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All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray

No. 26 – Chorus

Music courtesy of The Falls Church Anglican Choir, Falls Church, Virginia, under the musical direction of Simon Dixon. Audio mastering by Andrew Schooley. From Messiah by George Frideric Handel (1742)

Listen to the full playlist for Handel’s Messiah.

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

– Isaiah 53:3–6

Each of us has turned from God to follow a way of our own choosing, a way rooted in self-seeking. We make our choices, then our choices make us. Over time, they inevitably produce grief, pain, sorrow, and iniquity. We seek remedies of many kinds but they give no lasting relief.

Yet lasting relief can be found. It is found in a Person: Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God. He came from heaven to earth to offer Himself as “the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:2). To rescue the wandering sheep of God, Jesus endured suffering, rejection, sorrow, grief, and ultimately death itself, taking upon Himself all the iniquities of those who have gone astray. He paid the full penalty for our all of our sins, a penalty that we could never pay. Now He offers us pardon, peace, and the power to live a new life, in which “those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised”
(2 Cor. 5:15). The person who lives for Christ finds that His Spirit empowers them to increasingly bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23), becoming more and more like Him.

Jesus is still saying, as He did long ago, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).


God, I’ve followed ways of my own choosing, wandering far from You.
I’ve experienced the grief, pain, and sorrow of this separation. Have mercy on me and rescue me through Jesus, the Messiah, who suffered and died to bear the penalty of sin. Help me to find pardon, peace, and the power to live a new life through Jesus.


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Thomas A. Tarrants

Thomas A. Tarrants is President Emeritus of the C.S. Lewis Institute. After serving twelve years as president and nine years as vice President, he retired from his position as Vice President for Ministry and Director, Washington Area Fellows Program, with CSLI in June 2019. He holds a Masters of Divinity Degree, as well as a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Christian Spirituality. Tom is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Church Alliance and a member of the Evangelical Theological Society. He spends his time writing, mentoring, consulting and traveling. His life story is told in Consumed by Hate, Redeemed by Love, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers.


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