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Summary: When people grasp the atoning work of Jesus and turn to him, his death on the cross begins to make sense.

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The Isaiah 53 Flashback

(Isaiah 52:13-53:6)

1. Looking Back The Sunday School teacher was describing how Lot's wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt, when little Johnny interrupted with this triumphant announcement: "My Mommy looked back once while she was driving, and she turned into a telephone pole!" [source: jokes4us.com]

2. Looking back, in a more serious vein, can help us better understand life. In retrospect, we can appreciate the blessings we took for granted or cringe at the mistakes we made, wishing we could go back and choose differently sometimes.

3. But for God, the past, present, and future run together. He is so sure of the future that sometimes he presents it to us as though it were already passed!

4. Isaiah 53 is written from the vantage point of the beginning of Millennium and looks backward. We call this the “prophetic past tense.”

In Zechariah 12:8-10, we are told of a future time —at the end of the Tribulation — when all the Jewish people will embrace Jesus as Messiah.

As the Jewish people mourn their previous unbelief and understand the work of Jesus in retrospect, this is what they will understand.

5. When we say Isaiah 53, we really mean Isaiah 52:13 through 53 (mouthful)

Perhaps most important chapter in Bible.

• Explains the nature of the atonement

• Evidences the truth of Scripture by specific prophecy

• Reminds us that the Gospel comes from a Jewish source

This passage is alluded to scores of times throughout the New Testament, quoted, paraphrased, and elaborated upon. Just looking at the sermons and writings of Peter alone, we find allusions in Acts 3:13; 4:27, 30; 10:43,46; I Peter 1:11; 2:21-25; 4:1. Quoted or alluded to in the Gospels, in the writings of Paul, and in John’s writings.

Main Idea: When people grasp the atoning work of Jesus and turn to him, his death on the cross begins to make sense.

I. The EXALTED Messiah (52:13-15)

A. He will act wisely to EFFECT his plans

1. Not the failure that they though he was

2. Will accomplish what he set out to do

B. The GORY suffering of Christ will now make sense

C. He will sprinkle (PURIFY) many nations

I Peter 1:2, “ according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood…”

The picture is of a priest sprinkling the blood of atonement on Yom Kippur

D. Kings will shut their MOUTHS

The fact they now understand (15b) sounds like their mouths are closed in awe.

Exactly what is it that they now understand? The verse below explain

Application: One day, as Jesus rules over his Kingdom, we will look back with him and with all those in the Kingdom, understanding in deeper ways than we now do. Everything will make sense in retrospect.

II. The UNAPPEALING Messiah (53:1-3)

A. The message seemed UNBELIEVABLE (1)

The message is the Gospel, and the arm represents the power or strength of God.

Romans 1:16 (midrash) “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.”

B. The Messiah grew up in OBSCURITY (2a)

Like an unwanted sucker sprout from a tree root (a netzer)

In the third century B.C., Nazareth was founded probably by Davidic descendants

Never judge a person by his looks, income, parentage, or home town.

C. The Messiah was NOT handsome (2b)

D. The Messiah was SORROWFUL because he was rejected (3)

The people assumed that he was suffering because God was punishing him for his sins, but the truth is that God was punishing him for OUR sins!

We, too, are often misunderstood; we must stay the course of God’s will…

III. The ATONING Messiah (4-6)

A. He bore OUR grief, but this was not recognized (4)

• Refers to all our miseries, including illnesses

• Does the atonement provide healing? Yes, but not realized until the millennium and/or until we get new bodies

Romans 8:23, “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

B. He was PUNISHED for our sins (5)

1. Wounded = pierced

2. Crushed as he bore the cross, crushed hammers nail him to the cross

3. Crushed under the weight of our sins

4. Chastisement/stripes from whipping and being beaten

According to the Chicago Tribune, on June 22, 1997, parachute instructor Michael Costello, forty-two, of Mt.Dora, Florida, jumped out of an airplane at 12,000 feet altitude with a novice skydiver name Gareth Griffith, age twenty-one. The novice would soon discover just how good his instructor was, for when the novice pulled his rip cord, his parachute failed. Plummeting to the ground they faced certain death. But then the instructor did an amazing thing. Just before hitting the ground, the instructor rolled over so that he would hit the ground first and the novice would land on top of him. The instructor was killed instantly. The novice fractured his spine in the fall, but he was not paralyzed. One man takes the place of another, takes the brunt for another. One substitutes himself to die so another may live. So it was at the cross, when Jesus died for our sins. (Sermon Central, Choice Contemporary Stories and Illustrations, Baker Books, compiled by Craig Brian Larson, pg57).

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