It Should Have Happened to Me

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a ulamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

Isa. 53:7

A just judgment that is what we deserve: our selfishness, pride, and anger have pained God and hurt others. Without a reason why, we run roughshod over others needs, we ignore God’s commands, we indulge our passions, and demand our way no matter the cost. Even when others are hurting more, need compassion, and help, we want our way, or no way.

Punishment is what is required for our self-indulgent behavior, conceited attitude, and insensitive actions. Yet, Christ took our place, bore our judgment, and suffered our well-deserved punishment. Christ’s sufferings should have happened to us, but he paid the price for our selfishness and pride. The cross should have happened to us, but out of love, Christ bore our just judgment.

Every time a Jewish man watched the priest slaughter a sacrificial lamb for him and his family, he knew that an innocent, beautiful creature was taking their place–suffering the fate they should they should have suffered for their sins. There could be no escaping the awareness that the magnitude of their sin required such a death. Just before the sacrifice, the worshiper who presented who presented the lamb laid both of his hands on it. By his touch, he signified that he understood the exchange: What happened to the lamb should have happened to me. 

Jesus Christ is God’s Lamb for you and me. And as we come to the cross, let us come humbly, laying trembling hands upon the Lamb. He will hear us whisper through our tears: “What happened to you, Lord Jesus, should have happened to me.”

Let us remember, too, that one day–and for all eternity thereafter–this sinless, spotless Lamb who was slain will reign–receiving all praise, honor, glory, and power.

Michael Card, A Violent Grace (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2000), 129.

“Do Not Despair Then, O Faithful Soul”

Jesus Bore Our Just Judgment

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

As a pastor, I counsel with many believers we have experienced an unexpected and difficult hardship. In many cases, they somehow have decided in their minds that the bad event happened because God was judging them for a past sin (Rom. 8:31-32). They assumed that the Christian life is based on performance. Since, they did not perform according to expectations, God must be out to get them. However, Christ died taking upon himself our just judgment (Isa. 53:5). The Cross dealt with all our past, present, and future sins (Rom. 4:5, 7-8). We need not live under the shame and guilt of a past failure (Rom. 4:25). Christ bore our retribution on that awful and awesome tree (Gal. 3:13-14).

Bad things that happen to the Christian believers are not God’s judgment, but the painful result of continuing to live this life in a fallen world (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Gratefully, the pain and sorrows that we experience can be redeemed by God’s grace and used by the Holy Spirit for our greater good (Rom. 8:28). As we thank God for our trials and tribulations, Christlike transformation can be our experience (Rom. 8:17).

Christ has been judged in order to free us from the judgment of God. He has been prosecuted as a criminal so that we criminals may be pardoned. He has been scourged by godless hands to take away from us the scourge of the devil. He called out in pain in order to save us from eternal wailing. He poured out tears so that he could wipe away our tears.

He has died for us to live. He felt the pains of hell through and through, so that we might never feel them. He was humiliated in order to bring forth the medicine for our pride; was crowned with thorns, in order to obtain for us the heavenly crown.

He has suffered at the hands of all so that he might furnish salvation for all. He was darkened in death so that we would live in the light of heavenly glory. He heard disgust and contempt so that we might hear the angelic jubilation in heaven.

Do not despair then, O faithful soul.

Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditations VII