First Presbyterian Church of Olney

An evangelical church in urban Philadelphia

A family of believers of all ages and ethnicities

First Presbyterian Church of Olney Philadelphia PA


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Holy Week Devotions 2016
Friday, March 25, 2016 - Krista Barbor


“Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.”
Isaiah 53:4-6 NLT

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These verses are an excerpt from a passage of Scripture we've all likely heard a million times. I remember the first time I really learned about Isaiah 53 in depth as we were assigned to memorize the verses. In Mr. Marshall's 7th grade homeroom, this passage came alive as we began to understand the prophetic components of the writing while gaining an appreciation for how vital Jesus’ sacrifice was for each of us. Every child growing up in Sunday School learns that Christ “died on the cross to save us from our sins.”  But, this passage explains exactly how that can even make sense!
 
We each know ourself to be sinful to the core-- which causes a very understandable separation between us and our perfect, holy, set apart Creator. It is only through Jesus’ sacrifice and his willingness to take on the punishment we deserve that we have a chance at restoration in our relationship with God.
 
In this election season, we're hearing the slogans and maybe can't help thinking of the reactionary “Make America Whole Again” as we read verse five. No matter which candidates we prefer or don't prefer, that phrase speaks to the desire inside each of us for peace and restoration of what humanity has broken.  We are like sheep-- those messy, stupid and powerless animals that can so easily go astray. 
 
The Scripture graphic you see with this devotional is a photo taken at Evansburg State Park.  It’s a place not too far away where there are so many interesting things to the sides of the designated path that can attract a hiker’s attention away from the safe trail.  Life isn’t so different, right?  As the prophet Isaiah says, “We have left God’s paths to follow our own.”  We can’t earn our way back to God.  We need Jesus to be the propitiation by taking on the burden that is beyond what we could bear.
 
Knowing this is half the battle, but if we live our lives unchanged, then what good is it?  “He was beaten so we could be whole.  He was whipped so we could be healed.”  We don’t need to live wallowing in sin or guilt.  Jesus has paid the price already!  This Easter, let us all be reminded that we can have a fresh start and live different, redeemed, restored lives by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ!  What does that look like?  We watch for and strive for the fruit of the Spirit.  Galatians 5:22&23 give us the goals: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  They’re not new ideas, but we (like sheep) probably each could benefit from frequent reminders!



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5435 N. Third Street, Philadelphia, PA 19120
215-424-6809