By Paul Winningham
Nearly seven centuries prior to Christ, the Hebrew prophet Isaiah wrote a masterful poem (song) which embodied all manner of details that would unfold in the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most Christians are in agreement that this is a prophecy/prediction. In the centuries since, a great many Jewish persons who embraced Christ would do so on the basis of this portion of the Bible (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). You, too, might find some wonderful treasure if you made a determination to carefully read through this section of God’s Word regularly.
Throughout the chapter there are many references whereby the Sufferer is suffering on behalf of others, as those ‘others’ benefit immensely from His suffering. One of my favorite portions is in verse 6 of chapter 53, which reads: “All we like sheep have gone astray, but the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
In the New Testament, St. Peter, referring to the truth of this passage, would write: “[Christ] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree (cross), that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (I Peter 2:24) The Apostle Paul would write of this passage like this: “For our sake he [God] made him [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him [Christ] we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
What does all this mean, you ask? Great question! It means that Christ’s death on the cross was for sin, and it brought about an incredible result: forgiveness of sins! Christ was our substitute to the torment, bloodshed, and death of the cross in order to suffer in full what our sins had earned us! He literally traded places with us to suffer what He did not deserve to give you and me (indeed, all who will trust this truth!) forgiveness and life that WE did not deserve!
It means that you and I can always take our troubled consciences to behold this truth and to know that your and my sin -all of it!- has been dealt with by Christ. You cast your sins from yourself and onto Christ when you firmly believe that his wounds and sufferings are for us. We do not look to ourselves, our suffering, or to our deeds, but solely to Christ.
All this (and much more!) Christ did for us purely out of love for His condemned, sinful creatures, in order to buy us back to live a life that might reflect His mercy and grace! This is a message that we seek to hold dearer and dearer as we rest in confidence in Christ. This is the main goal of the Lent season, which very soon will enter its climactic observances! Do not let the opportunities pass without making the most of them!
Rev. Dr. Paul R. Winningham is pastor of Grace Lutheran and Zion Lutheran Churches in Uniontown and Longtown.
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