Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 126 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Isaiah 53 today and our focus is on a big question: why did Jesus die a violent death? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in , . Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Isaiah 53 is one of the most important chapters of the Bible. Written around 700 years before the crucifixion of Jesus, it depicts a future servant of God who would suffer greatly. This servant would not be particularly handsome to look at, he would not be particularly majestic or regal in his bearing, and many would despise him. He would be rejected by men, and would know great sorrow. He would suffer great punishment that was quite undeserved, and he would do so quietly – not complaining. Most important, his suffering and his punishment would pay the price for the sins of others:
Yet he himself bore our sicknesses,
and he carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced because of our rebellion,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on him,
and we are healed by his wounds.
6 We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished him
for the iniquity of us all.
An amazing thing about this suffering servant: His suffering would bring healing for those who sinned. Perhaps most astonishing of all, it is God himself who will crush this suffering servant:
Yet the Lord was pleased to crush him severely.
When you make him a guilt offering,
he will see his seed, he will prolong his days,
and by his hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished. Isaiah 53:4-6 and 10
This suffering servant, in Isaiah 53, is compared to a sacrificial lamb. In the same way that the blood of the lamb takes away sins as a substitute (even though the lamb did nothing wrong), this suffering servant will receive the punishment that is due to the people of God. He, like a lamb, will bear their sin and pay the price for it himself. This passage is the very core of the good news, and, as we see in the New Testament, that suffering servant prophesied by Isaiah is Jesus Himself, who took our place on the cross and paid the price for our sins as a substitute. Paul speaks of this in 2nd Corinthians 5:21, “21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” Romans 4:25, “25 He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” and also Colossians 2:14, “He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.” In 1 Corinthians 15:3, Paul says that this belief in the substitutionary death of Jesus is of FIRST importance in our Christian faith, “3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,” As well, the author of Hebrews refers to this dynamic, “28 so also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:28.
This is a central truth: That Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins. The technical and theological name for this is penal substitutionary atonement. I know that is a mouthful, but as this central truth of Christianity is under great attack from those who claim to be Christians, it might help us to understand it. Penal means “relating to the punishment of somebody who has committed an offense. So a penal code is a list of punishments for various transgressions and violations. “Substitutionary simply refers to the act of one person taking another’s place – think of a substitute teacher or substitute side item on your dinner order. Atonement is probably the most important word, and one that is not used as much in modern society as it used to be. Atonement means the reparation, or making amends for an offense, violation, or injury. If you litter, you might pay a fine of $50. – that is a type of atonement. So – penal substitutionary atonement refers to a Substitute paying the penalty to atone for another person or group’s violations. As the Bible says, all of humanity has sinned and therefore falls short of the requirements of Heaven – which is sinless perfection. That may seem unfair at first, until you realize that Heaven is an utterly perfect place, and only utterly perfect people – who owe no penalty for their sins and violations -can get in. And yet God loves us, and wants to spend eternity with His people, so through Jesus, a way was made for the sinful people to be reckoned as sinless. According to the penal code of Heaven, a price had to be paid, and Jesus paid that price – this is penal substitutionary atonement. Let’s read our passage and see how Isaiah describes it.
Theologian Jarvis Williams helps us understand PSA here:
Jesus died a violent, substitutionary death to be a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of Jews and Gentiles. By this death, Jesus took upon himself God’s righteous judgment and wrath against the sins of those for whom he died. By dying as their penal substitute, Jesus paid the penalty for their sins, and he therefore both propitiated God’s wrath against their sins and expiated their sins so that the sins of Jews and Gentiles would be forgiven and so that they would be justified by faith, forgiven of their sins, reconciled to God, reconciled to each other, participate in the future resurrection, and saved from God’s wrath.
In modern times, various critics such as Steve Chalke, Brian McLaren and others have decried this view, calling it some kind of ‘cosmic child abuse,’ which seems a bit silly, considering that even though Jesus is the Son of God, He is the furthest thing from a child – existing eternally, and suffering willingly, as our passage notes.
How does this all work for our benefit? Sam Storms helps us understand:
Penal substitution, in which an innocent man is punished for the guilt of others, is perfectly consistent with the principles of justice. But guilt, say the critics, cannot be transferred. Needless to say, the biblical authors disagree! We must remember that penal substitution “does not propose a transfer of guilt between unrelated persons. It asserts that guilt is transferred to Christ from those who are united to him” (Pierced, 243). In other words, “union with Christ explains how the innocent could be justly punished – he is judged for others’ sins, which, by virtue of their union with him, become his. Conversely, it explains also how the guilty can be justly acquitted – believers are one with the innocent Lord Jesus Christ, and so his life of perfect righteousness is rightly imputed to us”
This, my friends, is the good news. Peter encapsulates it perfectly in 1 Peter 3:18
18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit
Bible Memory verses for the month of May: Matthew 28:18-20 18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
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