For Our Transgressions

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

The 53rd chapter of Isaiah (actually the chapter should begin at Isaiah 52:13) contains the clearest and fullest exposition of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for our sins to be found in all the Bible. Our text verse is the central verse of this chapter, which, in turn, is the central chapter of Isaiah’s second division, Chapters 40–66.

Although the chapter-and-verse divisions of the Bible were not part of the original inspired text, it almost seems that some of them—notably here in Isaiah—were somehow providentially guided. Part I of Isaiah contains 39 chapters and Part II 27 chapters, just as the Old and New Testaments have 39 and 27 books, respectively. Likewise, the major themes of the two Testaments—law and judgment in the Old, grace and salvation in the New—respectively dominate the two divisions of Isaiah. Many other correlations can be discerned—for example the second division begins with the prophecy of John the Baptist and ends with the prophecy of the new heavens and the new earth, just as the New Testament does.

Be that as it may, this central verse of the central chapter of Isaiah’s salvation division surely displays the very heart of the gospel. Christ was “wounded” (literally “thrust through,” as with great spikes) and “bruised” (literally “crushed to death”) for our sins. On the other hand, we receive “peace” with God because He was chastised (i.e., “disciplined”) in our place, and we are forever “healed” of our lethal sin-sickness because He received the “stripes” (i.e., great welts caused by severe blows) that should have been ours. What wondrous love is this! HMM

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