The Next Chapter – Week of March 29, 2021

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The punishment that brought us peace was on him,
And by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to our own way;
And the Lord has laid on him
The iniquity of us all

Isaiah 53:5-6

Have you ever been unhappy to finish a good book? As you move through the pages, you become emotionally invested. Chapters go by until finally, the ending looms and the journey is complete. You are left with only heart-felt memories and an anxious hope that the author will continue the narrative in another volume.

Without a doubt, the Bible is incomparable to other texts with its holy author and divine purpose. But readers can still be emotionally engaged when reading it. It would be difficult to read any verse in Isaiah 53 without being drawn in by the prophet’s description of Jesus. Our text cuts directly to Calvary’s hill in the final moments before Jesus’ death.

We find Jesus bearing God’s judgement all on his own. Jesus was pierced. He was crushed. He was wounded. God laid on him the sins of us all. In Isaiah’s description, our Savior is finishing his work with no one there to help him. Oh, we are present in Isaiah’s account, but our role is not to help Jesus. We could not help Jesus. We are the very reason Jesus is in this circumstance. So, Isaiah rightly compares us to sheep that have gone astray. It is our waywardness that God cannot tolerate. It is, in fact, our punishment that our Great Substitute is accepting.

Further in Isaiah 53 we see that Jesus accomplished his divine mission with his death. Our Great Substitute died. Under normal circumstances, the last chapter would quickly follow. But this is God’s book with God’s words describing God’s plan and promises. God does not close his book here and leave us emotionally spent. If he did, that would surely be our finale as well. No, there is another chapter. Spoiler alert! In that magnificent chapter, God accepts Jesus’ sacrifice and Jesus rises. Jesus is not dead! He is alive!

That leads to the next chapter for us too! His death is our death. His life is our life. Just as Jesus was not left alone on Calvary’s hill, our death will not be the end of our story either. God promised us another chapter in our lives. Because of Jesus, we anxiously wait for our faithful God to deliver that promise of life in heaven. This time though, God will not need to describe it to us. Because of Jesus, he will allow us to experience it for ourselves! What a profound experience that will be!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Great Substitute!  Thank you for fulfilling God’s promises so that we can experience the next chapter of our lives- in heaven with you!  Amen!

Questions for Reflection: How do I look forward to my life in heaven that is to come?  How do I help the children in my care look forward to their life with Jesus?

Want to know more?  What is heaven?  From WhatAboutJesus.com

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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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