Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
There is no more personal, no more poetic description of the work of Christ's atonement than this ancient prophecy. Early Christians saw the prophetic intensity found in the prophet's descriptions and quickly preached Jesus from Isaiah 53. And that intensity remains to this very day.
Jesus bore human griefs and sorrows with Him. He atoned for sin, but He identified with our most difficult pains and losses. We may not have known that. In fact, none who crucified Him really knew what was happening in that moment, which is why He graciously prayed, "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they are doing."
Yet Christ's death on the cross was effective for salvation. It was vicarious... He took our place. That much is absolutely clear in this passage. He bore our griefs. He carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. His chastisement brought us peace. His stripes are our healing. This is subsitutionary atonement.
It is not pretty to think about Jesus suffering and dying for me. But it was necessary. And it was a love motivated sacrifice. In that sense, it is beautiful... beautiful and breathtakingly terrible. By means of the passion of Christ's sacrifice I am forgiven and saved. It is a terrible price to pay, and it is overwhelming to contemplate that He did it for me.