4 “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)
Isaiah 53:4-6 is the centerpiece of Isaiah’s song of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. This is not only the case grammatically and structurally with this section being the third of five sections in the oracle, but it also the central focus theologically.
God presents the definitive Old Testament text regarding substitutionary atonement. What the Old Testament previously illustrated with the sacrificial system centered in the tabernacle and temple, God now reveals in the person and work of the Servant of Yahweh: Jesus Christ. Today, we examine vs. 5. Take notice that all the verbs, unless otherwise noted, are in the perfect tense, which means a past completed action with continuing results.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions.” The conjunction of contrast “but” begins verse 5. It indicates a contrast from the latter portion of verse 4 in which the perspective by many was that the Servant of Yahweh was stricken, smitten and afflicted for His own sins. On the contrary, Isaiah shared that the Servant “was pierced for our transgressions.” He received the piercing wound of execution because of, and on behalf of, the sinner’s rebellion, crimes and offenses (Matthew 27:32-37; Mark 15:21-32; Luke 23:32-49; John 19:16-38; Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7).
“He was crushed for our iniquities.” The word crushed means to violently apply pressure in order to bruise and to harm an individual. The Servant was bruised on behalf of the sinner’s iniquities. The word iniquity means guilt and the punishment for sin.
“Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace.” Chastisement is corrective discipline or punishment for wrong behavior. The LORD’s punishment of His Servant on behalf of sinners brought us peace. Peace is completeness and soundness before God. It is the absence of hostility between two or more parties. In this context, it is the absence of hostility between the believing and sinner and God. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“And with his wounds we are healed.” By the wounds, or the slashing stripes and injuries incurred by the Servant on behalf of sinners, we are in a right state or condition before God. The Servant has removed the penalty for sin that otherwise His people owe. As a result, the Servant alone undoes the effects of sin. Even death itself will be overcome.
Dr. John Walvoord wrote, “As a result those who believe in Him have inner peace rather than inner anguish or grief and are healed spiritually. Ironically His wounds, inflicted by the soldiers’ scourging and which were followed by His death, are the means of healing believers’ spiritual wounds in salvation. Jesus’ physical agony in the Crucifixion was great and intense. But His obedience to the Father was what counted (cf. Phil. 2:8). His death satisfied the wrath of God against sin and allows Him to “overlook” the sins of the nation (and of others who believe) because they have been paid for by the Servant’s substitutionary death.”
Soli deo Gloria!