“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” (Isaiah 53:5).
In the 53rd chapter of the Book of Isaiah, we find a portion of Scripture of unrivalled beauty and poignancy, wherein Isaiah foretold the propitiatory death of Christ so clearly and graphically. In this verse, Isaiah tells us that Jesus was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. We must bear in mind that Isaiah prophesied this 700 years before the event actually took place. That is yet another unique aspect of the Bible. The prophets foretold that the Saviour of all mankind would come and become the supreme sacrifice for man’s sin.
The deep-seated desire in the human heart, to somehow appease the just wrath of God at man’s rebellion and sin, found expression in a variety of sacrifices being offered. Many of these sacrifices were intended to atone for man’s sin. But how can any offering, animate or inanimate, expensive or inexpensive, please the heart of the Holy God, to whom our sins are unutterably loathsome and immeasurably offensive? It is inconceivable that we can please the Living God by some gift, and buy our way to Heaven.
But God found the Lamb for the sacrifice—His own Son, who is the express image of His person. Thus, while we were without hope, the Saviour came. At a location called Calvary, just outside the walls of Jerusalem, He gave His life as the sacrifice for our sins and the sins of all mankind. It was on a cruel cross, rejected, despised, spat upon, and sneered at, that He died.
The colossal cost of Calvary’s Cross is impossible to calculate. Sin was foreign to Him; He never knew sin. Yet He took upon Himself your sins and my sins. Even we ordinary mortals abhor our sins at times, and even make many futile resolutions not to dirty ourselves again, though all in vain. But the sinless Saviour left Heaven’s holy clime and came down to identify Himself with you and me. This is love, at its highest and purest level.
The Bible says, “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). To pay the penalty for man’s sin, He had to humble Himself further; the Immortal had to bear the indignity of death, and that too the death of a criminal.
His own disciple Judas Iscariot betrayed Him and literally sold Him for thirty pieces of silver. There are many today who betray Christ for far less money than that. Think of all the greed, which our sick modern society has produced. A lie is nothing to people; deceit is a trifle; their body they will give to immorality; their souls they will sell away in acquiring ill-gotten money. Judas had to choose between money and Christ; he chose money. Many, like Judas, choose money today and throw moral values to the winds, and their souls to the devil.
“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” (Isaiah 53:3). How tragically true these words are, even today! Never did God come as a man to dwell with man, until Jesus came; never did a man walk on earth, sinless and untainted by impurity, until Jesus walked on earth; and yet He was rejected and despised of men. His matchless purity reproves them too severely of their impurity, so even today men would rather have someone else than Jesus.
It was no sin of His that brought this shameful death upon Jesus. He was wounded for our transgressions and sins. Taking our sins upon His body not only caused Him physical suffering but was a crushing weight upon His soul.
Let me illustrate. In an army camp, an offence was committed by the men in a tent. The major was a strict man and wanted the culprit to own up to his crime as someone in the tent would have to pay the penalty. He would have to bear fifty lashes with a heavy whip. Almost everyone knew who it was but none admitted to having done the crime. To the officer’s dismay, Willie the little drummer boy stepped forward and asked to be whipped.
It was a cruel scene. The penalty could be no less severe because it was a weak boy who was under the heavy whip. As the stripes were counted out, Willie bravely took the whipping until he could bear no more, and collapsed. Unable to bear the sight of innocent Willie taking his whipping, the real culprit stepped out and asked to be whipped. But once again the penalty was meted out to Willie and he never recovered from the whipping. At Willie’s death-bed, the real culprit Robert was found sobbing, “Willie, why did you do it, why did you take my whipping?”
Now, the little drummer boy Willie loved Jesus and simply felt he had to take Robert’s whipping, although it cost him his life.
Yes, our precious Lord Jesus took our sins upon His own body and died in our place, so that we may be freed from our sins and live this most beautiful and victorious life, which He gives.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon