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Isaiah 49:3-4

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Isaiah 49:3-4, ‘And He said to me, “You are my Servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain and have spent my strength for nothing and vanity…”’

Here we see a glimpse into the human soul of Jesus as He hangs on the cross….This is the moment that the Father is supremely glorified in Him, yet it *feels* like ‘nothing and vanity…’

‘Vanity’ here does not mean ‘self conceited’…rather, it is the word repeated in Ecclesiastes in reference to the confusing, discouraging, seemingly meaningless drudgery of life…for cycles of mortality, labor that crumbles in the end, daily efforts that seem to lead nowhere, the slow ebbing of life with nothing lasting to show for it…*meaninglessness*—And this is what Isaiah 49:4 suggests to us Jesus Himself endured on the cross.

Indeed, the cross is the Arch-Vanity…the bitter portrait, painted in flesh and blood, of what this world does to the longing for eternity set in the human heart…It is empty, senseless, absurd, meaningless…

And so it would truly be, were it not for the resurrection….Because, here’s the amazing thing, the resurrection is not merely the happy ending that follows the tragedy of the cross, it is the transfiguring light that turns the the arch-vanity of the cross, the searing absurdity of Christ’s crucifixion, the baffling meaninglessness of the death of the Son of God *into* the most supremely meaningful event in all of reality…

And if our *life* is united to Christ in His death and resurrection, Christian, that means every moment of our life is united to Him as well…the numbing cycles of sameness, the exhausted sigh of the mother with another meal to prepare, the hollow heart of the man who realizes he never became what he had hoped, the groaning soul that has planted and planted and planted and never yet seen a harvest…All our ‘meaninglessness’ is united to and borne in the absurdity of the crucified body of the Son of God…the very absurdity which—in the transfiguring light of the resurrection—becomes the incarnate articulation of the Name of God, the infinitely meaningful revelation of His Beauty to all the cosmos.

And if our meaninglessness is borne in Him, then *it too* is transfigured, *it too* is rendered infinitely meaningful *in Him.* Christian, through union to the crucified and risen Jesus, every moment of your life is made *part of the meaning of the crucified and risen Jesus*…the long days, the sleepless nights, the grinding weariness, the shattered dreams, unglamorous, un-‘Instagram,’ unremarkable life we lead is—united to Christ—the revelation of the glory of the Living God…

That’s what I’ve tried to show in today’s picture….The hands at the base hold up the seeds of hope, of longing, of desire—the ‘eternity planted in the hearts of man.’ The crows devour the seeds and the field of skulls depicts the grim reality so often in this world a labor seems to be in vain and our greatest efforts seem to count for nothing. Yet all of these crows—the ‘Vanity’ of our lives—are gathered up into the ‘Arch-Vanity,’ the supreme absurdity, of the Crucified Christ…and there, illumined by the light of the resurrection, that same vanity is transfigured into the radiant face of the Risen Lord (who is the Revelation of the Glory of God). From opened tomb comes the full harvest (one for each ‘meaningless’ wound borne in the body of our Lord) of the hopes of His people, hopes that seemed to be devoured by this world, but now—united to the Vine—burst forth into fruit, a Name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that will not be cut off (Is.55:13).