It is said that Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th century first penned the words to one of our favorite hymns, O Sacred Head Now Wounded. The second verse speaks to the issue of our sin and the death of Christ:

What thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinners’ gain;
mine, mine was the transgression, but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve thy place;
look on me with thy favor, and grant to me thy grace.

That verse captures the whole problem of the human race—“mine, mine was the transgression.” We’ve done well in that department, haven’t we? Our sins have cut us off from God so we are left to our own feeble devices. Most of us think of ourselves as pretty good people, or at least we’re not as bad as the fellow next door. And it’s true—we haven’t done every terrible thing that others have done. But still our hands are not clean. We have cheated. We have lied. We have gossiped. We have falsely accused. We have made excuses. We have cut corners. We have lost our temper. We have mistreated others. When we finally get a glimpse of the cross of Christ, we see clearly how great our sin really is. In the light of Calvary, all our supposed goodness is nothing but filthy rags. That is why the greatest Christians have always had the most profound sensitivity to sin. The closer you come to Jesus, the more clearly you see your own sin. Isaiah 53 contains the good news we all need. He was bruised—for us. He was wounded—for us. He was beaten, betrayed, mocked, scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified—all for us. Our sins drove Jesus to the cross. But he did not go unwillingly. If our sins drove him there, it was his love for us that kept him there.

If you want to go to heaven, pay attention to Isaiah 53:6. In the King James Version, it reads this way: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Notice that it begins and ends with the word “all.” One man gave his testimony this way: “I stooped down low and went in at the first ‘all.’ Then I stood up straight and walked out at the last ‘all.’” The first “all” tells us that we are sinners; the last “all” tells us that Christ has paid the price for our sins. Go in at the first “all” and come out at the last “all” and you will discover the way of salvation.

Lord Jesus, I am one of the sheep that went astray. But you found me and brought me back home to God. Glory to your name forever! Amen.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.