For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
During the recent Ebola scare people became very aware of how easily one could become infected with a disease that could kill you. As a consequence anyone who had that disease was quarantined, separated from society, alone but for people in space suits who still risked infection to care for them. I am reminded of those with leprosy in Jesus’ day who were banished from society, cut off from the people of God, living out their days in walking death. They cried out to Jesus who touched them, made them clean, and enabled them to once again live among the people of God. They were no longer cut off. All of that is but a picture of the real problem, the problem from which all disease and decay flows from — the problem of our rebellion against God. In short, our sin. It is our sin that separates us from God and separates us from one another.
The words “cut off” first appear in the Bible after the Flood. God promises to never again cut off all flesh from the earth. (God had cut off all flesh from the earth because of man’s great wickedness and sin.) As we continue on through God’s law we see time and again a law given and immediately after the command to cut off the person who breaks this law. We hear Christ telling us that if our hand or our foot should cause us to sin we should cut it off for it is better to enter life maimed than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
In each case it is the person or the thing that has sinned that is cut off, but in Isaiah 53:8 it is not so. We find a break from the pattern. Here we see the one spoken of by Isaiah cut off from the land of the living, not for his own sins, but for the sins of his people.
Jesus knew what it was to live in the land of the living more truly than we have ever known. He knew perfect fellowship with his father. He knew perfect peace in his inner being, with no sin to shame him. He had no regrets. His will towards those around him was only ever good and perfect. Jesus knew the land of the living, but he came here to the land of the dying, as Pastor Jack reminded us a few weeks ago. He came to the land of the dying and at the end of it was cut off for our transgressions. Because of this we will never be cut off and will one day enter forever that perfect land of the living. He loved us and gave himself for us. How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?