In Isaiah 53, Isaiah gives a vivid account of the punishment the suffering messiah will take. For us. On our behalf.
He was pierced for our sins, wounded for our misdeeds, the punishment that we deserved fell on his head and crushed him. And by the bloody, mutilated flesh on his back, we find healing.
What an amazing thing that we have in Jesus Christ the holy, righteous, pure wrath of God the Judge, but also the love and the grace and the redemption of God the Savior.
We have a judge who brings discipline and justice, but who steps down from his place of judgment to take the punishment himself, to embrace the cross, the point of intersection of God's wrath and God's mercy.
Do you know much about the ark of the covenant in the Old Testament? Maybe you got a glimpse of what happens when you mess with it in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The ark was a sacred symbol of God’s presence with his people. It was, in mobile form, emblematic of God’s glory. Basically it was carried around with awe and care by the children of Israel as a way of taking God’s tangible glory with them wherever they went.
God was so serious about this glory that if anyone touched this thing, he would die instantly. There’s even a little story in the Old Testament about the thing stumbling and falling, and some guy reaches out just to catch it. He’s not trying to sin or do anything wrong. On the contrary, he just wants to catch the Ark to make sure it’s okay. And as soon as he touches it – Zap! – homeboy is toast. That’s how serious God is about his holiness.
Two thousand years ago, God’s glory came into the mist of his people in the form of a Galilean commoner named Jesus. He walked around as one of the people, dusty and sweaty. Human. And yet he was the fulfillment of all the testimonies of his glory God had sent generations before.
The temple? Replaced by Jesus.
The Word of God? Incarnate in Jesus.
The Law? Fulfilled in Jesus.
The prophets? Culminated in Jesus.
The tabernacle? Foreshadowed Jesus.
The glory of the Lord? Present in Jesus. (Hebrews calls him the "radiance" of God's glory.)
But unlike in the old days, when the holiness of God in the glory of the Ark of the Covenant could kill you with one touch, those who reached out to Jesus found healing and restoration. He made blind men see and dead flesh smooth.
When the glory of the Lord came with the ark, a guy just doing his duty got cut down just by touching it. When the glory of the Lord came in Person, a woman reaches out just to grab the edge of the hem of his robe . . . and she is instantly healed.
This is a slightly altered excerpt from a chapter titled "Jesus the Judge" from my manuscript-in-revision, The Unvarnished Jesus.