This week we continued our series, “What Happened at the Cross?” In this part we examined what happened when Jesus took the stripes upon His back. This event was foretold in Isaiah 53:5. The prophet saw that the messiah would be wounded for our transgression (or sinful actions). That wounding, in the Hebrew, is described as being pierced or bored through. It goes on to say He was bruised for our iniquities. The word for transgression in Hebrew is defined as “guilt of transgression, punishment of transgression, offering of transgression and payment of what is owed.” The letters in the ancient Hebrew for transgression show an open mouth (the words that have been spoken—the things we’ve said that we regret or that did bad without us knowing), a symbol that means “to consume” and covers the actions we do, and an eye (symbolizing the mind’s eye and the thoughts that are not in line with the Word). This word for transgression was used in Daniel 9:4.
God is less concerned with the action of sin but instead cares more about the result of our sin. God never wanted us to be punished for or to have to pay for sin but to instead fix the cause behind the sin so it doesn’t continue. Initially, God set up animal sacrifices to pay for sin. Two goats were offered once a year. One was killed and the other had all the sin put on it and was released to the wild. Jesus came and had to be without sin, so He would only be paying for our sin, not His.
The word bruise in Hebrew means “crushed, made contrite, broken down or crushed by calamities or trials.” Bruising is blood under the skin. Iniquities are the inner struggles we face as well as the guilt and shame we carry because of our sin and sinful ways of thinking. The word iniquities in Hebrew means “guilt, consequence or punishment for guilt, or guilt contracted through sin.” In the ancient Hebrew, it shows an eye (mind’s eye, how we see things), tent peg (shows what we are connected to), and our seed. This has to do with generational curses (although digging for stuff out of our past isn’t always what God desires but instead to move on…usually He just wants us to know He paid for it, but sometimes God wants us to see why we keep falling into patterns). Also, what manifests in our life is created from seed. Our words and actions are seeds, among other things. God wants to fix the seed, so the fruit will change. It goes on to say that the chastisement of our peace was on Him. Chastisement is the punishment and correction (it means in Hebrew discipline, chastening, correction), specifically those that lead to “shalom” peace (in Hebrew, complete, nothing missing and nothing broken—health, wealth, peace, joy, highly favored). He, being the Word made flesh (John 1:14), will correct us and teach us until we achieve total peace.
Then, it says that, by His stripes we are healed. This healing represented not only physical healing, but a fixing of anything broken that needs healing. 1 Peter 2:24 echoes this verse. This shows that our healing is now in the past because of Jesus.
A little history about the Jewish custom of “stripes.” Jewish law provided that any breaking of God’s commands (thou shalt stuff) that did not have a specific punishment was to be punished by stripes upon the back and breast of the accused. The number of stripes given was to be determined by the judges. They considered the infraction as well as the individual’s ability to withstand pain. It was important that the person “felt” punished but that the beating would not take their life. The stripes were administered in set of three, and the weapon was a calf-skin whip doubled over twice. It was against Jewish law to give any more than 39 stripes, as it was believed any more would kill the receiver. There was also to be a watcher who could say stop if it looked like the person could not take any more.
Finally, as the stripes were administered, a bystander was assigned to recite three verses as the stripes were administered in groups of three (2 to the back and one to the front). I have been unable to locate a definite answer as to what the first two were; however, research revealed that the third verse in the set was Psalm 78:38 – “But He, being full of compassion forgave their iniquity and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned He His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath.” This had special meaning in the process because, any criminal being beaten was to be received as completely forgiven by their peers after the punishment. They were restored to full citizenship as if they had never broken the law. It obviously takes on a greater meaning as Jesus was beaten. Jesus received 39 stripes. That means He heard this verse 13 times – once for each of the 12 tribes of
and once for the Gentiles (or all of us). How powerful is the love of Christ! Israel
Jewish law was not entirely obeyed in the beating of Christ. The weapon used to beat Him was a cat of nine tails – or a whip laced with metal, bone and rock designed to tear flesh. It was also administered by Romans and not Jews. Additionally, after the beating, He was not completely restored but was punished further. Why, after the Pharisees were so set on sticking to Jewish law, was this act not administered in as strict a manner? I believe this punishment was a combination of Jewish and Gentile custom because Jesus was taking this on for ALL of mankind.