God exercises His mercy by upholding His justice.
Today, I want to address a verse that I think is vastly misunderstood. Isaiah 53:5 says, “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.” If you are a born-again believer, you no doubt love that verse. But do you know what it means? Isaiah 53:5 is not a verse about grace; it is a verse about justice.
It astounds me how many people—even in the church—do not understand what the cross truly means. Jesus did not die on the cross just to prove His love for you. However, that is what many people think, and it is sad. Isaiah 53:5 is all about Jesus taking your place. Let’s just say He became you. The modern church teaches that Jesus died because He loves you; and because of that, you can go free. No. God is a holy, just, and righteous God, and He will not, cannot allow the guilty to go free.
Yes, the cross was an act of love, but the cross was also an act of justice. At that moment, Jesus became you, and God poured out His wrath upon your sin. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” We say Jesus died “for” us, but that word “for” could have many different meanings. Perhaps a better way to say it is this: Jesus died in our place. Justice was paid for your sin on the cross.
Adrian Rogers used to tell a story about the about the first time Robert G. Lee visited Calvary. The guide asked if anyone in the group had been there before. Dr. Lee raised his hand. The guide asked him, “When were you here before”? Dr. Lee replied, “Two thousand years ago.” He understood the true meaning of Isaiah 53:5. My friend, don’t rest in mercy; rest in justice. You no longer have to pray for mercy, because your sin has already been paid for. When you slip up, just say, “Father, I was wrong. But by the blood of Jesus, my sin has been forgiven. Thank you, God!”