Eric, see below...
Thank you Mike for the quickness of your reply. Using what I learned for my first time through the course, here is how Isaiah 53 spoke to me.
Erick, this was absolutely wonderful brother, well done! Read below...
v. 2 Jesus was limited by inhabiting a body like mine. He wasn't outwardly glorious by mere physical appearance. I could very well pass Him on the street.
So true. Do you remember the description of the tabernacle that the Israelites carried with them in their journeys? It was drab and simple outside. It was covered with the hides of "sea cows" (Exodus 35:23) as a protective cover for the elements as they traveled in the desert. Nothing in its appearance that anyone would desire it, drab and unattractive.
But oh Eric, go IN to the tabernacle and it was a DELIGHT to the senses! All the royal blue, purple, and scarlet colors, the incense burning, the table of bread and the gold furniture -- oh my was it ever an amazing experience inside!
In Jesus' physical appearance there is nothing that would draw anyone. But IN Christ we see Him as "altogether lovely", beautiful and precious! He captures our hearts and amazes us day after day. 1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV) Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Eric, THIS is how we escape the plaguing, incessant thoughts! It is by being overrun and taken up with more powerful thoughts of Jesus, as we "see Him who is invisible".
Hebrews 11:27 (NIV-WS) By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.
We can see Him too, Eric, and the sight of Jesus, the sight of His cross both crushes us and heals us, and it begins to fill our vision!
v. 3 He was a condemned criminal and I know how I view someone labeled as a condemned criminal. I don't want to waste my time/energy on them. I would even throw my approval in with those who despise Him.
Amen. There we were in the crowd mocking Him, choosing sin over Christ, casting our vote against Him and for our own flesh.
Behold the Man upon the cross.
My sin upon His shoulder.
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life.
I know that it is finished.
v. 4 Everything in life (even God) has turned their backs to Him. He just isn't worth anything. Why bother?
Amen. Don't give Him a passing glance, turn away in disgust and move on.
Ah, but you see deeper here, right?
Isaiah 53:4 (NIV-WS) "Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted."
He was carrying your pain Eric, bearing your sin and your suffering, receiving your punishment as God afflicted Him in your place. THIS is what you need to see and grasp and meditate on. It might go something like this, "I see Jesus there on the cross, and wow is He ever in pain, having been beaten and hit and struck and pierced. But oh I see, the Bible is telling me that He is taking up MY pain and bearing MY suffering. He is doing this for ME.
v. 5 But I cannot walk away and totally dismiss what I've seen. Something about His circumstances has a hold of my heart and will not let me go. I see in His ugliness something of beauty. My repulsion is now morphing into a curiosity...then into a desire to draw near Him. He isn't like other men. My preconceived titles do not fit Him. There is something different about this man.
Amen! Get used to using the actual words of the text, as well. "He was pierced in His hands and feet, and in His side. There He is bleeding out. But why? Oh, I see that He is pierced for my transgressions. I see God is punishing Jesus instead of me, so that as Jesus suffers and dies, I go free!
Yes, there at the cross Jesus is being crushed! But now I see He is being crushed for my iniquities. The same sin that has been crushing me for so many years was placed on Jesus, and He was crushed for them.
Now I see that in God punishing Jesus instead of me I have peace with God, for Jesus was "punished for my peace."
v. 6 I have not relied on anything other than myself, and, therefore, I am ultimately unhappy with where I've ended up. But this Man, He might have something to do with helping me. I want something of His that I cannot achieve on my own, nor can I purchase it, earn it, or run far enough away from it to be freed of it...actually, I don't want to be freed from it, curiously, I want more of it. Now, it as though I actually thirst for it, I'm compelled towards it/Him, I must do everything to have Him.
Yes Eric, this Man, this God-Man, this Jesus is going to draw you powerfully with the cords of love. He will not let you go. He died for you on the cross, as proof positive that He is going to love you all your life and into eternity. This love, this power of the cross, is going to drive out all other thoughts, the cross being a huge upside down sword that is going to cut them all away from your mind and heart, over time.
Eric if you would like to, try one more. Just pick any passage and use the actual words of the Scripture to form your thoughts as to how they point to Jesus and the cross. Then meditate long on those images that form in your mind, think deeply about them until your heart is strangely warmed:
Luke 24:32 (NIV) They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”