Summary: An expository message on Isaiah 53. No other passage sets out the heart of love of the Lord seen in the Suffering Servant, the Messiah Jesus, more than this one.

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Isaiah 52:13-53:12

No other passage sets out the heart of love of the Lord seen in the Suffering Servant, the Messiah – Jesus – more than this one. And all this some 700 years before Christ lived on earth.

The N.T. quotes more from Isaiah than all the other prophets combined, with an amazing 308 references in the various New Testament books. For example, John quotes Isaiah in chapter 12 of his gospel and then adds this commentary, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him” (verse 41).

As a matter of fact, when one reads verses like these, it’s almost as though Isaiah was an eyewitness to the flogging and the crucifixion . . . that he was there. But understand that time-wise, Isaiah’s long ministry was roughly 700 years prior to that of Jesus. Seven centuries separate them. That’s like someone writing in the early 1300s about the events related to the terrorist attacks here on 9/11/01!

(- from David Mains’ sermon, Experience Pure Love)

A. The Summary of the Servant’s Suffering & Glory (52:13-15)

ISA 52:13 See, my servant will act wisely;

he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

The Servant’s wisdom was deeply self-denying, for it meant accepting ends determined by God, and willingly shouldering a burden of untold suffering to make them possible. Here God’s wisdom and human wisdom part company decisively. Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me,” and “The first will be last and the last first,” and “Love your enemies.” This is not conventional wisdom!

But because it is the Lord’s will, done in the Lord’s wisdom, it will prosper. The Servant will be greatly exalted--“raised, lifted up, exalted.” Doesn’t this echo the resurrection, ascension and reign of Christ?

1. Glory after humiliation (v. 13-14; cf Phil. 2:5-11).

The promise of glory is encouraging because of the suffering that comes first. [Refer to Phil. 2:5-11.] This is our pattern, too. Like Jesus, “who for the joy set before, endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2).

ISA 52:14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him--

his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man

and his form marred beyond human likeness--

[Read Psalm 22:6-8.] These words were spoken by Jesus on the cross: “I am a worm not a man.”

2. Cleansing & deliverance of “many nations” (=”sprinkle”)

ISA 52:15 so will he sprinkle many nations,

and kings will shut their mouths because of him.

For what they were not told, they will see,

and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Just as many were appalled at him, so many will be saved and cleansed by his suffering and death. They will be sprinkled clean through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. [cf. the Passover & I Peter 1:1-2]

B. The Realization of Salvation Through the Servant (53:1-6)

ISA 53:1 Who has believed our message

and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

The two astonishing events of 52:14-15--the suffering of God’s own wise Servant who deserved none of it, and the subsequent exaltation of one so dishonored by people--produces astonishment in many who hear the report of these things.

God’s way of doing things often does not seem to make sense to human beings

[Read and refer to 1Cor. 1:18-31.]

The arm of the Lord refers to His power to save His people. The Cross is where God’s power resides. The prophet cried out in 51:9 [Read]. And the Cross is the ultimate answer to the prophet’s prayer and the words of 52:10 [Read]. The Cross the power of God for salvation. Foolishness to the world, but the wisdom and power of God.

Question: Are the speakers in v.1 Gentiles or Israelites? The Servant’s work was to reach the nations (cf. 42:6; 49:6), and in the context it would seem natural that the nations and kings (52:15), at first struck dumb by the astounding revelation, should then speak in response to it. But why do we have to choose? Both the Gentiles and his own people rejected him; and both began to believe after the resurrection.

1. At first “despised & rejected” by the world & his own people (v. 1-3).

ISA 53:2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,

and like a root out of dry ground.

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

ISA 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.

Like one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Verse 2 echoes and contrasts with 4:2 [Read].

The whole verse suggests that the Servant would be confronted with difficult conditions from his youth. In fact, Jesus could not be explained in terms of his human environment, which in his day was dominated by a legalistic Judaism. There was so little of the refreshing water of God’s word, truly understood and applied.

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