‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 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. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.’Isaiah 53:6-12
Isaiah was a prophet chosen by God to speak his messages to the people of Israel. Time and time again, Israel turned away from God and his purposes, broke his commands and disobeyed him. While God’s message through Isaiah was given to Israel, it also speaks to all of sinful humanity. He knew that the solution to the blight of sin was a single all-encompassing sacrifice on behalf of the whole human race to pay the penalty of sin once and for all; “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”
At Christmas, we particularly remember Jesus coming to earth as a newborn to one day die on a cross at Calvary as the sacrificial Lamb of God; “…he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people…”. We are grateful that we have been returned from our ‘going astray’, but let us pray for those we know and love who have yet to return to the Father, the shepherd of the flock.