“To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father—to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. ‘Look, He is coming with the clouds,’ and ‘every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him’; and all peoples on earth ‘will mourn because of Him.’ So shall it be! Amen.” -Revelation 1:5-7
“But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.” -Isaiah 53:5
It is difficult to actually picture the reality forecast in Revelation 1 describing the Lord’s future return. “Coming with the clouds?” What exactly does this mean? “Every eye will see Him?” How is that even possible when the population inhabits all sides of a sphere? “All tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him?” This is understandable. But the description “Even those who pierced Him?” Who are they?
Well, there is the centurion who pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, right up under His ribs into His heart, after He had breathed His last. There are those who drove spikes through His hands and feet to nail Him to the wooden-beamed cross, and there are those who pierced His brow while roughly shoving a crown of sharp thorns down on is head. These “piercings” came at the hands of those who tortured and crucified Him.
Then we read in a passage written by the prophet Isaiah long before Jesus’ crucifixion that “He was pierced for OUR transgressions,” leading the reader to deduct that our transgressions led to Jesus being pierced, crushed, chastised, wounded, and murdered. We ourselves brought all this on Him. When you know the literal perpetrators of Jesus’ physical piercings from the historical account of this first century execution, how does Isaiah come to indict all of us – who were not even there, who lived after the crucifixion, and even those who lived long before it – as the ones who “pierced” Him?
The descriptive phrase “even those who pierced Him” appears to refer to a very large crowd of transgressors responsible by their transgressions for the piercing, torture, and crucifixion of Jesus; those of us who become healed by those wounds, by His flogged, skin-shredding stripes, by His deeply thorn-pierced brow, by His spike-hammered hands and feet, and by His bloody, crucified body. Is this the crowd of which you own up to being an integral part? Do you own this as something you yourself actually perpetrated? Do you agree that you played an actionable part in Jesus’ death?
I rather think we are far enough removed from this by the centuries of time, not having the literal bloody hands of crucifiers, nor the weight of guilt in executing this perfectly innocent man, and not taking upon ourselves any personal responsibility for this heinous crime. How could we? But God’s Word still lays it at our feet. It accuses us of bringing about the Lord’s life-sacrifice. We are told He went to His cross willingly and purposefully, but its fatal catalyst was our transgressions, your sins and mine. Is this felt? Does your mind accept a guilty verdict? Does your heart bear the weight? Do tears really flow?
Augustus Toplady wrote in his well-known hymn:
“Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee. Let the water and the blood, from Thy wounded side which flowed, be of sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy Law’s demands. Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin cannot atone; Thou must save and Thou alone.”
Does this take captive your thoughts? Does it etch itself in your soul? It is one thing to own up to being a small part of a vast group of humanity, redeemed that it is; it is another to accept and feel the weight of personal guilt with a resulting personal cleansing, all while intently immersing yourself in a one-on-one relationship with the living Savior. His atonement of you is one of personal substitution, purposely bearing your sin on His cross as YOUR actual substitute. By His grace, He does it all, while you personally relish the peace He gives you by virtue of His death and His resurrection which followed, removing the sting of death.
“Even those who pierced Him” will actually be those who see Him with their own eyes at the immediate moment of His return. They will see Him through tears, but not tears of wailing from grief-stricken regret of rejecting Him; they will be tears of joy in seeing Jesus, our “kinsman-redeemer,” face-to-face. What an overwhelming homecoming! This is yours!
“My sin — O the bliss of this glorious thought! — my sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more; praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! It is well with my soul, it is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul!”
(Third verse of Horatio Spafford’s hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul,” 1873)
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