Isaiah prophesied, “he [God’s Suffering Servant, I.e. Jesus] will carry their iniquities…”1 Peter referenced this text ( Isaiah 53:11 & 12).
I Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree
The word “carry” in Isaiah is a word in the original which described a “heavy load,”2 In Isaiah 53:4 God’s suffering servant carries a burden of pain3 and sin that He took off our backs and put on His own, i.e. vicariously! Isaiah went on to prophecy, “…he bore the sin of many…”4 where it means He was “accepting of suffering of the guilt of others”5 to which Peter added—clarifying who God’s suffering servant was and when Isaiah’s prophecy was finally fulfilled, “in His body on the cross.” Peter then pulls back the curtain revealing God’s plan. “So that,…. we might live for righteousness.”6 In Paul’s words,7 “…in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life.”
There is only one kind of life in Christ, eternal life. Removing sin from our lives as believers has no temporal significance although it starts in this life.8 Jesus called it a “well of water springing up into everlasting life.”9 It is a life in the Son which makes our salvation10 more than a condition or a hope but a way of life, a new way of life, that we begin to experience the moment we accept Him and appropriate Calvary. It could not reasonable be anything less. Jesus made that point emphatic in our favorite childhood verse, John 3:16. We know this already as believers but here our focus is solely on this truth—He took our sins and sinfulness11 and took them as far from us as the rising sun is from the setting sun (the east is from the west).12 There is much more to discover about our Lord’s suffering on Calvary but this one provision alone is the offer of eternal life in its scope and importance.
But what exactly does Peter mean by saying, that He “carried away” our sins? We use a theologically inspired term: expiation.13 Not only the sin and sinfulness but the guilt is gone and replaced with a peace that confirms the totality of God’s forgiveness. He didn’t forgive in words14 but in action thru His death.
One undeniable characteristic of God’s, now within a believer and later on Christ’s return in His eternal presence, is that Heaven is a sinless place because it is a holy place. For this reason, John could make an amazing proclamation, “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not sin, but the one who is born of God keeps him, [himself] and the evil one does not touch him”15
- There is: The Kingdom within:16 Hebrews 9:26 the removal of sin by the sacrifice of himself.
- There is: The Kingdom to Come:17 Hebrews 9:28 so also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but [without sin] to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
- As Daniel saw it,18
- “to bring the rebellion to an end,
- to put a stop to sin,
- to atone for iniquity,
- to bring in everlasting righteousness,”
Non-believers question the logic behind a purposeful God requiring the crucifixion of His Son. We are not prepared yet to address this query. But our faith recognizes God’s authority over sin in our lives thanks to what Jesus did on the Cross. It is more than forgiveness. And “sin” needs to be further defined. But there was a dynamic at work in those hours of darkness on Golgotha’s hill: The Temple veil was torn away and what had been a once a year appointment in the Holy of Holies for the Jewish High Priest became a doorway to prayer for all who would enter into communion with God! There can be no communion between God and sinfulness.19 Explanations aside as to how this all works in God’s heart and in our lives, we, nonetheless, now know as believers that it is all very real.
1 Isaiah 53:11
2 BDB, p. 687
3 Isaiah 53:4 “..he carried our pains…” Most English translations use the word “sorrows” which might not be an adequate description.
4 Isaiah 53:12 הוּא חֵטְא־רַבִּים נָשָׂא
5 Gerhard Kittell. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids , MI: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), vol IX. pg. 60.
cp. Numbers 14:33 ““Your children will be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years and bear the penalty for your acts of unfaithfulness until all your corpses lie scattered in the wilderness.”
6 1 Peter 2:24
7 Romans 6:4
8 Romans 6:4 Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life.
9 John 4:11 & 14
10 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers and sisters
11 Both ideas are in the words used for sin.
12 Psalm 103:12. This distance is infinite and no matter how fast or slow the earth turns, the east and west are never closer.
13 the act of extinguishing the guilt incurred by something
14 Luke 23:34 records Jesus pronouncing forgiveness from the cross but this portion of the verse might be added later. It was rated a C by the textual critics in the NA27 edition of the Greek text.
15 1 John 5:18
16 Luke 17:21 YLT “t…he reign of God is within you.’”
17 Matthew 8:11 “ tell you that many will come from east and west to share the banquet[fn] with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
18 Daniel 9:24
19 Psalm 66:18 NIV If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.