Friday, March 24, 2006

Isaiah 53:11 – After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. (NIV)

I was the boys' school captain for my last three years at senior high. Coincidentally, my wife, Evelyn, was the girls' school captain of her senior high school, too. I don't know what the equivalent is on this side of the ocean — perhaps valedictorian is the nearest, with a mixture of athleticism thrown in for good measure. It meant that I had to represent the school at different functions and also listen to the voices of the students on the School Council.

One of the responsibilities that I had was to read the Scripture at our school church services. At the end of each semester, the whole school would walk across the road to the local church and pack it until it was overflowing. Standing in front of all my peers and reading Scripture was never easy, especially because none of us really took it seriously. It also didn't help to be reading aloud words that weren't a part of general conversation. The word "iniquities" was a stumbling block for me. I kept saying "inquinities" every time we practiced the readings. My English teacher, who had been given the responsibility of helping me practice, was really frustrated. He kept telling me how to pronounce it, and I kept saying "inquinities".

"What's the matter with you?" he asked. "Why can't you read this simple word?"

"Because I don't know what it means, so I can't get it into my head," I answered.

It was as if a light went on for my teacher. He had been trying to teach me to say the word, without knowing what it meant.

"It means the mistakes that we make, which separate us from God — just like each time you mispronounce this word, and you feel disconnected to the passage."

I never said "inquinities" ever again. Now that I understood, I could confidently say "iniquities".

There might be some iniquities in our lives that leave us separated and disconnected from God. What Isaiah says is that God has provided someone special to bear our iniquities and to suffer on our behalf. We know Him to be Jesus, our Saviour, Who restores to us God's favour and blessing, His kingdom and everlasting love.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You bore all our iniquities and took upon Yourself the punishment due for our sins. You have given us the opportunity to be reclaimed by God and to be acquitted of our past mistakes. We rejoice in our redemption and praise You for our salvation. In Your holy name, we cheerfully pray. Amen.

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John Stuart <>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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