April 01, 2015

The Suffering Savior

Isaiah 53

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

Several years ago our family went to see the film The Passion of the Christ. It was controversial because of its extreme violence and some apparent contradictions with the Bible. Some church leaders warned their members not to watch it.

Taking these matters into account, we still found the movie worthwhile and deeply moving. We walked out afterward in total silence because there was nothing to say. Several questions came to mind, though: Did Jesus really suffer all of that; were his beatings and crucifixion really as horrendous as the film portrayed them? And how could God the Father allow human hands to treat his only Son the way they did?

Some 700 hundred years before the crucifixion took place, the prophet Isaiah predicted and described Jesus' suffering. According to Isaiah 53 this event was carefully planned by God himself. It is beyond human comprehension that the Son of God should willingly allow and accept such humiliation.

And he did it all for us: "He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities." In the words of a hymn, knowing what he suffered for our sake can cause us to "tremble, tremble, tremble."

Take time today to read Isaiah 53 again. As you do, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand all that Jesus bore for your sake, for your salvation.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your willingness to suffer and die for us. Fill us with gratitude and awe for your great love. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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