5 Things that Changed When Jesus Was Pierced for Our Transgressions

Contributing Writer
5 Things that Changed When Jesus Was Pierced for Our Transgressions

In Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah prophesied that the future Messiah, who we know to be Jesus Christ, would be “pierced through for our transgressions, He would be crushed for our iniquities...”

John 3:16 says that God, the Father, “gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” What was an act of perfect love for undeserving people has been used by some to accuse God, the Father, of wrongful abuse.

But Jesus gave His life on His own accord (John 10:18) in submission to His Father’s will so that you and I would not have to face the just consequences of our transgressions and could enter a relationship with Him. “For the word of the cross is foolishness for those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Jesus did not see the cross as cosmic child abuse, but rather as a necessary occurrence for the salvation of His beloved.

What Does Isaiah 53 Say about Jesus Being Pierced for Our Transgressions?

The book of Isaiah is filled with prophecies of judgment and hope. Isaiah was a prophet during a harrowing time for Israel: disobedience ruled people’s hearts, and foreign nations ruled the land they dwelt in. God’s people were suffering under the weight of oppression and had scorned the only One who could save them. They had turned from Him and surrendered themselves to the very powers that now stood as their enemies. Who would deliver them?

A suffering servant. The coming Messiah that Isaiah described looked nothing like the dictatorial war hero that they likely longed for amid political oppression. Rather, Isaiah portrayed the coming of One who would suffer and die. For what? For their transgressions, for our sins. Isaiah 53 describes a grief-stricken man who was rejected and oppressed by His own people. It describes an innocent man who willingly chose the path of condemnation so that we could be free, giving His body over to be beaten so that we could be made well. “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Amid political turmoil and injustice, Isaiah 53 describes the type of savior the Israelites need: the man, Jesus Christ, who would die to save them from their sins. By using the term “our,” Isaiah does not allow any of us to go unnoticed. It was our sin that He bore on the cross, our sin for which He died, and it is our freedom that He purchased. Isaiah 53 shows that we can never stand under the weight of our sin. Our knees will inevitably buckle when we attempt to carry what crushed Jesus.

It also offers the solution: Christ’s death and resurrection. If we truly believe that Jesus was “pierced for our transgressions,” then to live as if we still have penance to pay is to deny the fullness of Christ’s work on the cross. Isaiah 53 clarifies that our greatest threat is not foreign powers but sin’s power in our hearts.

Does the New Testament Say that Jesus Was Pierced for Our Transgressions?

Isaiah’s prophecy came true. In all four gospels, Jesus’s death and resurrection are recounted. The New Testament records his scourging, piercing, and humiliation. While “pierced for our transgressions” comes from the book of Isaiah, the gospel authors do not shy away from using such explicit language regarding the suffering that Jesus endured for the sake of His people.

“They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head,” described Matthew (Matt. 27:28-29). “Again and again, they struck Him on the head with a staff and spit on Him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took off the purple robe and put His own clothes on Him,” Mark said (Mark 15:19-20). “They kept on crying out, saying, “Crucify, crucify Him!” recounted Luke. And finally, John wrote what happened after Jesus was found dead on the cross. “One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out” (John 19:34). All of this took place “so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed,” explained Peter in his letter to persecuted Christians (1 Peter 2:24).

Is There More to the Cross than Jesus Being Pierced for Our Transgressions?

As Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “...if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The gospel does not end with Christ being pierced for our transgressions. If it did, death would have won. We would still be bound by our iniquities, enslaved to our sins. When Jesus spoke with His disciples about His coming death, He did so with the anticipation of His resurrection. After bearing our punishment on the cross, He rose again on the third day, defeating sin and death. God’s power to bring us from death to life gives us hope: we are all “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) apart from Jesus, “but because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ…” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

How Does Jesus Being Pierced for Our Transgression Change Our Lives Today?

The acknowledgment that Jesus bore our sins on the cross should change everything about our daily lives. We are a people driven largely by what we fear rather than what we love. But if what we fear most, death, has been swallowed up in victory on the cross, we can begin to learn how to live as we were made to, driven instead by love. The fact that Jesus chose to suffer and die so that we might truly live has the power to assuage all fears that fall under the umbrella of death’s reign.

Here are some key changes that happen when we live in love instead of fear.

1. We no longer fear isolation because Christ died to save us via a relationship with Him and His body of believers. We no longer fear betrayal because Christ has shown His commitment to us through His death. We no longer fear condemnation because Christ took our punishment on Himself, being pierced for our transgressions.

2. When fear no longer has a place to land due to Christ’s saving work on the cross, we can begin to live by love, as demonstrated by Christ’s painful sacrifice. Our decisions and actions can be made from an affectionate regard for others rather than anxious self-preservation. We can parent from love and not fear, choose our vocation out of love, not fear, and engage relationally from a place of love.

3. Moreover, Christ’s act of perfect love should shape how we define love in the first place. In Jesus’s death on the cross, we see that love does not deny reality or offer cheap grace. Love acknowledges sin’s painful consequences and offers costly forgiveness. Love is willing to lay down its life for its friends. Love, at its core, is actionable and can sometimes be painful. But it is always filled with hope. To love like Christ is to choose to see the humanity in others' fists and to believe that the sacrifice that love entails is always worth it. Since fear is no longer in the driver’s seat, we can choose to love every day, in little and big ways, without worrying about what it will mean for our well-being.

4. Christ’s sacrifice should also affect how we understand and live out power. In taking our sins upon His shoulders and willingly giving Himself over to persecution, we see what power looks like in God’s Kingdom. Undoubtedly, God had the power to annihilate every human agent of destruction that spit on, mocked, beat, and pierced Him that day. Still, in His perfect power, He surrendered Himself to their bitter contempt that He might bring healing to a broken world. Sometimes, power looks like a sacrifice, a reality humanity has found hard to grasp throughout history, but it is evidenced in the cross.

5. Along with power, Christ’s suffering should affect our understanding of freedom. The freedom that Christ won for us was not freedom unto sin but unto obedience. Christ was free, and He chose to suffer and die by His Father’s will. God empowers us to live freely, free from the persuasion of darkness that bound us before, and free to obey the Father of lights from whom “every good and perfect gift” flows (James 1:17).

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Meghan TrappMeghan Trapp earned her Masters of Arts in Applied Theology from Heartland School in Ministry in Kansas City in 2021, and is now joyfully staying home to raise her daughter. When she is not reading children’s books or having tea parties, Meghan is volunteering with a local anti-trafficking organization, riding bikes with her family, writing or reading (most likely Amy Carmichael or C.S. Lewis). Her deepest passion is to share the heart of Christ with teenagers and young adults.

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