Summary: We are all sinners, but Christ died in our place.
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THE SERVANT: ISRAEL OR JESUS?
Christians and Jews disagree on the identity of the Servant in Isaiah 53:
• Christians believe that the Servant is JESUS.
• Jews believe that the Servant is ISRAEL.
Arguments against Jesus being the Servant:
(1) The Servant is “despised and rejected” (v. 3), but Jesus was popular.
(2) The Servant “shall see his offspring” (v. 10), but Jesus died childless.
(3) The Servant “shall prolong his days” (v. 10), but Jesus died young.
THE MISUNDERSTOOD SERVANT
The Servant (“the arm of the LORD,” v. 1) was misunderstood in two ways:
• His IDENTITY was misunderstood.
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not (v. 3).
The Jews were expecting someone like David. David was “handsome” (1 Samuel 16:12). He was famous for killing Goliath. Jesus didn’t meet the people’s expectations for the Messiah.
• His SUFFERING was misunderstood.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted (v. 4).
“Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).
“Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe” (Mark 15:32).
Was Jesus punished by God (see v. 10a)? Yes, but not for His sin—Jesus was sinless (see v. 9b). He was punished for our sin.
OUR SIN, OUR SUBSTITUTE
Isaiah 53 is often called the “gospel in the Old Testament.” (Why preach the gospel to Christians?)
• Every single one of us is a SINNER.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—everyone—to his own way (v. 6a).
It’s often said, “People are basically good.” God says we are all sinners.
The cross makes no sense if we are not sinners.
We are all “like sheep”: stupid and helpless.
“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
• Christ died IN OUR PLACE.
God does not look upon sin lightly, and He must punish it. Jesus was punished for our sin instead of us.
Jesus is the “good shepherd” who “lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). He is the shepherd who searches for the one lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7). “When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
Surely he has borne our griefs (v. 4a).
And carried our sorrows (v. 4b).
But he was wounded for our transgressions (v. 5a).
He was crushed for our iniquities (v. 5b).
Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace (v. 5c).
And with his stripes we are healed (v. 5d).
And the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (v. 6b).
Our sin was “laid on him,” like the sin of Israel was laid on the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:20-22).
“For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
“He himself bore our ins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:24-25).
Jesus died for our sin and for our salvation.
How should we respond to the substitutionary death of Jesus? “Die to sin and live to righteousness.”