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Isaiah 53 (The Suffering Servant) – A Passion Sermon March 29, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Atonement, Crucifixion, Death of Christ, Isaiah, Jesus, Religion, Resurrection, Sermons.
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JESUS, THE SUFFERING SERVANT (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)

The LORD God wants your attention on the Glorious Deeds of His Servant, Jesus Christ. Again, it is important to identify who this Servant is.

1. As in Isaiah 42, the Servant here must be the Messiah. In Isaiah, sometimes the nation of Israel is called God’s Servant. In at least one place Isaiah himself is referred to as the servant of God but in verses 4-6, we find that the Servant has the sin of others laid on Him. Israel as God’s chosen people is not responsible to deal with our sin problem but the Messiah is. Isaiah also was not responsible to deal with the sin problem of his people but the Messiah is.

2.Since it is clear that this passage is talking about the Messiah, it remains to us to determine if Jesus fulfills this prophecy, is he the Suffering Servant, the Messiah. There are a number of prophecies in this passage and we will look at some of them this morning but I want to call your attention to Acts 8:30-35. Philip explained to the Ethiopian eunuch that this passage among others is talking about Jesus, the Suffering Servant, the Messiah.

I. Jesus, the Servant is honored by God because He acted wisely (52:13). This verse is an introduction to the details that are to follow. God wants us to pay attention to His Servant because He has acted wisely. He wants us to know what those actions are and He wants us see that His Servant is honored, is glorified by God based on the wise actions described later in these verses. As we read the following verses, the actions Jesus undertook may see foolish to us. It may seem like a huge mistake. God’s evaluation is different. God says, this plan of action that My Servant has undertook is a wise plan of action and I will honored Him accordingly.

II. Not everyone, however, honors Jesus, the Suffering Servant. The next verse indicates that Jesus, the Servant is not honored by men (52:14-53:3).

A. His life ended in shocking humiliation (52:14-15). Isaiah begins here with the end of the life of Christ. Here is a man whose disfigurement is astonishing. Now why would the disfigurement of a man be so shocking. Have we not all seen people whose bodies or faces are so ravaged by disease or disaster that we have been astonished? But to see God’s honored Servant so disfigured is shocking. To this day, many do not believe that God could have had a hand in the crucifixion. They prefer to think that Jesus had a different end in mind than His shameful death. That God would allow such a thing to happen is shocking.

It is like water being splashed in your face. The nations and their rulers when confronted with the humiliation of Christ are shocked, even repulsed by the horribleness of the crucifixion of the Suffering Servant of God.

B. His life began in unbelievable humility (53:1-3). Before He died in humiliation, He must first be born in humility. Again, hardly anyone can believe the message. That the Servant of God should be born into a poor, humble family, that God should come into the world in the weakness of infancy, that He should live and walk on this earth for thirty years in insignificance and that even when He begins His work there are no military victories won. Immediately after His crucifixion, the best that one might could say was that He simply was a fad for a year or so, who, when the fad was over, did not simply fade away but died, hated, betrayed, and forsaken. The life of Christ, even in the midst of the miracles He performed and the teachings He expounded, never rose above the life of a simple man surrounded by other simple men. So we see that Jesus, the suffering Servant is honored by God but not by man. His humility and humiliation is not honorable in the eyes of humankind but rather is despised by them, by us.

III. Yet, Jesus, the Servant was unjustly executed for the crimes of humankind (53:4-9), for the crimes of those who despised Him. This we recognize. There are few who would say that Jesus deserved the death He died. It is hard for people to recognize is that He died for their sins.

This passage explains to us what it means for Jesus to die for our sins. Verses 5-6 makes it clear that Jesus died for criminals. Our criminality is described in verse 6, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way.” We want to do, what we want to do; and what we want to do is criminal. “But He was wounded for our transgressions.”

So what? What does that accomplish? What good is it that Jesus died? Verse 5 tells us that our peace, our well-being, was accomplished through His bearing of our punishment. We are healed by the death of Christ.

Now it is important to understand what this means. There are those who teach that Jesus died so that we should be delivered from physical poverty and troubles and sickness. They turn to these verses to teach this. If, however, we look at the context, the picture is much different. It is the picture of a criminal, who is condemned but another takes his punishment. This peace, this well-being is not a two car garage and a freezer full of steaks. It is the release from the penalty of death. That is the well-being, the peace that the Suffering Servant provides. This healing is not the healing of our physical illnesses but rather the release from certain death through His death. The word “healed” means to be restored to its proper condition. Medically this meaning is obvious but it is also used when Elijah repaired the altar. He restored the altar to its proper condition. His successor, Elisha, later performed a miracle. The water in a certain city was unsuitable for drinking and unsuitable for irrigating. The properties of the water were poisonous. Elisha took a bowl of salt, tossed it into the source of the water, and “healed” the water, that is, restored the water to its proper condition. The psalms speak of healing of the soul and healing of the broken-heart. What Isaiah is speaking of here is the restoration of a condemned criminal. The criminal by the death of the Suffering Servant is taken off of death role and given his freedom. That is a healing that surpasses all medical healings.

Verses 7-9 describe in detail the death and burial of the Suffering Servant.

First, we find that He suffered silently. He did not try to defend Himself but rather submitted Himself to the death of a criminal. Matthew tells us three times that Jesus kept silent at the accusations made against Him, He answered not one word. Mark, Luke, and John also mention the silence of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:23 say that Jesus, “…when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Jesus, fulfilled the prophecies in verse 7 regarding the Suffering Servant.

Then, verse 8 tells us that He was killed. The Muslims may say that Jesus did not die but that another took His place but all the eyewitnesses are certain, without any doubt, that Jesus is the one who died on that cross. The soldier, who came to break His legs, so that He might die more quickly, found Him dead (and on finding that, took a spear and drove it into the side of Jesus Christ). Jesus’ died as predicted by this prophecy in verse 8.

The beginning of verse 9 tells us that Jesus died with the wicked. Between two criminals, Jesus died. Was He guilty of anything? No, but he died with the wicked as prophesied 700 years earlier by Isaiah.

The middle of the verse reminds us that He was buried with the rich. Joseph or Arimathea, a wealthy man, begged the body of Jesus from Pilate and took it and buried the body in his own tomb, the tomb of a rich man. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the Suffering Servant being executed for our behalf, freeing us, healing us from condemnation.

IV. These are the actions, for which Jesus is honored. Jesus, the Suffering Servant is honored by God because He atoned for our crimes (53:10-12).

A. God honors Jesus with long life (53:10). The implications of the resurrection are not dealt with in this passage but Isaiah predicted that this Suffering Servant, who died for us criminals and was buried in the tomb of a rich man would see His seed. Now Jesus never married. How is it that He can see His seed? He must rise again from the dead and see men and women turn to Him for salvation. Those who trust Christ become the sons of God, by believing in His name. This is an honor that only God can offer. Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world, if He would only bow down to Him. He did not, however, and could not offer life. God honored Jesus with life, God raised Him from the dead.

B. God honors Jesus with a portion among the great (53:12). What portion did Jesus get? Hebrews 1 tells us exactly. It tells us that Jesus, “…when He had by Himself purged us from our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels has He said at any time, ‘You are my Son, this day have I begotten You…” Do you understand that Jesus does not sit on the right hand of God because He Himself is God but because He is being honored for dying on our behalf for our criminal acts. He atoned for our crimes and for that wise action, God has honored Jesus Christ in our behalf.

When Philip preached this passage to Philip, he asked about being baptized. Philip’s reply was simply this, do you believe? Do you believe that you are a criminal before God, deserving of death but that He was executed on your behalf and that through Him you can have spiritual healing, that is, be freed from the penalty of God? The eunuch answered, “Yes.” Philip then baptized Him as a testimony of His faith in Christ. This message is worthless to you if you do not believe it and follow Christ. Will you believe today?

NEXT WEEK: Zechariah 9:9-17 – The Coming King

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Comments»

1. Doris Ubala - June 15, 2012

This is amazing, and i give God the glory for making me see this truth today and be more enlighten in His death.


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