Jesus Bore Them All
(So You Don't Have To)

Surely He has borne our sicknesses and carried our pains ...
He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement of our peace was upon Him,
and by His stripes we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:4-5)

THE song of the "Suffering Servant" in Isaiah 53 is a prophetic passage about the Lord Jesus Christ (actually, it begins at 52:13 — there were no chapter and verse divisions in the original scroll). Of all the Old Testament prophecies given about the Messiah, this is the one most quoted in the New Testament, for it is a vivid picture of what Jesus did for us — what He bore for us — on the cross.

Just what did Jesus bear for us? We find part of the answer in verse 4, "Surely He has borne our sicknesses and carried our pains." The NKJV and NASB show these as "griefs" and "sorrows." But the Hebrew word translated "griefs" is choli and literally means "sickness." The Hebrew word rendered "sorrows" is makob and means "pains." We find these same words also in verse 3, where Jesus is described as "a Man of pains [makob] and aquainted with sickness [choli]." These words are primarily talking about physical afflictions — that is, sickness and disease.

That is certainly how Matthew, in the New Testament, understood them. Read his account of what happened after Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law. "When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick." Then Matthew, in trademark fashion, observed how this fulfilled prophecy, and quoted Isaiah 53:4: "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses" (Matthew 8:16-17).

There are four things we should note here: First, Matthew applied Isaiah 53:4 to literal sicknesses. He did not use sickness and infirmity as a metaphor for sin. These people suffered physical afflictions. Second, Matthew also included those who were demonized. In the Gospel accounts, we find that sickness was often the result of demonic oppression. Third, we see that the result of Jesus bearing their sicknesses and pains was that the demonized were delivered, and the sick and diseased were healed. Fourth, all who came to Jesus, or were brought to Him for healing or deliverance, were healed. No one was turned away.

Jesus also bore our sins for us. We find this at the end of Isaiah 53: "My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities .... He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many" (vv. 11-12). Above that, in verse 6 we read, "and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." The Hebrew word for "iniquity" in verses 6 and 11 is the word avon. It refers, not just to sin itself, but also to its consequences. Not only did Jesus bear our transgressions, He bore the penalty for those transgressions, as well. Both sin and the consequences of sin were laid on Him. The result is that we can now be justified, or made right, before God.

There are two Hebrew verbs in this passage that we should note: nasa and sabal. Nasa means to lift up, or bear away. It is used in verse 4, "He has borne [nasa] our sicknesses," and verse 12, "He bore [nasa] the sin of many." Jesus has lifted our sicknesses and sins off of us and has borne them Himself, taking them far away from us.

Sabal means to burden, or to carry. It also is found in verse 4, "He has . . . carried [sabal] our pains," and in verse 11, "He shall bear [sabal] their iniquities." Jesus has burdened Himself with our pains and iniquities.

These are substitutionary acts. Jesus did not simply help us bear our own sicknesses and sins, He bore them completely for us. They were all placed on Him. Consequently, there are none left that we must bear.

Isaiah 53 deals with both sin and sickness because there is a close relationship between them. The apostle Paul said that "through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12). Sickness entered the world as a consequence of sin, and its final harvest is death.

Psalm 103 says, "Bless the LORD, O my soul . . . Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases" (v. 3). This is Hebrew poetry, and uses a device known as "parallelism," where one line amplifies, or expands upon the thought of another. In this case, the second line, "heals all your diseases" amplifies the first line, "forgives all your iniquities." Clearly, the psalmwriter viewed iniquity and disease — sin and sickness — as a related pair. But note the order: "heals all your diseases" comes after "forgives all your iniquities," not before it.

This relationship between sin and sickness is perhaps most prominent in Mark 2, where Jesus healed the paralytic man:

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the man, "Son, your sins are forgiven you." And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, "Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, "Why do you reason about these things? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say 'Arise, take up your bed and walk?' But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins" — He said to the paralytic, "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." Immediately he arose, took up his bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!" (vv. 5-12).

The greater power is the authority to forgive sins. But notice the way Jesus demonstrated that He possessed that authority: He healed the man's physical affliction. Jesus could take care of the man's sickness because He could take care of the man's sin. And He could take care of the man's sin because of His substitutionary death on the cross.

As we consider Isaiah 53, it is important to recognize that nasa and sabal are related to both our sins and our sicknesses. What they mean in regard to one, they mean in regard to the other. For example, if they portray the atoning work of Jesus upon the cross for us, they are just as much about our sicknesses as they are about our sins. For Jesus bore [nasa] them both and He carried [sabal] them both.

There is also a third Hebrew verb related to both iniquity and sickness. It is daka and is translated as "bruised" or "crushed." It is found in verse 5, "He was bruised [daka] for our iniquities," and in verse 10, "Yet it pleased God to bruise [daka] Him; He has put Him to grief [choli = sickness]." Literally, it pleased God "to bruise Him, to make Him sick." Jesus was bruised, or crushed, both for our sins and our sicknesses.

With this in mind, let's look at the heart of this prophetic hymn (vv. 4-6):

Surely He has borne our sicknesses and carried our pains. Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted [as if for His own transgressions]. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of 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.

Jesus bore all our sicknesses, pains, and iniquities. He took our place and was chastised for the sake of our peace. And by His stripes, we are healed.

The word "peace" is the Hebrew word shalom. It means "wholeness" or "well-being." It refers to our total restoration, both physical and spiritual. In the same way, the healing we have "by His stripes" is for our total restoration, both physical and spiritual. The sicknesses and pains which Jesus bore were our physical afflictions, but the iniquity which the Lord laid on Him was our spiritual disease.

The implications of this are tremendous. Jesus bore our sins for us, therefore, we no longer have to bear them. Jesus bore our sicknesses, therefore, we no longer have to bear them, either.

But how do we receive all this? How do we have our peace with God restored? How do we receive this forgiveness of sins? And how do we receive the healing of our sicknesses and pains?

The answer is the same in every instance. We receive it by faith. We take God at His Word and look to the Lord Jesus Christ. For "by His stripes we are healed." Note the tense: "we are healed," not "we will be healed." Our healing, both physical and spiritual, is available to us now, by faith.

The apostle Paul said, "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). That means that we do not pit our senses, our thoughts, or our emotions against what the Word of God says. We do not conform the Word of God to our experiences. That is walking by sight. No, we keep confessing the promises of God, agreeing with them until we see the facts of our experience line up with the truth of God's Word. That is walking by faith.

When we receive the Lord Jesus, God says we are forgiven. We may not feel forgiven. But we are forgiven nonetheless, because God has said it. We may still fall into sin, but God's forgiveness covers us even there: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

In the same way, God says we are healed. The healing of our sicknesses, like the forgiveness of our sins, took place two thousand years ago on the cross. It has already been settled. But if we try to make the Word of God match up with our experience, we will never see it. However, if we will agree with the truth of God's Word, we will begin to see our experience line up with it, and our healing will come forth.

We may still experience illness or disease, but there is a remedy: "Is anyone among you sick," James asks. "Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up" (James 5:14-15).

Long ago, the prophet Isaiah saw that Jesus would take our sicknesses and sins, our pains and iniquities upon Himself. He bore them for us, so that you and I no longer have to.

© 2001 Jeff Doles.
All rights reserved.

You are welcome to print it out for personal or small group use. You may also reprint it for non-profit publications online or offline. Just email us let us know — we would love to hear about it. Also, please be sure to include the copyright notice (found at the bottom of each article) along with the following:

“JEFF DOLES is a Christian author, blogger and Bible teacher. His books include The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth: Keys to the Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Matthew and Praying With Fire: Change Your World with the Powerful Prayers of the Apostles. He and his wife, Suzanne, are the founders of Walking Barefoot Ministries. Visit their website at www.walkingbarefoot.com.”

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