3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all.
The poetry in this passage comes from the way it gradually reveals the irony of the Atonement:
v. 3: The Savior didn’t appear to be a powerful man, and so most people misjudged and underestimated him. We tend to respect those who appear to be successful.
v. 4: His poverty and simplicity of life exposed him to the kind of difficulties most people suffer, which revealed our human tendency to assume that people who struggle must have done something to deserve their suffering.
v. 5: Here’s where it gets personal. We are no longer the objective observers and inaccurate judges of the situation. We are now plunged into the drama. His life and His suffering was a response, not to anything He had done, but to our misdeeds.
v. 6: Now that we understand the cause of his suffering, we turn the story around and begin with the true cause: we have strayed from what we know we should do, and the Lord willingly took upon Himself our sins.
What a contrast from our orientation at the beginning of the passage. We begin as objective and even calloused observers of an unfortunate and apparently inconsequential man. We end as the unworthy recipients of his heavenly gift.