700 BC - Isaiah wrote of an unnamed Servant of God. Per Isaiah 53 - Servant would accomplish redemption of sinful mankind.Early Christians took this as prophecy of Jesus’ suffering, death, resurrection and glorification.For centuries, skeptics thought Isaiah 53 might have been written by Christians after Jesus.Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the 1940s.One was a copy of Isaiah written more than a century before Jesus was born.It is the oldest copy that has ever been found.Supports belief that Isaiah wrote about Jesus 700 years in advance.
Human nature shies away from suffering. We explain it away as a penalty for sin or a circumstance of chance. Few would think of suffering voluntarily for the sin of others or believe that our suffering would save others. Yet, Isaiah said Messiah would make the voluntary choice to suffer for the sins of others and to find His reward in the redemption of others.Jesus' decision to suffer is not merely blind obedience to the iron will of God.He was looking at the big picture of God's redemptive purpose.Paul saw the implications of this decision when he wrote, "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (NIV84) (Rom 5:19). Isaiah was looking forward seven centuries; Paul had the hindsight of the resurrection. He sums up the meaning of the Servant Song in that one sentence.Jesus rose from human disgrace to divine exaltation. He suffered until He appeared to be less than human, but then God exalted him until he was undeniably more than human.
Jesus had no social esteem. The depth of His social suffering goes beyond belief - so much so that the prophet asks, "Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God 's saving power would look like this?" (MSG) (Isa 53:1).His background is likened to a "scrawny seedling" (MSG) that is a nuisance and uprooted before maturity. Like "a scrubby plant in a parched field," (MSG) His background is so blighted that no one can believe that He would be the seed of royal blood in the line of David (Isa 53:2).Intervening centuries have given a kind of romance to Jesus' story that robs us of its wonder. We need to understand Jesus' background from the 1st Century perspective to see him as a "scrawny seedling" and a "scrubby plant." Jesus' birth to Mary scandalized the family and permanently scarred His name. Joseph took the stigma of marrying the pregnant woman and giving her child a name, but Jesus likely never lost the label as the illegitimate son of Mary. Such a "scrawny seedling" would never stand a chance for social recognition. The "scrubby plant" may refer to more than just the humble beginnings little town of Nazareth. His designation as a "carpenter" could mean he was a handyman who did odd jobs around town - honorable enough, but not befitting a king!Appearances influenced social esteem even then. When beautiful people reveal emotional insecurities or moral depravity, we are surprised, because we equate beauty with honor. But as to ugly people - our first reaction to a disfigured face is withdrawal; our second reaction is to devalue that person on our scale of esteem. Abraham Lincoln was ugly. Friends saw past the ugliness and into the compassion of his heart. One time, he was asked about being ugly. is answer: "The face you have before forty you cannot help, but the face you have after forty you deserve."Jesus did not live to forty. To the end of His life, Jesus knew the sorrow and the grief of being "looked down on and passed over" (MSG) (Isa 53:3). Like the shock of the hideous face behind the half mask of the Phantom of the Opera, those who see the face of the Servant hid their eyes, and without ever knowing the person behind the mask, they wrote him off as inhuman. They "looked down on him, thought he was scum." (MSG) (Isa 53:3)
Rejection and betrayal was bad enough, but the physical beating was even worse. Look at the words in MSG: "disfigurements", "ripped and tore and crushed", "bruises". Just a few verses earlier, Isaiah said, "He didn't even look human -- a ruined face, disfigured past recognition." (MSG) (Isa 52:14). In other words, Jesus was "beaten to a pulp."But even as we cringe at the thought of His excruciating physical pain, tears of gratitude well in our eyes when we read another set of words that explain He suffered as He did. Counterbalancing the expressions of pain are the words that tell us He suffered for us: "it was our pains he carried -- our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us ... it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him -- our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole." (MSG) (Isa 53:4 and Isa 53:6). He took our place to bear the judgment of our sin even though He Himself knew no sin. "God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him." (MSG) (Isa 53:6).Jesus not only took our sins upon Himself, but He also took our sorrows. He understands every grief we suffer because He has felt our pain. "He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed." (MSG) (Isa 53:5). It is frustrating when we try to share the burden of suffering with someone we love, but find we cannot make a difference. By contrast, Jesus' ministry of sorrows is effective.When Matthew wrote of Jesus' ministry of healing the sick, he explained it by quoting Isa 53:4, "This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.'" (Mat 8:17). Peter quoted the same text when he wrote to comfort Christians who were suffering persecution for their faith, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." (NIV84) (1Pe 2:24). All of this despite the fact that we, like Israel, are sheep that have gone astray (Isa 53:6). Peter expands on Isaiah's text when he concludes, "For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." (NIV) (1Pe 2:25).
Human reason explains suffering as a penalty inflicted on the guilty. We have a sense of "cash register justice" that rings in a crime and rings out a penalty. As simplistic as it may sound, when we suffer, our first question is, "What did I do wrong?" Job, a righteous man, had this question turned on him by his alleged friends and comforters when he suffered on the brink of death. They probed and probed for the sin in his life. When they failed to confirm their accusations, they left him in disgust as a hopeless case. Their doctrine of cash register justice left no room for the suffering of the innocent.When Jesus took on all of our sins, He also took upon Himself the penalty of judgment against our sins. There is a sacrificial tone in Isa 53:6 when we are likened to sheep that have gone astray and He is likened to the scapegoat that was sent into the wilderness bearing our sins. As a progression on that theme, Jesus is now likened to "a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared" (MSG) (Isa 53:7). There is also the picture of a courtroom in which a "kangaroo court" is being held. As Jesus bears His physical beatings in silence and refuses to confess sins that He did not commit, His accusers become more and more aggressive in their accusations until He is falsely condemned to die, executed as a criminal, and buried with the "wicked" and the "rich" after His death (Isa 53:9).Behind the fiasco, however, is the proof that the Servant suffered in silence because of His sinlessness. No person could pay the penalty for the sins of others if that person had his or her own sins. Although He was falsely accused, unjustly condemned, conveniently executed, and disgracefully buried, not a shred of evidence had been found proving that He had broken civil law by violence or moral law by deceit. Suffering in silence is more than gritting the teeth against false accusations. It is the inner peace of innocence that only Jesus Christ, the Servant of the Lord, has known. No one else can pay the penalty for our sin.
Another conundrum that escapes human understanding confronts us when we read, "Still, it's what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin" (MSG) (Isa 53:10). It is impossible for us to understand this, because it is impossible for mortals to comprehend immortality. How can the Lord find pleasure in Jesus' suffering? God's pleasure is not some selfish, whimsical glee. God's pleasure is His plan to bring redemption to the world despite human sin and unfaithfulness - despite man's rejection of Jesus. Jesus' suffering was a necessary means to a purposeful end. Jesus is exalted and God is glorified. What was the plan?The plan was (1) That he give himself as an offering for sin so that he'd see life come from it -- life, life, and more life.(2) Out of that terrible travail of soul, he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it.(3) Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many "righteous ones," as he himself carries the burden of their sins.(4) Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly -- the best of everything, the highest honors (MSG) (Isa 53:10-12). With John in Revelation, it is time to stop and sing, "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (NIV84) (Rev 5:12).Why must the Servant of the Lord be exalted? Because by voluntary choice, "Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep." (MSG) (Isa 53:12). Why must the Servant of the Lord suffer? Because by bearing our sins, He and He alone can be our advocate before the throne of the Holy God and our hope for pardon from our transgressions.
The largest religious painting on canvas in the world is just down I-10 at Forest Lawn, Glendale. It is housed in the Hall of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.It is 2/3 the length of a football field (195’ x 45’). It was painted by the Polish artist, Jan Styka, in 1897. The artist depicts the moments just before the actual crucifixion, with all the people gathered around.
In the center of the painting are the chief priests, Annas and Caiphas, along with the elders of the Jewish Sanhedrin who instigated the illegal trial and conviction of Jesus.
Removed from the instigators are Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea, whose tomb Jesus would occupy later that day.These men were also members of the Sanhedrin, but they did not participate in the travesty of justice engineered by the rest of the Jewish elders.
Standing near the center are two criminals who are facing the same fate as Jesus.
At the head of the crowd are John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, and Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Next to them are Jesus’ close friends from Bethany: Mary and Martha, along with their brother, Lazarus, whom Jesus had recently raised from the dead.
Standing facing the High Priest is Malchus, his servant. Only hours before, Peter had cut his ear off and Jesus, while he was being arrested, restored the ear to his body.
Mary Magdalene is on her knees weeping at the fate of Jesus, who had shown her kindness when no one else would.
There is a crowd gathering. Only days earlier, they had acclaimed Jesus with shouts of “Hosanna”. But this day, they shouted “Crucify”.
At the edge of the crowd stands Peter. He had said he would die before he would deny Jesus, but there he is staring dumbfounded at the rooster crowing. Sure enough, he had denied Jesus three times, just like Jesus said he would.
Simon of Cyrene is the man who carried Jesus’ cross when Jesus couldn’t carry it any further. He will be so profoundly affected by this day that he will become one of the earliest Christians.
Off to the side isGamaliel, one of the most noted rabbis of his day, with his star disciple, Saul of Tarsus. Saul would become the most influential man in the early church.
He’s got to be there somewhere in the crowd.I know he’s there, because his two friends are about to be executed, and the cross that was intended for him is about to be occupied by another. How could he stay away?His name is Barabbas. Literally, “Son of the father”.That sounds familiar. Jesus called himself “Son of Man”, but others called him “Son of God”. He taught his disciples to call God “Abba”, Hebrew for “Father”.How ironic! The cross was intended for a man named “Son of the Father”, and it would be occupied by one who is truly the Son of the Father!
I see Barabbas in the crowd, don’t you? He’s the one who looks just like me! Funny thing is that he looks just like you, too. In fact, it’s like looking into a mirror!Jesus took my place on the cross – and he took yours, too!
130331 he took my place isaiah 53 (abridged)
HE TOOK MY PLACE ISAIAH 53
Isaiah 52:13-15 MSG "Just watch my servant blossom! Exalted,tall, head and shoulders above the crowd! 14 But he didnt beginthat way. At first everyone was appalled. He didnt even lookhuman--a ruined face, disfigured past recognition. 15 Nations allover the world will be in awe, taken aback, kings shocked intosilence when they see him. For what was unheard of theyll seewith their own eyes,what was unthinkable theyll have rightbefore them."
Isaiah 53:1-3 MSG Who believes what weve heard and seen?Who would have thought Gods saving power would look likethis? 2 The servant grew up before God -- a scrawny seedling, ascrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractiveabout him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. 3 He waslooked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knewpain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. Welooked down on him, thought he was scum.
Isaiah 53:4-6 MSG But the fact is, it was our pains he carried --our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought hebrought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his ownfailures. 5 But it was our sins that did that to him, that rippedand tore and crushed him -- our sins! He took thepunishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we gethealed. 6 Were all like sheep whove wandered off and gottenlost. Weve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And Godhas piled all our sins, everything weve done wrong, on him, onhim.
Isaiah 53:7-9 MSG He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didntsay a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheepbeing sheared, he took it all in silence. 8 Justice miscarried, andhe was led off -- and did anyone really know what washappening? He died without a thought for his ownwelfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. 9 They buriedhim with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Eventhough hed never hurt a soul or said one word that wasnt true.
Isaiah 53:10-12 MSG Still, its what God had in mind all along, tocrush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as anoffering for sin so that hed see life come from it -- life, life, andmore life. And Gods plan will deeply prosper through him. 11Out of that terrible travail of soul, hell see that its worth it andbe glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteousone, my servant, will make many “righteous ones,” as he himselfcarries the burden of their sins.
12 Therefore Ill reward him extravagantly -- the best ofeverything, the highest honors --Because he looked death in theface and didnt flinch, because he embraced the company of thelowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he tookup the cause of all the black sheep.