Executions are gruesome events. I once saw the electric chair at the Cook County jail in Chicago. It was a stirring moment, as I envisioned the people who had lost their lives in that chair.
The crucifixion of Jesus was an execution. The cross was a device used by the Romans to execute their worst criminals; and it was an agonizing death. Isaiah was referring to this execution when he said in Isaiah 53:8, “He was cut off out of the land of the living, For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due.”
To be “cut off out of the land of the living,” is a reference to Christ’s death. An illegitimate trial resulted in the execution of the Messiah. In other words, this is no little misunderstanding. This is greatest kind of injustice that can be imagined! It is like a man who has been framed for a crime. He is innocent of the charges, yet he goes to the electric chair and dies without just cause. The emotion in that is horrendous!
The word “cut off” is a Hebrew verb that means “to cut; or fell; or divide.” In the Niphal form of the verb, as used here, it means “to be separated; excluded.” Jesus was separated or excluded from the land of the living.
An innocent life was executed – cut off – excluded from humanity. But notice the reason: “For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due.” The point is that all of this is happening to the Servant of Jehovah, because He is taking the place of His people who deserved this judgment. Peter put it this way in 1 Peter 2:24: “Who his own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree…” “He was cut off out of the land of the living”…for our transgressions.
Say – can you imagine being on death row? Well, you are, you know. You’re condemned to be executed – unless, of course, you acknowledge by faith that Christ took your place.