Who has believed what he has heard from us?

And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a “tender shoot,” and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 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. Isa. 53:1–4 (ESV)

Lord Jesus, as I reflect on Isaiah’s description of your Advent, it occurs to me your manger was, truly, a small garden of gigantic grace. For the Father planted you there as the young plant of Isaiah’s vision. You are root of life that broke through the parched ground of our fallen world and our hard, lifeless hearts. Thank you.

You created beauty, yet you became the one with “no beauty,” for us. You took the vileness and ugliness of our sin, that we might become pure and beautiful in you. What mercy and mystery. Though you’ve always enjoyed the delights of the Godhead, you became the despised one—the rejected one for us. The sacrifice you made for us is incalculable.

You—the fountain of pleasures, whose laughter fills heaven, whose joy is our strength—you became the man of intense suffering and inconsolable sorrows. And though you didn’t remain a “tender shoot,” you’ve retained all tenderness. No one is as kind and compassionate as you are, Jesus.

In taking up your cross, you took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. You bore our guilt and exhausted our judgment. Your great affliction has placed us in our Father’s eternal affection. Hallelujah, and thank you, Lord.

Oh, to esteem and love you as you deserve. May your tenderness grow in our hearts; and your compassion and kindness overflow to our families, friends, and neighbors. So very Amen I pray, in your beautiful and grace-full name.