THE SUFFERING SERVANT (ISAIAH 53:1-12)
Bill Hybels told about a particular Indian tribe who was suffering from the affects of a severe drought. Food was scarce and the members of the tribe were beginning to steal from each other in order to survive. The chief knew that that would be the death of the tribe so he issued a law that the next person caught stealing would be taken to the center of the village, tied to a pole and publicly whipped.
The next day, sure enough a thief was caught. Everyone turned up to see who it was and to witness the punishment. To everyone’s shock, the thief turned out to be the Chief ’s own mom. What was he going to do? He was a good chief, and could not justly ignore the law he had made the day before. He had to be just. But good grief, this was his mom. She was old, and frail, the beating could very well kill her. And he loved her. How could he cause her to suffer?
What do you think he should do? Which should win: His love or his justice? Well, here’s what he does. He orders that her wrists be tied to the pole so the beating can begin. And he calls the punisher to step forward, whip in hand.
But before he gives the order to commence, be steps in between his mom and the punisher. He stretches his broad shoulders across her frail back and with her body completely protected underneath his own, orders that the punishment be carried out.
As the cords of the whip fall, they fall on him, and he absorbs the full brunt of her penalty. In that act he was both just, in carrying out the penalty, and loving, by suffering it himself.
The most stirring, striking and shocking way to introduce Jesus the Messiah in the Bible, as attested in Acts 8:32, is Isaiah 53. The Messiah is both vulnerable and victorious, defenseless and dominant, tyrannized and triumphant. Christ is the Suffering Servant, the Sacrificed Lamb of God (John 1:29), the spotless and unblemished Lamb (1 Peter 1:19). This passage is a landmark in poetic literature, prophetic literature and Old Testament literature. The three sections can be introduced by the Lord’s name and work (vv 1, 6, 10).
How is God’s will and wisdom manifested in Jesus’ sufferings? What causes Jesus to suffer and die for mankind? What does His suffering mean to us?
Be Drawn to the Dear Lamb
1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 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. 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Here is my version how different religions view suffering:
Hinduism Buddhism Islam Christianity
Deserved Denial Destiny Disobedience (sin)
(accruement) Subjugation (attachment) Submission
It’s in your past It’s in your mind It’s in God’s will Jesus paid it all
Hindus see suffering as deserved and self-made, an accruement from the past misdeeds. To avoid suffering, Buddhists deny themselves and subjugate attachment to things and people, feelings and desires. Muslims calls for submission as a negative, passive and muted response to the destiny or fate of God for man. Christians see suffering as a result of disobedience but Jesus was God’s atonement and substitute for the sins of man. It’s been said, Jesus came to pay a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.”
The identity of the mysterious person or subject of the author is waiting to be “revealed” (v 1), which means uncovered (Gen 9:21), appear (Gen 35:7), discover (Ex 20:26), open (Num 22:31), show (1 Sam 20:2) and publish (Est 3:14). He is waiting to be approached, accepted, and acknowledged by the reader. There is three “no” in verse 2 - no form nor comeliness; no beauty (KJV). The first refers to structure, the second splendor - by implication, to favor, honor and uplifted, and the third for looks, sight and countenance. Desire (v 2) means pleasant (Gen 2:9), desire (Gen 3:6), covet (Ex 20:17), precious (2 Chron 20:25) and beloved (Dan 9:23). Nobody embraces the person, envies His position or epitomizes the persecution.