Scripture Union USA is providing a free online Bible reading guide for Advent called Journey to Bethlehem. I am still a day behind but I plan to catch up. Come join me on this Journey. It is a great way to help push back against an over commercialized holiday where consumption seems to rule over compassion, grace, and peace.
Day 3 of the Journey to Bethlehem is titled His Suffering Foretold.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.I have always been caught by these words in verse 4 "yet we considered him stricken by God." I think Isaiah is giving us a preview of what people will think about the Messiah while he lived on this earth.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
As they watch him suffer they will see it as a punishment from God. It was not an uncommon view of Jesus' day. Most people viewed diseases and tragedies as punishment for a person or their parents' sin.
I find it rather amazing that God gives Isaiah and his people a preview of how they will view the Messiah's suffering and before any of it would even happen God also corrects this mistaken view in the surrounding words. "But he was pierced for OUR transgressions" (v. 5). Not his. This is the grace and mercy of God!