Isaiah 53: 1-6 (ESV)
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 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.
These words that the Holy Spirit spoke through Isiah prophesized the Messiah and His redemptive work. In this passage, we are given insight into how Christ bore our sins and the physical and spiritual pain he endured for our sake.
We first learn that when Jesus descended from His eternal throne, where his glory has radiated before He created time, He entered His creation in the form of a baby. As He grew up, he did not have any beauty in Him. God made Himself plain to the eyes of men. In addition, Jesus was despised and rejected. The rightful ruler of the universe, whose creation reflects His glory, was hated by those whom He shaped in their mother’s room. Can you imagine being rejected by those whom you made? Despised by those much weaker than you? Can you also imagine being in a perfect loving fellowship for eternity, as the Triune God has been, and then for Jesus to experience rejection?
But this was only the beginning of the pain that Jesus would suffer.
And then Isaiah describes how the plain-looking God-man would redeem His people. We must first remember that God is just. Since God is holy, He must always punish rebellion against His law, against His character. Every infraction against Him is called sin; God must always punish sin. The consequence of sin is death, so death must occur for sin to be erased. God desires to show mercy to His children, but cannot ignore our sin. If he ignores sin, He is not a just judge. So He must punish sin and death must occur.
The descriptions in this passage are very vivid. We have two individuals who could not be farther apart. We have Jesus, God in the flesh, and us. Jesus is perfect, blameless, all-good. He always does what is pleasing to the Father and is without sin. He is righteousness incarnate. Then beside Him is us. We are sheep who have gone astray. We are sinful and marred. We can’t earn our salvation or work towards reconciliation. There is nothing good in us. We are rebel sinners who love our sin. We do not desire God or even love Him. We hate God, and God would be just in rightly sending us to Hell for eternity as punishment for our sin against Him. But God decides to show us grace. How is this grace given? Forgiveness is only accomplished with the punishment and death of Jesus.
We go back to the image of us and Jesus. I see us standing there and Jesus next to us. Jesus in perfect light, a life untainted by sin. Us, our bodies corrupted, our sin so great that God cannot even have us in His presence. Jesus opening His mouth to bless His Father, while we use our breath to curse Him. Then the Lord begins to lay on Jesus, our iniquity. He takes some sin out of us and puts it onto Jesus. The perfect Son, for the first time in eternity, has the weight of sin put on Him.
Then comes the beatings by the Roman guards. With each crack of the whip, Jesus cries out in anguish as we cry out in the joy of God’s mercy. His body spills blood as our body is healed. He is crushed and beat down as we are renewed and lifted up. As more and more sin is removed, our souls become light. We are no longer deformed but restored. God then removes even more of our sin and puts it onto Jesus. And as Jesus is pierced by the nails, we are made whole.
And then all our sin is put on Him. Every single sin, past, present, and future is transferred to Him. Then, Jesus experiences the full wrath of God, the punishment that we deserve.
Jesus is punished for our crimes.
As a result, Jesus is alienated from God as we are brought near. And in His infinite strength, Jesus bears all of our sins until his last breath. When He says, “it is finished,” He means it. Every sin has been punished, there is no more wrath for God’s children. We were enemies with God, and then we become reconciled, we became His children. God gives us Jesus’ righteousness, and with His death, He successfully redeemed God’s people back to Himself. Our sins were great, but His love is greater.
May we reflect on what Jesus accomplished for us. The grace that God has lavished out on us is not earned and is not cheap. The price of grace was the pain and life of our Lord and Savior. Praise Him for his infinite love that removes all our sins. May we live in joyful eternal gratitude for what He has done!
Praise the Lamb, who was slain!