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
God showed me something about Isaiah 53:5 that has been helping me a lot lately. The verse says by his stripes we are healed.
by his stripes (bruises, stripes, wounds, blows, blueness, weals, black-and-blue marks, hurts)
we are/were/have been healed (healed, made healthful, cured, repaired, made whole)
He stood there and he took it. He allowed them to whip and beat on him. He did not have to do that. When they came to arrest him and one of the disciples drew his sword to fight back, Jesus said, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53).
I guess this part never really sunk in for me like it has lately. He was beaten black and blue and bloody for us. I don’t usually like to write like this, but I think that we are so far removed from the reality of what went on that night that it has become just words.
Then they spat in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?” Matthew 26:67-68
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. John 19:1
“Three forms of corporal punishment were employed by the Romans, in increasing degree of severity: (1) fustigatio (beating), (2) flagellatio (flogging), and (3) verberatio (severe flogging, scourging). The first could be on occasion a punishment in itself, but the more severe forms were part of the capital sentence as a prelude to crucifixion. The most severe, verberatio, is what is indicated here by the Greek verb translated flogged severely (μαστιγόω, mastigow). People died on occasion while being flogged this way; frequently it was severe enough to rip a person’s body open or cut muscle and sinew to the bone. It was carried out with a whip that had fragments of bone or pieces of metal bound into the tips.” — NetBible Study Notes on John 19:1
This sort of punishment was very real to the early disciples. It happened right where they lived. They had seen it, and some of them would go on to experience it first-hand. But I am sure that they were bewildered when it happened to their leader, their Lord, the Messiah! Why didn’t he call the angels down? And later, why didn’t he come down from the cross?
“But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Matthew 26:54
Going back to Isaiah 53:5, “by his stripes we are healed,” the Hebrew word translated “healed” is rapha. It means to mend, to cure, to make whole. This healing includes literal physical healing of persons, but also, figuratively, the healing of personal distress, like anxiety and depression. And, it can also refer to “national hurts” according to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon.
In this time of schism and hurt, of pandemic and anxiety, depression and fear – how we need this word! We need to meditate on it. We need to remember and proclaim it. We need to ask God to make it real to us over these thousands of years. The God-Man, Jesus, standing there taking it for us.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds (bruises, wales, wounds that trickle with blood, blow-marks) you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
“I gave my back to those who struck (smote, beat, scourged) me.” Isaiah 50:6
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you stood there and took the punishment that we deserved. Thank you that by your stripes we are healed.
Image, Passiflora, or passion fruit flower, by Heidi & Matt https://flic.kr/p/fZ2nn