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.
Isaiah 53:5 | NIV (1984) | Other Versions | Context
This is really an epic verse proclaimed by an epic prophet. Isaiah was arguably one of the greatest prophets ever – the book of Isaiah is certainly massive and the most oft-quoted-from prophet in the New Testament. While most commonly known as a Messianic Prophet for the numerous prophecies made regarding the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Isaiah also foretold the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem and urged them to repent from their sins. From Isaiah 49-53, God speaks through Isaiah to bring comfort to those who were suffering from the Babylonians, and the Salvation of the Messiah would be discussed at great lengths. In chapter 53 we see especially a remarkable prophecy of the sacrifice of Christ, a prophecy made all the more important because of how accurate its portrayal is.
Pierced – the allusion to the piercing of his hands by the nails to the cross – for – the motive for his wounds, the reason for the piercings, are – our transgressions – He was not suffering for his own sins, but for ours. Because we sinned, Christ suffered. Because it was us who sinned, Christ suffered. Because it was us whom God loves, Christ suffered. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification [Romans 4:25]- even in his resurrection it was for our sakes.
Crushed – to be broken into pieces, to be destroyed – for – the motive of this affliction, the reason why he had to be crushed was – our iniquities. Again, it is our sins, our transgressions, our iniquities, our wrongdoings, our disobedience that led to the crucifixion. In hindsight we know that Jesus was not exactly physically crushed – here it probably referred to the crushing of the spirit – the weight of the sorrow that burdened him due to our sins, and the fact that we do not turn back to God. We are so unaware, to an extent that we are not watchful or alert. This emotional crushing could probably be evidenced from Matthew 26:38, where Jesus reveals to his disciples, my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.
Punishment – Christ himself was the sacrifice. He himself was punished. He could have sent another bloody sacrifice. But because of the weight of our sins, only he himself would be sufficient, and because he loves us, he was willing to be the sacrifice himself – when he had by himself purged our sins [Hebrews 1:3], and it was only because of this sacrifice – that brought us peace – Jesus is the Prince of Peace [Isaiah 9:6]. And this peace is the peace of God, which transcends all understanding and will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus [Phil 4:7|Article]. This peace of God is one of the 9 fruits of the Spirit [Gal 5:22-23].
By his wounds we are healed – perhaps the one phrase most often declared in healing services or when praying for healing – the declaration that by his stripes we are healed, and therefore we shouldn’t have any illnesses or physical discomfort. I personally always think that it takes great faith to declare this verse for physical healing, because the context of this verse is probably for spiritual health. The entire spiritual climate of the Jews were at an all-time low in Isaiah‘s time, when destruction of Judah and Jerusalem is looming near. The entire spiritual climate of the Jews at the time of Jesus was at a low as well – these were difficult times, times when many turned to false idols in desperation, just in hope of gaining that bit of salvation – they did not truly know God, they did not remember the God of their forefathers. They sinned freely and proudly, they did not have a healthy spiritual life. When Christ died on the cross, what he did was to reset the equation of our lives. Spiritual healthiness is returned – that much is promised for us. Because Christ died for us, we can declare our spiritual healthiness and live a righteous and Christ-like life. It’s not impossible – because by dying for us, Christ has freed us from the shackles that tied us to an unhealthy and sinful life [Romans 8:2].
That said, for those who pray this verse for physical healing, I personally believe it takes great faith to do it, and I trust that God will reward that faith in his own divine way.
Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God! [Matthew 27:40] – was the insult that Jesus received while he was being crucified. The sad irony about this is that it isn’t that Jesus didn’t have the power to come down from the cross, but he didn’t want to. Because if he did, there will be no salvation for these people who were insulting him. There would be no hope for them, and more importantly for those who were crying and praying in broken hearts for him. Jesus is the Son of God, he possesses the power to say no. But what if Christ had said no? What if he was never pierced for our transgressions, never crushed for our iniquities, never punished so that we can have peace, never wounded so that we can be healed? We would have to bear the piercings, the crushing, the punishment, the wounds, and we may never have peace, never be healed, never have hope.
Such is the gravity of this prophecy, that even though it happened already, this verse still remains important for us to hold on to in hope – not in anticipation of the Messiah, but in assurance of his love for us.
May the Lord bless you Z! Isaiah 53 is one of my favorite passages, and the way you just broke down this one verse was truly inspired by Holy Spirit. Thank you for sharing this vital teaching with us… and what a way to begin Thanksgiving – by remembering that our Savior died for my sins, for my punishment, for my healing, for my peace! Hallelujah!
In Christ’s Love,
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