Sermon — Isaiah 53:5

7 Apr

Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53:5

With His Wounds We Are Healed

           In the big picture, in the grand scheme of things, God has a plan for you and for me. His plan was set from the foundation of the world. His plan is good. His plan is to redeem, to save, to bring us from darkness to light. His plan is to take all that has gone wrong and make it right. His plan is a plan of love. As the old hymn goes, Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven, to earth come down; fix in us thy humble dwelling; all thy faithful mercies crown! Jesus thou art all compassion, pure, unbounded love thou art; visit us with thy salvation; enter every trembling heart. God loves us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. He is making all things new. This is life and victory and peace. But there is a price to be paid for life and victory and peace.  The fallen world does not bend in the direction of the good, it fights tooth and nail against the good. So where there is any good to be obtained in this world in any area of endeavor, it is going to come with a price. The sweat of the brow, the spending of our treasure, even the shedding of blood. Nothing good comes without a price. Good marriages don’t just happen. They are the result of persistence in self-giving love between husband and wife. Weight loss and health don’t just happen. These things come through the sweat of exercise and a thousand small sacrifices that lead to big results. The greatest athletes don’t just come off the bench and excel. They give countless hours to practicing their skills. The virtuoso violinist only looks effortless in his playing because he gave himself to years of perfecting his craft. Nothing in life that is truly worthwhile comes without a price. The fall of humanity into sin has made the world a difficult place. Nothing ever quite works easily. We must sacrifice if good would come to us.

But there is one area where all our effort will never be enough. It is the matter of our own standing before God. Sin entered the race through Adam and we have all followed in his stead. This sin has corrupted us thoroughly. Sin has brought about this disconnect between God and people which puts us under His wrath. We deserve death and hell because we have all followed Adam’s pattern. We will face the sure and eternal judgment of God if left to ourselves. Because God is perfectly holy, our present standing of being sinners means we are already corrupt, already tainted in His sight. There is no way we in ourselves can escape the wrath of God, because we can’t go back and undo what we have done, and we cannot change our nature. So if we are going to escape God’s wrath, God is going to have to do something for us that we can’t do for ourselves. This frustrates many people and confuses others. We would like to be able to say if we just sacrificed enough, if we just prayed enough or repented enough, that all would be well. But it is impossible. We are condemned already because of Adam’s sin and our own actions. So we are left in the matter of our eternal soul as people who are wholly dependent on the mercy of God. The one area where self-help won’t help us is the most important area of all, the one aspect of our life that will go on forever. We simply can’t have what we need to have by just committing to do better. We are lost and on our way to hell unless God intervenes. But the good news of the gospel is that God has intervened. And that is what Isaiah 53:5 is all about . . .

 

But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.

What words of life we have before us this morning. The word “But” right at the start of verse 5, is pivotal. When we trace our finger over the verses we have already covered, we find that the One who was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities was One who was not believed by those to whom He came. He was not attractive or majestic in His humanity. He was despised and rejected by men. He was one from whom we turned away. We considered Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. So the point here is not only are we unable to save ourselves, but the One God sent to save us is One we have actively resisted and rejected. BUT. In spite of our rejection, in spite of our resistance, Jesus was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. This is love. It’s no big deal to love people who love you but to love those who reject you? To love those who don’t respect you? To love those who turn away from you? That’s love. And the love of Jesus here was not a love of mere sentiment. It was not a decision of His will wherein He said, “Well, these people hate me, but I have determined to have a feeling of good will toward them.” No, this is love in action. “For God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul. What wondrous love is this, O my soul. What wondrous love is this, that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul. The essence of the gospel is the sacrificial love of Christ. What a shame that in recent days some in the Christian world have diminished the sin-bearing, wrath-bearing death of Christ upon the cross. Some have preferred to focus on the cross as God’s victory over death or on Christ as an example of love. While both these realities are true, there has been among a segment of the Christian world, almost a sense of being ashamed of the old rugged cross. The worst writings have called it divine child abuse. Most others don’t go that far, but in their attempts to make Christianity palatable, they minimize the cross, they gloss over it with broader terms about God’s love and mercy and grace. The same people that minimize the cross tend to minimize the reality of hell and the holiness of God. There is a segment of the Christian world that in reality hold to that view so well expressed by Richard Niehbur a couple of generations ago, “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” This is not Christianity, no matter what its proponents may claim.

Isaiah 53:5 is one of the great biblical antidotes to this kind of false glossing over of the realities of our salvation. Nothing of value comes in this life apart from sacrifice. We deserve death and judgment. And there is no way we can deliver ourselves from death and God’s judgment. No sacrifice we can make could ever be enough. So God sends His Son Jesus, the Suffering Servant, the Messiah, to the world to sacrifice Himself for us. God had drilled this concept of sacrifice into His people from the beginning. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. The sacrifices of the Old Testament were called sacrifices because they involved giving up something of value, an animal, to bring one out from under God’s judgement. Over and over thousands of times these sacrifices were offered. The people of Isaiah’s day knew it and had seen it. Nothing of value in this life comes apart from sacrifice. The 53rd chapter of Isaiah would have immediately brought to the mind of any Jewish person who read it the idea that God was going to send One who would be like one of the animals sacrificed at the temple. The message of Christianity is that Isaiah 53 has been fulfilled. Jewish friends, your Messiah has come. And He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Those Old Testament sacrifices were ultimately insufficient. They only delayed the judgment of God, they didn’t take the judgment of God away. An animal sacrifice could never take away the sin of a human being made in God’s image. The sacrifice had to be at least equal in value to the one being sacrificed for and God, in the case of Jesus, provided for us one who was more than our equal. God sent His own Son for our sake.

And He was pierced. That this is said here, 800 years before the cross, 800 years before long nails were driven into Jesus’ hands and feet, said before crucifixion was a prominent way to put people to death, is amazing. He was pierced for our transgressions. The death of Christ was a payment for sin. All of the things we have ever done against God are covered by the once for all sacrifice of Christ. He was crushed. Now this is not literal in the sense that His body was crushed. We know that none of His bones were broken. But we know this is true in a deeper sense. He was crushed. He sweat as great drops of blood in the Garden as He contemplated the agonies of the cross. He who had no sin was made sin for us. He who had enjoyed the sweet fellowship of the Father from all eternity willingly bore the wrath of God and in His agony cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” How much more crushed could One be than that? He was crushed. There was with Jesus both an outward piercing and an inward crushing. And this piercing and crushing was for our transgressions and our iniquities, our outward violations of God’s law and our inward corruptions. Jesus was wounded inside and out in order to transform us through and through.

The most essential, most important transformation we need is transformation in our relationship with God. Some people approach God with fear and trembling, afraid of falling under His wrath, afraid of going to hell. Others look at God with indifference, putting all their eggs in the basket of this life, putting all their stock in what they can do and what they can get in this life. So most people are either fearful or foolish when it comes to God. And this is all-important, because the consequences of staying the same are eternal consequences. The apathetic person and the guilty person and the person trying to earn their salvation are all in the same place . . . they are lost. They are separated from God. They are not in a loving relationship with God. Their sins have produced a great gap between them and God and it is a gap they cannot span. But God has spanned it for them, with the bridge of the cross of Calvary. Jesus was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities and the result of this sacrifice is peace for God’s people. God chastised Jesus with our sins, and this chastisement brought us peace. The Prince of peace, the innocent One, was called to bear our sins so that we could be brought to peace with God. And with His wounds we are healed. There is not just a legal sense of peace with God that gives us a kind of legal approval in God’s sight. We are healed. We are healed in our relationship with God. We are no longer His enemies, we are His friends, even His sons and daughters. We are healed in our relationship with others. We don’t regard people any longer for what we can get from them but for how we can serve them. Because we are resting in our identity as God’s children dearly love, we can live a life of self-giving love. Isn’t it interesting that when the fall happened in Genesis 3 the first things Adam and Eve did? They hid from God in the trees of the Garden and they hid from each other by covering their bodies with fig leaves. And now in Christ God brings about the undoing of this. Jesus restores us to fellowship with God and with others.

But how? How is this peace given, how does this healing happen? Through sacrifice. Nothing of value in this fallen world comes without effort and toil. You may say, “wait, I love my children and it just comes naturally. I love my little baby.” But what sacrifice was involved in bringing that child into the world? Pregnancy, labor, sleepless nights, caring for every need. What sacrifices are involved in parenting? Your heart goes up and down like the waves with their every move because you love them so much and you want them to do well. Nothing good comes without a price. The debt we could not pay was paid by the only One who could effectively pay it. But it was a debt. There was a cost.

The 53rd chapter of Isaiah is focused on the payment of that debt by the Suffering Servant Messiah. Isaiah 53 is focusing on what Jesus has done for us. The rest of Scripture gives us our response. Our response is not to work to try to earn what Jesus has done. Our response is to receive what Jesus has done by faith. What God calls you to and what God calls me to today is to trust not in what we can do but in what Jesus has done. The banner over true biblical Christianity contains three words, “It is Finished!”

So this morning, what must you do to experience the peace and healing that comes through the saving, sin-bearing work of Jesus? You must turn away from any effort of your own to provide your own eternal peace and healing and you must turn to Jesus and trust His work on your behalf. He is God’s gift to you. You don’t pay for a gift, you receive it with thanksgiving. To try to pay for a gift is an offense to the giver. Deep gratitude is the right response to a great gift. So recognize this morning the preciousness of the sacrifice of Christ. Recognize that Jesus willingly sacrificed Himself for the greater good of bringing many sons and daughters to glory. Recognize that this is good and right and in accord with the way the fallen world works and has always worked. Recognize that in our day you will be called cruel and unloving for believing in most of the things we have talked about today. You will be charged with believing in a hateful God. You will be charged with having a mean streak. You will be called bigoted by believing Jesus is the One true Savior. You will be jeered for telling people they are helpless to help themselves. “Of course I can save myself, look at my iPhone! Look at my technology, look at my smart car. I can save myself.” Wrong! But just know this is the way of thinking out there. Understand that if you stand strongly on the biblical truth we have talked about this morning, you will not be applauded. You will more likely be despised and rejected and crushed. But remember, IT IS TRUE and IT IS FINISHED. Nothing can be added to Christ’s finished work and His finished work is the only way to eternal life. His work is the only way to peace with God and to wholeness of life inwardly and in our relationships with others. I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes.

Have you understood the price Jesus paid for you? Have you received the gift of eternal life? Don’t leave this place today until you are sure. And don’t leave this place today until you are determined to live not on the basis of what you can do but on the basis of what He has done for you. Determine to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. Make it your aim today to please Him; not to be liked or approved.

I close this morning with this charge from 2 Timothy 1:8-10, Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

 

 

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