Around Easter time you’ll often hear people bring up Isaiah 53. To many who read the Bible, Isaiah 53 is arguably one of the most graphic prophecies of what would come to happen to Jesus during his final hours, before being crucified at the hands of the Romans as demanded by the Jewish Sanhedrin.
To many, Isaiah 53 is also one of the most beautiful pictures of what our Lord was willing to go through for those who would come to accept the grace and forgiveness He offers through the cross.
For today’s devotion, I want to focus Isaiah 52:12 through to Isaiah 53:13. This section bears the heading of The Suffering and Glory of the Servant in the NIV translation.
Frankly, I could write a book on the significance and depth contained within these 16 verses. Don’t worry I’m not going to do that, rather I’m going to ask two questions and then give my thoughts on them.
Those two questions are:
1. Who is the servant that Isaiah is speaking about?
2. What is the significance of what this servant would do?
Let’s dive into those questions now.
1. Who is the Servant That Isaiah is Speaking About? Spoiler alert … the servant is Jesus Christ. Being transparent here, when you dive into the subject of Jesus at some point you will come across the claim that Isaiah 53 is referring to the nation of Israel, and not Jesus Christ. However, I would disagree with that conclusion, as it doesn’t seem to fit with the text. If we look at the description of what the servant would suffer, the passage tells us that He would be pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our sins, being oppressed and afflicted yet not opening His mouth, cut off from the land of the living, and assigned a grave with the wicked. All of this happening despite having done no violence and no deceit ever from coming from His mouth. The servant that Isaiah is speaking of, is somebody pure, somebody holy, somebody righteous. And not to be blunt, from all we’ve read in the Old Testament this year in our readings, does this description of being blameless before God really apply to the nation of Israel? I think it applies to Jesus alone. Nobody else in history can claim to have never sinned and have it stick. Therefore I don’t think we can claim that this servant is anybody but Jesus.
2. What is the Significance of What This Servant Would Do? Now to the significance of the suffering this servant would go through. The significance of this is something that I again feel cannot be stated strongly enough. What this portion of scripture shows us, is that this suffering is of the utmost significance. Isaiah tells us that the suffering will justify many and that bear their sins. Biblically speaking when we see the word justify we need to know that this is a legal term denoting making somebody innocent. So we’re getting an amazing picture of grace here. It’s our sins, our wrongdoings that the servant is taking upon Himself and through that suffering we will be deemed innocent before the true and living God. This passage is central to us coming to understand the extreme nature of the grace that God offers to us through Jesus Christ. What the servant goes through is graphic, it’s brutal, it can and should turn our stomachs a little bit. It’s vile stuff. Knowing this should hopefully lead us to a deep understanding of the significance of what Jesus did on the cross for us. Think about it, none of us deserves this gift, and it is a gift. In fact we deserve to be the ones to go through that suffering in eternity. However, because of God’s love for us, He chose to allow Jesus to make this sacrifice. Let’s take this gift as seriously as we should.
Today as we go into our day, let us remember the amazing sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross. Let’s remember the length Jesus was willing to go for us to have a relationship with God.
May God Bless the reading of His word.