The Stripes of the Servant

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”

(Isaiah 53.5)

Imagine, for a moment, a sickness that lasts for twelve years. Whatever sickness you want, choose it, whether chicken pox, allergies, strep throat or the common cold, the choice is yours.

Now imagine having that you have that sickness for twelve years. I cannot stand a common cold for a day, much less twelve years.

A disease of twelve years would frustrate and annoying. A disease of such time would be expensive. What much would you spend to cure yourself of a 12-year disease? One woman spent her entire livelihood on doctor visits and prescriptions. Every excess of her paycheck went to cure her disease. If she had any retirement, it was spent.

Her disease was something that doctors could not cure. No amount of earthly research could heal this frustrating disease. No doctor could heal this woman. It was something beyond the healing of man’s products and power. It needed healing from a higher power.

What emotions must have gone through her mind as she tried to find the healing she needed. I wonder if she often cried out to God in anguish and disgust? Why hadn’t God cured her of this disease? Did she often slip into depression thinking God had forgotten about her? To these questions, the world will never know.

What the world knows is she encountered the greatest healer the world has ever known, Jesus! She did something others would have only dreamed of – she touched the Savior. She reached out and touched the edge of the garment.

Why did she reach out to the garment of Jesus?

Why not confront Him and beg for healing?

Surely, she had heard of the multitudes who brought their sick family, their crippled friends, their disease neighbors to be healed of the miraculous power of Christ. Matthew’s account (Matthew 4.23-25) tells of the spread of the fame of Christ even before the words of the Sermon on the Mount are spoken.

This woman knew of the power of Christ. She knows of His healing nature. After all, Jesus was traveling to heal the ill-stricken daughter of Jarius, the ruler of the synagogue. (Luke 8.41-42) She was there in the crowd, watching the steps of Jesus. She was not only watching but also waiting. She was waiting for that exact moment when she would reach out and touch the hem of that garment, not from the front or the side, but from behind. She had been planning. She had been envisioning the day when this dreaded, embarrassing disease would be taken away. She reached and touched, knowing the power that was found in the Christ.

“It stopped! I am cured!” her mind must have raced with those words when her disease stopped. No money in the world could buy her healing, but the edge of the garment of Christ could. Thoughts of jubilation and rejoicing must have sprung her mind.

Her mind stopped when she heard the three words of Jesus, “Who touched Me?” At the sound of those words, she began trembling. As the woman hears the words and trembles, Peter explains there are many people touching Jesus. (Luke 8.45) Peter not only says that people are touching Jesus, but they are pressing against Him. The people must have flocked to Jesus, pressing Him on every side. After all, He was their shepherd. He was giving them words no one could answer. (Matthew 7.28-29)

If tens, hundreds, or thousands of people were touching Him, why was this one different? People must have touched Jesus every day, but this one was different. Read a little more about Luke 8, and you will see the answer. Jesus felt power left His body. (Luke 8.46) The man of eternal power knew that power flowed from His body to someone in need.

As He turned, the woman came forward. She fell before Jesus and confessed to touching of the garment and how the healing was immediate. (Luke 8.47) Maybe she was expecting a rebuke from the Savior. Instead of a rebuke, she got praise from the Savior, “Be of good cheer, daughter, your faith has made you well.”

Her faith made her well, not her actions but her faith. But also notice her faith led her to act. Matthew records that the woman spoke to herself saying, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” Her faith caused her to reach the edge of the garment. Notice she had faith in even the edge of Christ. Her belief in the power she could not see was leading her to healing she could not imagine.

Can you imagine the power the flowed through her body at the exact moment she encountered the healing power of Christ?

It is unspeakable to try to describe the power found in the physical body of Christ; that power healed countless numbers of people. The healing reached those of leprosy, the mute, the deaf, the blind, the lame and even the dead.

Did you know His healing reaches you?

Christ’s healing touch is a little different from the touch of the diseased woman. We have no hem to touch or a garment to cling too; we have the cross.

The cross is the turning point. It is the establishment of the new covenant of Christ and a turning point in your life. The disease woman was healed through her touch of the Savior; we are healed because the Savior saw fit to take the touches meant for you and me.

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities…” Because of what we did, Jesus took our criminal stripes. Solomon wrote of stripes in Proverbs 20.30,

“Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, as do stripes the inner depths of the heart.” How well did Solomon know that the blows that Christ would take away the evil of the world?

Christ would take away the sins of the world, yet the world would not stand up for Christ. His friends left. The multitudes who stuck so close by His side disappeared from His presence. He was there in their time of trial, but they were gone in His. The interesting part is He knew it was coming. He knew that once He, their shepherd was struck, and they would scatter.

“All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written. ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

(Matthew 26.31)

When Jesus spoke these words, He was addressing His disciples, but as the crucifixion takes place, all His followers are scattered. John seems to reappear at the foot of the cross along with Mary, the mother of Jesus. The others, who knows?

The striking of the Shepherd was felt 39 times. The lashing of a perfectly complete, sharpened whip against the smooth, stretched back of a perfectly innocent man happened 39 times. The law said a criminal was to be struck a maximum of 40 times. The Jews would stop at 39. They wanted to be sure they did not violate the law of God while disciplining a criminal. (Deuteronomy 25.3; 2 Corinthians 11.24) Christ took those 39 lashes for you.

Each stripe the Roman soldier laid on the back of Christ was for you.

Each drop of blood that flowed through the veins of Christ, down to the stone slab below the scourging post, was for you.

Not only was it for you, but it was also because of you. Because of your disobedience, Christ was beaten as a horrific criminal.

His stripes. His open stripes. His open, bleeding stripes are marks for you. Too often, the focus is the holes in His hands and the holes in His feet. The stripes take a back seat to everything else. Yes, we read of the scourging, but we make never take great focus. I know the entire gospel picture laid out for the world to read is important, but do not forget the stripes. They are for you. They are because of you.

The woman who reached for the healing power of Christ found it in the hem of a garment. As you reach the cross, you will find healing. You will find healing because He carried your sins on His shoulders. His body became the sin offering, the Passover lamb.

Revisit Isaiah 53.5-6.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes 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.”

Think of 1 Peter 2.23-25.

“…when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously, who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

Maybe it is time you turn to the Shepherd, the Overseer of your soul. Not to touch the hem of a garment, but to be clothed in the whole garment of Christ.

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

(Galatians 3.27)

The Servant Speaks

Dr. Eric Frykenberg, veteran missionary to India, was a great storyteller, and he could vividly describe scenes and events from his fifty-plus years in Asia. One day someone asked him, “Dr. Frykenberg, what is the most difficult problem you ever faced?”

Without hesitation, he answered, “It was when my heart would grow cold before God. When that happened, I knew I was too busy. I also knew it was time to get away. So, I would take my Bible and go off to the hills alone. I would open my Bible to Matthew 27, the story of the Crucifixion, and I would wrap my arms around the cross.

 “And then,” Frykenberg said, “I’d be ready to go back to work.”*[1]

 What do you see when you look at the cross?

With no earthly possessions to His name, He watched, as the only piece of clothing worth anything was a prize to the Roman soldiers. “His tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece” (John 19.23). As He looked deep into the eyes of every person gathered around, even those casting lots, He spoke,

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

(Luke 23.34)

Forgiveness?

After having nails driven through His hands and His feet, He wants to forgive those who committed those evil acts. The compassionate man Jesus remained compassionate during deathful persecution.

Luke began the book of Acts by informing Theophilus that the first letter (the gospel of Luke) contained all that “Jesus began to both do and teach.” (Acts 1.1) Not only was Jesus a great teacher, but He was a great servant. A. T Pierson is quoted as saying,

“He stands absolutely alone in history; in teaching, in example, in character, an exception, a marvel, and He is Himself the evidence of Christianity. [2]

Remember when He dropped to the floor and washed the apostle’s feet. He washed the feet of those who were going to leave Him in a few short hours. (See John 13)

Jesus taught forgiveness. From the cross, He petitioned His Father for the forgiveness of those who put Him there. Even though a man is close to His final moments, the crowd continues to mock. “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in Him.” (Matthew 27.42) No dignity would ever be given to a man hanging on a cross for a horrible crime.

Throughout the mocking, His heart turns to a true criminal. Death for an innocent man was painful enough, but to add a death between two true criminals was embarrassment added to the pain.

Through the gospel accounts, you can see that both criminals were reviling Christ (Matthew 27.44; Mark 15.32). For an unknown reason, one criminal reconsiders and had a change of soul. The criminal turns and rebukes the other criminal for his harsh and rebuking words. The penitent criminal requested remembrance in the mind of Christ. (Luke 23.42) This criminal knew the positive thing to come from a death on the cross was to be remembered by Christ.

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

(Luke 23.43)

Few words can comfort as words from the mouth of Christ. To pass from this life to a greater world of which we can only read is frightening. To pass to that life accompanied by the words of Jesus is comfort the world cannot offer.

For the Christian, Christ will accompany them to the Heavenly home. Paul describes the great day scene to the church in Thessalonica. For the living during the return of Christ to claim His own, they will fly. (1 Thessalonians 4) They will fly beyond the heavens to an eternal home in which Christ prepared beforehand. (John 14.1-6)

To fly has been a dream of man since Leonardo DaVinci began drawing flying machines. On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers made their great 120 feet flight in the sands of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, using an engine attached to a flimsy man-made pair of wings. Imagine flight with no wings and no motor, just Christ.

Will you fly on that final day or will you sink opposite the heavens into eternal destruction?

Anyway, back to where we were.

Some reviled Christ with, “Come down from the cross if You are the Son of God!” From the religious leaders, “He saved others but He cannot save Himself.” Even the soldiers insulted the dying man, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

As the mocking continues, Christ looks to the foot of the cross and sees His mother. His constant companion throughout the early stages of His physical life; from the beginning and now to the end, she was there. She was there when things did not seem to make sense, like His statements in Luke 2.

Looking down to His mother, He trusts the disciple He loves, John. John was the closest earthly friend He had, and now John is more than a friend, he has become His mother’s keeper. (John 19.25-27)

From His placement on the cross until His words to John, He has hung on the cross for 3 hours. Why?

Why did He hang on the cross for that long? He is the Son of God, right?

Could He not have given up and gone on? He could have. He stayed because He had things to do and words to speak.

The pain in His feet extends upward to His brain, only to be joined with the pain shooting from His hands. As the pain rises upward, the blood drifts downward. As His body arcs on the cross, drawing air into His body, He speaks.

“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani,” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

(Matthew 27.46)

After the excruciating pain of hoisting the crossbeam to the solid vertical beam, darkness filled the land. For three hours, there was no light. It was the middle of the day, and there was no sun, no moon, no stars. For the first time in the world’s history, it was completely dark at noon in Jerusalem.

God has turned His back toward Christ. Jesus mentions words recorded by David in Psalm 22.1. The actual word “forsake” means to leave, leave behind, or abandon. God, the Father, cannot be in the presence of sin. Sin is opposite of the Father. Sin is going against the excellence of the Father. Since Jesus was bearing your sins and my sin on the cross, God could not look at Him. (Isaiah 53.5)

Christ suffered the pain of bearing our burdens alone; alone because He wanted you to live with Him again.

After over three hours on the cross, Christ became thirsty. It was not a physical thirst, but a spiritual thirst. The disciple, whom Jesus loved, tells us that Jesus knew that “all things were finished” and that scripture might be accomplished, He asked for a drink. The soldiers filled a sponge and put it to the lips of Christ.

When Jesus had taken a small sip, He spoke. The three words from His lips closed a chapter of Scripture that only He could close. Those words, “It is finished” echo throughout time.

Why did Jesus hang on the cross for three more hours?

The answer, He had to finish. He had to finish the great work, which began in the beginning.

A few more words and the pain would be over. In a loud voice, Jesus calls upon His Father,

“Father, into your hands I commend My spirit.”

(Luke 23.46)

His final words. Short, sweet and to the point. Everyone present heard those final words. After those words, Christ breathed His last until He arises from the tomb. As Christ breathed His last, the veil of the temple was torn and the tombs emptied. (Matthew 27.51-52)

When all was said and done, the Son of God hung on the cross for six hours and spoke seven sayings. Throughout His mock trial, few words trickled out of His mouth. A complaint of pain is never mentioned. He never complained about you.

Charles Spurgeon once said,

“Stand at the foot of the cross, and count the purple drops by which you have been cleansed: See the thorn-crown; mark His scourged shoulders, still gushing with encrimsoned rills…and if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it.”[3]

Just my thoughts,

Chris

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Source Cited:

* Leslie B. Flynn, Come Alive with Illustrations (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987), 173.

[1] Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson’s complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (Page 169). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

* Arthur T. Pierson, Many Infallible Proofs, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, n.d.), 48.

[2] Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson’s complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (Page 477). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson’s complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (Page 170). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.