As I was studying for a Sunday School lesson on the atonement, I found three scriptures that talked about it with interesting imagery. As I thought about each of them, I really liked the implications of those images, so I wanted to share them with you.
1) Isaiah 53:12 “…he hath poured out his soul unto death”
I get an image of pouring water out of a pitcher until it is all gone. But instead of water, this is Christ’s soul that is poured out of His body. And He’s the one doing the pouring, not those who crucified Him. So this teaches in an interesting way that He was the one who had control over whether He’d die or not.
It also might say He gave His all. He poured all of Himself into His ministry until His death.
2) Isaiah 25:8 “He will swallow up death in victory”
This uses the idea of swallowing something unpleasant. I think this tells us about how Christ tasted and ate death, then rose again afterwards. I think it also teaches about how He tasted all the bitterness of our sins and weakness and afflictions and infirmities when He suffered for us, and He overcame it all so we can too.
3) Hosea 13:14 “…O death, I will be thy plagues…”
This uses the image of a plague that sweeps through a town and uses it to describe how Christ’s victory over death would spread. I think our knowledge of disease makes this even more meaningful today. You catch the life disease from contact with someone who is alive, and it starts to grow and multiply in you as the natural man’s antibodies fight it desperately, but if you give in to it, you can carry it to others and get a full-blown case of eternal life! And when our bodies lie in the grave, maybe resurrection will be like disease reversed. I really like the idea of death dying of the Christ plague.
Something else I think this teaches is the inevitable nature of catching physical life from Christ. Sooner or later we’ll all get it, but we get to choose whether we’ll be in the first wave or not.