Links Daily Devotional

Our Lord, Part 3

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6, NIV 1984)

When we reflected yesterday on the weight Jesus bore in going to the cross, we considered the collection of our sins in amassing the pain and sorrow laid on him. But what of those sins themselves? What of the forgiveness necessary for our salvation?

On the golf course, it is common that two walking players will hit balls in opposite directions, one into the trees on the right, the other among the mounds on the left. And as these golfers part ways to find and play their respective balls, it is also common to hear the wry expression, “See you at the green.”

It is a perfect picture of “each turning his own way.” Straying from the best line, we must play the hole from odd angles and challenging lies.

In sin, we also stray from the best line, which is the path of righteousness laid out for us by God. Namely, this is the way of faith, whereby we follow God’s designs generally—trusting his mercy, forgiveness, provision, and strength—and specifically—obeying the clear instructions of Scripture: give to the poor, tell the truth, maintain sexual purity, practice hospitality, serve your enemy, etc.

Wandering this way, we are not only like mis-hitting golfers but, Scripture says, like sheep. Sheep are not smart, self-protecting animals. They need a guide. And those who would guide them are patient and tender, yet firm when necessary—like many pet lovers you know.

In Matthew 9 we read that when Jesus saw the crowds, “he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” In other words, it was in Jesus’ heart long before he went to the cross to care for people who could not care for themselves.

In our strong-willed natures, of course, we are prepared to argue: “Oh, but that’s not me. I can fend for myself. In fact, it is God who has made me hearty for the task.”

Make this case if you’d like when it comes to the tasks of the day (though you’d have to never mind that your health and your will are not things you provide for yourself!). But don’t make the mistake of missing the outset of today’s truth: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray…”

To call on a savior, even one as self-sacrificing as Jesus, we must first understand that we need someone to save us. We must recognize that we are wayward men and women, departing from faith to go our own way. We don’t stray occasionally; we do it with regularity. This straying, this iniquity, was laid on Jesus for our sakes. To accept that he has taken our sin in this way and put it to death on the cross—this is the beginning of a faith that depends on his saving grace.

Jeff Hopper

September 4, 2013

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