“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5 NIV)
To locate the central point of history, we have to go back about two thousand years, when Jesus died and rose again. No other historical figure—not Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar or Genghis Khan or Stalin or Mao—has had their demise impact our world in the way that the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ has influenced our history and our culture to this day.
Jesus hung on a cross and suffered, fulfilling all the prophecies that had been spoken for hundreds and hundreds of years and becoming the ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of humanity. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said, “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
The agony of the cross was not so much the nails and the crown of thorns and the piercing of his side with the spear, but the fact that when Jesus hung on the cross, God the Father punished him— in a way that we don’t understand—as a substitute for you and me. The Bible tells us that the sins of the world were laid on him; and the Father struck him and punished him for those sins so that we would never have to be punished. He became a curse so that we could be blessed. And, though he had never sinned, he was pronounced guilty, so that we could be pronounced innocent.
The danger for us, when we read or hear about the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus, is to become so overly familiar with the story that it no longer amazes us or causes us to spontaneously erupt in praise when we are reminded of all that he has done for us.
As we commemorate Holy Week, let’s take time to remember the Lord’s sacrifice and to thank him for so great a salvation.
To be continued...
Read Isaiah 53.