As a high school student, I was not the best in my English classes. That struggle continued with me all the way into my freshman classes in college. My struggle has many elements. English was essentially my third language as I was raised speaking Dutch and grew up in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood in Southern California.
What I do remember from all of my English classes, however, is the use of past tense, present tense, and future tense. As I read through the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, I am amazed by a past-tense description of something extraordinary that wouldn’t happen for another 700 years.
In Isaiah 53, Isaiah the prophet was describing the death of Jesus as if it had already happened. He uses all past tense language:
He was despised and rejected by men.
He was a man of sorrows.
He was acquainted with our grief.
He carried our sorrows.
He was pierced for our transgressions.
He was crushed for our iniquities.
The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
He was describing in vivid detail what would happen 700 years later on the hill at Calvary: the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as He paid a debt He did not owe. It was the debt for you and me and all mankind. Jesus’ death on the cross paid the debt I could not pay and washed away my sins, making me clean in the sight of God.
Isaiah 53:6 says, “We, like sheep, have all gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” This, of course, is a reference to the fact that all of us have failed. You lie once, you’ve failed. You cheat once, you’ve failed. You’re mean to your sibling, you’ve failed. If you don’t honor your mom and dad, you’ve failed. It doesn’t take big mistakes for us to go astray. We don’t have to be murderers or idolaters—one little mistake creates a problem between God and us.
That problem requires a price to be paid to satisfy the judgment of God. None of us can solve that problem and so God made a way. That way is named Jesus.
On Good Friday, He bore the shame, the nails, and the agony; the punishment we deserved was placed on Jesus. Then, Easter Sunday morning, He went from being a murdered, possible Messiah to a murdered, risen, living Messiah! The tomb was empty and Jesus had defeated death.
Isaiah 53 states the reality of the gospel: “Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace.” Jesus was born a perfect man, lived a perfect life, died a perfect death, and resurrected three days later.
The chastisement upon Him brought uspeace: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
This Easter, place your hope in the One who paid your debt, bore your sins, and was the Man of sorrows. He has paid the ultimate price. Have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Isaiah prophesied 700 years before it happened. The life and death of Jesus gives us all peace and hope only a Savior can give.
Rejoice in His death and resurrection and the peace that gives us. Rejoice, for He has risen!
Copyright 2014 by Mario Zandstra. Used by permission. All rights reserved.