23. Obedience & Love
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)
Up to this point we have seen the failing presumption by some Christ, deserved what He got. It is not until later in the chapter (v.6) we see God the Father was in this process. We have seen the apparently voluntary nature of Christ submitting Himself to the condemnation and subsequent punishment, including bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows. But this verse seems to take it out of the voluntary realm and make it more akin to punishment.
Now let me say that Christ taking our sins was an act of obedience, but it was also accomplished through His willingness, compassion and love. There is no doubt He was obedient to the Father, even to the point of being the one and only sacrifice for our sins.
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt 26:39)
He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matt 26:42)
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the scroll of the book it is written of Me) to do Your will, O God.’” After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Heb 10:4-10)
But He did it also out of love:
I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. (John 10:14-17)
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:13-15)
Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. (John 13:1)
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Ephesians 5:2)
The Hebrew word for pierced through is a complex one, having three distinct usages:
- To kill, slay, wound and break.
- To defile, pollute and profane.
- To play the flute.
Without trying to bend the definitions beyond the unrecognizable, I believe I can see all three definitions working. If we would still cling to the false assumption Christ was deserving of what He got, then He certainly would be polluted; but the alternative still gives room. He is God, pure, holy, undefiled; and yet, He took our sins upon Himself, thereby becoming defiled for us. And then, as far as the flute goes, as you witness His death—depending on who you resemble of those in the crowd standing at the foot of the cross—you may be playing a dirge, or a celebration.
Transgression also means rebellion. His obedience for our disobedience, His faithfulness for our unfaithfulness; and
Isaiah finally lays the blame—or at least the cause—for the wounding and defiling: our transgressions. Christ’s wounding, His sacrifice was completely and utterly our fault. Some form of the word transgression is the most widely used translation, but rebellion and trespass are two more versions. The next few phrases continue to lay the blame where it most appropriately belongs: on us.
This the third of the substitutions: Our transgression, our rebellion, were the cause for His death.