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Isaiah 53:5

He was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.

A suffering that redeems

We are not wanting in examples in which the innocent pay for the crimes of the guilty. Innocents are killed in the crossfire of nations. Innocents are killed by those who drink and drive. Innocents perish from corporate malfeasance and individual carelessness. Innocents perish in Sandy Hook Elementary and in the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria. And innocents are given toxic water to drink in Flint, Michigan. We understand that the innocent suffer.

But the prophet says: “He was wounded for our transgressions.” “Our” transgressions. The one of whom the prophet speaks is not suffering at the hands of some other evil or misguided people; “He was wounded for our transgressions.” The blood is on our hands; the shame and guilt on our heads.

We don’t know of whom the prophet was speaking. We don’t know whom he saw burdened with the iniquities of his community. Nor do we know why the prophet says his suffering “made us whole,” or why “by his bruises we are healed.” What we know is simply that the prophet spoke of a servant whose suffering was redemptive.

It was four hundred years later that a small community gazed upon the crucified Jesus and saw these words fulfilled there. In his impaled body they saw the holy and righteous servant of God whose suffering redeems. In his wounded flesh they saw our wounds taken and healed, our fears dispelled, our burdens lifted, our sins forgiven. In him they found healing of the world.

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