The Suffering Messiah (Isaiah 53)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53 continues the prophetic portrait of God’s suffering “servant” that began in Isaiah 52 with this astonishing description: “many were astonied [appalled; horrified] at thee; His visage [appearance] was so marred [disfigured] more than any man, And his form [appearance] more than the sons of men” (52:14).

Isaiah’s prophecy foretold the sorrows (53:1-3), suffering (53:4-9), and sacrificial death of the Messiah (53:10-12), and as you will see, it is in harmony with the description of Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross found in the Gospels.

The Messiah’s Suffering (53:1-3)

The unbelief of the Jews was foretold in verse 1, where we read, “Who hath believed our report [message]?” (53:1; John 12:38-41; Romans 10:16)

Isaiah 53:2 revealed the coming Messiah would have a humble demeanor. Isaiah states that He shall have “no form nor comeliness [no natural beauty]; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty [natural beauty] that we should desire him.” Though His coming was foretold by the prophets, Isaiah revealed He would be “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows” (53:3).

The Messiah’s Substitutionary Atonement (53:4-5, 7-9)

The LORD stated to Ezekiel, “Behold, all souls are mine…the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Knowing all men and women are sinners, and the penalty of sin is death, how might God’s mercy, and His demand for justice be satisfied? The answer to that most important question is found in Isaiah 53.

Consider six ways in which the Messiah would satisfy God’s judgment and the penalty of man’s sin. (53:4-9)

1) The Messiah would bear and carry “our griefs, and… our sorrows [punishment]“ (53:4a). He was “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (53:4b; Philippians 2:8).

2) He would suffer our wounds, was chastened for our sins, and God placed the full weight of our sins upon Him: “He was wounded [defiled; polluted] for ourtransgressions [our rebellion against God’s law], he was bruised [beaten] for our iniquities [guilt; wicked, crooked ways]: the chastisement [reproof; correction for] of our peace was upon him” (53:5a).

3) He would be scourged, and bear the “stripes [wounds, blows]” we deserved (53:5). Under Jewish law, the condemned would receive 39 lashes. Under Roman law, whose jurisdiction Christ was judged, scourging was so brutal some men died before they suffered the fate of the cross.

4) The Messiah would be treated unjustly, but never protest the injustices He would suffer: “He was oppressed [driven like a beast], and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter [to be sacrificed], and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (53:7; John 1:29; Matthew 26:63; 27:14; 1 Peter 2:23).

5) The Messiah would be rushed to judgment: “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people [Israel] was he stricken” (53:8). Jewish law required two days reprieve before execution; thus, giving opportunity for new evidence to come to light, the family to visit, and the condemned to search his soul. Under Roman law; however, Jesus was shown no mercy and was crucified on the day He was tried (John 18:12, 24; 19:16).

6) The Messiah would make “his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth” (53:9). Christ fulfilled that prophecy in exact detail. He was crucified on the cross in the midst of two thieves (John 19:31), and His lifeless body was buried in the tomb of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-60).

The Messiah’s Death Satisfied God’s Judgment (53:4, 6, 10)

The Messiah would die, not for His sins, but for our sins. Isaiah prophesied, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows [punishment]: yet we did esteem [pass judgment upon Him in ignorance] him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted [as one with leprosy]” (53:4).

The Messiah was to bear the guilt and burden of our sins, for “the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (53:6; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).

Closing thoughts – Like an innocent sacrificial lamb, the Messiah had done nothing to deserve death, for “he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” [not sinned in word or action]” (53:9b). The Messiah’s death would satisfy God’s judgment, for “it pleased the LORD to bruise [crush] Him; He hath put Him [Jesus] to grief: when thou shalt make His soul [life] an offering for sin” (53:10a).

In the eternal counsel of the Godhead, it was determined that Christ’s suffering and death would satisfy God’s judgment against sin (53:11; Revelation 13:8).

Why did it please God to crush His Son with the weight of man’s sin? “For God so loved the world,that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.(John 3:16)

Christ’s death satisfied the penalty of sin, and His resurrection proved the curse of sin was satisfied. Sin and the grave no longer have the victory.

Romans 10:9 – “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith