Monday, December 20, 2021

The Coming Messiah 2: Man of Sorrows, Savior Sacrificed - Isaiah 53

The Coming Messiah 2: Man of Sorrows, Savior Sacrificed - Isaiah 53

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The book of Isaiah contains more Messianic prophecies than in any other prophetic book. Merrill Unger says, “Every glory of our Lord and every aspect of His life on the earth are set forth in this great evangelical prophecy.” During this time of the year, we think of passages like Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Or Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called wonderful Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Those prophecies are about the birth of Christ, His first coming or the first advent, but most of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies aren’t about His birth but are actually about his death. Such is our text today in chapter 53. This is one of the most famous of all of Isaiah’s prophecies, not only for its incredible accuracy in foretelling the coming Messiah, but in its tragic and beautiful prose. It is an example of powerful, sweeping, glorious literature at its best.

Isaiah speaks of the coming of Christ more than any other Old Testament prophet. Most of these prophecies abound in chapters 49- 66 which is a collection of prophecies and sermons that has been labeled the “Book of Consolation.”

Outline of Isaiah

I. Condemnation (1–39) (The defeat of Assyria)
II. Consolation (40–66) (The remnant returns home)
A. God’s Greatness (40–48)
B. God’s Grace (49–57)
C. God’s Glory (58–66) – Wiersbe

Isaiah had an intimate and awe filled relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Isaiah knows God not only as the God who called a people after his own name and gave them a promised land, but also as the God who appeared to him in the Temple in Isaiah 6:5, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

He was visited time and time again by God after that vision in the Temple and was shown the future in all its sin and sorrow but also in all its hope and glory. Isaiah saw some of the most detailed and powerful visions that God every showed one of his prophets. Most powerful and crucial of the visions is the one that Isaiah sees of The Servant of God. The servant who would be given for the ransom and redemption of mankind’s sin.

Isaiah’s vision in chapter 6 gives us a date for his ministry, King Uzziah died in 750 BC. The rest of Isaiah ministry stretched until just past 700 BC. Jewish tradition tells us that he was killed my Uzziah son, Manasseh. Some accounts claim he was placed in a hollow log and then saw in two. If we take 720 BC as the date for the Servant vision, and we use 33 AD as the date for the death of Jesus Christ, then the vision of the Suffering Servant from Isaiah 53 takes place 750 years before the actual event on Mount Calvary.

And yet, here is the remarkable, miraculous thing, if you were reading Isaiah 53 for the first time outside of its context in the Old Testament, you would think it was actually a firsthand account of the Crucifixion.

One preacher, John MacArthur said, “It has been called by some scholars in the past, “The Fifth Gospel.” The Fifth Gospel, to be added to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  It was Augustine who said way back in the fifth century, “It is not a prophecy, it is a gospel.”  It was Polycarp, the student and friend of the apostle John who called this section of Scripture “The Golden Passional of the Old Testament. A couple of German scholars writing in 1866 said, “It looks as if it had been written beneath the cross of Golgotha.”  “This chapter is the most central, the deepest and the loftiest thing that Old Testament prophecy, outstripping itself, has ever achieved,”

In at least ten places, New Testament writers identify Jesus as the suffering servant. In fact, it is Isaiah 53 that Philip uses to share the Gospel with the Ethiopian official who was reading it in his chariot as he left Jerusalem in Acts 8.

We are going to consider the Messianic Prophecy of Isaiah 53 with the fulfillments of those prophecies in the New Testament, over 750 years later. This should do several things for us as Christians and for anyone who is not a Christian. First it shows the omniscience of God, who could read the future as though it were already history, and if fact Isaiah 53 is written in the past tense. Secondly, it should show us that God has always had a plan for redeeming and saving His fallen creature, man. God was not taken by surprise when Adam and Eve sinned. He knew it would happen and already had a plan, a person and a place by which he would save that which was lost. Thirdly, by comparing the prophecies with the fulfillment we can see the saviors love for us, a love that stretched from eternity past to eternity future and was played out through the prophecy of the Old Testament and the passion of the New Testament.

Transition: The prophecy of the servant actually begins not in Isaiah 53:1 but in chapter 52:13

Servant – Isaiah 52:13-15

Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

 The Scarred Servant

Isaiah sees a vision of The Servant of God. The Servant will be exalted, honored and lifted up by God, but first he will be disfigured, beaten and scarred.

This is the fourth specific prophecy about the servant.  The first is in chapter 42, second in chapter 49, third in chapter 50:4 - 11.  And Isaiah 52:13 – 53 is the fourth of Isaiah’s “Servant Songs” or prophecies.

God tells Isaiah, “My ebed, My slave, shall be exalted and brought high after being brought low by being cruelly beaten and abused. Beaten and abused so much so that the scripture says, his visage, his appearance was marred more than any man.

In Matthew 26:67-68, 750 years later we read not prophecy but history, Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

Matthew 27:29-30 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

Jesus’ beating and the marring of his body and face were severe but the greatest blows were not from the hands of the Sanhedrin or the Roman soldiers but the buffeting and beating that was delivered to him by the rod of our sin. The physical beating was the outward show of what was also happening to Jesus as He took the punishment of our sin upon Himself and suffered in our place, paying the price for our sin.

In these songs of prophecy about the servant, we hear God give an answer to Isaiah, to the people of Israel and to us. It is the answer to the question, how can Israel be redeemed, how can sinful man be reconciled to a holy God. The answer is found here in Isaiah 53 and throughout the book of Romans. It is stated clearly here in Romans 3:21-26 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

God’s plan for man’s redemption could only be achieved through the suffering of The Servant, the man Jesus the Messiah. Man can be reconciled and redeemed because the Servant of Jehovah will became the substitute for us. He will suffer the judgment of God in the condemned man’s place. There can be no hope of peace with God, no hope of cleansing from sin, no hope of eternity in heaven without the suffering servant, the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of God our Lord and Savior.

There is more we can look at in this opening passage such as vs. 15, So shall he sprinkle many nations. Prophesying either salvation or shock to the Gentiles who will also see the Coming Messiah. But now let’s look at the first verse of Isaiah 53 and remember to keep it connected to the prophecy of the Suffering and Scarred Servant.


Sorrow – Isaiah 53:1-3

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Man of Sorrows

Now Isaiah shows us not just the outward, physical appearance of the Servant, but the inner sorrow of the man. He begins but telling us that in spite of His life of service and the scriptures that have been given, when the servant comes He will be rejected.

In a sense Isaiah is asking this question, “Who has believed what we have heard? And who has opened their eyes to see the power of God? The asking of the question means that Isaiah is surprised because they are not accepting God’s word.

This is the same realization the apostles come to. That the people to whom the Messiah was sent, did not accept Him, they rejected the Word of God as he stood before them. In John 12:38-41 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

Paul echoing this again in Romans 10:16-17 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. That famous phrase faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, is based on the prophecy of Isaiah 53.

Isaiah uses several descriptions of the Coming Messiah.

He would grow up before God as a tender plant. Telling of his early life, where he would be protected like a tender plant. He would be like a root from dry ground. Spring up where He was not expected and should not have been. He has nothing that would give Him a natural attraction, no stately form or splendor. He would not be a king, a noble, rich or powerful when He comes.

Now Isaiah speak himself, for all Israel and all of us and says, “He is despised and rejected. A Man of Sorrows, well acquainted with grief. Though God would honor his suffering servant, Isaiah says we esteemed him not. In fact, we hid our faces from him. Unable to face what our sins have cost our savior.

Hymn: Man of Sorrows – Phillip Bliss

1 Man of sorrows what a name
for the Son of God, who came
ruined sinners to reclaim:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

2 Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
in my place condemned he stood,
sealed my pardon with his blood:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

3 Guilty, helpless, lost were we;
blameless Lamb of God was he,
sacrificed to set us free:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

4 He was lifted up to die;
"It is finished" was his cry;
now in heaven exalted high:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

From the shameful refusal to even look upon the One who is bearing our sin, Isaiah in a truly beautiful transition turns our downward faces upward to look upon the Suffering Savior. And as we lift our eyes we in the vision of Isaiah realize… but…

Suffering – Isaiah 53:4-6

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The Suffering Servant

This is the entire Gospel in only 3 verses and it’s found here in the Old Testament. Here is the life and ministry of Christ. His healing of the sick, His bearing our burden of sorrow, His wounding, literally in the Hebrew, piercing, for our transgression against the Law, His bruising, in the Hebrew His crushing, for our iniquities.

The disciple Matthew saw Isaiah’s prophecy fulfilled before his eyes and wrote about it in his gospel chapter 8:14-17 And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

Much later Peter writing his first epistle but the prophecy together to encourage the persecuted believers in 1 Peter 2:21-25 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

And Paul puts it succinctly in 2 Corinthians 5:21 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Evangelist leaving on a train

There is a story of A man who attended a revival preached by one of the great evangelists of the 19th century. He fell under conviction but did not accept Jesus as His savior, but so deep was his conviction that he went and waited at the trains station where he knew the evangelist was departing from to return home.

He found the evangelist, but he was already boarding the train as it was starting to leave. In desperation the man called out, “Please tell me what to do!” Know he had no time to spare the evangelist shouted back, “Read Isaiah 53 verse 6, Come in at the first all and then go out at the second.” The man had no idea what the preacher was talking about but went home found his Bible and read the verse. Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He then thought about it, All we like sheep have gone astray. He certainly could come in at that all for he knew he was a sinful man in his and God’s eyes. Then he read, the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” And with tears in his eyes he closed his Bible bowed his head and went out with all those who realize that the suffering servant, the man of sorrows took all our sins and paid the price for all of us.

There it is, the Gospel, distilled into one verse as clear and beautiful as John 3:16

I’m going to cover quickly the last two sections of this gospel prophecy. There is simply too much here for just one sermon, but I don’t want to just stop without at least reading and highlighting the remaining verses.

Next in Isaiah’s vision we see the “Sacrificed Savior”


Sacrifice – Isaiah 53:7-9

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 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 was he stricken. And he made 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.

The Silent Savior

Here Isaiah sees detail that can only be explained in the light of supernatural revelation. Only an all-knowing God could have given such insight to Isaiah 750 years before the actual event.

Isaiah points out 3 things: The Savior would not defend himself. The savior would be taken to prison and judge and the savior would die on behalf of others and his death would associate Him with both the wicked and the rich. It almost reads like a riddle; how can these disparate things all be true.

Yet this is exactly what happened when Jesus was tried and crucified. In Matthew 26:63 in reads, But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

In Mark 14:61 But he held his peace and answered nothing. Again, the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?

John 19:9 And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.

In Matthew 27:38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

Matthew 27:57-60 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed

In fact, this exact passage was what the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading when Phillip ran up alongside the chariot. Acts 8:30-33 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. -- The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

How could Isaiah know such small but critical details? He could only know by hearing the voice of the omniscient God of Creation. God who planned for mankind’s redemption and put His servant at the exact intersection of that time and place.

We can’t close until we read the last few verses, because in them we see the full plan of God and the full price of our redemption.

Soul – Isaiah 53:10-12

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many. for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore, will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong. because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors. and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

The Sin Offering

Can you see it there, especially in verses 10 and 11? He, God, makes the soul, the life of the savior, an offering for sin. When God sees the travail, the suffering, the anguish of His own Servant Son, then He will be satisfied because the Sin Offering will have been paid even at such a terrible but necessary price. God says, “My righteous servant shall justify man, for he bears their iniquities, and with his shed blood, he made intercession for the transgressors.”

Listen to the way the beloved apostle, John said it n 1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation, the payment, the price, the covering over) for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.


What else can be said? Isaiah said it all, hundreds of years before Jesus came. The Jewish nation and the Jewish leaders missed it. They did not believe Isaiah and they rejected their Messiah in His first coming.

I wonder this Christmas season as we celebrate the holiday if we might also miss it? Do we hear Isaiah’s report? Do we see his vision? Do we understand that Jesus death and suffering was the price paid for our sin and only by that price will God in his holiness and judgment be satisfied? We do no more than come in at the first all have sinned and come out at the second all our sin laid on him.


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