The prophet Isaiah describes a person who is struck down by God to bear the iniquities of the people of Israel. Christians later saw in this the foreshadowing of Jesus who, in obeying the will of God, went “like a lamb led to its slaughter.” For us, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Mark’s Gospel tells the story of James and John, disciples of Jesus, who ask for special placement when he comes into his glory. This becomes a teachable moment for Jesus to show them what his coming really means – a cross. “The son of man came…to give his life as a ransom for many.” To join him is to become one who lives to serve and save others rather than seek promotions.
The Letter to the Hebrews compares the high priesthood of the temple to the life and work of Jesus. Human priests do not presume to take this position of honor, because they too are people subject to weakness and sin. Jesus also did not presume to take his role, but was appointed by God and responded with obedience even when it led to suffering and death.
Comment: Peter, Paul, and Mary – that pop group of the 1960’s, sang a song about a man with a “long chain on” who accepts the hospitality of a simple meal, and prays a beautiful grace to God before eating. When offered to have his chain cut free, he says, “We best let it be.” Jesus freely comes to us and accepts the work God his Father gives – to enter into our human weakness and take it upon himself. It is hard to understand how Jesus can take and bear my sin, let alone the sin of the world. Yet we understand the prophet Isaiah to speak of that very possibility – a person who bears the afflictions of God’s people. It is a pure gift that passes understanding, a gift of love. The One who created all things, and created me, saves and restores us! I don’t need to understand how. I need to rejoice daily and let my life respond with gratitude and readiness to follow this wonderful Lord who comes for us all