Jesus on Self-Punishment
Most of us have seen many variations of this picture through the years (me included)...but this year, this one caught my attention. I guess it's because you can see the individual lash marks on His body. You can see where the bruising would be if He had afterwards lived long enough for it to occur.
"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" (53:5, NKJV).
Self-harm has become an epidemic in our culture - people inflicting pain and wounds upon themselves in order to "feel" or in order to punish themselves for perceived "wrongness". People feel they deserve to be chastised. Masochists seek someone who will "love" them enough to beat the unworthiness out of them and bring them a reward of pleasure. When damaged people pour out their own insecurities on us, we believe the lie that this is what we somehow deserve.
When Jesus took the lashes, He visibly showed us that our debt was paid.
When I was a kid, a youth camp speaker told us the story of a schoolboy back in the day who had come to school hungry and his family couldn't afford lunch. So he stole some food from another child's lunch box...and inevitably, his theft was found out. The punishment was a spanking. However, the child from whom he had stolen the food began to feel compassion for the other boy; he himself had never had to go hungry. He wished he would have had the wisdom to have shared his lunch with the boy before he had been driven to steal it. So the boy whose lunch had been stolen walked to the front of the room and asked the teacher to allow him to take the punishment for the boy who had wronged him. The boy who escaped punishment was never the same.
Jesus likewise took our whipping. He suffered greatly. And He had never committed any act to warrant such punishment. The Bible says He was condemned for OUR sins, so the punishment He took was rightly yours and mine. Jesus already had the life beat right out of Him in reward for all the unworthy things you and I would ever do.
We don't have to hate ourselves anymore. We don't have to walk around feeling like everyone else should hate us, either. Our punishment has already been given...it's just that Jesus walked to the front of the classroom and asked if He could take the beating instead.
We're off the hook. God LOVES us, so He let us off the hook. How are we to respond to such love?