The Old Testament Gospel — Isaiah 53-55

There are great passages that I love and have committed to memory, but this one is almost like holy ground to me. In twelve verses the essence of the Gospel is told, and it does this so beautifully that it moves me every time — chapter 53, the Suffering Servant. There’s so much here that I don’t want to miss in this passage, that I’ll do this one a little differently. We’ll get back to a normal form next time. But in meantime, let this passage move you.

“Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? Who would possibly have guessed God’s great plan. It was counter-intuitive; it seemed impossible; and it is possibly the reason why so many of God’s people rejected Jesus and God’s plan. They expected a completely different Messiah, and when Jesus didn’t fit that image, they rejected Him. There’s a lesson for us here: it is God’s plan, not ours, that will count. It includes faith in Jesus (and no one else), repentance of sin (by God’s definition, not man’s), confession of Jesus as the Son of God, and baptism (immersion in water) in Jesus’ name for forgiveness of sin.  

For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; Unknown, unregarded, and barely noticeable. The “root of David” was considered to be “dead” from the perspective of prominence. The Messiah would be as unnoticed as a little shoot off a dry root.

He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. The Jewish expectation was of a stately looking king. But as in the story of the anointing of David, God isn’t interested in exteriors, but in interiors — what’s inside.

He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. The Messiah was not going to be coming on a white steed with the nation bowing down humbly before Him. Instead dishonor and contempt awaited Him. 

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. The poverty, the disgrace of His birth, the opposition of the religious leaders — all of them convinced many that His condemnation and suffering were the result of God’s judgment.

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. But in a cosmically ironic twist, His death was for OUR benefit — pierced for US, crushed for US, chastened for US, scourged for US. 

All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; Paul put it this way, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23, NAS95.

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. Because of Jesus’ willingness to offer Himself, because He would be innocent and not in need of paying for His own sins, He became the perfect substitute — the LORD causes the iniquity of US ALL to fall like millions and millions of tons of horrific anvils — on Him

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. The Messiah would not defend Himself, like a lamb led to slaughter. The high priest, the Sanhedrin, and even Pilate were all amazed with Jesus’ refusal to defend Himself. This is something that only a person who is deliberately dying for another would do. 

By oppression and judgment He was taken away; The Messiah would not be punished by righteous and fair judgment. Jesus was not.

And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? The people of His day would never guess the ultimate reason for the Messiah’s death on the cross. Those who wagged their heads at Jesus on the cross were eligible to receive pardon by the very death that they taunted.

His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. It was naturally assumed that Jesus would receive a criminal’s burial. He was, after all, traded for Barabbas, condemned by lawful authorities, and crucified between thieves. But instead, He was improbably buried in a rich man’s tomb, because of His sinless and godly life.

But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16, NAS95.

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, The Messiah would offer Himself for the salvation of mankind, and His reward would be His resurrection, obliquely referenced here.

And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; The LORD’s desire for mankind as been, since the first day of sin, to save rather than condemn mankind. The difficulty has always been the rightful demands of the LORD’s justice. The Messiah would satisfy the justice of the LORD upon a sinful mankind; the New Testament word is propitiation. Jesus successfully and heroically accomplished the great will of God.

By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. The Messiah, Jesus, would know about righteousness, sin, Satan’s schemes, and what it took to rescue a fallen mankind — a substitutionary offering of Himself.

Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; The LORD’s allotment of a portion with the great speaks to the exaltation and rightful praise of the Messiah. The division of plunder is done with those who are the valiant and the victors — and the exaltation and victory is done paradoxically by pouring Himself out to death and allowing Himself to be numbered with sinners — considered one. 

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:1-12, NAS95. A substitution and intercessor.

See you tomorrow, Lord willing.

About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the Rock Hill church of Christ in Frisco TX where I've worked since 2020. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, and the Lord's church.
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