Jesus, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53

August 8, 2013 at 11:35 AM 2 comments

Jesus, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53

suffering-servantLast night, I led a study of Isaiah 52:13 – 53 and as usual, there are some phenomenal sections of this portion of Scripture. Too often, we are in too much of a hurry to notice them or allow the Holy Spirit to bring these truths to our minds.

Verse 13 of chapter 52 begins the portion of Isaiah that deals with the Suffering Servant. For generations, Jewish sages taught that this section referred to the coming Messiah. Around AD 1,000, a man by the name of Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi) began teaching that this portion of Scripture actually referenced the nation of Israel. Arnold Fruchtenbaum noted, “To interpret Isaiah 53 as speaking of Messiah is not non-Jewish. In fact, if we are to speak of the traditional Jewish interpretation, it would be that the passage speaks of the Messiah. The first one to expound the view that this referred to Israel rather than the Messiah was Shlomoh Yizchaki, better known as Rashi (c. 1040-1105). He was followed by David Kimchi (1160-1235). But this was to go contrary to all rabbinic teaching of that day and of the preceding one thousand years. Today, Rashi’s view has become dominant in Jewish and rabbinic theology. But that is not the Jewish view. Nor is it the traditional Jewish view. Those closer to the time of the original writings, and who had less contact with the Christian apologists, interpreted it as speaking of the Messiah.”

I think when read in its entirety, it is difficult (if not impossible) to assign the identity of the servant picture in the text to the nation of Israel. It simply doesn’t fit because of numerous problems. I view this section as applying to the Messiah and the Messiah is Jesus. These verses leading up to chapter 53 strikes a contrasting note in just several verses.

It begins with a declaration that “…My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.” The text then tells us what will befall the Servant before He is “greatly exalted.” The text speaks of how His form will be more marred than any other man. He will be beaten beyond recognition, in other words, and this is what happened with Jesus prior to His crucifixion. He was not only lashed repeatedly, but beaten about the face, spit upon, and a crown of thorns fitted on His forehead.

What many fail to understand is how abjectly brutal the Roman soldiers were and it is what they lived for because that was their career. They intimidated, beat, traumatized, and literally put fear into the hearts of the people. Think police state times ten. When they slapped Jesus around, yes, they did it with an open hand (a sign of contempt, pointing out that the person being hit was not the soldier’s equal). They hit hard. If they broke a person’s jaw, oh well. The Scripture tells us that no bones of Jesus were broken, yet it is very clear that the beating He received took its toll on Him.

When they publicly whipped Him, most likely, one Roman soldier stood on each side of Jesus and they simply took turns raining down blows across his back, buttocks, things and calves. They did this until they either grew bored or tired. There was no set number of lashes. If they felt particularly brutal one day, they would keep going.

The text paints a very brutal picture of what Jesus went through and He did it all because of His tremendous love for us. His shed blood covered our sin, for those who, through faith, believe in His finished work.

I particularly like the text of verse 15. “Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; For what had not been told them they will see, And what they had not heard they will understand.”

This is an amazing verse! He will “sprinkle” many nations. The people from all corners of the world will enjoy eternal life because of their exercised faith in His finished work. The kings will shut their mouths because of Jesus. Think of a person who is so terrified to say anything that they place both hands over their mouth so that nothing can inadvertently come out. These kings are so taken back that they are nearly in shock. They are beside themselves in abject fear and they should be! The truth that they never heard or understood will finally become plain to them. It will shock them to their very core.

Another thing I deeply appreciate about this section of text is found in chapter 53. In verse three says, “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”

Jesus’ life was not a primrose path. He knew what true sorrow was all about. He was too familiar with grief. He understood rejection and He knew what it felt like. It was normal for Him.

Here was the God/Man, who was perfect in every way and without sin. Yet, He lived around people who were the exact opposite, who sinned daily and most of the time, did not even realize it! Jesus saw when they rebuffed God. He noticed when they simply went through the motions of worship with an empty heart. He saw when they rejected His truth. He understood better than anyone how people live under a false cloak of righteousness. All of it grieved Him terribly.

On top of it, He was often the object of people’s ridicule and rejection. Yet, in spite of these things, He continued to love because while He hated sin, He was unable to hate the sinner. In fact, He became sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, (2 Corinthians 5:21).

He offered Himself as sin. God the Father looked at God the Son as if the Son had literally sinned though He did not. He did this because He is love. It was this same love that prompted Jesus to obey the Father in all things.

Jesus, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. He came, He lived, He died in order that you might find salvation in Him.

Entry filed under: Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: .

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  • 1. Sherry  |  August 15, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    Thank You, Jesus~
    ( (oh! how woefully inadequet my thanks is compared to His love and what He suffered in my stead!)


    • 2. modres  |  August 15, 2013 at 7:39 PM



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