They shall be as wool

It’s been woolly jumper weather in the Dales recently. I’m sure the sheep must have been glad of their fleeces too.

It was a different story in the summer when they were trying to find a bit of shade… 

Of course, they really needed to be freed from their fleeces, though I don’t suppose they knew it. Certainly, when I’ve seen sheep being shorn, they seem far more determined to escape than to submit. And even if they realised their need, they wouldn’t be able to deal with it themselves.

Nor do we realise our deepest need until the Holy Spirit awakens us and opens our eyes to see the enormity of our sin before a holy God. There is nothing we can do to deal with the burden of our sin and guilt either. Only when we recognise our sin will we feel the need of God’s forgiveness; only when we realise that we have no righteousness of our own will we feel the need of the perfect righteousness of Christ. Yet that is what is offered us if we will turn to Him in repentance and faith. 

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.          (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1)

Looking forward to the death of Christ on the cross, Isaiah wrote:

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Looking back, Paul wrote:

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

Was it not a most high and abundant love of God, to send Christ to shed His blood, to lose honour, life, and all, for His enemies? Even at the time when we had done Him the most injury, He first showed His love to us, with such flames of love, that greater could not be shown… We may also, in Christ crucified, weigh our sins as in a divine balance: how grievous and weighty they are, seeing they have crucified Christ. They would never have been counterbalanced, but with the great and precious weight of the blood of the Son of God. And therefore God, of His great goodness, determined that His blessed Son should rather suffer bloodshed than our sins should have condemned us. We shall never know our own misery and wretchedness, but with the light of Christ crucified. Then, when we feel His mercy, we shall see our own cruelty; when we see His righteousness and holiness, we see our own unrighteousness and iniquity.”  From ‘The Lamentation of a Sinner’ by Queen Katherine Parr

Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)


O blessèd Jesus, what law hast Thou broken,

That such sharp sentence should on Thee be spoken?

Of what great crime hast Thou to make confession,

What dark transgression?


They crown Thy head with thorns, they smite, they scourge Thee;

With cruel mockings to the cross they urge Thee;

They give Thee gall to drink, they still decry Thee;

They crucify Thee.


Whence come these sorrows, whence this mortal anguish?

It is my sins for which Thou, Lord, must languish;

Yea, all the wrath, the woe, Thou dost inherit,

This I do merit.


What punishment so strange is suffered yonder!

The Shepherd died for sheep that loved to wander;

The Master pays the debt His servants owe Him,

Who would not know Him.


The sinless Son of God must die in sadness;

The sinful child of man may live in gladness;

Man forfeited his life and is acquitted,

God is committed.


Johann Heermann