The Best Friday
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Is 53:3-6)
"Here we have a beautiful contrast. In ourselves we are scattered; in Christ we are gathered together. By nature we go astray, and are driven headlong to destruction; in Christ we find the course by which we are conducted to the harbor of salvation. Our sins are a heavy load; but they are laid on Christ, by whom we are freed from the load. Thus, when we were ruined, and, being estranged from God, were hastening to hell, Christ took upon him the filthiness of our iniquities, in order to rescue us from everlasting destruction. This must refer exclusively to guilt and punishment; for he was free from sin. (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22) Let every one, therefore, diligently consider his own iniquities, that he may have a true relish of that grace, and may obtain the benefit of the death of Christ." John Calvin
"Wonderful medicine! Marvelous healing! Where shall we find the like? The Physician drinks the bitter draught, and so cures the patient; whoever heard of such a wonder as this? The Physician is put to death, and that great sacrifice heals the patient; whoever heard of such a thing as this before? The whole gospel in a nutshell lies in this verse: “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.”
There is no meaning at all in this chapter if it does not teach that Christ did take upon himself the sin of his people, and did suffer in their room and place and stead. Let who will object to this doctrine, it is the gospel, the very heart and marrow of it; and there is nothing that can make a heavy heart glad until it sees sin removed by the death of Christ: “He shall bear their iniquities.”" C.H. Spurgeon
Update: If you want to listen to a fantastic exposition of this passage in Isaiah, I don't think you can find better than C.J. Mahaney's address at last year's Resolved Conference. Tony has graciously posted it on the SGM Blog. Click here and check the audio.