But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4—NIV)

One of the maladies of human thinking is that anything which occurred before our own birth somehow appears irrelevant and almost otherworldly. After watching the family black and white TV one day in the 60’s, I remember asking my mother, "Mom, was the world all black and white when you were little and now it is all in color?" Another brilliant deduction from the mind of an eight year old!

In our media-choked age, is it any wonder that we look at historical events as something less than personal in their significance, and therefore the full impact of purposeful acts of self-sacrifice are lost to us. This is certainly true of the greatest act of substitutionary sacrifice in human history, the death of the Son of God. Our text is written to awaken our sensibilities to the full cost of the death of Christ.

To open our hearts, Isaiah employs words which cause visceral reactions when the full meaning of the thought is grasped. The burden of the text is that Jesus actually died a most violent death, and life ceased upon the cross of Calvary. His death was not an appearance of death, a swoon, or even an event hidden from the eyes of men where God the Father stepped in and spared His Son the experience of walking the length of the valley of the shadow of death and stepping through death’s door. The horrible nature of His selfless sacrifice in the place of sinners is fully on display in verse 5.

Isaiah says, "He was wounded for our transgressions." The original words quite literally state that Jesus was "pierced through" because of our "rebellions." He suffered in our behalf the piercing agonies of death because of our acts of rebellion (sin) against Almighty God. Every mother knows the panic of piercing fear when they see their child run towards danger. His death was not "fear of" but "worst fear come to fruition." Our Savior’s death was one of searing agony under the piercing judgment of His righteous Father. He stood in the gap between God and man to shield us and took our justly deserved punishment.

The cost is further explained as being "bruised for our iniquities." Because we have done iniquitous acts He was "crushed." Crushing speaks of the shattering of life. Voluntarily, He stood directly in the path of the full-force blow of God, which was energized holy indignation at our sinful ways and acts, and He was crushed.

The third phrase explains the judicial standing of our Savior. He did not die for an idea but for real guilt. We were guilty, He took our guilt upon Himself, the Just for the unjust, bore our sins and became our substitute. Through this chastisement (punishment for guilt) He purchased and claimed peace with God for believers. Hengstenberg said that Jesus entered into our guilt so that we may enter into His reward.

"Stripes" is singular in the original language. He bore many stripes in His passion, but the stripe of the piercing, crushing wound of death from the blow of a Holy God shows the infinite cost of His death and offers the only hope of mankind for infinite forgiveness. He voluntarily died in the place of sinners providing healing for the sinner who trusts in His blood sacrifice. Without the "shedding of blood there is no remission." Healing is imparted to us through His death.

Have you grasped the significance of the real sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Have you trusted Him as your Savior from sin unto righteousness? Is His self-sacrifice so long ago a transforming reality in your life today and for eternity? Trust and obey.