Question & Answer Forum

Did the Lord Jesus bear our sins only during the three hours of darkness?

Mark, by inspiration, tells us that the Lord cried, “My God, My God, why didst Thou forsake Me?” (Newberry) at the ninth hour, when the darkness ended (15:33, 34). Mr. Newberry’s alteration indicates that the Lord was no longer forsaken during the remainder of His time on the cross. Coming at the close of the darkness, this question seems to imply that He was forsaken either during all the darkness or at some time during the darkness. Those three hours were a special time of God’s dealing with Him for our sins.

At least one other passage shows that His bearing our sins was not limited to those three hours. “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13). 1 Peter 2:24 seems to support this view, since He bore “our sins in His own body on the tree.”

In Deuteronomy 21:23, from which Paul quotes in Galatians 3, a rebellious, incorrigible son was to be stoned. Along with anyone who died because of disobedience to the law, this son’s body was to then hang on a tree, “accursed of God.” The message was, “This is the drastic price of disobedience to God’s law.” This was the message to Israel when God’s submissive, impeccable Son hung on a tree. No wonder they esteemed “Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4)! The price was drastic, but the disobedience was theirs and by extension ours (Romans 3:19). During the first three hours God graphically displayed to man what sin cost, as Christ hung in shame, accursed of God. During the next three hours, God veiled from man the full cost of sin, for none but Divine Persons could measure such agony.

With unshod feet, we conclude that our Lord was bearing sins from the moment He was nailed to the cross until the moment He dismissed His spirit.

D. Oliver

Is it scripturally correct to say that God punished His Son?

As with any question regarding the sufferings of our Lord, we should guard our words and hide within the safety of the words of Scripture. If there is anything to which we might object in the statement, “God punished His Son,” it is the possibility that this suggests God’s displeasure in the One Who suffered on the cross. God’s dealing with the Lord Jesus on the cross were directed against the sins He bore. The words of the hymn seem mistaken, “He took my sins and my sorrows; He made them His very own.” The sins were not in any sense His, although He received the righteous judgment those sins demanded (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Father could never be more delighted with His Son than when the savor of that sacrifice filled His thrice-holy presence.

Some object to the word “punish” in this context. Keil and Delitzsch in their scholarly “Commentary on the Old Testament” insist that “chastisement” in Isaiah 53:5 (AV) be translated “punishment,” due to the extreme suffering that fills the context. The contrast in that verse is between “Him” and “we.” The righteous punishment was what we deserved. The remarkable discovery is that the peace-bringing punishment was on Him.

Others object to speaking of the Son in the context of the sufferings of the cross. Paul speaks of “the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10); he further tells us, “He that spared not His own Son, . . . freely delivered Him up for us all” (8:32). From what was the Son not spared? To what was the Son delivered up? God did not spare His own Son from the cross, but delivered Him up (the same word as in 4:25) to all that the cross involved.

It would be error of the highest order to suggest either that any sort of division occurred between Divine Persons in the darkness at the cross or that the One Who suffered the righteous punishment due to our sins was any less than the Son of God.

The more we ponder that scene, the more we worship.

D. Oliver

Do His stripes (Isaiah 53:5) refer to Christ’s scourging or to God’s stroke?

The context of the verse indicates that the stroke is from God. In the previous verse, the nation considered Him to be smitten by God because they counted it blasphemy that He claimed to be God’s Son (see Matthew 26:65, 66; 27:43). Verse 5 is a contrast; it was indeed God’s hand that smote Him, but the reason was not in Him, but in us. God pierced (“wounded”), crushed (“bruised”), chastised, and bruised (“stripes”) Him. The “healing” from transgressions and iniquity to wholeness (“peace”) was not, could not be, by the shame and suffering inflicted by man.

D. Oliver

To what does the “healing” (Isaiah 53:5) refer?

The spiritual condition of Israel in Isaiah 1:5, 6 is an untreated disease that increases its corruption. They would not listen to God Word and be healed (6:10). John cites this passage in his gospel (12:40), perhaps hinting that the sign miracles, in John, foreshadow God’s healing of the nation in the future. That healing is mentioned often in Isaiah (30:26; 57:18, 19) and embraces the spiritual well-being and wholeness (“peace,” 53:5) into which the Lord will bring them when He returns. At that time, a “saved nation” (Romans 11:26) will welcome the Savior they rejected and exclaim, “With His stripes, we are healed.”

D. Oliver