When I was in school, many years ago, I always liked it when our class had a substitute teacher. Substitutes usually meant that very little would get done in class during that time. It seemed like a substitute teacher was a good excuse to goof off during that class session. However, I am very grateful and thankful for the substitute who paid the penalty for all of my sins. We have been blogging over the last few weeks on the cross of Jesus Christ. I would like to consider for the next few weeks God’s explanation of the cross as it is found in a portion of Isaiah 53. In Isaiah 53 we read, “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and with his stripes, we are healed,” (V.3-5 KJV). In this passage, we see the rejection of our substitute, the burden of our substitute and then finally in verse 5 the explanation of our substitute’s actions. First of all, we see that our substitute was rejected because of the ignorance of men. The word “despised” in v.3 means “to scorn with contempt”. Part of the contempt that was poured out on the Lord Jesus Christ was because of the erroneous opinion of what Messiah would be and what He would do. Israel looked for a Messiah who would come as a military deliver to set them at liberty from Roman bondage. Jesus is still despised in many circles today, and His very name excites contempt in this politically charged day that we live in. Jesus was also rejected because of His emotional makeup. Verse 3 says “that he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” There have been many sorrowful men, but there is only one man of sorrows. Think of the incredible burden that Jesus lived His whole life under, knowing that His life would end on the cross of Calvary. The words “acquainted with grief” are a metaphor referring to sin. For what brings more grief into our world than the consequences of sin. How remarkable it is that this was fulfilled in the life of our Redeemer some 700 years after Isaiah’s prophecy. He has also rejected because of the hardness of people’s hearts. Even today so many think them good enough without Him. So many don’t see their need for Jesus, so they don’t see His worth in their life, there is a presumptuous conceit today for most people when they think that they are a good person. But there is no pretense of innocence with Jesus as he was despised and we esteemed Him not. He was rejected because he was misunderstood and many stumbled at His death believing that he was defeated or overwhelmed by God and His circumstances. And yet we need to contemplate Jesus’s power and majesty in the resurrection. Many thought He was suffering for His own sins. Which raises the question – did Jesus suffer for something He had done? No, He was despised and rejected as a result of our sin.
Secondly, we see the burden of our substitute. Isaiah tells us again, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” Jesus lived a life of empathy to the cares and pains of those around him. Even as He hung dying on the cross, He provided a substitute of Himself for His mother Mary who was there with the apostle John (John 19). He cared for everyone who He came in contact with. The word “surely” refers us back to verse 3 and presents us with a startling thought- it was because of our griefs, our injustices, our calamities and our diseases that Jesus suffered what He did. He carried my “sorrows”, the deepest of stress that I may experience, Jesus is my burden bearer. The word “borne” means to bear under; it is the picture of the scapegoat that was sent out into the wilderness after the high priest had laid his hands on him, symbolizing all of the sins of the people being carried outside of the camp. The Lord Jesus is our sin bearer, our scapegoat. He fulfilled the Old Testament sacrificial types so that it is no longer necessary for us to offer sacrifices by the Old Testament Scripture because Jesus paid it all. And yet the nation of Israel didn’t get it, as many others today don’t get it today. They didn’t understand what Jesus was doing. Reading Isaiah again, “yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted,” (v.4b). The word “we” sets a striking contrast. It is the difference between what we have done and what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us. The great burden of the destiny of the humanity rest not upon us, but on the Lord Jesus Christ who willingly took it upon our behalf. He was “smitten” which means to be beaten down. Many thought God was punishing him for what he had done when in fact it was Jesus suffering for all of us. So many today take the cross of Jesus Christ for granted, but on the cross, Jesus paid for all of our sins. It is because of the cross that we have a great high priest today in heaven who cares for all of our needs. Have you considered the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? When we consider the awesomeness of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross there is nothing that should so clearly prick our conscience or speak to us of our great need for the Lord Jesus Christ. Please consider the Man on the center cross and what He’s done for you!
By God’s great mercy,
Pastor Rich Sivo