Unmistakably chapter 53, speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only men with blinded eyes, and deafened ears, and hardened hearts, and darkened minds can read Isaiah’s 4th Servant Song, compare it to the Passion Week of Jesus, and not see in Isaiah 53 an obvious prophecy of the life of Jesus. Every detail of the prophet’s words correspond 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 atoning death of Christ, Isaiah is going to tell us about the oppression that our Savior would face at the hands of His own countrymen. Blaise Pascal, was a 17th century French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Catholic philosopher. He is one of the greatest and most influential scientific minds of all time. He once said, “The greatest of the proofs of Jesus Christ are the prophecies.” And surely, Isaiah 53 is one of the, if not the greatest, of those prophecies. This chapter is an unanswerable proof of the inspiration of the Bible and the divinity of Christ. The Righteous Servant’s entire life, from birth to death, was one of suffering and rejection.
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.
This last servant song has five stanzas to it. We have looked at three:
- Stanza 1: The destiny of the suffering servant: 52:13-15
- Stanza 2: The career of the suffering servant: 53:1-3
- Stanza 3: The agony of the suffering servant: 53:4-6
With that background, let’s look at the 4th stanza of this last of Servant Songs: The submission of the suffering servant.
STANZA 4: THE SUBMISSION OF GOD’S RIGHTEOUS SERVANT
I. HIS OPPRESSION WAS SUFFERED SILENTLY v. 7
- “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7, NIV84)
- why does the Righteous Servant of Isaiah suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?
- because it was the express will of God the Father
- “Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.” (Isaiah 53:10, NIV84)
- the words he was oppressed and afflicted convey the passage’s main idea, and the following clauses illustrate how the Righteous Servant responded to his afflictions
- in his oppression and affliction he did not open his mouth
- in his oppression and affliction he was like a young sheep about to be slaughtered—he remained quiet
- ILLUS. I read this week that when cattle are led to slaughter, the moo and moan. When pigs are led to slaughter, they squeal, well, like a pig. When chickens are slaughtered, they flap and squawk. But when sheep are led to slaughter they are mute.
- some will vociferously protest their treatment
- some will hire legal counsel to represent them in their mistreatment
- some will retaliate with similar treatment
- He was silent before Caiaphas (Matt. 26:62–63)
- He was silent before the Chief Priests and Elders (Matt. 27:12)
- He was silent before Pilate (Matt. 27:14; John 19:9)
- He was silent before Herod Antipas (Luke 23:9)
- He was silent when the soldiers mocked Him and beat Him (1 Peter 2:21–23)
- we cannot read this prophecy without thinking of the fulfillment, when before the judgment seat of Pilate the Righteous Servant answered not a word
- “When he was reviled, He reviled not against.” (1 Pet. 2:23, KJV)
A. HE WAS OPPRESSED AND AFFLICTED
- as we look at verse 7, the first thing that jumps out at us is the fact that Jesus was oppressed
- the word oppressed literally means to drive as a teamster would drive a mule, or as a taskmaster would drive a slave, or as a collector would drive debtor, or as a general would drive an army
- the word came to be used of those who tyrannized others
- tyrannized aptly describes the final 24-hours of Jesus’ life
- he was not only oppressed, but also afflicted
- the word afflicted means to bring someone down
- it implies humbling someone by humiliating them
- humiliation is also a word that aptly describes the final 24-hours of Jesus’ life
- ILLUS. Crucifixion was not only meant to be a painful death, but a humiliating death. While most of the great art portraying the death of Jesus shows him wearing a loincloth, Jesus was most likely crucified like the vast majority of victims—naked.
- Isaiah illustrates this remarkable response by portraying the Righteous Servant as sheep headed to slaughter
- ILLUS. Seeing many sheep sheared for their wool or killed as sacrifices, Israelites were well aware of the submissive nature of sheep.
- the Righteous Servant is oppressed and afflicted because he allows himself to be oppressed and afflicted for the sake of others
- “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17–18, NIV84)
- Isaiah’s Righteous Servant is a willing volunteer of his oppression and affliction
- ILLUS. Remember the incident in the Garden of Gethsemane? Peter has taken a sword and hacked off the ear of one of those who have come to arrest Jesus. Jesus responds by telling Peter, “Put your sword back in its place,... for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:52–54, NIV84)
- and Isaiah 53 are the Scriptures that teach about what is to soon take place in Jesus’ life
B. LESSON: JESUS IS THE LAMB OF GOD WHO QUIETLY SUBMITTED TO HIS DEATH
- “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 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 2:23–24, NIV84)
- the life of Jesus is often described by theologians as the humiliation of Christ
- his humiliation began the moment of his incarnation and ended the moment of his resurrection
- the humiliation of Christ refers to that brief thirty-three years of his life where the Righteous Servant—the Second Person of the Trinity—existed outside his eternal glory
- at the end of his earthly life we see a life that oppressed and afflicted
- the interesting thing about this is that Jesus did not have to allow Himself to be oppressed nor afflicted
- the humiliation of Christ poses many questions:
- Why didn’t He do anything to stop the oppression?
- Why did Jesus allow Judas to betray Him? He knew what Judas was going to do
- Why did Jesus allow Himself to be arrested?
- Why did He allow Himself to be mocked by the religious leaders? He could have wiped them all out to make a point?
- Why did He allow the soldiers to beat Him and hang Him on a cross?
- Why did He allow the religious leaders to falsely accuse Him?
- Why did He let Pilate condemn Him?
- none of this was something that Jesus was looking forward to
- listen to the anguish He was struggling with before His arrest
- “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:36–38, NIV84)
- “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2–3, NIV84)
- why did Jesus endure the shame of the cross? — His own joy!
- the joy of obedience to the Father
- the joy of bringing many sons and daughters into the Father’s presence
- the joy of victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil
- the joy of returning to his throne in power and glory
- why did Jesus endure the shame of the cross? — our encouragement!
- He allowed Himself to be oppressed so our sins could be forgiven!
- “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26–28, NIV84)
II. HIS OPPRESSION WAS UNWARRANTED v. 8
- "By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.” (Isaiah 53:8, NIV84)
- the precise force of the word translated oppression is not clear, but it suggests arrest or confinement that is unjust
- what the first part of this verse basically says is Jesus was violently taken and was not permitted to have justice
- His trial was rigged
- virtually everything concerning his judgment by the Jewish authorities was unjust
- as you study the gospels, you’ll discover that there were six parts to Jesus’ trial:
- three before religious courts and three before a secular Roman court
- Jesus was tried before Annas, the former high priest; Caiaphas, the current high priest; and the Sanhedrin
- He was charged in these “ecclesiastical” trials with blasphemy, claiming to be the Son of God, the Messiah
- the trials before Jewish authorities showed the degree to which the Jewish leaders hated Him because they carelessly disregarded many of their own laws
- No trial was to be held during feast time
- Each member of the court was to vote individually to convict or acquit, but Jesus was convicted by acclamation
- If the death penalty was given, a night must pass before the sentence was carried out; however, only a few hours passed before Jesus was placed on the Cross
- No trial was to be held at night, but this trial was held before dawn
- The accused was to be given counsel or representation, but Jesus had none
- The accused was not to be asked self-incriminating questions, but Jesus was bluntly asked by the High Priest if He was the Christ
- everything about His trials was illegal, yet Jesus did not appeal for another trial
- “The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11, NIV)
- the Righteous Servant is going to die
- this part of Isaiah’s prophecy should once and forever end the silliness of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code and his contention that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, and fathered children who eventually became French royalty
- the Righteous Servant is compared to a lamb in v. 7, which is one of the frequent symbols of the Savior in Scripture
- just as a lamb died for each Jewish household at Passover (Ex. 12:1–13), Isaiah proclaims that God’s Righteous Servant will die for His people, (Isa. 53:8)
- in the New Testament we hear the Forerunner—John the Baptist—declaring that Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, NKJV)
- ILLUS Shortly before His death, Jesus told His disciples that they were going to Jerusalem, and that He would be delivered to the Gentiles, mocked, spitefully mistreated, spit on scourged and put to death. Luke 18:34 tells us that "they understood none of this things." Understanding of such a marvel would only come after the coming of the Holy Spirit.
- this very ignorance was also prophesied here by Isaiah
- the enemies of the Servant used the manipulation of their justice system to work out their hatred of God’s Servant
- it is clear from this prophecy and the Gospels, that Jesus’ death would be a judicially approved murder
- but human will had no real power over the Servant, as Jesus testified to Pilate
A. LESSON: CHRIST DIED FOR SINNERS—THE RIGHTEOUS FOR THE UNRIGHTEOUS
- the key phrase of v. 8 is for the transgression of my people he was stricken
- God allowed His Righteous Servant to be oppressed, judged, and killed that He might punish His Servant for the sins of the people
- the blind violence that cut Him off from the land of the living became the instrument of God’s power unto salvation
- God being holy must judge sin
- when our transgressions were laid upon Christ, God the Father judge them and cut off the sin-bearer from life
- in this verse the concept of substitutionary atonement is clearly proclaimed
- Jesus took our place ... He took our punishment ... His blood covers our sin
- in this God the Father reveals His great love for lost sinners
- “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9–10, NIV84)
- ILLUS. The reformer Martin Luther once said, “We carry in our pockets his very nails.”
III. HIS OPPRESSION WAS TEMPORARY v. 9
- “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9, NIV84)
- when a criminal was put to death in the first century, their body was more or less dumped
- since Jesus Christ was crucified with criminals as a criminal, it was logical that His dead body would be left unburied
- but God had other plans
- his oppressors intended to deny him an honorable burial, and to consign him to the same ignominious grave as the thieves crucified on either side of him
- had it not been for Joseph of Arimathea who requested the body of Jesus and gave Him in his own grave, He would have been humiliated even further
- it seems like such a small part of the Gospel story, but it’s a significant part of the story
- “It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.” (Mark 15:42–47, NIV84)
- Isaiah writes, though he had done no violence, nor was their any deceit in his mouth
A. LESSON: SUNDAY IS COMING
- Jesus was oppressed, and afflicted, and slaughtered, and cut off, and stricken, and died for you and me
- He did it because of the great love that He has for us!
- God’s Righteous Servant would suffer great agony but he could not be defeated by death
- it was Friday, but Sunday was coming
- ILLUS. S. M. Lockridge says it like this: It’s Friday—Jesus is pray’n; Peter is a sleep’n; Judas is betray’n; but Sunday is a com’n. It’s Friday—Pilate is a struggle’n; the council is conspir’n; the crowd is vilify’n; they don’t even know that Sunday is a com’n. It’s Friday—the disciples are running like sheep without a shepherd; Mary is a cry’n; Peter is a deny’n; but they don’t know that Sunday is a com’n. It’s Friday—the Romans beat my Jesus; they robe him in Scarlet; they crowned him with thorns; but they don’t know that Sunday is a com’n. It’s Friday—see Jesus walking to Calvary; his blood dripping; his body stumbling; and his spirit burdened; but it’s only Friday, and Sunday is a com’n. It’s Friday—the world is winning; people are sinning; and evil is grinning. It’s Friday—the soldiers nail my Savior’s hands to the cross; they nail my Savior’s feet to the cross; and then they raise him up next to criminals. It’s Friday—but let me tell you something, Sunday is a com’n. It’s Friday—the disciples are questioning what has happened to their King; and the Pharisees are celebrating that their scheming has been achieved; but they don’t know it’s only Friday, and Sunday is a com’n. It’s Friday—he’s hanging on the cross, feeling forsaken by his father; left alone and dying; can nobody save him? It’s Friday but Sunday is a com’n. It’s Friday—the earth trembles; the sky grows dark; my King yields his spirit; it’s Friday—hope is lost; death has won; sin has conquered; and Satan is laughing. It’s Friday— Jesus is buried; soldiers stand guard; and rock is rolled into place; but it’s Friday— it’s only Friday; Sunday is a com’n.