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55 Victoria St N
St Paul, MN, 55104

651-300-9445

A community of people seeking to love God and each other in the manner of Jesus--regardless of race, gender, creed, past, present, politics or anything else.

Blog Posts

The world is in need of more steady voices. We hope this is a place where The Gallery tells a different kind of story, a good story, a hopeful but sober story. We're not trying to say all the things, or have all the opinions, we are just trying to communicate the invitation to a larger conversation that we have not with our words, but with our lives.

The Suffering Servant

Eric Craton

On Sunday Pastor Brad read to the church a letter that he wrote. It was created in the first-person-perspective of Jesus writing about Christmas and His life. We thought it would be great to post it here.

“He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” Isaiah 53:2-3

The decision to take on flesh, to become an embryo, completely dependent upon a young girl’s body for my nourishment and growth over 9 months was a decision made before creation. It was out of the eternal love of my Father, the Spirit, and Myself that I descended my throne to move toward suffering. My Abba loves the world so much that He gave Me, His Son to the winepress of pain.

 My coming was not without consequence for those nearest me. My mother and father had to endure the whispers and gossip of their dearest friends and family. Good friends suddenly were keeping their distance. Others never talked to them again. My coming did not make their life or their marriage easier. My presence in My mother's womb destroyed everything they had assumed their future would be.

Not even My birth was easy. I’m sure My Mother never dreamed of giving birth to her first child in a stable, a place better suited for animals than mother and child. And it is not insignificant that my birth, like all births, hurt. Yes, there was great joy and choirs of angels singing, but My birth would be just the beginning of her suffering and Mine.

Soon after my birth, my parents and I lived as refugees in Egypt. An angel of the Lord appeared to my father: “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

We left in the middle of the night and stayed in Egypt until King Herod died. We were safe but many were not. When Herod realized he had been outwitted…he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under.

“A voice is heard in Ramah,

    weeping and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children

    and refusing to be comforted,

    because they are no more.”

                                                          Matthew 2:18, Jeremiah 31:15

Why do I tell you these things? Why not leave them out of the scriptures so you could live in blissful ignorance thinking life with Me is painless. I tell you these things because I am the Truth, and truth, though often hard, sets you free. It is because I am Love that I open myself up to being rejected and hurt and misunderstood.

Misunderstood. That still hurts. Don’t we all long for someone simply to understand us? I remember returning to my hometown—Nazareth. I went to the synagogue there and began to teach. At first everyone was astounded: “Where did this man get these things? What’s this wisdom that has been given him?” But then it became, “Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?” And then they took offense at me.

It seemed everywhere I went people misunderstood what I was trying to do and say—Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum. It’s very hard to see people you really care about abandon you. I remember trying to explain to my disciples—not just the 12—at the time there were many followers of Me, I was trying to explain to them that their confidence lies in the wrong places. I said to them:  “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life….This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

And then boom. So many of those followers turned their backs on me and simply left. I asked the twelve: “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Peter answered me, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

God bless Peter for getting it right? But I loved every one of those people who abandoned me that day too.

"He was oppressed and afflicted,

    yet he did not open his mouth;

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,

    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,

    so he did not open his mouth."

                                                Isaiah 53:7

Can you truly know me without knowing my pain?

The night of my arrest there were no angels singing in the sky, no wise men bringing gifts. I was alone. Peter, James and John were nearby but they’d fallen asleep. I didn't think it too much to hope they'd stay awake as I went off to pray, but no. Then upon my arrest they scattered. Peter, the first to call me Messiah, would deny he even knew Me three times that night. Over the next 24 hours the Sanhedrin, Rome, all of Israel, all of humanity it seemed would reject Me.

I’d seen the crucified before. The Romans would crucify criminals outside the walls of Jerusalem. I saw their agony, their humiliation—naked and bleeding, no where to hide—a horribly public pain. Are you comfortable worshiping a God who didn't want to die that way? I drank that cup, of course, but it was bitter cup. Your alienation became my alienation. All the sin that has caused all the death on all this planet, became mine. The punishment that brought you peace was laid on me. By my wounds you were be healed.

"Surely he took up our pain

    and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

    stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

    and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

    each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all."

                                    Isaiah 53:4-6 

It’s strange. I don’t know if I can explain it well, but in my greatest pain I witnessed the infinite beauty and worth of God. And I believe when we recall God’s greatest pain in Christ, we too see the infinite beauty and worth of God. No one wants to hurt, but there’s no escaping it—in our pain we meet God.