Isaiah 53 T Atoning Suffering and Victory of the Messiah
This chapter is the very heart of Isa. 40–66, and it takes us to the cross. That these verses apply to Jesus Christ is proved by John 12:38, Matt. 8:17, Acts 8:32–35, Mark 15:28, Luke 22:37, Rom. 10:16, and 1 Peter 2:24. Isaiah 53 is quoted or referred to at least eighty-five times in the NT.
Two of the great things which the Holy Spirit in the Old-Testament prophets testified beforehand were;
1) The sufferings of Christ.
2) And the glory that would follow.
1 Peter 1:11; seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.
And Jesus also spoke of the things that must happen; turn to Luke 24:26-27
“Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Can you imagine being one of those guys on the road that day as the creator of the universe explained the scriptures?
Nowhere else in all the Old-Testament are these two points so plainly and fully prophesied of as here in chapter 53, from which many passages are quoted with application to Christ in the New-Testament.
By combining faith with the prophecy of this chapter we will improve our relationship with Jesus Christ and him crucified, with Jesus Christ and Him glorified, dying for our sins and rising again for our justification.
This chapter contains Isaiah’s message describing the suffering of Messiah. Isaiah describes in graphic detail the crucifixion of Christ almost 800 years before it actually occurs!
Isaiah 53 describes the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (vv. 1–4), His death (vv. 5–8) and burial (v. 9), and His resurrection and exaltation (vv. 10–12). The theme that ties the chapter together is that the Suffering Servant died in the place of the guilty (that would be you and I).
The suffering servant
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Who has believed our report or message? Isaiah realizes his Calvary predictions are so amazing that not very many people will believe him, remember this is 800 years before Christ’s crucifixion.
However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
People say the message of the gospel is unbelievable—that it’s too good to be true. They think there must be more to being saved than simply believing Jesus died for our sin, rose again, and wants to live within us. But that is the message of the gospel, the good news.
(Romans 10:9) Tells us that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
Look at the contrast between “the arm of the Lord,” which speaks of the mighty power of God’s works, and “a root out of a dry ground,” which is an image of humility and weakness.
1) When God made the universe, He used His fingers.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
2) When God delivered Israel from Egypt, it was by His strong hand
Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the Lord brought you out from this place. And nothing leavened shall be eaten.
3) But to save lost sinners, He had to bare His mighty arm! But people still refuse to believe God’s power.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.”
Everyone wants to see signs and wonders. The book of Revelation tells us that the False Prophet and the anti Christ will have powers to perform signs and wonders.
Let’s let The Holy Spirit lead us.
v-2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
There was a three-fold rejection:
1) They rejected His words, “His report”.
2) They rejected His works, “the arm of the Lord”.
We saw that in John 12:37–40.
Now in verse 2 we see the rejection of His person.
Israel was not a paradise when Jesus was born; politically and spiritually, it was a wilderness of dry ground. Until John the Baptist there had been a four hundred year period that God had been silent.
He did not come as a great tree but as a “tender plant.” Isaiah 11:1 tells us Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
The Jews were offended that Jesus came as a servant. (Mark 6:1-3)
Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him.
He was born in poverty in Bethlehem and grew up in a carpenter’s shop in the despised town of Nazareth. (John 1:43-46) the next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.
Because of His words and works, Jesus attracted great crowds; but nothing about His physical appearance made Him different from any other Jewish man.
Today we are all sold on outward beauty, all the television and billboard ads bombard us constantly, and modern society has made a religion out of physical beauty. It is good to remember that Jesus succeeded without it.
Like the Tabernacle we are studying on Sunday morning, kind of plain looking from the outside but inside was incredible beauty. God looks at the heart of a man or woman.
This means that when we try to attract people to Jesus through form or comeliness, or beauty, we are using methods that run counter to the nature of Jesus. “These days so many churches try to dress up the gospel to make it attractive. We use methods or techniques which are entertaining, well-presented, streamlined. There must be something about the presentation of the gospel that will appeal to people, to make them feel good.
We don’t need to dress up the gospel , the good news, to make it appealing we just need to share it with others!
I wonder if we stop to think that in our efforts to make the gospel message ‘attractive’ we are drawing a curtain across the face of Jesus in His humiliation. The only one who can make Him attractive is the Holy Spirit.”
According to Revelation 5:6, we’ll see Him as a Lamb having been slain. We are going to see Jesus as One who has been slaughtered and slain for our sin. Beaten with fists, whipped with a flagellum, crucified on a cross, and attacked by the hordes of hell, Jesus Christ was reduced to quivering flesh on the cross. And not until we see Him will we begin to realize the unspeakable price He paid on our behalf.
V-3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Why was He despised and forsaken?
Once they understood what He required of them, how did most people treat the Servant? The way they treated any other slave: They despised Him, put a slaves price on Him (thirty pieces of silver), and “looked the other way when He went by”. They were ashamed of Him because He did not represent the things that were important to them,
Things like wealth Luke 16:14- Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him.
Social prestige Luke 14:7-14 And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. “But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Reputation Luke 18:9-14 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Being served by others Luke 22:24-27 And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ “But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. “For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
And pampering yourself Matthew 16:21-28 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
People reject Jesus today for the same reasons.
Here is the problem most of our sorrow is really just self-pity. It is feeling sorry for ourselves. Jesus never once felt sorry for Himself. His sorrow was for others, and for the fallen, desperate condition of humanity.
Surely our grief’s He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us have turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
Why should an innocent man such as Jesus Christ die such a terrible death on the cross? These verses explain why: He was taking the place of sinners and bearing their judgment for them.
Look at 1 Peter 2:24
And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
And 2 Corinthians 5:21
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Look at the price that Jesus paid:
1) Our grief’s He bore
2) Our sorrows He carried
3) For our transgressions He was pierced through
4) For our iniquities He was crushed
5) Our well being His chastening
6) Our healing His scourging
I think the physical sufferings Jesus endured were less painful than the spiritual suffering of the cross, when Jesus bore our transgressions, our rebellious and deliberate breaking of God’s Law; our iniquities, the crookedness of our nature; and our grief and sorrows, our calamities and the unhappy results of our sins.
We are sinners by birth (“All we like sheep have gone astray”) and by choice (“we have turned everyone to his own way”).
The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—
Isaiah 53:6 should give us all hope.
All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us have turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
Verse 6 begins with the “all” of condemnation, but ends with the “all” of salvation. He died for us all. These verses are the very heart of the Gospel—“Christ died for our sins.”
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
A servant was not permitted to talk back; he or she was always to submit to the will of the master or mistress. Jesus Christ was silent before those who accused Him as well as those who afflicted Him.
He was silent before Caiaphas (Matt. 26:62–63).
He was silent before the chief priests and elders (27:12).
He was silent before Pilate (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).
Isaiah 53:7 speaks of His silence under suffering and verse 8 of His silence when illegally tried and condemned to death. In today’s courts, a person can be found guilty of terrible crimes; but if it can be proved that something in the trial was illegal, there has to be a retrial.
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)
The Suffering Servant is compared to a lamb (Isa. 53:7), which is one of the frequent symbols of the Savior in Scripture. A lamb died for each Jewish household at Passover (Ex. 12:1–13). Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29); and twenty-eight times in the Book of Revelation, Jesus Christ is referred to as the Lamb.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? What Isaiah is talking about here is the confinement of the Messiah before His crucifixion, but it also speaks of the fact that the Messiah died childless. There was no one to declare His generation.
For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken: This is the first indication in this passage that the suffering Servant of the Lord, the Messiah Himself, would die. Up to this point, we might have thought He would only have been severely beaten. But there is no mistaking the point: He is to be cut off from the land of the living.
Some will try to say that Isaiah is speaking of Israel as the suffering Servant. As badly as Israel has suffered through the centuries, she has never been cut off from the land of the living. She has always endured, just like God promised Abraham.
His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
Since Jesus Christ was crucified with criminals as a criminal, and it was the intention of those supervising His execution to cast Him into a common grave with the wicked, but God had other plans.
The burial of Jesus Christ is as much a part of the Gospel as is His death (1 Cor. 15:1–5), for the burial is proof that He actually died. The Roman authorities would not have released the body to Joseph and Nicodemus if the victim were not dead (John 19:38–42; Mark 15:42–47).
Despite the intention of others to make His grave with the wicked, God allowed the Messiah to be with the rich at His death, buried in the tomb of the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:50-56, Matthew 27:57-60). He prepared it for Jesus and had the spices and grave clothes ready for the burial. How wonderfully God fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy!
Because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
This line is important; it shows that even in His death, even in His taking the transgressions of God’s people, the Messiah never sinned. He remained the Holy One, despite all the pain and suffering. He was buried, and would rise again on the third day.
But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.
This was God’s doing! He has put Him to grief! Jesus was not a victim of circumstance or at the mercy of political or military power. It was the planned, ordained work of the Lord God, prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before it happened. This was God’s victory, not Satan’s or man’s triumph.
All of this was planned by God and His plan was a complete success. Look at Isaiah 52:13 and Isaiah 42:1–4, where we see the success of the Savior’s work.
These verses in chapter 53 show us the how things look from God’s view. God’s perspective of the cross. The Old Testament prophets were looking ahead to the cross. We look back at the cross, but God who is The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end already knew how things were going to end up.
His death “pleased the Lord.” Does this mean that the Father rejoiced in His Son’s suffering and death? No. But it pleased Him to see the work of salvation completed, the sacrifice accepted, and sin atoned for.
Now God could, in His grace, save undeserving sinners. Though Christ was slain by the evil hands of men, their deeds were used to accomplish the purpose of God.
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand: The death, the burial, the offering of the Messiah does not end the story. He lives on! He lives to see His seed, His spiritual descendants.
53:11 He shall be see the travail of His soul, and be satisfied: The Messiah (Jesus) will look upon His work - with full view of the travail (the hard labor) of His soul - and in the end, He shall be satisfied. The Messiah will have no regrets. Every bit of the suffering and agony was worth it, and brought about a satisfactory result.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities: It is in knowing the Messiah, in both who He is and what He has done, that makes us justified before God.
Was Jesus angry at what we put Him through? No look what Hebrews 12:2 tells us.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
It was for joy that He endured the Cross, despising the shame.
What was Jesus reward, apart from the joy of having done His Father’s will?
He was raised from the dead (“He shall prolong His days”) and given a spiritual family (“He shall see His seed”).
Verse 11 describes the “travail” of His soul on the cross (the hard labor He went through).
His suffering, which included His death, led to life (His resurrection), and our salvation.
His finished work on the cross (John 19:30) for our justification.
He bore the punishment, for our iniquities, so that many people would not have to die. Because He died, we live.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong: The Messiah’s glorious work will be rewarded. Isaiah uses the analogy of dividing the spoil after a victorious battle; we see that the Messiah ultimately triumphs.
Paul described this ultimate triumph in Philippians 2:10-11: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. That is a glorious reward!
Here is an awesome promise for us. Who does the Messiah divide the spoil with? With the strong; those strong in Him. We can share in the spoil of Jesus’ victory! If children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:17)
Because He poured out His soul unto death: This speaks of the totality of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Poured out means that it was all gone. There was nothing left, nothing more He could give.
He was numbered with the transgressors: Jesus could never become a sinner; He could never be a transgressor Himself. Yet willingly, loving, He was numbered with the transgressors.
Think of it like this, when you got here tonight we took a roll call for all transgressors. Jesus says, “Put My name down with them.” We would be shocked if a godly woman looked at a list of prostitutes and said, “Put my name down among them.” Or what if a godly man looked at a list of murderers and said, “Number me among them.” But that is what Jesus did for us, only to an even greater degree.
He bore the sin of many: Over and over again, the prophet emphasizes the point. The Servant of the Lord, the Messiah, suffers on behalf of and in the place of guilty sinners.
And made intercession for the transgressors: We know that presently, Jesus has a ministry of intercession (Hebrews 7:25). But Hebrews 7:25 speaks of intercession for the saints. This passage probably refers to Jesus’ prayers on the cross itself.
This means the work of the Messiah is made available to transgressors. It is when we see ourselves as transgressors that we can reach out and receive His salvation.
Jesus is the successful One. Jesus received the spoil, the treasure, you.
Jesus not only secured my salvation but maintains it as an intercessor. The writer to the Hebrews tells us He ever lives to make intercession for us (7:25). Therefore, He not only succeeded in securing our salvation, but He also succeeds as He works out our sanctification: (the state of growing in divine grace as a result of Christian commitment after our conversion).
That is, He who began “a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Jesus will see you through all the way until He receives you in glory.
What a magnificent Savior.