. . . [H]is visage was so marred more than any man. . . .He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. . . .He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth. . . (52:14, 53:3-5, 7).
Jesus fulfilled this prophecy on the day of Passover (Good Friday). In order to “take away the sins of the world” (John 1:29), He was spit upon and beaten (Matthew 26:67, 27:30), scourged (27:26), mocked and made to wear a crown of thorns (27:29), given vinegar to drink (27:34), crucified (27:35), and forsaken by God (27:46) —the consequences of separation from God because of sin.
Paul explains that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree’ . . .” (Galatians 3:13). The cross, or tree, was used only for those who “committed a sin worthy of death” (Deuteronomy 21:22). Jesus was not guilty of any sin , but He became sin for us, and our sin before God is worthy of death. In three distinct ways, Jesus bore the curse of sin for us by dying on a cross. First, before He was arrested, Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane with His disciples (Matthew 26:36). In Aramaic, Gethsemane means “oil-press” (Strong 1068) and comes from the Hebrew words gath and shemen. Gath means “a wine-press” (1660), itself a Hebrew word that in one form, puwrah, means “crushing the grapes” (6333) and comes from the word puwr, which means “to crush” (6331). In the Bible, this image frequently refers to God’s wrath. Shemen means “grease, espec. liquid (as from the olive, often perfumed); fig. richness” (8081). In the Old Testament, oil was used to anoint priests. Jesus Christ the Messiah, our great High Priest, was anointed for service at His baptism in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:13-17). [In Greek, Christ (christos) means “anointed” (Strong 5547) and comes from chrio, which means “to smear or rub with oil . . . to consecrate to an office or religious service” (5548). In Hebrew, Messiah (mashiyach) means “anointed, usually a consecrated person” (4899) and comes from mashach, which means “to rub with oil, i.e. to anoint; . . . to consecrate” (4886).] So what is the significance of Gethsemane—crushed oil? By dying on the cross, Jesus was crushed in the winepress of God’s wrath, the curse of God on sinners; physically and spiritually, He suffered on the cross what we should have suffered at the hands of God for our sins.
Next, in Gethsemane Jesus prayed, “O My Father . . . let this cup pass from Me” (Matthew 26:39). Although He would appear to be shunning His duty, the reality of what Jesus was about to endure lay heavily on Him. But He said, “If this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42). What is this cup? It’s not the cup of the Last Supper. Like the winepress, the cup is also a symbol of God’s wrath. The psalmist Asaph writes, “In the hand of the Lord there is a cup . . .; but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them” (Psalm 75:8). This cup appears in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, all written before or during the Babylonian captivity, when God punished Israel for her sins. Likewise, in Revelation, when God will pour out His judgment on the earth, an angel says that those who take the mark of the beast “shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation” (14:10). By dying on the cross, Jesus willingly drank the cup of God’s wrath, the curse of God on sinners.
Finally, on the cross Jesus wore a crown of thorns, a symbol of the consequences of sin. When God forced Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden for their disobedience, He cursed the ground, saying, “Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee” (Genesis 3:18). God warned Israel that if they didn’t drive out the inhabitants of Canaan, the latter would be “thorns in [their] sides” to tempt them to evil (Numbers 33:55). Solomon warned that “thorns and snares are in the way of the froward” (Proverbs 22:5). And in Jesus’ parable of the soils, the seed that “fell among thorns” (Matthew 13:7) represents “the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, [which] choke the word” (13:22). By dying on the cross, Jesus bore the thorns of sin—unfruitfulness and every evil work.
Jesus suffered unspeakable pain on the cross, but He did it for you voluntarily, in obedience to the will of the Father. If Jesus had not “take[n] up His cross” (Matthew 16:24), we would not have “the gift of eternal life” (Romans 6:23). We would not be “made free from sin” (6:18). We would not “have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). We would not “be made the righteousness of God in Him” (5:21). We would not be “redeemed . . . from the curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13). We would not be “justified by faith” (3:24). We would not be “children” (3:26) and “heir[s] of God” (4:7). We would not be “reconcile[d] . . . unto God” (Ephesians 2:16). We would not “have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). What was the Apostle Paul’s response? “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).
“Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone?”
Words and music by George N. Allen
Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No: there’s a cross for ev’ry one,
And there’s a cross for me.
How happy are the saints above,
Who once went sorr’wing here!
But now they taste unmingled love,
And joy without a tear.
The consecrated cross I’ll bear,
Till death shall set me free;
And then go home my crown to wear,
For there’s a crown for me.