Summary: Because of grace, Jesus was born to die in our place.
In Our Place
Rev. Brian Bill
December 24, 2019
Video: Christmas Connection
Have you ever wondered what happened to Baby Jesus? He grew up and went to the Cross – Baby Jesus is the same as Cross Jesus!
I can remember playing with the Christmas characters in our family’s nativity set when I was young. I was fascinated with the figurines but was never allowed to touch baby Jesus. In fact, in our family, He wasn’t put in the manger until Christmas morning. The baby Jesus was always a big deal to me but in my waiting for His appearance, I’d get distracted by my presents, and then Jesus was put away with all the other decorations until He made a cameo appearance the following year.
I never fully grasped that the baby born in Bethlehem was also the Christ who died on the cross for my sins, was raised on the third day, ascended into heaven and is coming again to rule and reign.
We’re concluding our series called, “Down to Earth: Christmas According to Isaiah.”
We’ve learned that…
• Jesus lights the way for those living in darkness. (Isaiah 9:1-2)
• Jesus is indescribably unique. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
• Jesus came down in order in order to lift us up. (Isaiah 7:14)
Isaiah 53 is one of the most amazing chapters in the entire Bible. One commentator referred to it as “the text upon which the rest of the Bible is a sermon.” It’s really the premier passage on biblical prophecy, quoted 41 times in the New Testament.
Written 700 years before Christ was born, these verses describe in great detail the life (1-4), death (5-8), burial (9) and exaltation (10-12) of Jesus Christ. We could sum up this section of Scripture with one word: substitution. At its core, substitution is “a putting in place of another.”
Here’s a summary of the sermon: “Because of grace, Jesus was born to die in our place.”
Listen to verses 4-6:
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. 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.”
Through song and Scripture, we’ve celebrated the coming of Jesus at Christmas. Let’s focus now on three reasons why He came.
1. Jesus came to take our pain. Verse 4 begins with the word, “surely,” which is the idea of something coming unexpectedly. It can also be translated as “truly.” This word means that an amazing truth is about to be given. Here it is: He has “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows,” which means Jesus came to carry our deep despair and our sad sufferings. This phrase in Hebrew has the idea of lifting up and carrying away a heavy load.
Hebrews 2:18 says this about Jesus: “For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” I’m reminded of the words to a song: “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.”
2. Jesus came to take our punishment. Jesus was born to bear our sorrows, but He also came to be our sin bearer. We see this in verse 5: “But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.” The flesh of Jesus was pierced when He hung on the cross, with nails penetrating His hands and feet, and a spear slicing through His side. He went through that “for” our transgressions. On top of that, He was “crushed,” which means to be pulverized or beaten down “for” our iniquities, which refers to our guilt.
This is fleshed out further in 1 Peter 2:24: “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.” The punishment you and I deserved was placed upon Him so we can experience the peace the angels promised to the shepherds. This is stated in a different way in Isaiah 53:10: “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for guilt.” Christmas is important but it must lead us to the crucifixion. If Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem, He couldn’t have been crucified at Calvary.
One pastor puts it like this: “Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told: Those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day stagger up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant’s head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear. He was born to die.”