22. Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
In the midst of the great works of mercy and grace Christ does for you and me, this phrase reveals our thoughts, our intents and actions, which run contrary to what He is doing. Once again we see how broken we are: He bears our sins and carries our sorrows, and yet we have the arrogance and audacity to presume that He was smitten and afflicted by God?
We are indeed broken. I am reminded of the aphorism: No good deed goes unpunished. There were those at the site of the cross who actually believed that Christ got what was coming to Him. That He deserved this sentence of death. These would be called the religious people, and even though the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Scribes of the Law are no longer personally with us, their mindset is alive and well.
The first time we saw the word esteemed, we calculated (remember it was an accounting word) that He was not worth calculating. In a sense we ignored Him. Like all sins though, they have an eroding and degenerative effect, thus our view of Him has deteriorated as well, for rather than estimating Him as One with no worth, He is now One Who has been found worthy of the evils that have been set upon Him. Therefore He is deserving of the following:
Stricken, smitten and afflicted.
Stricken is a very personal word and is often translated as touched. It requires personal contact. We first see this word is in Genesis 3:3—“But from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ It also incorporates the aspect of intent, being translated as some form of reach. It is also defined as to bear and defeated.
Smitten has much more violence associated with it. Here are some of other translations for it: attack, beat, destroy, killed, slay, struck down and wounded. We must note that the most violent of the three words here is directly credited to God’s action: smitten of God.
Afflicted is an action which results in being humbled or bowed down, forced, debased, and violated. This word ties easily into our pride, for pride exalts itself and debases all others around it. We have determined that Christ really is less than He says He is and on top of that, was deserving of whatever ill-treatment was given.
As horrific as these actions were we must acknowledge that, “Well, yes He was.” He was indeed smitten of God, as well as stricken of God and afflicted of God. But the fatal error we make is that these actions were taken because Christ was deserving of such, not because He chose to pay the price and accept the consequences.
I am reminded of the disciples’ question: As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” ( John 9:1-3)
It is far too easy to assign blame rather than seeing the works of God. Christ was not stricken, smitten and afflicted because He deserved it. Rather He was stricken, smitten and afflicted to display the works of God, indeed the greatest work of God: For God so loved the world… He was not stricken, smitten and afflicted because of His nature (which is our situation), but because of His choice. His choice to be the Lamb of God, and take your place on the cross.