The Suffering Servant King – Isaiah 53

After laying out many of the divine qualities and attributes of the coming Messiah, (or Christ in Greek), the prophet Isaiah begins to tell us that this Servant King must also experience extreme suffering on our behalf.

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Here is a man who will carry all the sin, faithlessness, brokenness, and moral failure of the world upon His shoulders, placed on Him by the Lord, God the Father.  He will experience the painful punishment that we deserve for our shortcomings, taking it all Himself in our place.

The focus and object of these words of Isaiah would be fulfilled many centuries later in the person of Jesus Christ.

When we see Him battered beyond recognition, carrying a wooden cross up to Calvary, we might assume it is because of something seriously wrong that He did.  But He was an innocent Lamb, a volunteer hero, who carried our griefs and sorrows to remove them from us.  Our eternal judgement for a life filled with selfish, hurtful words and faithless acts was then able to pass over us and be taken away forever.  We are now able to experience peace and healing in our lives because he took the lash to His own back, leaving stripes plainly visible to all.

One time, after Jesus’ disciples had seen Him perform countless miracles day after day, He asked them, “Who do men say that I am?”

The popular opinion was that Jesus was some kind of prophet, perhaps the return of Elijah, John the Baptist, or Jeremiah, another prophet we will look at soon.

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 16:15-17 NKJV

Jesus then began to explain to them that He was on the road to the cross to carry out the divine mission of saving the world through His own suffering.  He told them that He must be wounded and die, buried, then raised from the dead on the third day.

Peter was appalled and tried to stop Jesus from going forward with God’s plan.  Satan himself had also tried to stop Him in the desert, offering an easier, softer way to kingship through Satan’s plan rather than through the Father’s.  But Jesus rebuked them both, turning aside the temptation to bypass the cross because that was the only way that you and I would be able to spend eternity with Him.  Without the shedding of His innocent blood, there was no remission for our sin.  Sinful man cannot dwell in the presence of a Holy God – the sin must be removed first, no matter the cost.  And for both Jesus and the Father, the cost was unthinkably high, only exceeded by God’s great love for us.

How God loves us!  People sometimes feel rejected and forgotten by God, but it is quite the other way around.  He came to suffer for us and knows the very number of hairs on our head (past and present).  He loves us, including you, and longs for all to turn to Him to receive His generous offer of eternal joy and freedom, provided at Christ’s great expense.

Reflection

It has been said that “grace” is an acronym for God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  Have you experienced these riches?  It is not too late to turn to Him to receive a complete cleansing, not matter where you have been or what you have done.  His sacrifice is more than sufficient to cover it.

Lord Jesus, thank You for suffering and dying for me.  I will never fully appreciate just how much You and the Father both went through, and how much You really do love me.  Help me to love You back and to follow You.  Change my heart through the presence of Your Holy Spirit and grant me peace and love to share with others.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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