Summary: Through the cross, Christ provided salvation for those who are lost and an example of service for those who are saved.
As we conclude our Character Tour of the Old Testament, we're looking to the example of Jesus, who shows us what it means to serve God. This is important, because of the command Christ has given to us:
"As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." - John 20:21 (NIV)
As we consider the example of Christ, we look to Isaiah 53, which has been called the "holy of holies" of this book because of its Messianic nature. The prophet, while speaking to the people of Judah a message of hope wherein he sought to describe the victory they would eventually know through their suffering as a people, at the same time speaks of One who was to come, whose remarkable life would bring about salvation and forgiveness for all mankind through His willingness to take on the role of a servant.
We know, of course, that the One Isaiah ultimately spoke of here was none other than the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
John Stott, in his book, The Cross of Christ, explains that 8 of these 12 verses in Isaiah 53 is applied to Jesus by New Testament writers. Verse 1 (John 12:38). Verse 4 (Matthew 8:17). Verses 5 and 6; 9 and 11 (1 Peter 2:22-25). Then verses 7 and 8 (Acts 8:30-35). Thus, verses 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11 – 8 verses out of the chapter’s 12 – are all specifically referred to Jesus in the New Testament.
Let's look here at what we're told about Jesus Christ, the Messiah, God's suffering servant and see what we can learn about servanthood.
1. His experience of rejection - vs. 1-3
The prophet says God would do something hard to believe. He would work through One the people wouldn't expect God to work through.
As a result, the Messiah would be rejected by His own people.
"He came to his own people, and even they rejected him." - John 1:11 (NLT)
A. He would be rejected because of His appearance - v. 2
Jesus wasn't an earthly prince or king, He wasn't a man of means or political power. Instead, he was a lowly carpenter from Nazareth.
" '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." - Mark 6:3 (NASB)
B. He would be rejected because of His associations - v. 3
Jesus associated with common people, with tax collectors and sinners.
"Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with such scum?' When Jesus heard this, he said, 'Healthy people don’t need a doctor - sick people do.' Then he added, 'Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: "I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices." For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.' " - Matthew 9:10-11 (NLT)
For these reasons, He experienced rejection. But aren't we glad He was willing to suffer rejection? For we are the sinners He came to call to repentance. The point is, Jesus didn't live for man's approval, but for the Father's approval; and the Father approved of Him showing mercy to others in the effort to see them saved.
We, too, we must reach out to the last, the least, and the lost; to the down and out and the up and out, in the effort to lead them to the
saving grace of our Lord, even if in doing so, we face rejection.
"The fear of rejection is the main reason most people don’t share their faith with other people. You’re afraid of what they will think. God has given us good news, yet we’re afraid to share it. We worry that our friends will reject us or people will think we’re fanatics or 'Jesus freaks.' " - Rick Warren
How do we overcome our fear of rejection? But taking on the role of a true servant. We do not live to please others, but only to please God.
"If you please God, it doesn't matter who you displease; but if you displease God, it doesn't matter who you please." - Anonymous
"Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant."
- Galatians 1:10 (NLT)
2. His work of redemption - vs. 4-9
Isaiah declared that through the Messiah's suffering, He would redeem a sinful mankind. In doing so, He would suffer . . .
A. Vicariously - vs. 4-6 B. Willingly - v. 7 C. Undeservedly - v. 8