Summary: Christmas is not just about the birth of a child, it’s about who he was born to become. Today, we’re going to consider Jesus who was born to be a Wounded Healer.
When I lived in Tulsa, OK and worked at Boston Avenue UMC, an 8000 member church with 13 ministers on staff, I would go over to one of the other associate pastor’s homes on Saturdays to watch college football. As I got off the interstate and there was an antique store which a sign reading, “New antiques just in.” I always laughed at that oxymoron. Here are some other oxymorons: Military Intelligence, Business Ethics, Cold Sweat, Safety Hazard, Constant change, Federal budget, Random order, Wedded bliss, Legal brief, Exact estimate, Microsoft Works, definite maybe. Today’s sermon title is another oxymoron: Wounded Healer.
This Christmas season we’re looking at the true identity of Jesus Christ. Christmas is not just about the birth of a child, it’s about who he was born to become. Today, we’re going to consider Jesus who was born to be a Wounded Healer. Our Scripture was written 600 years before Jesus’ birth, and yet it talks about the coming Messiah who would be the wounded healer of the world. Why would the Son of God be born into this world only to be wounded? That’s certainly not something we would choose for ourselves. He came to save us and yet ended up being wounded. That’s not fair or just.
You and I have this great desire, if not expectation, that life should be fair. But life isn’t fair! Children are killed in a drive by shooting. People who love the city and are working to rebuild New Orleans are inexplicably murdered. Persons who have committed all their lives to God are stricken with years of illness, surgeries and pain. Life isn’t fair. Think of Jesus’ birth. He wasn’t born into privilege; he was born into poverty. He wasn’t born into position but was born as a member of a minority group. He wasn’t born to two married parents but to a teenager out of wedlock. Before he was 2, he had a price on his head and had to escape to Egypt for safety. He lived in a country that was occupied by Roman forces and never knew freedom. He was challenged, questioned and rejected by his own people and even his own family. He was falsely accused and then died in disgrace, as a criminal, even though he was innocent. Jesus’ experience teaches us that life indeed isn’t fair. Jesus shows us something about God that we don’t see in any other religion: God is a God who suffers. But He also shows us God is not one who lives outside of that unfairness or remains indifferent to it. God is a God who enters into life’s unfairness and suffering with us. God set aside his own interests to come to the aid and wellbeing of those who had no other solution. He becomes the wounded healer by which we are healed. How?
First are his emotional wounds. The one who came to save us was hatd, betrayed and rejected. The first three verses reveal that the world rejected 4 things about Jesus. First, they rejected the preaching of Jesus. “Who has believed our message?” The answer was there were far greater numbers who didn’t believe than those who did and there were even smaller numbers whose lives reflected that belief. Jesus called people back to God and they rebelled against God all the more. He called them to love but they continued to hate. He called them to forgiveness but they still held grudges. They rejected his message by both word and deed.
Second, they rejected the power of Jesus. Isaiah goes on to ask "And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" Do you remember the Arm and Hammer baking soda box with the picture of the flexed arm on the front? The arm is supposed to be a symbol of the power of the baking soda. In the same way, the arm of the Lord is a symbol of the power of God. Jeremiah 32:17 says the Lord created the heavens and the earth by his great power and outstretched arm. And Isaiah 51:9-10 says that it was the arm of the Lord that parted the Red Sea and helped the Israelites escape to freedom. Jesus showed his power, the power of the arm of the Lord, in the walking on water and calming of storms, in the healing of the blind, the sick and the maimed, in the raising the dead and in transforming sinners into redeemed followers of God. You see, Jesus is the arm of the Lord. He’s the one who was outstretched to give us the power to live a holy life, to overcome the past, to live above our circumstances and to handle our daily problems. But they still rejected him.
Third, they rejected the appearance of Jesus. Verse two says that "he grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground." Roots normally need a lot of moisture to grow. They wouldn’t be expected to spring up out of dry ground. But jesus was not raised in fertile conditions to become a Messiah. He grew up in the Podunk, backwoods, no name town of Nazareth which was so inconsequential that it didn’t even appear on the maps of his day. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” he came from the wrong side of the tracks. You could tell by the way he looked and the way he dressed. He was royalty like God and so he didn’t look like a Messiah! He didn’t dress like a Messiah! And he certainly didn’t talk like a Messiah, with that country accent so they rejected him. In addition he was just an average looking Joe. Verse three says, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him." The Israelites believed that one of the signs of blessing of God was good looks. Servants of God like Joseph, Jacob and Absalom and King David among others was apparently very good looking. But Jesus was not and as a result, they did not receive him.