Scenic view of trees at camp

The Defeat of Death

by Mario Zandstra

Cross at Pine Cove Bluffs

As a high school student, I was not the best in my English classes. That struggle continued with me all the way into my freshman classes in college. My struggle has many elements. English was essentially my third language as I was raised speaking Dutch and grew up in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood in southern California. But enough of my excuses.

What I do remember about all of my English classes, however, was the use of past tense, present tense, and future tense. As I read through the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, I am amazed by a past tense description of something extraordinary that was set to happen 700 years later.

In Isaiah 53, Isaiah the prophet was describing the death of Jesus as if it had already happened. He uses all past tense language:

He was despised and rejected by men.
He was a man of sorrows.
He was acquainted with our grief.
He carried our sorrows.
He was pierced for our transgressions.
He was crushed for our iniquities.
The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

He was describing in vivid detail what would happen 700 years later on the hill at Calvary: the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as He paid a debt He did not owe. It was the debt for you and me and all mankind. Jesus’ death on the cross paid the debt I could not pay and washed away my sins, making me clean in the sight of God.

There are several statements in this entire passage that I believe need further contemplation.

We, like sheep, have all gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

This, of course, is the reference to the fact that all of us have failed. You lie once, you have failed. You cheat once, you have failed. You are mean to your sibling, you have failed. If you do not honor your mom and dad, you have failed. It does not take big mistakes for us to go astray. We do not have to be a murderer or an idolater because one little mistake, or one seemingly innocent lie, created a problem between God the Father and us.

That problem required a price to be paid to satisfy the judgment of God. None of us could solve that problem and so God made a way. That way was named Jesus.

On Good Friday, He bore the shame, the nails, and the agony; the punishment we deserved was placed on Jesus. Then, on Sunday morning, Easter Sunday morning, He went from being a murdered possible Messiah to a murdered, RISEN, living Messiah! The tomb was empty and Jesus had defeated death.

Isaiah 53 states, “Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace”. This is the reality of the gospel! Jesus was born a perfect man, lived a perfect life, died a perfect death and resurrected three days later.

Upon Him the chastisement brought us— brought me and brought you— peace.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Romans 5:1

This Easter, place your hope in the One who paid your debt, bore your sins, and was the Man of sorrows. He has paid the ultimate price. Have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah prophesied 700 years before it happened. The life and death of Jesus gives us all peace and hope only a Savior can give.

“Jesus paid the debt He did not owe; we owed a debt we could not pay.”

Rejoice in his death and resurrection. Rejoice in the peace that is given because of His death and resurrection.

Rejoice, for He has RISEN!

Posted Apr 17, 2014

Mario Zandstra

Former President and CEO of Pine Cove

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