Counted Righteous

See, my servant will prosper;
        he will be highly exalted.
But many were amazed when they saw him.
        His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human,
        and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.
And he will startle many nations.
        Kings will stand speechless in his presence.
For they will see what they had not been told;
        they will understand what they had not heard about.
Who has believed our message?
        To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?
My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot,
        like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
        nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected—
        a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
        He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
        it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
        a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
        crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
        He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
        We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the LORD laid on him
        the sins of us all.
He was oppressed and treated harshly,
        yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
        And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
        he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
        he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
        that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
        for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong
        and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
        he was put in a rich man’s grave.
But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him
        and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
        he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
        and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
        he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
        my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
        for he will bear all their sins.
I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
        because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
        He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. (Isaiah 52:13–53:12 NLT)

On February 18, 1943, Sophie Scholl, along with her brother, Hans, spread leaflets on the campus of the University of Munich, where they were students. This was the sixth pamphlet Sophie, Hans, and their friends had distributed across the school arguing against the war and the Nazi Party. Three days later, Sophie, Hans, and their friend Christoph Probst were executed by the Nazis for spreading anti-war propaganda. She was 21. As a member of the White Rose, a student-led resistance group, Sophie’s anti-Nazi, non-violent resistance was in large part driven by her faith. Among her last words, Sophie was recorded saying, “How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? [. . .] What does my death matter if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”

Sophie Scholl knew that doing the right thing – preaching an anti-war message – would get her in trouble, even to the point of losing her life, but she did it anyway, compelled by her faith and trust in God. She understood the impact one death can make for a righteous cause, for she knew the story of Jesus. It was Jesus, the righteous servant, who made it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he bore all our sins (Isaiah 53:11). His death and subsequent resurrection impacted the world like nothing else; they are the spoke at the center of history’s wheel, around which everything else revolves.

We are not often asked to die for a righteous cause, but every day we have the chance to live for one. Our choices may not impact the world, but we can impact one person’s world for the better.

Because of one man’s death on a cross, we are given the chance to be counted as righteous. How do you choose to live today?