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 53:6
What is it like to owe nothing?
Our van needed new tires; it was another costly but necessary repair to keep our vehicle rolling for our growing family. Unbeknownst to me, my father had dropped our van off to get new tires so it would be ready for another snowy Minnesota winter. Not only was he taking the time to drop it off to get it repaired, he wanted to pay for the repair, too. Not just a part of the repair, but all of it. It was a costly repair, but when it was all said and done, I owed nothing.
The balance—zero. Nothing owed. It was paid in full.
My life has been a costly one. I have incurred a debt that I cannot pay. Today is my 11,872nd day of life. Each day, I have at some point sinned, which means I have chosen my way over God’s. I have rebelled against the Creator God. Because of that, today marks at least the 11,872nd time that I deserve to suffer an eternity apart from the Creator for my rebellion against Him. That’s a lot of eternities.
The Good News of the gospel is this: that debt is paid—in full. In Isaiah 53:5-6, we learn how this debt has been paid. It’s a costly price. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah prophesied about the suffering Servant of the Lord, the Messiah, who one day would come and bear the penalty for sin. The people present on the day of Jesus’ execution on a Roman cross considered Him cursed by God, “we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” But it was not His own punishment He bore. He was pierced, He was crushed, He was punished—why?—for our transgressions, our iniquities, our rebellion. And we receive peace with God through His punishment. We are healed by His wounds. His pain is our gain.
Isaiah reinforces that we are the ones who have gone astray. We are the ones who have turned to our own way. Every one of us. We have incurred a debt we cannot pay. It’s an infinite debt. And the Lord has laid the price on His Son, Jesus Christ. He laid the iniquity of all on Jesus. When we look at the cross, when we see Jesus dying in our place, two things should stand out to us: 1) the horror of our sin and rebellion against God and 2) the amazing depth of the grace that has been offered to us.
What is a right response to such a sacrifice? 1 Peter 2:24-25 tells us, echoing the prophecy of Isaiah,
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
May you give thanks to God this day, for His great sacrifice, and may you live in light of the righteousness you have received.
Read Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Reflect on the great price Jesus paid on that cross in your place. What does His sacrifice show you about the greatness of God’s glory and the cost of sin?
When have you treated your sin lightly? When have you minimized or excused willful departure from God’s Ways?
Peter tells us that the right response to such a sacrifice is to die to sin, live to righteousness, and return to the Shepherd of our souls. What is one way you can die to sin today? What is one way you can live to righteousness and return to the Shepherd?