(This is long, but it is my hope it is worth the read. This is a post that I am pretty passionate about.)
Do we know what Christ-likeness entails? Isaiah 53 paints a very clear picture of what Christ is like and this is a clear model for the Christian’s Christ-likeness. However, this is not the Christ-likeness that most of us desire.
“For He [Jesus] grew up before Him [The Father] like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground He had no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.” Isaiah 53:2
Christ-likeness entails anonymity. Are you willing to serve for the next 60 years with no recognition before men? That is Christ-like. Too often we want to be big people, with a big following, and want people to see what we have done, or even to have people see how greatly we have been used of God. However, there was nothing stately or majestic about His appearance, nothing that would make us look upon Him, nothing to attract us. How much of your life, and how many of your actions have a hidden motivation of being noticed, and looked upon. Even the greatest of your actions, if they are undergirded with self seeking motivations, will prove only to be wood hay and stubble and will burn up on that Day of Judgment.
“He was despised and rejected of men a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and like one from whom men hide there face He was despised and we did not esteem Him.” Isaiah 53:3
If you claim a desire to be like Christ, or you pray that God would make you more Christ-like then you are requesting rejection. “He was despised…” can you honestly desire that for His name’s sake? Do you want to be a man or woman of sorrows? When was the last time your faith caused you to weep, over your sins? over the lost? over the nation? Are you prepared to be a man or woman of sorrows, and to be acquainted with grief? Not only that, are you prepared to give up being esteemed? To go from respected in your line of work to disrespected because of your faith? Do you want to be like Christ? If you pray to be like Christ use much caution, God will answer it, and it might not be pretty.
“Surely our grief He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried, yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4
Are you ready for the very people you sorrow over to reject you, even claim that God is against you? This is what you are seeking, if you truly desire Christ-likeness. Realize this, Christ-likeness is a marvelous thing, but it is a low thing, a thing that carries much shame and humiliation in this world, but much honor and glory in the next. Are you ready to be sorrowed over another, and the very one you sorrow over views your sorrow as the punishment of God? You will be that misunderstood if you become like Christ.
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, and He was crushed for our iniquities and the chastening of our well being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
Again, Christ-likeness implies pouring out your very life for those who will ultimately reject you. Do you do ministry and such with an expectation that those who you minister to will ultimately pay some respect back to you? Or are you willing to make intercession for them and bear their load with them, even for them? Christ-likeness is a hard thing, but nonetheless it is what we are called to.
“All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us to His own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall upon Him.” Isaiah 53:6
We cannot pay another persons penalty, but are we willing to lay our life down our life for others, yea for our own enemies? Can we put aside our desires to meet their needs?
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, but He did not open His mouth, like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers so He did not open His mouth.” Isaiah 53:7
Maybe this is the hardest attribute of Christ-likeness. Can we endure the hardships, the mockery, the sorrow, and such without opening our mouth? Can we pray without letting anyone know? Can we agonize over the souls of men, and only share that sorrow with God Himself. Can we endure ridicule without defending ourselves? Can we believe our book without having to make 1000 intellectual arguments to make it more believable to the world? Can we trust that the cross is and always will be foolishness to the perishing, and we who believe in its power are bound to be foolish as well? Can we silently press on?
“By oppression and judgment He was taken away, and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgressions of My people to whom the stroke was due?.” Isaiah 53:8
Christ was misunderstood by the very people He came to save, yea He was rejected by those for whom He died. Can you share in that suffering? Can you endure the rejection by the very people you seek to bring good news to? Again this Christ-likeness is a lowly thing, a broken thing.
“His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was a rich man in His death because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.” Isaiah 53:9
Can you deal with not even having a legacy? Being disrespected even after your death? Can you go to the grave knowing that people have misunderstood you even reviled you and ascribed wickedness to you? The lowliness of Christ-likeness extends even to the grave.
“But the Lord was please to crush Him, putting Him to grief. If He would render Himself a guilt offering He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.” Isaiah 53:10
It pleased the Father to crush the Son. Are we willing to be so subjected to God that He may crush us for His name’s sake if it brings Him glory? Can we count ourselves as absolutely nothing? That is the call of Christ-likeness. Notice starting in this verse though, that the benefits of Christ-likeness are starting to appear. All this rejection of men, and sorrow over men, and bearing of grief of men, earns a place of high regard with God. The promise of spiritual offspring, and prolonged days (eternity) and the good pleasure of God prospering is all apart of Christ-likeness as well. It certainly is majestic to be Christ-like, but in the eternal sense, not the temporal sense.
“As a result of the anguish of His Soul, He will see it and be satisfied, and by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:11
The Father is pleased with our partaking of Christ’s likeness and His anguish. Now this verse clearly is a direct reference to The Father seeing the Son’s sacrifice on our behalf and being satisfied with it. In other words justice has been appeased and we now have access to Him. In the light of this glorious truth are we willing to lay down our lives, endure anguish in our souls in order that the Father may be pleased, and Christ honored?
“Therefore will I allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong because He poured Himself out to death, and He was numbered with the transgressors. Yet He bore the sins of many and makes intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12
There is great reward for Christ-likeness, but as Christ told His disciples “Count the cost…” Understand that this call to Christ-likeness is both the most rewarding, and also the most difficult endeavor. At the same time it is in this realm of Christ-likeness that we receive full power from the Holy Spirit making the burden easy, and light. We will never see how easy and light this seemingly impossible burden can be unless we put our shoulder under it and push.
That is all for tonight. As always feel free to comment or e-mail about this or any post.