The apostle Peter tells us that Jesus is our example of suffering wrongfully and that he committed himself to God who judges righteously. Peter tells us this within the context of Christ bearing our sins. ~ 1 Peter 2:19-25
The Biblical definition of what it means to bare doesn’t actually mean what we sometimes might think it means. For example, as believers we are to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:3). We are to follow Christ’s example in bearing the burdens of others because Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree.
Isaiah 53:12 tells us, He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
The Hebrew word for bare in Isaiah 53:12 is naw-saw, and is translated as forgiveness in its various forms on multiple occasions in the Old Testament. For instance, it is translated as forgiving in Exodus 34:6-7.
And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
It is also translated as forgive, forgiven, and forgavest in Psalm 25:16-18 and Psalm 32:1 &5.
Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. ~ Psalm 25:16-18
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile…I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. ~ Psalm 32:1, 2, & 5
In the scriptures above we can see that God bares his people’s sins by forgiving them. In Romans 4 Paul quotes Psalm 32:1-2 (referenced above) in view of the forgiveness which comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. ~ Romans 4:6-8
The Hebrews word naw-saw, which is translated as bare in Isaiah 53:12 appears in 610 passages of scripture in the Old Testament and is referenced a total of 653 times. Here are a few examples of how it is used elsewhere in the Old Testament:
And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. ~ Genesis 7:17
And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt. ~ Exodus 10:19
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. ~ Exodus 19:4
And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. ~ Exodus 25:14
Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them. And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. (The Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!) How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. ~ Deuteronomy 1:8-13
The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes; And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God, Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day. ~ Deuteronomy 1:30-33
Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. ~ Isaiah 1:13-14
Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. ~ Isaiah 40:9-11
Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. ~ Isaiah 46:3-4
I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. ~ Isaiah 63:7-9
In Isaiah 53:4, the Hebrew word naw-saw is rendered as borne.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
In Matthew 8:16-17 Matthew interprets Isaiah 53:4 in view of healing and deliverance.
When the evening was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
According to Matthew’s interpretation of Isaiah 53:4, Jesus did not take the peoples infirmities and bare their sicknesses by becoming afflicted and sick as a substitute in their place. Instead, Jesus took and bare the infirmities and sicknesses of the people by delivering them from demons and healing them.
From Matthew’s interpretation of Isaiah 53:4 we can see Matthew understood the words of Isaiah in view of the antidote which is healing and deliverance.
In the same way, Jesus bore our sins by giving himself as an unblemished sacrifice so that we could be cleansed from our sins by his precious blood and made alive with him through his resurrection from the dead.
It is in view of the salvation which Jesus obtained for us through the laying down of his life that we should understand what it means that he bore our sins.
THE NEW TESTAMENT
The Greek word for bare is anaphero, and it means to take up, bear, bring, (carry, lead) up, offer (up). It is used 9 other times in the New Testament in 8 different verses.
1 Peter 2:24 says Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
In Matthew 17:1 it is used to describe Jesus leading three of his disciples as they ascended up the Mount of transfiguration: And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart.
Mark 9:2 also referencing the ascent up the Mount of Transfiguration as leadeth them up.
In Luke 25:51 it is used to describe Jesus’s ascension after his resurrection: And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
Consider that the same Greek word used in 1 Peter 2:24 which declares that Jesus bore our sins is the same Greek word used to describe his ascension into Heaven. This immediately reminds me of the burnt offerings which were offered on the altar of sacrifice in the Old Testament.
The words, burnt offering, come from the Hebrew word, o-law, meaning ascending. The burnt offerings were to be wholly offered to the Lord as a sweet fragrance. Ephesians 5:2 tells us Christ loved us, and gave himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. Jesus was wholly given to the Lord of us and was accepted for us as a sweet fragrance to God. In this manner, he bore our sins as a sacrifice to God.
In Hebrews 7:27 and Hebrews 9:28 the Greek word anaphero is translated bare, and is used to describe Jesus giving his life as an offering for our sins.
Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. ~ Hebrews 7:27
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. ~ Hebrews 9:28
In Hebrews 13:15 it is used as a reference to the sacrifices of praise which we offer to God: By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
In James 2:21 it is used as a reference to Abraham offering up Isaac as a burnt offering on the altar of sacrifice: Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Finally, in 1 Peter 2:5 it is a reference to the spiritual sacrifices which we offer to God: Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
As we can see the word bare has nothing to do with substitution, or becoming the very thing it is removing. It has to do with lifting up, offering up, and ascending. In 1 Peter 2:5 (mentioned above) it is used in conjunction with the spiritual sacrifices which God accepts from believers through Jesus Christ.
Jesus bore our sins by offering himself to God as an unblemished sacrifice. God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf as a sweet fragrance, and by him and through him our sins are taken away by the blood of his cross.
Jesus was not rejected by God in our place, rather Jesus was a holy and pure offering, accepted by God for us and by his precious blood we have redemption.