Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 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. (Isaiah 53:4–5)
There is no question who Isaiah is talking about. This is the Suffering Servant, God’s Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is one of the clearest passages in all of Scripture about what he has done for us. It is crystal clear, and simple.
There are two central ideas in this passage worth seeing:
• First, Isaiah shows us what Jesus has done;
• Second, Isaiah shows us that what Jesus has done has been done for us.
Isaiah tells us he has borne grief and carried sorrow. He was pierced for transgressions, even crushed. He was punished. He was wounded. To be sure, there is a lot happening here. A lot of terrible things — a true curse — is targeting the Messiah. Jesus really was the suffering servant. He was absolutely afflicted.
But it’s not just that Jesus bore grief, or that he was pierced or crushed or wounded. It’s that he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, that he was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and by his wounds we are healed.
We should beware of distancing ourselves from these words, of assuming that we are so removed from their relevance in our twenty-first-century world. Instead, we are beckoned to draw near, to hear the Savior say to us, through the description of his ancient pains, Child of weakness, watch and pray. Find in me your all in all.
Your all in all, Jesus might say. Your only hope. Which means, to bring it home a little more, Isaiah 53 is for you. Can you feel the weight of these words? The wonder?
Jesus has borne your grief. Yes, yes he has. Your sorrows are the ones he carried. Your transgressions — all your sins — were the ones that pierced him and ones for which he paid. For you. He was crushed, viciously slaughtered, for your iniquities. It was a slaughter you deserved — a punishment reserved for you — that he took upon himself, in your place, so that you get peace. By his wounds you have healed.
Jesus has died, and he has died for you. The stain of sin that marred your life has now been washed white as snow. He has paid your debts. All of them. Jesus has paid it all. He has paid it all.
Now and Forever
And so what do we do?
We trust him. We look forward to that day when we will stand before his throne, repeating the wonder that he died to save our souls. Yes, we will trust him, and we will forsake the foolish pursuits that used to consume our lives. We will stop condemning ourselves for past sins. We will relinquish the shame we’ve harbored for so long and we will abandon our self-absorbed efforts to make ourselves worthy. We will turn from our sin, we will trust him, and we will sing. We will sing and praise the One who paid our debt and raised our lives up from the dead.
Yes, we will sing, both now and forever.
- Jonathan Parnell