Isaiah: Prince of Prophets—Marred More than Any Man--Stanza 3

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Unmistakably chapter 53, speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ. Significantly, the Jewish Targum interprets this portion of Isaiah’s prophecy as referring to the Messiah. Every detail of the prophet’s words corresponds so closely to the person and work of the Lord Jesus that no one with normal powers of thought could reason otherwise. Written over 700 years before the sacrificial death of Christ, its predictions are so specific that no mere man could possibly have written them, nor fulfilled them. This chapter is an unanswerable proof of the inspiration of the Bible and the divinity of Christ.

The clear teaching in this stanza is that deliverance for all people comes by the substitutionary suffering of the Servant. He does not suffer because people are sinners, but in the place of sinful people. He suffers for them, and because of that, they do not need to experience the mandated eternal consequences for their sins. Now restoration of relationship with God is possible for all who will come and confess their sinfulness and turn to follow Christ Jesus.

With that background, let’s look at some more of this Fourth Servant Song. If you remember, I told you that the song is broken up into five stanzas. Last Sunday we examined the 2nd Stanza—The Career of the Righteous Servant. Tonight we will look at The Agony of the Righteous Servant. The three verses reveal that the Righteous Servant Bore Our Burdens, Received Our Punishment, and Was Crushed for Our Rebellion.


    • “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4–6, NIV84)


            1. in verse 4 the passage states the true reason for the Righteous Servant’s suffering
              • “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4, ESV)
            2. notice the contrast between He and our
                1. this stanza of the poem reports that although "we" did not recognize it at first, the sufferings of the Righteous Servant were not His own fault, as "we" thought, but were in fact the result of "our" sins, and resulted in "our" healing
                2. the Righteous Servant is indeed characterized by griefs and sorrows, but they were not His own
                    1. it was all for us that He suffered and died!
            3. the “we” is probably the prophet identifying himself with his people and speaking for the whole
                1. but all persons who recognize that their sin has caused the Righteous Servant to suffer may include themselves in the all-inclusive "we"
                    1. We should have been whipped
                    2. We should have been spit upon
                    3. We should have stood before a howling mob
                    4. We should have been traded for a murderer
                    5. We should have carried the cross up that hill
                    6. We should have been stripped naked
                    7. We should have been hung on the cross
                    8. We should have been in torments and thirsted
                    9. We should have died...died once physically... died a second death in hell
            4. the atoning death of Christ is a truth so profound that scholars have been unable to fully plumb its depths
                1. think of it—Jesus, God’s Son, died to pay the penalty for our sins!
                2. various theories have been advanced to explain what happened on the cross, but Scripture teaches that substitution lies closest to the heart of this great mystery
                    1. the innocent substitute bore the sins of all God’s Elect
                      • ILLUS. Cliff Barrows tells of the time his two young children did something wrong. Although they were gently warned, they repeated the offense and needed to be disciplined. Barrows writes that his heart was pained at the thought of having to punish the ones he loved. So he called Bobby and Bettie into his room, removed his belt, and then bared his own back. He then knelt by his bed, and told each child to whip him 10 times. At first they were incredulous. But Barrows told them that a penalty had to be paid. The children sobbed as they lashed their daddy’s back. Then Cliff hugged and kissed them, and they prayed together. Cliff Barrows writes, "It hurt, but I never had to spank them again."
                3. are you haunted by the memory of some cowardly, selfish, or shameful acts?
                    1. Jesus took the lashes for the sins of sinners
                    2. He invites sinners to accept His forgiveness and devote the rest of their lives to Him
                    3. He wants us to know the greatness of His Father’s love
                      • “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24, NIV84)
            5. the Righteous Servant of Isaiah has borne—literally took up—our griefs and sorrows
                1. the language of carrying and bearing sets the stage for the substitutionary understanding of the Righteous Servant’s suffering
                    1. he took up our sin in order to take it away
                2. this is the language of the Jewish sacrificial system—especially from Leviticus
                    1. there the sacrificial animal carries (nasa’) the sins of the sinner away, so that the sinner does not carry them anymore
                    2. the animal does not merely die because the sinner sinned, but in the sinner’s place, doing what the sinner must do otherwise
                3. in the same way, the word translated as bear or took up implies the bearing of a burden for someone else
                    1. the Righteous Servant is not suffering with His people, but for them
            6. in bearing our griefs and sorrows the Righteous Servant was stricken, smitten, and afflicted
                1. if you remember from last week, this Righteous Servant’s appearance is disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness (Isa. 52:14)
                    1. it’s Isaiah’s way of saying that our Lord was beaten to a pulp
                    2. he submitted to such treatment in order to carry our griefs and infirmities
                2. in the KJV the word griefs is translated as infirmities and refers to illnesses of the soul
                    1. I can’t think of a better way to describe sin
                    2. Jesus’ healing of many people’s physical illnesses during his earthly ministry anticipated his greater work of healing that would take place on the cross
                    3. that greater work is the healing of souls
                3. in Matthew’s Gospel, the Apostle quotes Isaiah 53:4 as a fulfilment of Jesus’ healing ministry
                  • “When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.”” (Matthew 8:14–17, NIV84)
                4. Isaiah also tells us that the Righteous Servant will carry our sorrows
                    1. loss comes to us all, and we often carry our sorrow for many years
                    2. we struggle with our emotions—is there a place where we can leave our sorrows and find healing for the wounds of life?
                    3. but nothing makes one more sorrowful then when he or she comes to the realization of just how monstrous their sin is before a holy God
                    4. only when a human heart is thrust into the depths of sorrow over the sinfulness of their sin can they know God
                5. the Messiah is the One who has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows
                    1. at the foot of the cross there is help and healing and closure at the cross for the deepest pain of our hearts


    • "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV84)
            1. the word but in the Hebrew is a disjunctive and emphasizes the contrast between God’s Righteous Servant and us
                1. we had thought God was punishing this Man for His own sins and failures, but in fact He was pierced through as a result of our rebellion
                    1. he was crushed on account of our twistedness
            2. the images Isaiah employ have now shifted from illness to injury and have become more severe
                1. I like the KJV reading of he was wounded for our transgressions
                    1. however, that reading does not do the Hebrew word justice
                    2. it literally means to be pierced through
                2. one who is pierced through usually died
                  • ILLUS. One commentary said, “The word hints at a violent death.” And I though Duuhhh!
            3. crushed indicates breaking something into pieces and in some cases even pulverizing
                1. he was crushed under the weight of our sins and the judgment of God that fell on him
                2. sin kills, and our sin killed Christ—they crushed the life out of Him
            4. the reason for the Righteous Servant’s suffering is our transgressions of God’s Law and the iniquities of our fallen nature
                1. it is far more than sympathy and compassion, it is the actual bearing the consequence of our eternal judgment for our sin
                2. the sins were committed by us the piercing and crushing fell upon Him
            5. the severity of punishment on the Righteous Servant measures how seriously God takes our rebellion and crookedness
                1. we typically wish to make light of our "shortcomings," and to explain away our "mistakes"
                    1. on occasion, when we do something “really bad” we may actually refer to it as “sin”
                    2. but, for the most part we play semantic games with ourselves so as to minimize the fact that we are transgressors who are full of iniquities
                2. but God will have none of it
                    1. the refusal of humanity to bow to the Creator’s rule, and our insistence on drawing up our own moral codes that pander to our lusts, are not shortcomings or mistakes
                    2. they are the stuff of death and corruption, and unless someone can be found to stand in our place, they will see us condemned
                3. but someone has been found
                    1. someone has taken on Himself the results of our rebelliousness, and we have been given entrance into the kingdom
                      • “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV84)
                      • “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9, NIV84)
            6. Christ was delivered for our sins that we might be delivered from our sins
                1. some one must take the disease of sin and give back health, someone must bear the blow and pain and give back wealth and well-being
                2. the phrase the punishment that brought us peace is better translated the punishment of our peace
                3. it reminds us that before God could forgive, His justice had to be satisfied
                    1. He had to melt out chastisement for sin
                    2. while earthly punishment for sin is serious and ought not to be dismissed, it is by no means as serious as spiritual punishment: eternal alienation from God in Hell
                4. this is what the entire Jewish sacrificial system was about: making it possible for sinful humans to have fellowship with a holy God
                    1. it is only through substitution that fellowship between humans and God is possible
                    2. Can a sheep die for a man? Can a goat die for a woman?
                    3. the answer is no
                      • “With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:6–7, NIV84)
                5. a lamb cannot die in place of a human, but a perfect human could
                  • “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NIV84)
                  • ILLUS. In his book Pilgrim's Progress, the author John Bunyan writes of his dream in which the book's central character, Christian, comes to the climax of his journey. Christian has searched high and low for something that will bring him peace and help him with the burden he constantly carries. That burden is a backpack loaded with rocks that represents all the sin in Christian's life. Bunyan writes, "I saw in my dream that just as Christian came up to the cross, his burden loosed from his shoulders and fell from his back and began to tumble till it came to the mouth of the sepulcher, where it fell in and I saw it no more. Then was Christian glad and lightsome and said with a merry heart, ‘He has given me rest by his sorrow, and life by His death.'"
                    1. this ought to be the testimony of every believer: ‘He has given me rest by his sorrow, and life by His death.'"
                    2. at the foot of Calvary's Cross we find that our burden of sin and guilt can be laid
                    3. once our burden is lifted we will discover spiritual rest and abundant life


    • “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6, NIV84)
            1. all—every person who has ever lived or will live—all of us, without exception—have gone astray
                1. the figure is of running off, of alienating our selves from God
                2. this sad picture of selfish rebellion is painted with the picture of straying wandering sheep
                    1. sheep are notoriously unmindful and unaware of their circumstances
                    2. their minds are on the next clump of grass and not much else
                    3. when looking for food they stray in all directions
                    4. sheep are prone to get lost
            2. we are prone to stray and get lost in life also
                1. our selfishness our lack of judgment, our poor decisions, our lusts, our temptations, our ambitions and so much more has cause us to go our own way
                2. how did we go astray?
                    1. by turning to our own way, or by living life like we thought or desired to live it, instead of according to God’s Word
                3. like sheep we humans don’t seem to be aware of the consequences of our choices
                    1. and like them can’t defend ourselves against the consequences of our choice
            3. so what did God do to bring us back into His eternal fold?
                1. God would send the Messiah to bring us back into the fold
                    1. the Chief Shepherd laying down His life for the lost, straying, rebellious sheep
                2. our consequences were made to fall on the Servant
                    1. the effects of our behavior were made to fall upon Jesus
                    2. the Good Shepherd laid down His life for the sheep, to create the way back to God
                3. God made this One suffer the consequences, the result, of our rebellion
                    1. the iniquity of all of us fell on Him on an old rugged cross
                4. the second half of v. 6 asserts that the Lord Himself made the servant suffer by placing on him the iniquity that belonged to us all
                    1. the verb describing the latter act means to hit or strike violently
                    2. the iniquity of which we are guilty does not come back to us to meet and strike us as we might rightly expect, but rather strikes him in our stead

Conclusion: Who would do such an valiant and amazing thing? God pulled aside the curtain of time to let the people of Isaiah’s day look ahead to the suffering of the future Messiah and the resulting forgiveness made available to all mankind.

We have the hindsight to see and know the identity of the promised Messiah who came and died for our sins. He did so to bring you back into the fold of God. Have you given your life to Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-16) or are you still like a straying sheep, going your own way?

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