A Reward Misplaced
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:3-6
The person receiving the reward is not always the one who deserves it.
For over ten years, America has tuned in to watch one highly-paid executive after another trade in their tailored suits and corner offices for overalls and janitor closets, sporting fake mustaches, glasses, and even toupees in an effort to hide their true identity. Every week, these Undercover Bosses condescend their enviable positions to work at entry-level jobs within their own companies. And since every story needs an antagonist, each episode reliably highlights a lazy employee caught stealing or mistreating customers — often in full view of their incognito captain. Everyone cheers when the leader’s power and authority are revealed on national television and the thief is outed, confronted, and terminated.
But imagine an alternate ending, with the misbehaving employee awarded with a corner office and the CEO’s dismissal, despite no wrong doing. We are quick to identify with the hard workers or the successful boss, but in more ways than we realize, we play the part of the dishonest thief.
Jesus lived among mankind, but rather than receiving earthly honor, he was despised and rejected. The Creator of the Universe descended from heaven to walk among us, “yet we esteemed him not.” Not only did Jesus restrain his power and withhold justice, but God gave him the punishment instead of us.
It was this unjustified punishment which opened the door for our unmerited reward. It was no less than the fulfillment of the gospel and our reconciliation with Christ. His mercy and grace gave us hope in spite of our deepest rebellion. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
- In what ways are you tempted to allow bitterness into your life because of the injustice you feel you’ve endured?
- How does remembering the injustice of the cross help you release that bitterness?
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18