The Coffee Oasis asked a number of local pastors to write a meditation for Holy Week on different verses from Isaiah 53, specifically the ways Jesus joins the suffering of our homeless population. You can find all of those entries here. I was asked to write a meditation on verses 4-5 and am including it here.
We considered him punished by God.
Wounds beg for words of explanation A story that justifies the suffering I see on this tortured and weary face “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents That he was born blind?” If he’s a sinner I can ignore his wounds they are his punishment, after all. So I will conjure a story for him a tale of his laziness of his selfishness of his having wasted plenty of opportunities so that if I have compassion, it is because I am saintly, but if I ignore it is because he is a sinner bearing the consequences of his waywardness struck down by God. Punished. Afflicted. My own wounds beg for words of explanation a story that justifies my suffering as they fester into resentment infecting my soul with a self-righteous sense of victimhood; as if they were caused only by others these wounds I keep reopening O! I am afflicted! O! I am stricken! Or sometimes they fester into shame; I am being punished by God because I am hated by God despised and rejected by God unloved. The wounds of a crucified man beg for words of explanation hanging naked for all to see and scorn in shameful scandal open wounds festering, we considered him punished by God. “Who sinned that this man hangs there like that?” No, this man didn’t sin. This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. Wounds beg for words of explanation No story can justify the suffering of this crucified man but his story is of a suffering that justifies this tortured and weary face suffering with all who have been naked and homeless for all to see despised and scorned suffering for those who would be rejected by God the punishment that brought us peace was on him by his wounds we are healed by his wounds we are loved.
Loving God, forgive me for the ways I try to make sense of the suffering I see in the faces of those experiencing homelessness by reckoning (even if only silently to myself in the dark places of my heart) that they are “reaping what they’ve sown,” scorning them as being in some way “punished.” I shudder to consider what assessment I might have made of you hanging on the cross if I were some first-century sojourner in Jerusalem, unaware of this Jesus of Nazareth. Thank you for loving me in spite of all that is despicable and detestable within me. Thank you for your healing wounds.