Easter Meditations: The Lamb of God

Isaiah 53 describes Christ’s suffering and death in our place. 700 years before Christ’s birth, Isaiah prophesied of His death.

8By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

He suffered and died to take our sins and the punishment for them. Notice the pronouns “our,” “we” and “us” and all the references to our sin. We are the guilty ones.

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 wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed. . . .

11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors (emphasis mine).

Notice Christ’s sufferings (bold) and our benefits (italics):

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 wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement
that brought us peace,
and with his stripes 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.

7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression
of my people?
9And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;

by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,

and makes intercession for the transgressors.

As this passage makes clear, Jesus Christ was sinless and completely undeserving of the punishment for sin.

9 . . . he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

And we, who completely deserve this punishment, so often do not believe Him or show Him respect or give Him the glory and love He deserves.

3 He was despised and rejected by men . . .
men hide their faces . . .
we esteemed him not

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;

Tomorrow we’ll look more at this passage and the “divine dilemma” that Jesus’ substitutionary death solved.

For today’s song, I recommend Minnesota Public Radio’s notes and text of Handel’s Messiah and the recording of “Surely he hath borne our griefs.”

Chorus (Isaiah LIII:4, 5)

Jennens’ text
Bible, New International Version
Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: 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. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
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