Yet he himself bore our sicknesses,
and he carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced because of our rebellion,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on him,
and we are healed by his wounds.
We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished him
for the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter
and like a sheep silent before her shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
He was taken away because of oppression and judgment;
and who considered his fate?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
he was struck because of my people’s rebellion.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
but he was with a rich man at his death,
because he had done no violence
and had not spoken deceitfully.
Yet the Lord was pleased to crush him severely.
When you make him a guilt offering,
he will see his seed, he will prolong his days,
and by his hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished.
After his anguish,
he will see light and be satisfied.
By his knowledge,
my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will carry their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him the many as a portion,
and he will receive the mighty as spoil,
because he willingly submitted to death,
and was counted among the rebels;
yet he bore the sin of many
and interceded for the rebels.
This section of the Servant Song paints a beautiful picture of what the Suffering Servant will do to restore the relationship between the people and God. Though the Servant has done nothing wrong, He will take on the punishment for the rebellion of the people. This imagery points ahead to the death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus knew no sin but willingly took on our sins to bring us back into a real relationship with God. Theologians often debate the details about how Christ’s atonement worked on our behalf. Whatever the details are related to how the atonement worked, what is clear here is that God took the punishment on Himself to end the breach in the relationship between Himself and humanity.
In his song “Made Straight,” Propaganda gives a more modern picture of how the atonement works using the contemporary language of gentrification to illustrate the unusual nature of the atonement:
Glorious state of our soul’s gentrification
But the purchaser ain’t put us out, he paid all our mortgages
And repaved the streets and found homes for the orphans
Once under the thumb of an unbearable slum lord
Dumb son of a gun said rescue could never come lord
And we all believed him and took matters into our own hands
And made a filthy mess of our own homelands
And crimes of survival, they were proof of a flawed system
And we only got ourselves to blame, our cheating little hearts
But the hope of trans-cultural love and acceptance
That erased racism and sexism, the blessed
Day we don’t look down on the poor like we ain’t like them
And they not us and gender ain’t fodder for suicide among us
The already but not yet, so we look for it with joy and anticipation
For when the time keeper comes soon and make the crooked way straight
Unlike the developer that slowly buys up a neighborhood and replaces the original inhabitants with more “acceptable” residents as part of an “urban renewal” plan, Jesus’ work of atonement helps us transform our lives in a way that lifts us up, instead of pushing us aside. It restores the parts of our lives damaged by the fall instead of just discarding us for a “more acceptable” person.
- In what ways do you need to rely on the work of the Suffering Servant, Jesus, to help you lift your life to a new level?