Two weeks ago on Good Friday, we reflected on Jesus as our greatest example. This week I’d like to consider again the amazing grace of God that has been revealed to us by the Lord Jesus Christ in the cross. Jesus truly is the substitute who was delivered for our sins so that we might be delivered from our sins. The cross of Jesus Christ transcends racial barriers, cultural barriers and time and space barriers. God’s explanation of the cross is found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. In the 53rdchapter beginning in the third verse, we read, “He is 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. Surly 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. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” (v.3-6 KJV). There are so many things in this passage that are overwhelming and shocking to consider. To think that Jesus Christ was despised, treated with scorn and contempt because people had an erroneous opinion of what Messiah would be is a rather stunning thing. So many have hardened their heart against the Lord Jesus Christ and presume to be good enough without Him. But there is no pretension of innocence at the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many stumbled at Jesus’s death on Calvary’s cross, thinking He was defeated and overwhelmed for His own sin. But we need to contemplate the majesty and the power of His death. Did Jesus suffer for something He had done? No, but people despised Him and reckoned Him as nothing or of no value, thinking God was punishing Jesus for His own sins. But it was in fact for our sins that He suffered and died.
We see in verse four the statement, “that surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”. Think of the heavy burden that you may be bearing today in your life, know that Jesus cares for you. When we experience a sense of rejection in our lives we can find hope in Jesus’ steadfast endurance of pain and grief. The sorrows we bear He desires to carry for us. The New Testament instructs us – “cast all your anxiety on him cares for you”, (1 Peter 5:7 NIV). I believe the idea of Jesus bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows is connected with the Old Testament scapegoat. Remember the priest would lay his hands on the head of the scapegoat, representing all the sins of the people being placed on that scapegoat and then the scapegoat was driven out into the wilderness.
Jesus Christ is our sin-bearer. He fulfilled the Old Testament sacrifices on our behalf. The people who stood around His cross thought Jesus was suffering for some great sin of His own, but Isaiah makes it perfectly clear that it was for our sins that caused Jesus’ suffering and death. I hope that we would reflect on this truth, not only on Good Friday but on every day as we try to seriously live our faith in Jesus Christ! Not only is Jesus our greatest example but He’s also our substitute. So please take time regularly to seriously consider what Jesus suffered for you. In a daily devotional I regularly read by Charles Spurgeon he writes these amazing words, “Pilate delivered our Lord to the Roman officers to be scourged. The Romans scourge was the most dreadful instrument of torture. It was made of the sinews of oxen. Sharp bones were intertwined here and there among the sinews so that every time the lash came down, pieces of bone inflicted fearful lacerations and tore the flesh from the bone. The Savior was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before, but this beating by the Roman soldiers was probably the severest of his flagellations. My soul, stand here and weep over His poor stricken body. As a Believer in Jesus, can you gaze on Him without tears, as He stands before you the image of agonizing love? He is at once fair as the Lily of innocence and red as the rose with crimson of His own blood. As we feel the sure and blessed healing that His stripes have worked in us, do not our hearts melt at once with love and grief? If ever we have loved our Lord Jesus, surly we must feel the affection glowing now within our hearts,” (Morning and Evening- C. Spurgeon, pg.194). Whenever we take communion in our church I remind our folks of the sacredness of the sacrifice that was paid for our sins. I hope that you too will give careful consideration to all that Jesus suffered for you. Remember Paul’s writings to the Romans when he stated, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Rom.5:8 NIV).
Fortunately, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we know the cross was not the end of our Lord and Savior. For three days later, on that first resurrection day, Christ was gloriously raised so that all could be saved who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Paul tells us this great news (gospel) when he writes – “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to glory of God the Father,” (Phil. 2:9-11 NIV). This is all because of the wonderful work of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, let us go forth rejoicing in our substitute and serving Him out of hearts of love and gratitude.