“Our Suffering Savior” Isaiah 53:7-12
The hymn writer William Newell wrote: “O the love that drew salvation’s plan/ O the grace that brought it down to man/ Oh the mighty gulf that God did span/ At Calvary.” Here in Isaiah 53, we get a glimpse of the wonder of God’s great plan of redemption. The prophet Isaiah wrote chapter 53 some seven centuries before the Lord Jesus died on Calvary. Yet, we find the most amazing description of how the Lord Jesus Christ, the Servant of Yahweh, would die as the suffering Savior for our redemption.
In the first verses of Isaiah 53, we listened as the Jewish people, who at first did not understand who the Lord Jesus was or what He was doing, but who have now come to faith, described first how they once viewed the suffering Messiah. They believed Him to be an insignificant and deranged man, whom God afflicted for His own sin. But in verses 4-6, we learn what God was really doing in Christ. The climax of his statement is verses 5 and 6. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Next, in verses 7-9 Isaiah underlined two additional truths about our Suffering Savior. First, he told us that our Lord would be a willing sacrifice for our sin. Finally, he demonstrated that our Lord would accomplish much in His suffering.
As Isaiah wrote in verses 7- 9, he emphasized how our Lord Jesus would become a willing sacrifice for our sins. “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth.” The words translated “He was oppressed” mean He was ill-treated.
John 19:1-6 “So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they struck Him with their hands. Pilate then went out again, and said to them, ‘Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.’ Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, ‘Behold the Man!’” Pilate did all of this abuse against one whom he himself declared was without fault.
How did our Lord respond to this abuse and misuse? Isaiah recorded it for us, “Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” He did not protest loudly. He did not call twelve legions of angels as He could have. Matthew 26:53- 54 tells us, “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” He took the abuse silently, because it was His Father’s will and because He took it for us.
There is an important truth found in John 10:17-18. “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” When Jesus went to Calvary, He was not a victim. He laid His life down willingly for us.
There are several places in the New Testament where this fact is repeated. For example, in John 18:3-6: “Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am.’ And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, ‘I am,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” If Jesus could cause a detachment of soldiers and Judas to fall to the ground by just saying, “I am,” He could have easily escaped them as He had so many times before. Our Lord did not die for us because He could not escape. He died for us because He loved us and because He wanted to obey His Father. He bore our punishment without protesting His innocence. He simply laid down His life for His sheep.
In verse 8, the prophet is describing how Jesus was the victim of gross injustice. “He was taken from prison and from judgment.” Leupold says that this is probably a summary statement of how judgment was passed upon the Lord in His illegal and immoral trials. He was oppressed and summary judgment was pronounced against Him. No justice was done here and no one gave it much thought.
Yet, what was happening is very clear. “For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken.” 700 years before the Lord Jesus Christ was born into the world, Isaiah tells us that Christ was going to die. Although His disciples did not understand this would happen, it was already determined in the mind of the Father. He would die, not for His own sins, for He had none, but He would die for the transgressions of His people. When we think of sin, we must think of the price that was paid that the Father might forgive sin. May God help us never to take sin lightly.
Finally, in verse 9, we read an amazing prophecy. “And they made His grave with the wicked— but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.”
He was identified with criminals in His death. We find this fulfilled in the circumstances of His crucifixion. “There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.” Luke 23:32-33. Here is one of those little details that God the Father included so that we would understand that Jesus indeed was the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world.
Not only did He die with criminals, He was buried by a rich man–“but with the rich at His death.” This is fulfilled in that Joseph asked for the body of Jesus. Matthew 27:57-60 records; “Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.” Again, the Lord puts His unmistakable stamp upon the sacrifice of our Savior.
The Prophet Isaiah wants us to understand in no uncertain terms that the Messiah is not numbered with the criminals because He is a criminal. Christ is absolutely pure and innocent.
While our Lord would willingly lay down His life for us, His death would not be in vain. He would die to accomplish something and that purpose was more than fulfilled. The first thing that He accomplished was to fulfill His Father’s will. “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.”
This language sounds harsh to our ears, and yet it is true. God, the Father, chose to crush the Lord Jesus under the load of our sin. The Father laid on Him our punishment. His death and His suffering was not an accident. It was an act of the will of the Father, for only in the death of our Lord Jesus could we be saved! There was no other way! In His suffering He accomplished the Father’s will.
Isaiah also wrote, “When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” In His death, He also gave us, His people great blessing. Isaiah hinted at the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. In verse 9 it said clearly that He died, yet here in verse 11, we read that He shall see His seed and He shall prolong His days.
Through our Lord’s Death, we have become His offspring. Through what Jesus did, the purposes of God shall prosper. God’s will for the ages is being carried out. God’s plan goes forward without hitch.
The third accomplishment of His death is Isaiah 53:11. In laying down His life for us, He has forever solved our sin problem. “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.”
God the Son will be satisfied with the fruit of His suffering after it is all over. This is reassuring. Aren’t you glad that we don’t have to worry if Jesus might look at us and think it wasn’t worth it. He will think it was worth it all.
The phrase “By His knowledge” can be translated “By His experience.” This is probably what Isaiah wrote here. By what the Lord Jesus did, He made it possible for many to be declared righteous! For us, that is the greatest accomplishment of all.
Finally, the Lord Christ will be exalted on high for His obedience. The fulfillment of this verse is found in Philippians 2:5-11, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10that 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.”
Let us exalt Him forever and ever for the blessings that He has purchased for us with His blood. Let us never forget His great love, and let us faithfully serve Him for we owe Him everything.