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.
If you’ve moved in Christian circles for any length of time, you are probably familiar with the many parallels between the Christian and the sheep: stubborn aversion to anything risky, desire to move with the group, easily lost, etc.
In reading this passage, I take the first two lines to heart, so much so that I demonstrate my own sheep-likeness yet again.
I read: “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.”
I think: Oh yes, I can understand that. I know I’ve sinned—oh, I am so sheeplike, so stupid! Self-beration feels natural, almost holy, so I continue to dwell on my shortcomings and wallow in guilt.
But we must urge each other to remember the most important part of this passage: “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Yes, we were once hopelessly lost, walking in darkness far worse than a sheep’s nearsightedness. Christ entered our darkness, promising the fullest life (John 10:10), assuring us that he would pay the cost of giving us that life (John 8:34-36, 3:15).
Our first iniquity was rebellion against our creator. But in Paul’s words, thanks be to God! We have been delivered; we have been found. We have been justified once—for all time—because the Lamb bore the sins of his flock.
…and by his wounds we are healed.
We all have scar stories.
I have a friend who proudly shows off a gash on his thumb, claiming it came from a boxing match with a bear. My pride and glory is a crescent shaped patch, ranging from bicep to forearm. While showing off the immense scar left over from a surgery to repair ligaments several years ago, I let students speculate what caused the giant wound. “Did you get stabbed?” “Did a shark attack you?”
Scars serve as outward proof and vindication of past pain and perseverance. They are indications and reminders of experiences and the lessons we, hopefully, take away from those
Christ’s wounds, however, carry deeper implications because he had no lesson to learn, no need to develop the perseverance or character we attribute to such wounds. Jesus received his
wounding on behalf of us, so that his marks would be a constant reminder of incarnated and resurrected grace. He told Thomas to place his hands in the holes that marred his hands, his side.
Paul claimed at the end of Galatians that one type of scar no longer mattered—circumcision—but now the marks of Christ born on his body are all the credentials needed. I am thankful for the fleshy scar on my arm that refuses to fade with time. It is a reminder of the deepest physical pain I ever felt. Moreover, it serves as a reminder of how the incarnated Christ took my stripes and bruises, and how his resurrected being did not hide those scars but used them as proof of his love and plan for us in resurrection.
The scars we endure now are not glossed over or hidden in resurrection; they are the indication of how much healing occurred.