Summary: Our passage teaches us of a violent grace. Though man would cast down the Servant, God would lift Him up and glorify Him. He who man esteemed not, God would magnify.
ISAIAH 52:13 15 - 52:15
THE LIFTED UP SERVANT
John 12: 32-33
The text we begin today may be the best know in the Old Testament. The passage is certainly one of the riches and most unmistakable prophecies in the Bible. Our text begins the fourth and longest of the four Servant Sermons in Isaiah (42:1-9; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; & 52:13- 53:12). [It is written like a poem and contains five stanzas of three verses each. We will look at it one stanza at a time.]
Our passage teaches us of a violent grace. The Servant and His mission appear to utterly fail, Yet the man will attain matchless elevation. Although men and even nations were appalled at His appearance and His form (or His divergence from the ways of other men), He will succeed in His mission. He will have startling accomplishment after undeserved suffering and apparent failure. The ultimate world wide accomplishment by the One whose life in the eyes of the world held so little worth and wisdom will be staggeringly overwhelming.
This Suffering Servant is a man of contrasts. There is the contrast between the Servant’s exaltation and accomplishment with His suffering and humiliation. There is also the contrast between what people though about the Servant and what was actually the case. Though man would cast Him down and humiliate Him, God would lift Him up and glorify Him.
I. THE EXALTED SERVANT INTRODUCED, 13.
II. THE ASTONISHING DISFIGUREMENT, 14.
III. THE POWER OF THE BLOOD, 15.
The last three verses of Isaiah 52 introduce the Servant and speak of His exalted glory. Verse13, Behold, My Servant will wisely prosper. He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted.
Behold, My Servant introduces a new segment [and an new Servant Sermon, see 42:1] but more than that. It calls us to pay attention to the One who is going to be described. If what this passage says about this man’s capacity to take away sin is true, then by all means we should fix every bit of our attention upon Him. He will establish the new covenant and be the light of the world.
Two important points are made in this verse. The Servant’s holy character and obedient life [in spite of the total injustice of His mistreatment] is indicated by God’s statement, My Servant will wisely prosper. He will wisely prosper by doing what the Lord wants Him to do. He will act with such wisdom and obedience that His efforts will be successful (Josh. 1:8; Jer. 10:21). He will both know and do the right things in order to accomplish the purpose for which He was called (Isa. 42:1; 49:2-3; 50:7-9). Jesus always did what His Father wanted Him to do (Jn. 8:29).
The definitive second point is the emphatic compounding of the future eminence of the Servant and His position. The Servant will be high, and lifted up, and highly exalted. The three verbs are the consequences of the Servant’s wise actions.
His being lifted up refers to the kind of death He died on the cross (Jn. 12:32-33; 3:14-15), and to His being exalted at God’s right hand (Phil. 2:9; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22). Our Savior’s perfect obedience (Phil. 2:8), is the reason He is "highly exalted" in heaven. He will not remain in His humiliation but be lifted to tower above all and everything (Acts 2:33; 3:13; 26).
The "servant," as the term is used here, is the Messiah, our Lord Jesus. He is the only One worthy of such high exaltation because of His willing humiliation and sacrifice described in chapter 53. Because He was lifted up in humiliation for man on the Cross, God has lifted Him above all principalities and rule to the place of universal Sovereign. There is no one more exalted than Jesus. Nor will there ever be throughout all eternity.
In striking contrast to His final glory the terrible disfigurement of this Servant is depicted in verse 14. Just as many were astonished at you, My people, so His appearance was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.
In language of unimaginable trauma the prophet begins to reveal the deliverance of the church. God had dealt with His Old Testament people severely but they were not forgotten or forsaken. They still remained His covenant people. [It was astonishing that they left Babylonia captivity and reestablished their ruined capital and home land. It is even more astonishing that the old covenant people still survive as a group today. Many of God’s people today suffer appalling persecution in many parts of the world.] Often times God’s New Covenant people are dealt with severely but they are not forsaken or forgotten either, just as God’s Chosen Servant was not.