The Suffering Servant
Bible Reading: Isaiah 53
What an amazing passage of Scripture! Did you know the book of Isaiah was written in about 680 BC, about 700 years before Christ? That means that all of the things spoken of in this chapter, by God through the prophet Isaiah, were spoken centuries before they actually took place. In this chapter we find details related to the life, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus which were ultimately fulfilled to the letter. New Testament writers referred to this very chapter many times, either quoting from it directly or alluding to truths found there. Do you understand what this means? In the exactness of the seven-centuries-later fulfillment of its prophecies, this revealing chapter stands as dramatic evidence of the divine authorship of the Scriptures (Cf. 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21)!
Much is spoken of in this chapter, but we are going to focus upon one central truth. John MacArthur made this point: “The truth of this ancient prophecy and its fulfillment in Jesus Christ answers the most crucial, essential, critical question that can ever be asked by any human being. I’m going to pile up the adjectives on you. This passage answers the most significant question any person can ask, the primary question, the principle question, the most vital question, the most weighty question, the most serious question, the most monumental question, the paramount question…How can a sinner be made right with God so as to escape hell and enter heaven?”
So what is the answer? The words “iniquities” and “transgressions” are used repeatedly (Isaiah 53:5, 6, 8, 11, 12). The word iniquity signifies a punishable offense against God’s law. The word transgression has to do with deviation from the path of godly living. Both terms speak to the reality that we fail to measure up to God’s righteous standard. The fact we all have these iniquities and transgression is clarified in verse 8, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way.” That verse sounds much like Romans 3:23 which declares “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” These texts universally indict us all of being guilty of sin and because of that, deserving of God’s judgment (Cf. Romans 6:23).
Seven hundred years before Christ died on that cross, the prophet spoke to His atoning sacrifice. Note how God dealt, through Jesus, with our iniquities and transgressions. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities.” “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” “(He was) stricken for the transgression of my people.” “He shall bear their iniquities.” “(He was) numbered with the transgressors.” “He bore the sins of many.” The Bible uses the term atonement to speak of the way God’s wrath is appeased by means of a holy sacrifice to cover sin. We deserved God’s judgment, but in bearing our sins, Jesus satisfied the demands of God’s holiness so we can be forgiven. Salvation is by grace through faith, as we read in Romans 3:24-25, “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” It is as the hymn says: “Guilty, vile, and helpless we; spotless Lamb of God was He; Full atonement, can it be? Hallelujah, What a Savior!”
Lord Jesus, how we praise and thank You for Your atoning sacrifice! We were the ones bearing the guilt of our iniquities with no means of our own to assuage our debt. How incredible that You would enter into our sin-plagued world and bear our sins, suffering the punishment we deserved! Grant us grace that we will remain ever mindful of the great sacrifice You’ve made, that we might walk in a manner worthy of You.
What thou, my Lord, hast suffered
was all for sinners’ gain.
Mine, mine was the transgression,
but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
’Tis I deserve thy place.
Look on me with thy favor,
and grant to me thy grace.