Isaiah 53 is one of the clearest statements of what Jesus Christ has accomplished for his people in the entire Bible: Christ came to redeem you from suffering and sin forever by sacrificing himself as your substitute on the cross.
He was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6, NIV)
Redeemed from Suffering
Christ came to redeem you from suffering.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. (v. 4)
To redeem you means to “release you” or to “set you free.” To redeem is to do whatever it takes to get you out of the mess you’re in.
When Isaiah speaks about the redeeming work of Christ, he does not begin with our guilt and sin. That comes later. He starts with our infirmities. That has to include your migraines, your arthritis, your depression, and your cancer. Christ also carried our sorrows. That must include the division in your family, the loss of your job, the death of your husband, and the pain of your past.
Christ has not abandoned you to your infirmities and sorrows. He refused to remain in heaven at a distance from your tears and your pain—he came. He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.
In all the world of religion you will never find anyone else like Jesus Christ, who knows what it is to stand with you in pain and sorrow. He has come into the world so that pain and sorrow will not have the last word in your life.
Redeemed from Sin
Christ also came to redeem you from sin.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities… (v. 5)
Sin and suffering are wrapped up together in the Bible. They came into the world together, they exist in the world together, and the Bible tells us that God will take them out of the world together.
Think about how closely they are linked. What kind of heaven would it be if there was no cancer, but human trafficking remained? What kind of hope would heaven hold for you if there was no death, but sexual abuse continued? And what joy would there be in a heaven where God’s people were all gathered, but were still divided by race?
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Suffering continues as long as sin remains. If you want to free the world from human trafficking and sexual abuse and racism, you have to free the human heart from selfishness, lust, and pride—which are at its root.
Therefore, redeeming the world from suffering must include redeeming the heart from sin. Suffering will end when sin is defeated. That is why Jesus came into the world—to redeem us from our suffering and sin.
How Christ Redeems His People
Isaiah also tells us how Christ redeems us from our sins: Christ came to redeem you by sacrificing himself as your substitute.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (v. 5)
When Jesus suffered and died on the cross, he was more than a friend suffering with us. Yes, he suffered with us, but Isaiah makes it very clear that he is also a substitute suffering for us. How?
1. Christ redeems his people through his suffering.
Look at how Isaiah puts it:
Jesus was pierced. Think about Jesus’ hands and feet being nailed—why did that happen? Isaiah says this happened to him because of your “transgressions” and mine.
Jesus was crushed. Think about his body crushed under the weight of the cross and by the agony of the scourging—what was that all about? Isaiah says that was about him bearing these things on account of your twistedness, your “iniquities,” your sinful nature and mine.
Jesus was punished. The outpouring of the wrath of Holy God upon the Lord himself—why did that have to happen? So that you may have “peace” with God.
Jesus was wounded. What is that all about? So you may fully, finally, completely, and forever, in the joyful presence of your Savior, be marvelously and eternally “healed.”
Christ came to redeem you forever. If you are in Christ, the suffering you know in this world is the only suffering you will ever experience in your life. Think about your eternity. What is 60 or 70 years of suffering in this world compared to all eternity? The scale of this redemption is staggering.
2. Christ redeems his people with great joy.
Christ gladly counts the joy of your redemption as greater than the pain of his suffering:
After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied. (v. 11)
The risen Lord Jesus Christ already knows how he will look out over a vast company of redeemed people that no one can number. He already knows all of us by name. Already he walks with us and rejoices over us, as he will for eternity.
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Already Christ sees us forgiven for our sins, healed from our wounds, and brought out of our sorrows and into his everlasting joy. Christ counts his own joy in us greater than all the pain of his suffering. And he lives to bring us into that joy!
Jesus Christ, Our Salvation
You are more loved than you ever dared to dream. It’s almost frightening to think of being loved that much. This love is so vast that it is difficult for us sinners to grasp—the love of the Savior who offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins, substituting himself under the piercing, crushing, punishing, and wounding that belonged to us on account of our sins.
He did all this so that we might have peace and healing as we are redeemed from our infirmities. This love, this sacrifice—this Jesus—is your salvation.