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The Wounds of Christ

Recently Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” focused national attention on the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.  Two Old Testament passages speak of this in some detail – Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 – these passages were written hundreds of years before Jesus birth but predict the cross in astonishing detail and show us a) how God’s word – the Bible - can be trusted and b) that the Cross was no accident but was planned by God.  In the following article we will look at what these passages tell us about Christ’s suffering and what it means for us. My comments are inserted in square brackets after each main paragraph in the text.

Isaiah 53

[This prophecy was written in the 8th century BC and is an incredible accurate picture of Jesus suffering hundreds of years later.]

Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

[Jesus was “despised and rejected by men” – as the Passion makes clear in its depiction of the mocking by the Romans and the malice of the Jewish High Priest. Jesus was not attractive in the conventional sense “He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.” and was not naturally esteemed by people. “And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” ]

4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

[The word “griefs” is better translated “sickness” (Hb:choliy) and the word sorrows (Hb: mak’ob) means both physical and mental pain. The “chastisement for our peace” refers to the Hebrew word shalom or wholeness and abundance. Thus these verses deal with both our iniquity and the painful human conditions such as sickness, grief and lack of wholeness that flow from it. The cross brings healing for physical, emotional and spiritual ills. These are taken for us by Christ who bears the burden and exchanges it for us – see Matthew 8:17. The terrible suffering of Christ seen in The Passion Of The Christ – was Jesus bearing our sins and sickness and anguish and was for our healing from physical, mental, and spiritual pain and for our salvation.]

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.

[Jesus did not protest His treatment but silently endured it.]

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9 And *they made His grave with the wicked--
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

[Jesus was innocent “He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.” - yet He was punished, not for His own sins, but for ours. “For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.” Jesus’ body was taken care of by Joseph of Arimathaea, a rich man (Matthew 27:57) and rested in his new, unused, grave.]

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 *He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.

[These verses indicate that it was God’s purpose to bruise Jesus and to put Him to grief – in this case the word translated “grief” is “chalah” and means “to be or become weak, be or become sick, be or become diseased, be or become grieved, be or become sorry.” Thus both His physical and mental pain was part of making “His soul an offering for sin”.  then there is a strange contrast in tone: “He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,”. In other words Jesus shall die, then rise gain, and thus be able to “prolong His days.” Jesus will see the results of the cross and be satisfied and He will justify (put right with God) many people because “he shall bear their iniquities” so that we do not have to bear our sin and can stand before God clean and new.]

12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.

[Jesus was numbered with the transgressors – dying between two thieves and He “made intercession for the transgressors” when He said “today you shall be with me in Paradise” to one thief and prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” concerning the soldiers. Jesus “poured out His soul unto death” that is He gave up His life, it was not snatched from Him. In the end this resulted in true greatness and power “ I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,” God highly exalted Him – see Philippians 2:5-11—below:
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”]

Psalm 22 (written in the time of King David, 900 years before the cross)
To the Chief Musician. Set to *"The Deer of the Dawn." A Psalm of David.

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.

[Jesus quoted the first line of this Psalm on the cross thus indicating that it applied to Him - Matthew 27:46 “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”. This is called the “cry of dereliction” as He bore the full weight of our sin. ]

3 But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
4 Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.
5 They cried to You, and were delivered;
They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.

[Jesus faces the puzzle of a righteous man being left to suffer. He goes to the nature of God and trusts in His delivering power – which comes not through instantaneous deliverance but through death and resurrection. ]

6 But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
7 All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 "He *trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!"

[Those surrounding the cross mocked Jesus thus fulfilling this verse of Psalm 22. Matthew 27:39-44 39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, "You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross." 41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the *scribes and elders, said, 42 "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. *If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe *Him. 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'"44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing. ]

9 But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
You made Me trust while on My mother's breasts.
10 I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother's womb
You have been My God.
11 Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help.

[“From My mother’s womb, you have been My God” – Jesus was a special creation of God in the womb – conceived when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary. Mary was at the foot of the cross during the crucifixion. ]

12 Many bulls have surrounded Me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
13 They gape at Me with their mouths,
Like a raging and roaring lion.

[Bulls and lions indicate dangerous people and evil spirits. The apostle Peter calls Satan a roaring lion, by Peter (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus was surrounded by raging evil that wanted to destroy Him.]

14 I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.

[Jesus life was poured out like water, the cross put his bones out of joint and made Him thirst and become extremely weak. ]

16 For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They* pierced My hands and My feet;
17 I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
18 They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.

[They “pierced my hands and my feet” - with nails. See Matthew 27:35 “35 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: "They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots."*  Dogs/congregation of the wicked – people who are without moral values had surrounded Jesus.]

19 But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me;
O My Strength, hasten to help Me!
20 Deliver Me from the sword,
My precious life from the power of the dog.
21 Save Me from the lion's mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!

[Jesus does not struggle to save Himself or use His powers to that end but instead trusts in God.]

You have answered Me.
22 I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard.
25 My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;
I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.
Let your heart live forever!

[Jesus’ suffering was “heard” by God who answered Him by raising Him from the dead. See Hebrews 5:7,8 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,”.  In Psalm 22 it says “Let your heart live forever” – Jesus died, but was raised and lives forever. Hebrews 7:25, Revelation 1:18 ]

27 All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before *You.
28 For the kingdom is the Lord's,
And He rules over the nations.

[The Cross opened up access to God to all nations – not just to the Jews. Jesus died for people from all nations and took their sins (if they repent and believe). After it the apostles went out taking the gospel of forgiveness of sins to the whole world and Christianity as we know it was born.

29 All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.

[Jesus will be worshipped by people, both great and small across the whole earth and even the most desperate “he who cannot keep himself alive’ will find eternal life in Christ Jesus. ]

30 A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,
31 They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this.

[ The story of the cross – and the suffering of Jesus will be told from generation to generation. ]

Conclusion

Jesus did not die because Jews planned it – but because God planned it hundreds of years beforehand and announced it through both David (Psalm 22) and Isaiah (chapter 53). God had a plan to deal with the pain of the world – its sin, its mental and emotional anguish and its sickness and disease – and that plan involved sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross to pay the price for our sins.

When Jesus died on the cross He paid the price for making us whole again and for forgiveness before God. He did this by being a perfect sacrifice – completely innocent of all sin. By having faith in Jesus God saves us from sin and also deals with our mental and emotional anguish and our sickness and disease – this is demonstrated in the healing miracles of Jesus - see Matthew 8:14-17 – by His stripes we are healed!