“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
In the Old Testament there was a prophet named Isaiah. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, Isaiah foretold about a man who would take the sin of the world into His body–it was Jesus. The punishment for every single sin a person ever commits is death–from gossip to murder (Romans 6:23). This prophet was Jewish, so he knew that without the shedding of blood, you could never be forgiven (see Hebrews 9:22). The words “ask for forgiveness” are not in the Bible. This is because a death must happen to be forgiven. Confession doesn’t forgive either, only a one-time confession that we need the forgiveness of Christ (see 1 John 1:9).
As a Jew, Isaiah was used to getting his own forgiveness at the Day of Atonement. This was a single day of the year in which the Jews received forgiveness for their sins for the past year–all of them. After they came out of the temple, they had relief. They were good to go for another 365 days.
The forgiveness was received only when their sins were transferred into the body of animals by way of a Levitical priest (see Numbers 18:1, Hebrews 6:2). To be clear, this animal couldn’t be their 10-year-old heifer who was on her last leg, oh no. It had to be their best animal–a spotless and healthy creature (see Leviticus 27:10, 1 Peter 1:9).
However, “it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). The key words focus on in that verse is, take away. The animal blood was simply a reminder of how poorly a person performed over the course of the previous 365 days (see Hebrews 10:3). It was a shadow of what Jesus would do through His own perfect body! (See Hebrews 10:1, Colossians 2:17). But even better, Christ would take away our sin once and for all time with one last sacrifice! (See John 1:29, Hebrews 7:25, 8:12, 10:10).
Afterwards, the Day of Atonement would no longer be needed because the world would finally have the real thing!
Think about it, if my wife is pregnant and that’s all I can talk about, then my child is born, but rather than go to the hospital to receive my new child, I stay home and stare at ultrasound pictures. This is what happened to the Jews who kept attending the Day of Atonement after the events of Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection! (See Hebrews 10:26).
Isaiah didn’t know His name, but the Holy Spirit revealed exactly what Christ would do. In Isaiah 53, he goes into great detail about what would take place in the life of this Messiah. He penned, “He’ll grow up like a tender shoot,” and that very thing happened! Baby Jesus grew into boy Jesus, and then boy Jesus grew into the man. Christmas Day celebrates the beginning of this tender shoot’s life.
Isaiah continued, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Could there be a more accurate description of how simple Jesus’ life was? The very name Jesus is as common as the name Joe.
Verse three reads, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” The foretelling of what would happen in Jesus’ 33 years, through Isaiah, is uncanny. God even revealed to him how his own people would treat dear Jesus. “We held him in low esteem.” But that’s not all he had to say about those who refused to believe:
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4)
Surely He took their pain and suffering! Surely. Yes, even the Jews who were trying to kill Him, and finally did. One of the Jewish leaders, Nicodemus, was so intrigued by Jesus, he snuck off at night to meet with Him (see John 3). But even so, the colleagues of Nicodemus had Him cut up and ground into a bloody pulp. Isaiah 53:4 reveals that they honestly believed Jesus deserved to be crucified–that God was backing them up…they were wrong.
“He was pierced for our transgressions!” Isaiah announces in verse 5. But what is a transgression?…It’s sin. He was pierced and killed for our sin. All of the stuff which cannot enter into heaven, He removed by way of a bloody death! He changed up our deal with God! (See Hebrews 8:6,13). A new Priest has come! The Levites are out! They’ve been replaced by a Priest who will never die! (Hebrews 7:25). He hails from the Tribe of Judah–a priest has never come from that group of Israelites! But it doesn’t matter because a new covenant was put in place by the Messiaaaaaaah! He brings good tidings of salvation by way of grace through simple faith! BELIEVE!!!! YES! IT’S THAT GOOD! YES! IT’S THAT EASY! (See Hebrews 4:14-16, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 1:12).
It’s so easy it’s impossible for many. “Nope, we gotta do our part,” they’ll say. They’ll go right back to Judaism. They’ll go right back to the temple.
Friend, Jesus did your part. Just open up your hands and say, “Thank you.”
“Yeah right, Matt! He died for us so we gotta get to work and die for Him!”
Friend, no…just relax and be yourself (see Hebrews 4:11, Galatians 5:22-23). Sure, your mind is being renewed by way of Christ’s Spirit–but you are complete! (See Romans 12:2, 2 Peter 1:3). All of the dying stuff is over. You symbolically followed Jesus to the Cross and you were supernaturally crucified, by faith.
So just…live. Be you. He likes you.
That word pierced, in Isaiah 53:5, is literal and accurate. Piercing was the job of a long, sharp, nasty nail. Other versions of the Bible read, “Crushed!” “Whipped!” “Bruised!” “Chastened!” One interpretation even claims Jesus was scourged. If you’ve seen The Passion of the Christ, you’ve seen a scourging.
As Jesus was tied up to a post, the Romans used a whip with metal shards on the end of each chord. WHEN THEY SLAMMED THE WHIP AGAINST HIS BACK, THOSE COARSE BITS OF METAL DUG DEEP INTO HIS SKIN AND LATCHED ON! Then they ferociously ripped it away! Fragments and chunks of the Son of God spread all around them! THEY DID IT AGAIN! AND AGAIN!
Fleshy portions of the Messiah fell into the crevices on the ground! His perfect blood–never tainted by sin–poured out of the holes in His back…saturating everything. Blood splattered in the faces of the guards! Screams from the crowd bellowed as people watched in horror!
…And Christ went limp… “GET UP! GET, UP–YOU STINKING FILTHY JEW! WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?!”
Blow after blow after blow… “STOP! PLEASE! STOOOOOOP IT!” Loved ones wailed for mercy! But they didn’t stop…they showed no mercy…they kept going. Our sin was being dealt with at that moment. Our sin was being paid for in full. Our sin was being taken away by Jesus through one final death. Afterwards, He sat down in heaven, never to have to die again:
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
This is how we stay saved as Christians, it’s because Jesus died once for all sin. He is not dying again and again, up in heaven, after each stupid transgression we act on (see Hebrews 7:25).
Now, I say this with all due respect. But there are some people who are part of a “name-it-claim-it group.” With vigor and enthusiasm–and even innocently–they’ll shout, “By His stripes, I claim this job!” “By His stripes, I claim this new car!” “By His stripes, I claim this healing!”
Friends, claiming anything by His stripes is not the gospel. We cannot boss God around and then use the name of Jesus to do so. How about we just ask Dad, and trust Him? Romans 8:15 says we now have the right to call God, “Abba,” which means, “Daddy.” So what do you say we go from claiming stuff, to simply being content in all things while asking our loving Father for what we want? He already knows before we even ask (see Matthew 6:8), He just craves for us to talk to Him.
Dad longs for us to trust Him through prayer, and by being our true selves, His kids. He wants us to know, “I’m with you, always.” He doesn’t want you frustrated by claiming things over and over. He wants you at peace.
God is not against us having stuff, getting that job, or mending your broken relationship. He’s not against you breaking that addiction, and He’s not against miraculous healings. He is God and He can do anything He wants, whenever He wants–and He’s always right. Thankfully, He loves us no matter what He decides about our requests!
But this verse, which was meant to explain what Jesus would do to our spirits has been misused for far too long. Can we please get back to the truth? Sure, Jesus can heal anyone at any time, and we should ask (see James 4:2, Philippians 4:6). But Isaiah 53:5 is not referring to our physical bodies, but instead, our infected spirits–our sinful spirits.
This verse is addressing our broken, damaged, spiritual selves. The one we were born with. Most people think we become sinners after our first act of sin, but that is not true. We are born sinners, because of Adam (see Romans 5:12). Humanity’s original ancestor was created like God–perfect. But he chose to act on the power of sin which was presented to him by Satan. As a result, sin was infused with Adam’s supernatural DNA–his spirit–and so were all of his would-be descendants, us.
The good news is, even though that one man caused us to be born sinful–Adam–by one other man–Jesus–He caused us to become non-sinful in spirit! He caused us to be perfect just like Him in our eternal bodies! (See Romans 5:19).
Therefore, it was by His stripes our spirits are healed! It was by His stripes we have the opportunity to go from having a disgusting, puss-filled, maggot-infested, sinful, dead, carcass of a spirit–HELL BOUND–to instantly being healed! To instantly being perfect and heaven-ready!
Why? Because we are joined with Him in spirit! God is not looking for dead spirits to improve their behavior or go to church! He wants us to be remade, in full, once. This happens when we believe that Jesus saved us.
To take this one notch higher, if you believe in Jesus as your Savior, you haven’t simply been healed. You’ve been supernaturally killed off and reborn as a saint! You are a spirit! Your spirit will go on into eternity, with or without God. Your flesh will die but your spirit will not.
Isaiah thought our spirits just needed to be healed, but they needed to be born again! (See John 3:7). We had to be born of water–the sac we came into this world through Momma–and we had to be reborn of spirit! In John 3:5, Jesus is not telling Nicodemus about being dunked into H2O, but an embryonic pouch and God’s own Spirit! Only the Holy Spirit joining our spirits can cause this rebirth, and it happens the first moment we believe even if we didn’t feel anything. Your salvation is not a feeling, but a fact.
Paul explains this to the Romans:
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7)
Do you see it? We’ve not simply been healed from sin–we’ve died to sin! Our spirits no longer contain it! By faith, we’ve died, we were buried, and then we were resurrected with Jesus already in our physical bodies and spirits!
With Christ in us, we don’t even want to sin–it’s like touching a hot stove–it makes no sense when we do so. But as flawed humans on a fallen planet, and with the power of sin and demonic temptations still floating around–WITH PEOPLE EVERYWHERE–yes, we touch that stove sometimes. But our Father will not disown us (see 2 Timothy 2:13). He doesn’t even convict us any longer. Jesus was already convicted and the punishment was death.
So now, God’s Spirit is loving us through our sinful choices with never ending grace (see Romans 5:20, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Galatians 5:22-23). He counsels us and patiently guides us away from danger. We still get to choose what to do! We get to decide if we will walk by our true selves or fake it! Either way, behavior cannot change your identity. Attitudes cannot change your identity.
Friend, saint, this is something we all have to deal with and it’s not easy…but very possible. We are new creations in Christ! Through His body we are now at peace with God! We are completely reconciled with our Creator! Holy! Blameless! Spiritually set apart! We are already sitting in heaven with Jesus at this moment–He is not bound by time–we are! Yet, we are still righteous today! We are children of God! That is what we are! (See Philippians 4:13, 2 Corinthians 5:17,21, Romans 5:1, Colossians 1:22, 2 Peter 3:8, Ephesians 1:4, 2:6, John 1:12, 1 John 3:1).
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for sending Him here so that I can be a part of you and Him for good. If Isaiah could have only known how accurate he was as he wrote, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter”–it would have shocked him! I know your Spirit guided his human hand on that scroll the very day he penned this passage. As I read it today, thousands of years later, I’m very grateful! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. God, reveal to these dear readers that the very same Spirit who was WITH Isaiah is now IN them. The event he wrote about–Jesus taking away our sin–CAUSED US to be able to have your Spirit infused with OUR spirit, permanently! You’re not just WITH us, but IN us! We have something so much better on this side of the Cross! Because of Jesus’ loving sacrifice, you are committed to us forever! That is, if we believe, once. Thank you for your promise to Jesus, and His to you. Amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 3. Get your copy here!