Question: "How has Jesus surely borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4)?"
Answer: Isaiah 53 provides one of the most beautiful and powerful descriptions of the Messiah in all of Scripture. One important description is how Jesus the Messiah has “surely . . . borne our griefs” (Isaiah 53:4, ESV). The fact that He has surely borne our griefs is central to Jesus’ work as the promised Messiah.
The Messiah is the “arm” of the Lord who has been revealed (Isaiah 53:1) but who was rejected by many. This Messiah grew up like any young thing does—like a suckling or a root (verse 2a). There was nothing abnormal or majestic about His human appearance (verse 2b). In fact, He was even despised by men and forsaken. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief—people hid their faces from Him, He was greatly despised, and people did not recognize or esteem Him (Isaiah 53:3a). These verses explain how Jesus has surely borne our griefs (Isaiah 53:4). It was bad enough that He carried our sorrows, but, as Isaiah puts it, even as He was bearing our griefs and sorrows, we did not esteem or care for Him. The next verse explains specifically how Jesus has surely borne our griefs.
Isaiah tells us that Jesus the Messiah (or the Christ) was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5a). He was afflicted not because of any deficiency of His own, but He took on our transgressions and iniquities and paid the price that you and I owed to God. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. Paul explains there that the consequence of Adam’s sin—and our own sin because we are descended from Adam—is death (Romans 5:12). Specifically, the penalty was eternal separation from God. This is the death promised in Genesis 2:17. God added physical death as a penalty and as a way to keep humanity from living eternally on earth in that condemned state (Genesis 3:19, 22). Since Adam and Eve’s fall, humanity has lived in that lost state—being dead in sin, separated from God because of sin (Ephesians 2:1–3). But even as God pronounced judgment on humanity after the fall, He promised that there would be redemption, accomplished by one specific Person (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 53). It is in this way that Jesus has surely borne our griefs.
Paul explains that, while we were still sinners and totally helpless, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). None of us had any merit before God. We have all sinned and fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23). We have all gone astray like wayward sheep, and we have all gone our own way (Isaiah 53:6a). Yet in His amazing love, God allowed the eternal penalty for our sins to be paid by Jesus. The Lord caused all our iniquity to fall upon Him (Isaiah 53:6b). This is how Jesus has surely borne our griefs (Isaiah 53:4).
Jesus paid the price of our redemption willingly, going like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7). In doing so, He fulfilled promises God had made to Israel that He would forgive their sin (Isaiah 53:8). Jesus fulfilled this prophecy, as He was buried in a rich man’s grave (Isaiah 53:9; cf. Matthew 28:57–60). Jesus was the offering for all our guilt (Isaiah 53:10a), but He did not remain dead. Rather, He arose and will prosper—and Isaiah predicted that, too (Isaiah 53:10b).
Just as Jesus arose from the dead to show that He had conquered death, so it is for all who believe in Him—they are given eternal life (John 3:16; 6:47). In this world, believers have new life (Ephesians 2:8–9) and new purpose and joy in life (Ephesians 2:10). While many in Jesus’ day did not believe in or receive Him, as Isaiah foretold (Isaiah 53:1, 3), we all have the opportunity to believe in Him for eternal life (John 20:30–31). All who have believed in Him are born again as children of God (1 John 5:13), no longer guilty of sin and separated from Him. Because Jesus has surely borne our griefs (Isaiah 53:4), if we have believed in Him, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1).