As we move toward Resurrection Sunday, our hearts are drawn to the events of Passion Week: the Triumphal Entry, Jesus’ purification of the Temple, the washing of the disciples’ feet, the last Passover meal, Jesus’ prayer in the Garden, and of course His arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Though we look forward to the joy and triumph of Easter morning, when we’ll sing the victorious words of Charles Wesley, “Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!,” we must pause at the cross and consider what the Perfect Lamb endured as He bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). Isaiah 53 provides many vivid verbs to describe the Savior’s anguish: pierced, oppressed, afflicted, struck down, cut off. But perhaps the most vivid of all comes in verse 5: “He was…crushed.”
Crushed for Us
You don’t need me to define the word for you, but the Hebrew word daka means “to crush; to be broken; and even to shatter.” 1 This is an interesting choice because in fulfillment of Psalm 34:20, not one of Jesus’ bones was broken on the cross. His crushing was not literal in that sense. Certainly, His physical body was torn, shredded, and disfigured beyond recognition. However, Isaiah likely means a bit more. He gives a bit more insight into this crushing in verse 10:
“Yet the LORD was pleased to crush Him severely.”
When Jesus prayed that the Father allow the cup to pass from Him (Matt. 26:39), I don’t think the pain of the cross was primarily what He had in mind—as brutal and excruciating as it would be. Jesus understood soteriology: He knew what it would take to pay the ransom for mankind. He had to endure the full cup of the Father’s wrath against sin poured out upon Him. The infinite, eternal punishment of every human being from the beginning of time; the just penalty of all the sins committed by all the people in all the world for all time; the wages due to you and to me for our every sinful thought, desire, attitude, word, and deed—to pay the ransom, He would have to take it all.
And it would crush Him.
No mere mortal could endure such a blow. We finite humans must endure God’s wrath for all eternity for our treason against and infinite Creator; however, the God-man could bear it in a finite period of time–three hours one Friday afternoon on the hill of Calvary. When the Father had emptied the very last drop of His cup of wrath, the Savior could cry out, “It is finished.”
He had been crushed.
The story of crushing does not end at the cross. Thankfully, it’s only the first chapter. After Jesus commended His spirit to the Father, two quiet disciples, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who had come to Jesus by night (John 3), took the battered Galilean’s body, prepared it for burial, and laid it in Joseph’s unused tomb. You know the story. On the morning of the third day, the stone rolled away from the tomb’s entrance, revealing that the grave was no longer occupied. Jesus had risen. God accepted the perfect sacrifice and lifted the curse on sin.
Now we sing with joy,
“Death is crushed to death,
Life is mine to live,
Won by Your selfless love!
This the power of the cross,
Christ became sin for us.
What a love, what a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross!”2
Yes, death has been defeated. But that’s not all that’s been crushed because of the cross. Follow me to Daniel chapter 2.
Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar has had a strange dream that only Daniel can interpret. The wise prophet tells the king that the statue he saw in his dream depicts the current and coming world empires: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. And then he explains a very odd rock:
“As you were watching, a stone broke off without a hand touching it, struck the statue on its feet of iron and fired clay, and crushed them. (Dan 2:34)
This Rock, uncreated—made without hands—would crush the statue’s feet. It will defeat the nations. Revelation 19 gives us a sneak peek of what this will look like:
Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and he judges and makes war with justice. … A sharp sword came from his mouth, so that he might strike the nations with it. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. (Rev 19:11, 15)
For two years (and probably a whole lot more) we’ve felt that the headlines can’t get any worse. I’ve often joked that I feel like I’m living in a dystopian novel. Or maybe it’s not a joke. The nations are in an uproar, and some days it feels like evil is winning. But it’s not.
Our victorious, risen Savior will crush His enemies beneath His feet and reign in absolute supremacy. Hallelujah! May He come quickly!
Afflicted But Not Crushed
Though we look forward to the day when the Conquering King will “trample the winepress of His anger” and mow down His enemies with the sword of His mouth, we live on in a sin-cursed, groaning world that swears its allegiance to a serpent willing to do everything in his power to subvert the true King. Persecution, nakedness, famine, peril, and sword—all weapons he’s perfectly willing to employ in his (futile) march against the kingdom of heaven–assail us on every side.
Not only do we fight against the devil, but we fight against our own flesh. We’ve been liberated from the penalty of sin, and we’re growing in freedom from the power of sin. But we still must fight. And sometimes it’s hard. We fail. Day after day, the struggle remains. In the words of Paul, we’re just “clay jars” holding an extraordinary treasure (2 Cor. 4:7). He goes on to tell us,
We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. (2 Cor 4:8-9 )
My friend, if you feel afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, or struck down today, take heart. You will not be destroyed. You will not be abandoned. You must not despair. For you are not crushed.
Jesus was crushed for us.
His resurrection crushed His enemies.
We will not be crushed.
2Lyrics taken from “The Power of the Cross” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend