Surely He took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered Him stricken by God, struck down and afflicted.
I. THE DESCRIPTION OF THE SUFFERING. It depicts, by simple force of language, its extreme intensity - not a suffering springing from internal weakness of nature, and so withering and dying like a lamp for want of oil, but "like a torch in its full flame bent and ruffled, and at length blown out by the breath of a north wind." It was a diffused suffering, according to the expression of the psalmist, "like water in his bowels, or oil in his bones." "In his person we may see grief in its height and supremacy, triumphant, crowned and arrayed in purple, grief reigning and doing the utmost that it was able." In proportion to the fineness of the nature is the sensitiveness, and in proportion to the sensitiveness, the capacity for suffering. In these words, "stricken, pierced, afflicted, crushed, beaten with stripes," we have a cumulation of strong touches in the picture. Add to this, "smitten of God." The allusion is said to be to leprosy, regarded as a punishment for grievous sin (Numbers 12:9, 10; 2 Kings 15:5; Psalm 51:7). "The measure of every passion is the operation of the agent. We must not measure the Divine strokes by the proportion of those blows which are inflicted by the greatest and most exasperated mortal. Every blow inflicted by the fiercest tyrant can reach no further than the body, and the body is but the dwelling-place, not any part, of the soul. None can reach the conscience but he who made it. God is able, merely by letting a few drops of his wrath fall upon the guilty conscience, so to scald with a lively sense of sin, that the man shall live a continual terror to himself. His own breast shall echo peals of vengeance to him every hour. Suffering must needs be grievous when infinite justice passes sentence, and infinite power does execution" (South). An "unparalleled greatness" of suffering is, then, here indicated.
II. THE VICARIOUS NATURE OF THE SUFFERING. He bore our sicknesses; "the first of twelve distinct assertions in this one chapter of the vicarious character of the sufferings of the Servant." They are "because of our rebellions" and of "our iniquities." The punishment which is the means of "our peace" and welfare fell upon him; we have been healed through his stripes. The iniquity of all has been made to light upon him. "As the avenger of blood pursues the murderer, so punishment by an inner necessity overtakes the sinner (Psalm 40:12; Numbers 32:23; cf. Deuteronomy 27:15). And inasmuch as the Servant, by Jehovah's will, has made himself the Substitute of the Jewish nation, it follows that the punishment of the latter must fall upon him." After all that has been written for ages upon this difficult subject of vicarious suffering or punishment, there remain difficulties not to be surmounted by our reason. How can punishment be transferred? How can the suffering due to the sinner be imposed upon an innocent person? How can any honest mind admit such a confusion of relation, even were it offered, as a means of escape from penalty? The answers to these questions are given in poetic metaphors, and analogies which do not reach to the heart of the matter, and forensic quibbles which are not lovely in connection with spiritual matters. For all that, there is something the heart of all men fixes upon as lovely, Divine, adorable, in the idea of a man laying down his life for his brethren, a patriot for his country. Much of this deep feeling enters into the old legends, often of a woman - an Alkestis, a Makaria, an Hesione; often of a man - a son of Mesa, King of Moab, a Menoikeus, a Curtius. If we begin to criticize, we lose the sense and spirit of these sweet stories. So with the great tradition of the Servant of Jehovah, and with the still greater tradition by which our lives and hearts have been formed.
III. APPLICATION. Every Christian thinks of Christ when he reads these beautiful words. Who but he can inspire us with the willingness to "crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts"? "Nature, indeed, cannot, will not, prompt it; but Christianity, which rises many strains above nature, must and will. The best sacrifice to a crucified Saviour is a crucified lust, a bleeding heart, and a dying corruption. Let the ambitious man lay his pride in the dust, the covetous man deposit his treasures in the banks of charity and liberality, and let the voluptuous epicure renounce his cups and his whores, - and this will be a present to Heaven better than a whole hecatomb; nor could the fruit of his body fall so grateful a sacrifice upon God's altar as the sin of his soul" (South). - J.
Surely He hath borne our griefs.I. CHRIST'S LOVE.
1. The certainty of what is averred of Christ: "Surely."
2. The acts of Christ's obedience, set forth in two words: He hath "borne," He hath "carried."
3. The objects. They are "griefs," "sorrows."
II. MAN'S UNTHANKFULNESS, in censuring Christ and despising Him; and there consider —
1. The persons: "We."
2. The guilt. Esteeming Christ stricken and smitten of God.
( T. Manton, D.D.)
1. The Lord — electing to perpetuate the sinful race, to endure all the sorrow which Heaven would look upon, and the question which would fall upon His government through the existence of a world so full of wrong and wretchedness, in a universe whose order was his charge — stooped at once, in infinite, tender pity, to lift the burden, and to become a fellow-wayfarer in the sorrowful pilgrimage to which man had doomed himself by his sin. Suffering sin to live on and reproduce itself, with all its bitter fruits, in the universe which He made to be so blest, He needs must become its sacrifice; making the atonement for the sin which He did not on the moment crush, and bearing the burden of the sorrow which He did not at once destroy. And this is Divine love. It must share the sorrow which it allows to live on, though the fountain of the sorrow be a sin which he hates; it must lift and bear the burden which most righteous necessities lay heavily upon erring souls. We none of us know, even dimly, what is meant by "Emmanuel," "God with us. God always with us, incarnate from the hour when He announced Himself as the woman's seed, and the destroyer of her foe. God with us, our fellow in all the dread experience into which our sharing in the sin of Adam has driven us; knowing Himself the full pressure of its burdens, and infinitely more nearly touched than we are by everything that concerns the dark, sad history of mankind.
2. The fellowship of God with the race in the very hour of the transgression infused at once a tincture of hope into the experience of the sinner, and made it, from the first, a discipline unto life instead of a judgment unto death.
3. This first promise to man, this fellowship of God with the sinning, suffering race, whose existence He perpetuated, pledged Him to the sacrifice of Calvary, the baptism of Pentecost, and the abiding of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, with the world.
(J. B. Brown, B. A.)
I. WHAT BURDENS PRESSED ON CHRIST, WHICH COULD NOT HAVE BEEN HIS, UNLESS HE HAD TAKEN THEM UP?
1. By His incarnation He inserted Himself into our race, and by assuming our own nature, He felt whatever sorrows press on man as man
2. By His position He represented our race. As the Son of God, He is Heaven's representative on earth. As the Son of Man, He is our Great High Priest, to intercede with Heaven. Thus all earth's spiritual concerns rested on Him. Could such a work be entrusted to man, and He-be otherwise than "a man of sorrows"?
3. By His own personal sympathy He so felt for man, that He made the sorrows of others His own. His was no heartless officialism.
4. By suffering and sorrow, Christ not only discloses His own human sympathy, but by reason of the two-foldness of His nature, that human sympathy was an incarnation of the Divine!
5. But we have to take one more step, in accounting for the burden which lay upon Christ. He came, "not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life, a ransom for many."
II. WHAT BURDENS DO NOT REST UPON US, THAT MUST HAVE BEEN OURS IF CHRIST HAD NOT BORNE THEM AWAY?
1. The burden of unatoned guilt rests on none! "Behold the Lamb of God that beareth away the sin of the world!"
2. The burden of hopeless corruption of nature need rest on none. When the Son of God came to be a sacrifice for us, He came to be also a Living Root in us. He allied Himself with human weakness, and joined it to His almightiness, that in Him that weakness might be lost, and be substituted by "everlasting strength."
3. The burden of unshared sorrows rests on none. Does our sorrow arise from the sin without us? That pressed more heavily on Christ than ever it can do on us. Does it come from personal trial? Christ's were far heavier than ours. Does it come from the temptations of Satan? He was in all points tempted like as we are. But perhaps it may be said, "By reason of the infirmities of the flesh, I am betrayed into impatience, murmuring and fretfulness and I cannot feel that Christ has lifted off that burden, for I am sure Christ never felt any fretfulness or impatience, and so He cannot sympathize with mine." But, strange as it may seem at first sight, it is just here that the perfection of Christ's sympathy is seen. In this last-named course of sorrow there is a mixture of what is frail with what is wrong. But since Christ's nature was untainted by sin, He can draw exactly the line between infirmity and sin, which sinful natures cannot do. Now, we do not want, and we ought not to wish for sympathy with the wrong, but only with weakness and frailty. How does Christ, then, meet this complex case! Distinguishing most clearly between the two, He looks on the infirmity, and has for it a fulness of pity; He discerns the sin, and has for that fulness of power to forgive it, and fulness of grace to remove it! "In that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted."
4. The burden of dreaded death need rest on none. Christ passed through death that He might deliver them who through fear of death are all their lifetime subject to bondage.
5. The great burden of the destiny of the human race rests not on us. Christ has taken that up.
(C. Clemance, D. D.)
I. THAT THE MESSIAH SHOULD SUFFER NOT FOR HIS OWN SINS, BUT FOR OURS (vers. 4-5). This indeed is what His enemies would deny, esteeming Him "stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted," for His own sins, His imposture, usurpation and blasphemy. But if we peruse the history of His life we shall find that the sum of all they had to lay to His charge was His presuming to act in a character which really did (but which they would not believe did) belong to him: that the whole course of His behaviour exemplified the most perfect integrity of heart and life, and showed Him to be the spotless Lamb of God, in whom there was no sin. Hence it follows that He must have suffered for the sins of others.
1. Some have put this gloss upon the words, "He was wounded for" — i.e., (they say) "by our transgressions," and "bruised by our iniquities." Or, that it was owing to the sins of the Jews that He suffered so much as He did. It was their malice, unrighteousness and envy that was the cause of all His suffering. But this construction is not only apparently forced, but is confuted by the whole scope and tenor of the prophecy. For He is not said to be smitten by the Jews, but for them; nay, that He was smitten of God for them, for it was "the Lord that laid on Him the punishment of their iniquities.
2. Others say that He bore our sins by imputation, and was wounded for our transgressions, because our transgressions were imputed to Him, or reckoned as His. But you will say, perhaps, "Were not our sins then imputed to Christ?" I answer, I find no fault with the word, provided it be rightly understood and explained. If by "imputation" be meant, that our sins were actually made over or transferred to Him, so as to become His, I do not see how this can be conceived possible. "But might they not be reckoned His?" No, for that would be to reckon them what they were not, and what it was impossible they should be. But if by our sins being "imputed" to Christ be understood no more than that the punishment thereof was actually laid upon Him, this is easily conceived, and readily granted: that is what the sacred Scriptures everywhere say. If anything further be necessary to illustrate this affair, we may explain it by the case of the propitiatory sacrifices under the law, all which pointed at or prefigured the great Christian sacrifice under the Gospel. Those piacular victims were of Divine appointment. The sin-offerings, over the heads of which the priest was to confess the sins of the people, were substituted in the room of the offenders, and died instead of those sinners for whom they were offered. The sins of the people were not transferred over to the victim, but the victim was slain for the sins of the people. Leviticus 16:21, 22 must of necessity be taken in a figurative construction: because the sins of a man can in no other sense be transferred to, or laid upon a beast, than by transferring upon it the punishment of them.
3. Others there are who acknowledge that Christ died for us, meaning thereby that He died for our sakes or for our good, and to set us a perfect example of patience and submission under sufferings; but not for our sins, or in our room and stead. But if Christ died for us as our Sacrifice, or as the sacrifices under the law died for the offenders (as He certainly did if they were proper types of Him), then He must have died in our room, and as substituted in our place.
4. Others think, that all those places of Scripture which speak of Christ's death as a "propitiation are to be explained in a figurative sense: that the apostles borrowed those sacrifical terms from the Jewish law, and applied them to the death of Christ, only by way of accommodation or analogy, not that the blood of Christ did really and properly expiate or atone for sin, any more than that of the Jewish sacrifices; but that He only died for us as a pledge to assure us that God would pardon and accept us upon our repentance. To which it may suffice to say, that the apostle does not speak of the death of Christ merely by way of analogy to the Jewish sacrifices, but as typified, represented and prefigured by them (Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 9:13, 14; Hebrews 10:4).
II. THAT THE GREAT END AND DESIGN OF CHRIST'S SUFFERING FOR OUR SINS, WAS TO MAKE OUR PEACE WITH GOD. "The chastisement of our peace was upon Him," etc. These words plainly intimate to us the way whereby our peace is made with God, viz. by our justification and sanctification.
(J. Mason, M.A.)
1. There is no passage of Scripture in which the substitution of Christ's sufferings, in place of those of the sinner, is more clearly revealed than in our text.
2. All agree that men are sinners, and that sin deserves punishment. But when we come to ask how it may be forgiven, and for what consideration God forgives it, we begin to differ. The Trinitarian doctrine is, that the eternal Son of God, the uncreated, and equal with the Father, became incarnate, and suffered the punishment of our sins, as our Substitute; and that for the sake of what He has done, we may be forgiven. They who are opposed to us, on the other hand, believe that Christ, a created being, but still so very exalted that He may be called a God — yet not the supreme God — took our nature upon Him, that He might teach men a purer religion than was ever before known, and set before them a perfect example, and thus draw them away from their sins; so that He saves us from our sins, not by atoning for them, but just as any merely good man does, who so teaches and practises as to lead men from sin to holiness. While engaged in this work, they assert further, that the Jews seized upon the Saviour and put Him to death; and Jesus, to show that He was persuaded of the truth of what He had taught, gave Himself up to die, just as Latimer and Ridley sealed their testimony with their blood; and that thus Christ may be said to have died for us, because He met His death in seeking to do us good. Some go a little further, and believe that God was so pleased with the holy life, and the martyr-death of His Son, that for His sake He is graciously inclined to forgive sin, just as the good conduct of one child may procure favours for an erring brother, for whom he pleads. They expect to be saved through their repentance, by the mercy of God; we expect salvation through the alone merits of the suffering Son of God.
3. Now let us go on to see how this great doctrine of our Church is sustained by Scripture.
4. But again, we ask attention to the fact, that Christ's sufferings were not so much from man as from God, not bodily so much as of the soul. How do we account for this? If He was seized upon by the Jews, and died merely as a martyr, would God have withdrawn His presence from Him in His last agonies Would He not then have had, as other good men have had, the brightest views of the Divine presence and comfort? But it was just the reverse. "The Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all." "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him." It is said God made Christ's soul, not His body alone, an offering for sin; it was foretold that it should be mental, not merely corporal suffering, that He should endure. And such, in fact, was the case.
5. How can these facts be explained on the Unitarian system?
(W. H. Lewis, D.D.)I. THE NEED (ver. 6). Sheep, but astray; through following their own inclinations. Divine pity is on the selfish and the lost.
II. THE MEANS.
1. The reality of the redemption seen in the fact that Christ died. He did not die for His own sin; "I am innocent of the blood of this just man," said His judge. He did not die through His own feebleness; "I have power to lay down My life," etc., said Christ. He did not die by accident; "the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all:" it was the will of the Father, and foretold, and a fact.
2. The form of the redemption.(1) The humiliation of Christ. The humiliation of Christ teaches the intensity of sin. Where sin is not felt His humiliation is misunderstood. "We did esteem Him stricken," etc.(2) The substitution of Christ. The substitution of Christ teaches the wealth in our redemption; where Christ is not known in His Divine nature the riches of salvation not fully appreciated.
III. THE EFFECT (ver. 5).
1. Sin atoned for, iniquity borne away.
2. Peace. "The chastisement of our. peace was upon Him." "Being justified by faith we have peace."
3. Healing. We are free from sin to be the servants of God. The depth of His love the measure of our obligation. As that cannot be fathomed our obligation can never be fully realized.
(R. V. Pryce, M.A., LL.B.)
(A. Crauford, M.A.)Luther and Bunyan: — By their "agony and bloody sweat." it is given to sympathetic souls in every age to deliver the world to some extent. Thus by the stripes of Luther John Bunyan was healed. From Luther's commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians Bunyan received peace and victory.
(A. Crauford, M.A.)
(A. Crauford, M.A.)
(A. Crauford, M.A.)
(A. Crauford, M.A.)
(A. Crauford, M.A.)
(A. Crauford, M.A.)
(A. Crauford, M.A.)
(A. Crauford, M.A.)
Stricken, smitten of God
(Jr. R Macduff, D.D.)Genesis 12:17; 1 Samuel 6:9), especially leprosy, which was regarded as pre-eminently the "stroke" of God's hand (Job 19:21; 2 Kings 15:5; Leviticus 13:3, 9, 20), and the direct consequence of sin.
(Prof. J. Skinner, D.D.)
(Prof. J. Skinner, D.D.)I. THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS — MAN'S EXPLANATION OF IT. "We did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted." And it is impossible to say that this is other than a fair view to take from man's position and with man's knowledge.
1. Let us try and realize the process of mind in a man who was told of Christ's sufferings and death, but had no knowledge of His personal innocence; no conception of Him as the "spotless One," separate from sinners. Such a man would only decide that He was "stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." To such a man it would be plain enough that God has established an immediate connection between sin and suffering. And yet we know, we feel, that this explanation of the mystery of our Lord's sufferings is insufficient and incorrect. It does not lift the veil. It is altogether too commonplace. Good enough if Christ were a fellow-man. Worthless — nay, wholly wrong — if He be the spotless Lamb of God; if He be the Son of God with power.
2. Then let us try to realize the process of mind in a man who has some knowledge of Christ's life, and especially of His personal innocence, as one who "did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth." Such a man might say, Christ's sufferings were a specially and extraordinary Divine judgment. "He was smitten of God." Such a knowledge of Christ's life would convince the man that Jesus must have been a most amiable and excellent person, an obedient Son, a loving Friend, a gentle-hearted Brother; one who could claim to be a firm and wise moral Teacher. The man would feel sure that the influence of such an one as Jesus must have been very great upon His age. The fast departing moral life of Judaism ought to have had its flickering flame fanned afresh by the presence and teachings of such a Master-Spirit. And then, as he saw Him despised, persecuted, and at last put to the ignominious slave's death of the cross, what could he think about it all But this? It was a sad calamity, one of those mysterious Divine judgments that seem to come in every age, and puzzle sorely the sons of men. Man can only say of the sufferer — "Smitten of God." In this way a man might fairly regard the innocent Jesus. Nay; this, too, is insufficient; it is but the beginning of an explanation. A calamity! Yes, but only a seeming calamity, seeing that by dying He conquered death, "led captivity captive," and "opened the kingdom of heaven you to all-believers." "Man cannot of himself explain the mystery of Christ's sufferings. But he can be humble, and. learn so much of the mystery as God may be pleased to reveal.
II. THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS — GOD'S EXPLANATION OF IT. "He was wounded for our transgressions," etc.
1. We may first notice that God sustains man's view, that the sufferings of Christ were His appointment; but He further declares that they were an unusual and altogether singular appointment.
2. Then God's explanation declares that the sufferings of Christ bore no relation whatever to His own guilt.
3. God affirms, further, that Christ suffered as the Representative or Substitute, for others. Is it any wonder that an absorbing love should grow in our souls toward this vicariously-suffering Saviour? In the restoration of man to the Divine favour; in the great and gracious work of "reconciliation," we can recognize three stages —(1) A loving purpose cherished in the deep heart of the Holy Father, that He would recover, deliver, and save His lost, rebellious, prodigal children.(2) That Divine and loving purpose effectually wrought out by God s well-beloved and only begotten Son, in His incarnate life, labours, sufferings, sacrifice and death.(3) The third stage is yet incomplete. It is the voluntary and hearty acceptance, by the long sought children, of the redemption thus gloriously wrought for them.
(R. Tuck, B.A.)
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