Punishment and Peace

Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (NIV)

In this brief passage from Isaiah 53 in what is known as the Messianic Prophecy, several descriptive words jump off the page.  First, it says “He,” meaning Jesus, was pierced.  As Webster defines, to pierce means, “to run into or through as a pointed weapon does; to make a hole through.”  Let that sink in for a moment.  Often, we read this passage as we have hundreds of times and blow right past some of these words.  It’s easy to do.

As silly as it sounds, when I hear the word “pierce” my mind immediately recalls the day I took my oldest daughter to get her ears pierced.  She was a little nervous so I promised I would get another piercing in my ears, and we would do it together.  It was a successful day for both of us and I wore that second set of earrings proudly knowing I had supported her in more than just an emotional way.  By choosing to have my ears pierced again, I had bonded with her in the physical experience of pain as well.  One thing is for sure, those holes have never closed!  They are a reminder to me of a special moment shared together. 

Jesus was pierced in the most violent and vicious way for you and me.  Likewise, His piercings did not dissipate as seen in John 20:27 when Jesus appears in the upper room to His disciples speaking directly to Thomas, “‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop doubting and believe.’”  Remember, Thomas is the one forever memorialized as a doubter!  The nail-scarred hands and feet of Jesus bore witness to the ultimate bonding of physical pain that we did not have to endure.  They are a reminder of a moment we shared with Him because we were His only thought as He hung on the cross. 

Back to Webster’s to learn more about the word crush, “to squeeze or force by pressure so as to alter or destroy structure; to subdue completely.”  The last part of this definition causes me to pause. When God created the world, including Adam and Eve, He gave them some initial instruction in Genesis 1:28, “God blessed them and said to them ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  They were given the freedom in the Garden of Eden to rule completely over God’s creation and were charged with the task to subdue the earth.  It was a position of authority and power bestowed on them by the Creator.  In like manner, Jesus allowed Himself to be crushed or subdued.  His glory and splendor were minimalized in a single moment on a cross where our sin became the sweat of His brow.  He had all authority from the Father and could have escaped at any time, yet He made a choice.  Not only that, but He refused to subdue the actions and will of those around Him.  The crushing of the cross is a reminder of a moment we shared with Him as we were His only thought. 

Finally, the last phrase that arrests my attention is, “the punishment that brought us peace was upon him. . .”  There is a definitive difference between punishment and discipline.  I remember my mother explaining this difference.  When I needed correction, she would remind me that I was not being punished because punishment was without love.  Rather, discipline, or correction was an expression of love.  As a child, I recall it didn’t feel very loving.  Now, I recognize this difference.  To separate me from my parents, sister, or friends by “grounding” me for a time was absolutely the worst type of discipline for me.  To be cut off and isolated from the laughter happening in the next room was pure torture!  When my time was complete and I could again join the rest of the family, no one acted as if I had been absent.  I was included in whatever was taking place as if nothing had happened.  No one mentioned my offense any further and I would be at peace with my family once again. So it is with our Lord when we require discipline.

What Jesus endured on the cross was unloving punishment for a guiltless crime.  There was no sympathy in the whip that shredded His back.  The taunts from the crowd to “crucify him” were void of care or concern.  The soldiers beat him with closed fists full of hatred and disdain.   Isaiah prophesies in verse 3, “. . . he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”  Jesus was penalized by the people He came to save.  The punishment Jesus experienced is a reminder of a moment we shared with Him because we were His only thought as He hung on the cross. 

It is ironic how being pierced, crushed, and punished can equal peace. More than that these words offer us healing in the deepest places of our souls.  Jesus shares many things with His followers, but the journey cross-ward was never part of the plan.  The cross is the ultimate moment where we should have shared His physical suffering and yet, we find ourselves shielded instead. 

3 thoughts on “Punishment and Peace

  1. Wow… An amazingly insightful read (considering the topic…). EVER gratefeul for the sacrifice of Jesus… Pierced, crushed, and punished… But we have Peace with God through Christ (as a result…). That’s a God-Ordained #WinWin !!


  2. 2 Corinthians 4: 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
    Thank you Jesus for being the one who was pressed, crushed, pierced! For me!! And sparing me!! Amen


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