had been a likelihood that not only had the military moved this family this often, but the family had probably requested to be moved this often. Turns out, the family only remained with us for not much more than a year. Sadly, by the time the year was up, most of their relational bridges had been torched and burned, their family had been shamed due to several unfortunate events, and any friends that they might have claimed had turned on them.
In hindsight, we realized the family tragically could not probably stay in any one place for longer than a year or two due to their intense and difficult way of living and treating others. Thing is, it took us awhile to figure this out. At first, we rallied around them, let them engage in our church activities, opened our homes to them, and generally welcomed them as much as possible. After all, their stated church credentials seemed adequate, they used all of the right words and phrases in conversation, and they looked good. What else would we need to judge someone? Of course, after time and with some perspective we realized that this was a family sadly in pain. They needed much care. But in only a year, there was not enough time to adequately give the care they needed. They moved on. They couldn’t wait for our care or perhaps they didn’t want any care because it would have been embarrassing for them. I hope they are alright today.
Time, patience, and understanding creates perspective. And with perspective comes wisdom and knowledge. It is shocking to read in this Bible passage that God had “planned to crush him [Jesus] all along.” And it seemingly wasn’t for good reason, either. Jesus was an “innocent servant”, after all. What God did, at first sight, certainly seems harsh and brutal to me. The idea that our God of justice would destroy his innocent and faithful son seems almost too much to tolerate. No wonder many possibly consider God a brute. And it would certainly seem so without some perspective.
We live in a time where we witness serious family or relational problems being solved on TV in sitcoms that last 23 minutes or less. We will always grunt, applaud, or say, “All right!” when the hero in a movie gets the last word – he said it and that about wraps up the whole story. We like to order something online and within a matter of minutes, we get a receipt that not only confirms our order, but it gives us shipping information, tells us when the parcel will arrive, and who will be shipping the box. All clean, neat, and proper. It’s all about being brief, quick, and clinical.
Amazingly today, we carry on extremely complex conversations on Twitter using no more than 140 characters in each transmission. Talk about being succinct! Here is a perfect example that came through just moments ago. It said, “I’m saying it for your sake.” That’s it. Do you wonder what this is all about? Do you know who is talking and who is being talked at? Do you wonder what the context is all about? Do you have any perspective – at all? This is a good example of how many of us communicate today – spurts, squirts, and squeals. We rarely say what we mean to say directly to the one who needs to hear what is being said. We elect to not create context and contribute to a full perspective. We, instead, prefer quick, obfuscated, dreary, and obtuse methods of wiener communication that is wrapped in the seductive bacon of social media. All we end up with are bellies full of stale air, little or no satisfaction, and minimal amounts of encouragement. It is no wonder that some relationships are on the rocks due to social media and otherwise poor, lazy communications – nothing important is ever being said the way it needs to be said and in the place that it needs to be said and then fully being understood by the one hearing it. This creates the difficult situation where there is inadequate perspective.
Here is the thing. We suffer from perspective-deficit-disorder, or PDD. Unfortunately, we suffer because we either don’t have the time, don’t want to take the time, or don’t see a reason for investing in the time. It all gets down, pretty much, to being selfish with our time. Instead of getting familiar with the context of something or taking the time to let perspective develop and mature, I think many of us think we simply need the fastest solution, the single fix-it feel-good pill, the one-click button, the ten second Snapchat photo, the hourly therapist, the plethora of time-saving urban acronyms, the latest self-help book, or the 140 character tweet to solve all of our relational issues in our wearisome and dogged lives.
Too bad. This isn’t how people are wired and it isn’t how God works with his universe. PDD is crippling and disallows us from understanding God’s ways and an understanding of a passage like this one from Isaiah 53. If all we grab hold of is a photo of an unjust and brutal God and a victimized and mistreated Jesus, then we miss the entire idea of God’s salvation, grace, redemption, and love. Completely wrong.
With a desire for perspective, we will want to absorb these various words:
“God [will] deal decisively with sin and its harmful effects.”
“This servant of God will see his children and have his days prolonged.”
“…the Eternal’s deepest desire will come to pass and flourish.”
“God’s servant will see light and be content…”
“I will count [Jesus] among the best.”
God knew best. And Jesus did, too. For you and me. It’s perspective.