November 11, 2013
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
He was wounded…bruised…chastisement, stripes…
The prophet-evangelist of Isaiah 53 uses many different terms to tell us of what the Lord Jesus endured at Calvary. This is not merely for the sake of variety or literary effect. He, by the Spirit, is giving us insight into what Calvary meant for the Lord Jesus Christ. While we never should minimize or lightly dismiss the sufferings of Christ at the hands of men, Isaiah is really telling us of the sufferings endured for sin at the hand of God.
Others have written extensively and shown how all the possible injuries which a person can sustain were endured by the Lord Jesus from the hands of men: piercing, crushing, lacerating, incising, etc.; but here, the inspired writer is focusing rather on what His soul endured at the hands of a holy God.
We are told that He was bruised for our iniquity. The word actually means “to crush.” It reminds us that there was a tremendous weight of judgment which fell upon Him on the cross. The burden of our sin was borne by Him and met the crushing force of divine judgment.
“With His stripe we are healed.” The singular “stripe” is the correct reading. The judgment of God is depicted as one tremendous stroke which came down upon the sacrifice of Calvary. It was, remember, the omnipotent hand of a holy God which brought that stroke with all its strength down upon Him.
His sufferings are also described as “the travail of His soul.” It is interesting that the first occurrence of this word in the O. T. is in connection with another sufferer, Joseph. He said at the birth of Manasseh, “God hath made me forget all my toil” (Gen 41:51). He felt the suffering in the depth of His being – His soul, and likened it to toil or travail which would be fruitful in its outcome (Ephraim).
But His soul was also an offering for sin. All that was typified in the offerings of Leviticus 4 and 5 was fulfilled when He gave Himself up to the wrath of God against sin on Calvary. The margin of many Bibles changes it to a trespass offering; but that does not lessen the awfulness of what it meant to be consumed by the fire of God’s judgment.
Finally, verse 8 tells us that He was “cut off” while on the cross. Paul teaches us in Colossians 2 that the nation cut Him off when He writes of the “circumcision of Christ.” But there was a cutting off as well done by holy justice as He gave His life at Calvary.
1. Think of the different expressions you find in Isaiah 53 for His sufferings and add to the meditation.
2. One translation (Newberry) of verse 7 is “it was exacted of Him and He became answerable.” Was does this suggest to you of His suffering and what He endured at Calvary?
3. What should cause worship in our souls is not only what the Lord Jesus suffered, but how He suffered. Look for insight into that in this chapter.