Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stricken, Smitten, & Afflicted - Isaiah 53 part 2

"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 aer healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
to fall on Him."
(vs 4-6)

Christ suffered for us. Christ suffered for me! Throughout Isaiah 53, the gospel narrative is laid out in uncanny prophetic proportions. We see that Christ came - lived among us, lived as one of us - and we see that He suffered in our place. Are there more precious words in all of the Old Testament? Is this not the ultimate theme of the whole counsel of God?

As I meditate on Isaiah's words this morning my mind is also carried away to Paul's:

"...Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Ph 1:5-8)

Christ suffered. Christ, unlike us did not suffer for ANYTHING that He did. Instead, He suffered for EVERYTHING that we did! "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted."

I will rely much on Matthew Henry this day for His words have been sobering to my own soul.

"Christ had griefs and sorrows. He bore them, and blamed not His lot; He did neither shrink from them, nor sink under them, but persevered to the end, till He said "It is finished." He had blows and bruises; He was stricken, smitten, and afflicted. All along He was smitten with the tongue, when He was contradicted, put under the worst of characters, and had all manner of evil said against Him. At last He was smitten with the hand, with blow after blow. He was scourged, not under the merciful restriction of the Jewish law, which allowed not above forty stripes to be given to the worst malefactors, but according to the usage of the Romans. Pilate intended it as an equivalent for His crucifixion, and yet it proved a preface to it. He was wounded in His hands, and feet, and side. He was wronged and abused: He was oppressed, but our Lord kept possession of His own soul. He was taken from prison to judgement. He was proceeded against as a malefactor, He was apprehended and taken into custody, and made a prisoner; He was judged, accused, tried, and condemned. He was cut off by an untimely death from the land of the living. He made His grave with the wicked (for He was crucified between two theives, as if He had been the worst of the three)."

These sufferings, these griefs, these afflictions were born by the sinless Son of God. These sufferings, these griefs, these afflictions were born on my behalf! Christ suffered and died for me!

I continue with Mr. Henry.

"It is natural to ask with amazement, 'How came it about? What evil had He done?' His enemies esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Because they hated Him, and persecuted Him, they thought that God did. (It is true that He was God's smitten and afflicted, but not in the sense in which they meant it.)

"He never did anything in the least to deserve this hard usage. Whereas He was charged with perverting the nation, and sowing sedition, it was utterly false; He had done no violence, but went about doing good. And, whereas He was called that deciever, there was no deceit found in His mouth. He never offended either in word or deed. The judge that condemned Him owned that he found no fault in Him, and the centurion that executed Him professed that certainly He was a righteous man."

It was not His sins but ours that brought about all of these things. "It was for our good, and in our stead, that Jesus Christ suffered. It is certain that we are all guilty before God. We have all sinned, and come short of the glory of God: All we like sheep have gone astray. Every particular person stands charged with many actual transgressions. We have gone astray like sheep, which are apt to wander, and are unapt to find the way home again. That is our true character; we are bent to backslide from God, but altogether unable of ourselves to return to him. We turn aside everyone to His own way, and thereby set up our own will, in competition with God and His will, which is the malignity of sin."

"Our sins, our sorrows, our griefs. Our Lord Jesus was appointed and did undertake to make satisfaction for our sins. For the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. The laying of our sins upon Christ implies the taking of them off from us; we shall not fall under the curse of the law if we submit to the grace of the gospel. Our sins were laid upon Him. None but God had power to lay our sins upon Christ, both because the sin was committed against Him, and because Christ was His own Son, who Himself knew no sin. It was the iniquity of us all that was laid on Christ, for in Christ there is a sufficiency of merit for the salvation of all, and a serious offer made of that salvation to all, which excludes none that do not exclude themselves."

Oh, my suffering Servant, my grief bearing God you have taken my sins, griefs, and sorrows upon yourself, help me not to foolishly attempt to pick them up again! Our sin is great, Your grace is greater!

In His glorious grace,

"Stricken, smitten, and afflicted, see Him dying on the tree! 'Tis the Christ by man rejected; yes, my soul, 'tis He, 'tis He! 'Tis the long expected Prophet, David's Son, yet David's Lord; by His Son god now has spoken: 'tis the true and faithful Word.

Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning, was there ever grief like His? Friends thro' fear His cause disowning, foes insulting His distress; many hands were raised to wound Him, none would interpose to save; but the deepest stroke that pierced Him was the stroke that Justice gave.

Ye who think of sin so lightly nor suppose the evil great here may view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate. Mark the sacrifice appointed, see who bears the awful load; 'tis the Word, the Lord's Annointed, Son of Man and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation, here the refuge of teh lost; Christ's the Rock of our salvation, His the name of which we boast. Lamb of God, for sinners wounded, sacrifice to cancel guilt! None shall ever be confounded who on Him their hope have built."

Thomas Kelly, 1804

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