He Has Carried Our Diseases
Today's lectionary text comes to us from Isaiah 53:3-4:
53:3 He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.
53:4 Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.It's Good Friday. This is the day Christians remember the suffering that Jesus endured, culminating with his being nailed to a Roman cross.
The lectionary text from Isaiah caught my eye today. "Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases..."
"Carried our diseases..."
I've read this passage a hundred times over the course of my life. And I've never really noticed that particular line before now. But it speaks now more than ever, doesn't it?
What does it mean that Jesus "carried our diseases?"
I think the ill-informed preachers of my youth would equate "disease" with sinfulness. They're sad, joyless theology starts all of us off as infected at birth--doomed to perish on account of the disease we inherited.
But what if the prophet actually meant what he said?
What if what he was seeing was a Messiah who waded into our frailty and our vulnerability at all levels.
All you need as evidence for this is the way Jesus interacted with the sick, the outcasts, the marginalized of his day who were considered unclean, untouchable and beyond redemption. Lepers. Prostitutes. Roman collaborators.
Jesus most certainly became "infected" through these interactions. He took upon himself all of the wonder and brokenness that makes up humanity, embracing it, demonstrating its value and showing how even those who were socially distanced from the community were precious in the eyes of God.
He bore our infirmities... He carried our diseases.
A friend forwarded me a blog post that had been written by a colleague, and I thought I would share it---because it fits this moment so perfectly.
One day we will return to normalcy, to a world beyond corona, but Jesus will not, not on this side of Good Friday. As far as my church’s health policy is written, Jesus won’t be allowed in our sanctuary when we reconvene our worship. He’ll make his home elsewhere—in the hospital ICU’s, in the soup-kitchen breadlines, in the living rooms of weary parents, in the confused hearts of beautiful children, and in the weary words of this bone-tired pastor.On this Good Friday it is right for us to reflect on this, and to be reminded that the One who went to the Cross for our sake and for the sake of all of Creation is not some distant memory, not some character in a story, not some other-worldly creature...
Far from it.
The One who went to the Cross on Good Friday was one of us. In every way he was one of us. And still even to this moment knows intimately what it means to be us.
He has carried our diseases, our infirmities, our doubts, our fears, our brokenness, isolation, seclusion, anxiety, worry and our frustration and anger.
He carried them to the Cross, and left them there. Just as we should.
We are almost there Beloved. Sunday's coming. But until then we will sit in this space today, remembering what was done for us---for all of us. And we may grieve, but we do not grieve as those without hope. The One who went to the Cross is also the One who walked out of the Tomb.
May this give you hope today and may this Good Friday take on new meaning for you now--deeper meaning than ever before.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.