Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stuff on Repeat in My Mind


So I think this will be the third time that I've brought up Isaiah 53 here. I don't know why, but it's the only thing I've been reading since the week before Easter. In seminary we would read volumes upon volumes of biblical commentary in a mere day. I think that's why I now find myself sticking to just a few verses in a month, hoping they will stick and that I'll miraculously "get it".

More than anything, I keep returning to the first three verses of that chapter. The ones that describe the origins of Jesus and also his appearance. I realize that the American church understands that Jesus was simple, that he wasn't a glam god. But I'm not sure we get that there really was nothing about him that would have even caused us to take a second glance. In my mind, I keep thinking that were I to have lived during His time here, say, one of Mary Magdalene's girlfriends, that I would have been undeniably drawn to Him. I imagine that once He said your name, you simply were enamoured of Him.

I'm starting to think that's untrue.

One of my sweet Bible profs at Dallas Seminary has written it this way in reference to verse 3 ("He was despised and rejected by men"):

The English word "despised" carries strong emotional overtones, but its Hebrew source means to be considered worthless and unworthy of attention. The Servant would not be the object of scorn, Isaiah meant, though He was that (Mark 10:33; Luke 18:31-33), as much as He would be hastily dismissed. People would reject Him because they would not see Him as having any significance for them (6:10; John 1:10-11; 12:37-41). They would not give Him a second look. (Dr. Constable, notes on Isaiah)

See? The set-up was such that I just wouldn't have noticed Jesus at all. Sort of like how I don't notice the gas station attendant or Target check-out girl. The picture at the top of this post? I found it while searching for a depiction of Jesus that would look very unlike the ones we have in our mind. When you look at it, does it bother you like it does me? I don't like it. But I think that's good that it bothers me - because it brings home the point that Isaiah is making. By the way, I found that picture on a website for Atheists. :)

Then Dr. Constable takes verse 3 a step further ("...a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."):

People would also avoid the Servant because He would appear to them as one who had His own problems. Since He knew pain and grief, others would conclude that He was not in a position to help them. He would appear to them as a loser, and who goes to a loser for help or looks to one for leadership? This description does not mean that the Servant would always be sickly and morose (cf. 1:5-6). It means that the way He presented Himself would not lead people to look to Him for strength. (Constable, Isaiah)

Wow. I'd never thought of that. I'd never realized just how much of a loser people presumed Jesus to be. Maybe I've focused too much on the idea that folks followed Him and haven't given credo to the humongous amount of faith that must have required...to follow someone that others saw as a big loser. I spend quite a bit of time ensuring that NO ONE presumes me as a loser. In fact, I'd say it's a major goal in my life to be perceived as freakin' awesome.

One of my strongest neuroses is my desire/need for others to not just look fondly upon me, but to see me as incredible, amazing, utterly worthy and the BEST. I'm serious. I can head into a tailspin when I think that someone doesn't respect me or sees me as anything less than completely kickass.

I am so unlike Jesus. That's why my heart is saddened to read these verses. I'm so fixated on the public persona that I present to the public (wow, that's a lot of p's) that I miss out on allowing the Holy Spirit to conform me to the likeness of Christ. And yet my heart also rejoices over these verses because when I read them, there is a sense of paradox - our knowledge that the One Who was despised is also the One Who is the most beautiful, the One Who has all power and dominion. And He is coming.

So come, Lord Jesus.

3 comments:

Katy said...

Beck, this quote from you:

One of my strongest neuroses is my desire/need for others to not just look fondly upon me, but to see me as incredible, amazing, utterly worthy and the BEST. I'm serious. I can head into a tailspin when I think that someone doesn't respect me or sees me as anything less than completely kickass.

Describes my issues this week EXACTLY. Something a friend prayed for me last night was that even as a perfomer, I do not need to focus on impressing others. The only one I need to focus on is Christ. His thoughts toward me is what counts.

"Be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; He'll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you." 1 Pet. 5:6-7

Kay said...

My initial impression upon opening your blog was "Ewww why such an ugly picture." The minute I saw Isaiah referenced, I understood.

Andy and Cari said...

I love this post...Your notes are great and it really gives you something to think about...like we all need more to think about, right? :)Good insite.