I always stumble upon Isaiah 55 whenever I need to be reminded of my true identity and where it lies–in Christ and Christ alone. This passage reminds me that when God looks down on His child who has placed faith in Jesus, He sees Jesus on that child, which is everything opposite of dirty. He no longer sees a sin-stained soul. The fact that Jesus came to save sinners and redeem what was lost and ruined by the fall sets up the most freeing invitation. Jesus isn’t just a way to salvation, he is the only way to salvation. He bridges the gap of eternity. He opens the road to find access to God. He is the secure atoning sacrifice for sin once and for all. He is the only source to true freedom and hope. Because of these assured truths, we have been invited to come to Jesus. I think sometimes we get on this tangent thinking that we have to muster up something before we can come approach God. We think we have to “fix” ourselves up or make sin look “pretty”, just as Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves as they approached God. It doesn’t work this way. That way is actually more prideful than you think and it is an offense to the cross of Christ–because it is saying “the cross is too pretty for me and I will place my eyes on me instead of Jesus.” It’s basically saying that YOU are the atonement for sin–the reason Jesus came was because we are a depraved people who cannot atone sin for ourselves. Yet, God still knew we would desire to offer filthy rags of self righteousness and He still chose, by grace alone to die to that sin in itself. Think about that for a second: even your “best” offering of righteousness is not only not enough, but is an offense because it’s an attempt to put yourself in God’s place. It’s an attempt to redeem yourself when you are incapable. Only Jesus can redeem a human soul.
The cross serves the purpose to abolish sin and set us free into Christ’s righteousness. When we have placed faith in the person and work of Jesus alone, we are set free from ourselves. We are given joy in Christ and an invitation to the type explained in Isaiah 55. We can’t miss the reason why we have this freedom. It is because of Jesus; because of the “Great Exchange” explained by Martin Luther. This beautiful exchange is evident in 2 Corinthians 5:21 which says: “God made him who knew no sin, Jesus, to become sin,“that would be our sin,” so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The beauty of this? It’s a gift–you cannot earn it, you can simply receive it by God’s grace. And we are given identity in Christ’s righteousness, not our own. There’s nothing more to it. He accomplished this for you on the cross so that Isaiah 55 can be real and true; so that if you have received this gift, God sees Jesus’ righteousness upon you when you come to Him. This has been one of the most freeing promises in the gospel made evident in my life this past year. In my struggle against sin and temptation, I am humbled to remember it is nothing I have done or can do to earn God’s love. I am also humbled to see the constant need to press this truth into my mind when I find myself in an identity crisis. Anyways, I could go on and on about this whole great exchange and what Jesus actually promises to those who believe in Him. But I am writing this to remind you of the invitation that is far greater than any other.
Isaiah 55:1-3 is a sweet reminder to my soul. It also foreshadows Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”
The prophet, Isaiah, emphasizes that we have an offer on the table that is without cost. This means apart from Christ, we cannot earn the invitation– only through Christ’s work we can. The truth is that if we truly embraced the depth of the cost God chose to pay on our behalf in sending His Son, I think more of us would place our eyes upon Jesus, and less on ourselves. We would find joy in coming to him as we are and find it a blessing that the gospel doesn’t shine the spotlight on us, rather on Jesus. This invitation to come and eat without cost is true freedom. It’s the only place of freedom. That’s why the following verse asks the question: Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Whatever it is that you are chasing (that isn’t Jesus) cannot fulfill your desires. It’s easy to know that, but if you have trouble believing it, one thing has really helped me. I’ve had to pray against unbelief and ask God to change my affections for Him and less of my own fleshly desires. It’s a fight. But the beauty of this invitation once you have placed faith in Jesus, is that it won’t ever flee. The invitation is yours to come and take what will bring joy to your soul.