Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:4—NIV)

Isaiah 53 is a phenomenal chapter because it prophetically measures the dimensions of the personal, substitutionary work of the Messiah in beautiful, poetic language. The great need that was met by the sacrificial death of the Son of God is the focus of verse 4.

Many behave as if (if not believe) the work of Christ was simply an act of charity, and little more. Our text does not allow us to draw such a shallow conclusion. The words employed by Isaiah are much too powerful and filled with pathos. Look at the words again: "griefs, sorrows, stricken, smitten, afflicted." These words describe the suffering, human condition because of sin, and yet the words move with rapid cadence to illuminate Christ’s heroic work. The sin of man was rolled upon Him and He paid the price. He identifies with us in more than a distant act of charity; His is an infinite, selfless act of rescue, relief, and redemption.

Jesus, as the suffering Servant of Jehovah, identifies Himself with man so completely that He, in His life among us, was characterized by "griefs" and "sorrows." This was not His state from eternity past. His experience had been nothing but joy in fellowship with His Father and no hint of discord had ever come between them. Such is not the case for mankind. From the Edenic beginning, the price of death for sin has been bearing down upon generation after generation. Sin’s consequence is all the evil of society and human nature evident today. Sickness, error, aging, selfishness, and willfulness have characterized every unrestrained human era and every unregenerated heart.

Notice the loneliness of His work: He bore the "griefs" and "sorrows" of many. These two words identify symptoms arising from sin, the very central sickness of mankind. Isaiah chose these words to remind us that when we are deathly sick and cannot possibly care for ourselves we can do nothing but helplessly wait for the personal intervention of someone who cares. Jesus is the only One who can cure the soul of sin-sickness.

How He provided the cure is explained by the word "borne." The Hebrew word signifies to bear or to take away by lifting and carrying. We all know how it feels to be struggling to manage an overloading and unwieldy burden and have experienced the welcome relief that comes when the burden is lifted off us and we can let go. Jesus lifted and carried the burden of sin and its consequences upon His shoulders and in so doing bore the brunt of the just wrath of God for our sin, which wrath we so rightly deserve. 1 Peter 2:24 states, "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree (cross), that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed."

The rest of verse 4 tells of the callous response of man. This is where the average man admits the gracious charity of the Son of God but stops short of sensing deeply the personal work of grace that Jesus Christ completed to actually ransom, rescue, and redeem. There remains a gulf between your soul and God.

The word "stricken" is often reserved in Scripture to describe the hideous nature of a quarantinable contagion (like leprosy). He personally submitted to the judgment of God so that His sinless blood may ransom the guilty from sin. Unless you see His work in its personal effect for you, you remain under the crushing wrath of God. Through faith we submit to Him as our Savior from sin and by faith own Him as Lord of life.

This act of rescue, relief, and redemption is the personal nature of Christ’s work on the cross. Do you live in conscious gratitude for His work for you? Do you follow His lordship daily? Trust and obey.