The Coming Servant, Part 4: Isaiah 52.13-53.12 (4)
Pray Psalm 22.19-21.
But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me;
O My Strength, hasten to help Me!
Deliver Me from the sword,
My precious life from the power of the dog.
Save Me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!
Read Isaiah 53.7-9.
1. Why is the reference to a lamb significant here?
2. Why did the Servant have to undergo this terrible suffering?
We have said that Isaiah held out two spyglasses for the people of His day. The first was of the coming salvation of the Lord. Beginning with their captivity in Babylon, then the deliverance under Cyrus, the salvation and Kingdom which come with the Servant, and the new heavens and new earth beyond time, the people of Judah and Jerusalem received a telescopic glimpse into their future, which they were called to believe. Oh, what hope this must have engendered in the faithful of Israel!
Then we saw, through Isaiah’s other spyglass, a somewhat different picture, focusing, in the third length of the spyglass, on the suffering of the coming Servant. This must surely have puzzled the people of Isaiah’s day. How could the Servant be both King, Conqueror, and Sufferer at the same time? He would be like a Passover Lamb (v. 7) – innocent, pure, and devoted to sacrifice, that the angel of death might pass over the sins of God’s people and lead them into His salvation.
Without explaining the subtleties of this mystery, Isaiah presses more deeply into the suffering the Servant must endure. Oppression, affliction, stripping and shame, injustice, slaughter, death, and the grave: these are what the Servant comes to suffer, for the transgressions of God’s people (vv. 7, 8).
The sins of God’s people – and our sins included with theirs – are so vast, so abominable, that not even 70 years captivity in Babylon would put them away. Israel’s suffering for sin in Babylon is a type of the Servant’s suffering for the sins of God’s people – but only a type. No one ever suffered like the Servant of the Lord. Though He was completely innocent of any transgression, and thus merited being buried in a rich man’s tomb (v. 9), yet He was brutalized beyond recognition, so that God’s people might be saved.
Put these spyglasses together into a binocular, and you can see at once the story of the redemption which Jesus accomplished. He fulfilled all the righteousness of God, yet suffered more than the most abominable of sinners. And in so doing, He acquired the Kingdom of David and God, over which He now reigns unto righteousness, peace, and joy forever.
Jesus accepted the suffering appointed to Him as God’s will for the good of the world (v. 7). So we must accept the suffering and hardship that comes our way as we seek the Kingdom and righteousness of God (Matt. 6.33; Acts 14.22), looking to Jesus, to learn from Him how to keep focused on the coming joy, even in the midst of present difficulties (Heb. 12.1, 2).
1. Meditate on 2 Corinthians 5.21. How can you see that this verse simply restates what Isaiah prophesies in 53.7-9?
2. Meditate on Exodus 12.1-13. How does Isaiah evoke the Passover in these verses? How does Christ fulfill the Passover?
3. Paul says we must share in Christ’s sufferings (Phil. 1.29, 30)? Why? In what ways?
Receiving the sufferings due to us, [Christ] made them his own and so from a standpoint of faith it is said that he became a curse for us himself. Theodore of Heraclea (d. ca. 355 AD), Fragments on Isaiah
You suffered for me, Lord; strengthen me to suffer for You today as I…
Pray Psalm 22.14-21.
Let these verses immerse you in the physical suffering Jesus underwent as He bore our sins in His body on the cross. Weep for your sins, and rejoice in the forgiveness and salvation of the Lord.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 22.12-18 (St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
Like raging bulls they bellowed, like lions set to feast.
Each gaping mouth raged loudly like an all-consuming beast.
Like water slipped His life away, disjointed hanged He high;
His tongue clung to His jaws as He prepared His heart to die.
His foes, like dogs around Him, with glee did gloat and stare.
They pierced His hands and feet; they stole the garments He did wear.
Though not a bone was broken as He promised in His Word,
Yet, wounded for our sins, thus died creation’s sov’reign Lord.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).