Isaiah 53: Sublime Revelation

To many Christians the world over, this is the most important and memorable chapter in the book of Isaiah. It is a wonder to read because it so perfectly encapsulates critical aspects of Jesus’s life. Written hundreds of years before Christ’s birth, death and resurrection, the details provided here are astounding because of their accuracy. Christ, the Man of sorrows, the suffering servant, died for everyone that has ever or will ever live.

Verses 1-6:

This passage begins with asking who believes these prophecies of God. Has anyone yet known the work of God? These are rhetorical questions that expect negative responses.

Christ is described as not being beautiful or desirable as a man. Indeed He will be rejected and hated by other men. He will know true and deep sorrow and man will not recognize His divinity.

Verses 4-6 relate to us the special relationship we have with Jesus as Christians. What He has done for us is given us the most valuable gift ever received. Because the sacrifices of the old law (bulls, goats, etc.) were insufficient to appease God’s wrath at our sin, a perfect sacrifice was needed. Jesus Christ, God’s Son was that perfect sacrifice because He was divine and He did not sin. Jesus was God walking the earth as a man, suffering and dying selflessly because He loved and wanted to save us. This passage in Hebrews communicates the message very effectively that Jesus is the sacrifice for the new covenant, and the means by which we are to be saved now:

“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” Hebrews 9:11-15

Despite Christ suffering and dying for us, many people thought His suffering was brought by God. But His wounds were for the sake of our sins and we are actually healed through His wounds. The “stripes” of Christ in verse 5 indicate the cuts and gashes on His back from being scourged. His perfect suffering nullifies our corruption and Christ bears the weight of all our sins.

Mankind was lost, scattered, a population of souls without an overseer. But after Jesus, we as sheep now have our Shepherd, Christ, who intercedes on our behalf to God so that we may be saved: “For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” I Peter 2:25

There is another passage in Hebrews that is helpful for this study. It explains how Jesus alone is our Priest, and how He intercedes, or is a mediator, on our behalf to God. Because of who Jesus is, His perfect sacrifice and the power of God, these things are possible: “But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.” Hebrews 7:24-28

To make this passage personal, some will read verses 4-6 and replace the pronouns “our,” “we,” and “us” with “my,” “I,” and “me.” Changing the Holy Word of God is not recommended in any case, but making the application of God’s message more powerful by applying it to our personal situation is.

Verses 7-12:

While all the Word of God is precious, it is difficult to read these verses and not feel that they are special. There is sublime revelation here that brings intimate details of Christ’s life to light. These details are such that no one could predict them without divine inspiration from God. After reading the passage, review some of the facts revealed (there is New Testament confirmation for each of these points):

– Humble sufferer

– Did not complain

– Unjustly judged

– Struck for the sins of others

– Killed

– Died with the wicked

– Buried with the wealthy

– Did no violence

– Did not lie

– Pleased God through suffering

– An offering for sin

– Progeny prolonged

– Justified many by His knowledge

– Bore the iniquities of many

– A portion with the great

– Victorious over Satan

– Died deliberately

– Stands with sinners

– Intercedes for sinners

The final verse of chapter 53 paints a grand picture of glory. Because Christ defeated Satan, He gets the spoils of spiritual blessings from God and He shares them with us. Jesus spoke about this in the book of Luke: “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.” Luke 11:21-22

Jesus’s victory over Satan is unquestionable. Jesus had to become a man and live and die sinlessly to defeat Satan. Christians that rightfully take the Lord’s Supper of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine have fellowship with Christ and enjoy the blessings of God’s grace that reach us through the blood of Jesus: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,” Hebrews 2:14

Christ’s sinless life, death, burial and resurrection are the fruition of God’s plan starting all the way back with Abraham (Genesis 17). One of the amazing things about it is that no one could ever have guessed how the plan would come to pass.

Today I encourage you to appreciate the magnitude of what God has done for us and how He completed it. Now all of the people who follow and obey Christ are God’s chosen people. God no longer restricts His blessings to a single nation; His grace is sufficient and available for all:

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29

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