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Sermon – Feb. 11, 2001
Isaiah 53:3 – We Did Not Esteem Him


We Did Not Esteem Him

"He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised and we did not esteem Him" (Isaiah 53:3)

On a recent Sunday, we attended the chapel service at the VA Hospital, in Long Beach, CA. We were guests of Dennis Stinson, who has been a Guest Speaker for Friday Study Ministries. (See "The Slip" in Especially For Men). The dignified chapel service was led by Chaplain (General) Vogel, and included a bag piper in full costume, including kilt and traditional dagger.

But it was the unexpected service-after-the-service that moved our hearts and caused the writing of these words. After the service, we followed Dennis Stinson’s wheelchair, down one hallway and "up" another, as we made our way through building after building within the VA complex. We were on our way to visit with Dennis Broxton.

We knew little about him, only that the two Dennis’ are friends, and "our" Dennis thinks the world of him. We found out why he does.

Dennis Broxton is a dignified man, who has been an ordained Pastor for some 30-years. As this is written, he is 80-years old, and things are not going well for him. That is, things are not going well – OUTWARDLY. Inside this man is the Holy Spirit of God, and he "has" our Lord in a manner that most of us do not even understand.

This Dennis has been paralyzed (both Dennis’ are quadriplegics) for many years, from whatever incident I do not know at this time. He is able to use his arms but his hands bend back at an awkward angle and he does not have the use of them. I say "awkward" with some hesitation, because there is nothing "awkward" about this man at all. He is a man of grace; as stated, a man full of the Holy Spirit of God.

Two weeks ago, he went into the hospital for a procedure which was to determine why an open sore on his heel would not go away. They discovered gangrene and his leg was removed above the knee. This was difficult for him, because he wanted to die a "whole man."

We knew this but saw no evidence of any personal grief or sadness in him. All we saw was his gentle smile, his tears for us, the people he was ministering to, and for His God. He continually quoted verse-after-verse, and he seemed to be able to quote whole chapters, while ministering the Word of God to us.

And he was generous as we shared Isaiah 53. My memory is less effective than his and my Bible was open to that chapter. Isaiah 53 (and the surrounding context) was written into his heart just as surely as the Gettysburg Address is written on the Lincoln Memorial. He would pause and glance toward me, and I would finish the verse. Time-after-time he would pause and look to me to complete that which he knew very well.

His illustrations on the verses were exquisite in beauty, as he touched these verses with the Holy Spirit Who was in him. And then he paused and asked, "Ron, what do you think?" And I gave the imagery which was in my heart at that moment. Genevieve, who was there and shared in this time, said later he "looked like a man of 60," and "all the lines in your (my) face were gone." The Holy Spirit will make you young (and free – no matter what your outward circumstance may seem to be).

We brought a dipped (in grape juice) wafer, which Chaplain Vogel had kindly provided from the chapel service, and continued to share Isaiah 53 for some time, which was Dennis’ chosen verse for communion. When it was time, he took the wafer with great joy.

Dennis is on a cross of sorts, because he is alive and yet his body has become useless to him, a thing of pain. (Quadriplegics often feel "phantom" pains which cause them a lot of difficulty.) Jesus said we are to "take up" the "cross" in our lives (Luke 9:23) but He never said we could do it in our own strength. He also said the "yoke" He places upon us will be "easy" and the "burden" will be "light". This apparent paradox is explained by the fact that we do not bear things alone – When we fall, He lifts us up, and He bears the burden with us. His Spirit bears us up with EAGLE’s wings!

The cross is very hard, indeed, impossible to bear for Dennis Broxton. And yet, as we were sharing back-and-forth at his hospital bed, we were like young boys together, full of the wonder of the Holy Spirit of God. Dennis GIVES (as does our Lord), to all he meets.

Some would see Dennis and not understand. It was the same with Jesus, as He hung on that cross, 2000 years ago. He was "helpless" and yet in His helplessness, He saved the WORLD by remaining on that tree. And his work was a voluntary act, for He could have come off that cross at any moment and destroyed his tormentors, along with the rest of the human race. He loves you and me – more than His personal comfort.

I am alive because of Jesus Christ and His death for me. Dennis Broxton is more alive than anybody I ever met, and it is understood that many would not comprehend the life that is in him. Many would dismiss him as an elderly black man in a hospital bed. He would not be "esteemed" by some, but he is ALIVE as few men are.

There is a "life" when we think we’re alive, and there is real LIFE, which is in Christ Jesus. Some would think of Dennis as "helpless" but the real definition of helplessness is when you become so busy, you have no time for anything or anyone.

To be ALIVE and FREE is to be like him, who has the time and the God-given inclination to reach out and touch people like you and me.

This was true of our Lord. We "esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted," but the Scripture continues (Isaiah 53:4-6), "He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."

There is so much MORE to life than money and cars and "friends" and success, and all the trappings which accompany such things. Dennis is a "poor man" (as he says) who yet has more than we even comprehend. During our time with him, we spoke of billionaire Howard Hughes, who had "everything" but now has nothing at all.

Look at your life, and look at his. If you lost it all, would you still love our Lord? If you had nothing, would you trust in Him? Are you depressed by your circumstances? The "cross" that is borne by Dennis Broxton, has made him the greatest man I have ever met.

Soon and very soon he will WALK on the other side, whereas others who have "more" will lose it all. The words "Well done thou good and faithful servant" are reserved for him, and also for you – if only you place your trust in our Lord, no matter WHAT the outward circumstances of your life may seem to be.

Thank you, Lord, that the iniquity of us all, has fallen on our Lord. Thank You, Lord, for setting us free. Thank you for men like Dennis Broxton, in whose eyes we can see the glory of God. Bless this man even more, and thank You for him. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Subsequent to this sermon, Pastor Dennis Broxton went home to be with the Lord. 

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries