Isaiah 52:13- 53:12
Introd. No one likes to suffer. Yet suffering is a part not only of our lives but on the entire world. Suffering is caused by many things: loss of some kind – disappointment – medical condition – emotional bankruptcy. We are familiar with suffering. We don’t like it. We try to avoid it.
The Easter season is the highlight of the Christian year because it forms the basis of our faith. Christ died for our sins and all who believe in Him have eternal life. For the next three weeks, we’ll be talking about this story.
We begin our journey in the prophecy of Isaiah. The book of Isaiah was written about 750 years before Christ was born. The theme of the book is a warning against disobedience but a promise that a coming Messiah will save his people from their sins. In these chapters we are given an eyewitness account of the suffering and death of the Messiah years before it occurs. Validation of authenticity of scripture.
When we talk about the Easter story, we are talking about the final days of Jesus life, his initiation of the Lord’s supper, his agony in Gethsemenae, his arrest, trial, crucifixion on the cross and three days later, his resurrection. In these events we find the purpose, the plan and the power of God being made evident to us.
It is a story of suffering. As we are exposed to this story whether by reading of it, seeing in depicted in a drama or visualizing it on screen such as mel Gibson’s passion of the Christ, it brings a boatload of emotions. It is uncomfortable. It makes us want to look away. It makes us ashamed – sometimes even to the point of tears It is not an experience we enjoy, it is one we must contemplate because of its significance.
Let’s read the story from Isaiah? Page 523 in Bibles in the pew. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he speaks as if it has already happened. Words are couched in the past tense. So we have to ask questions of the text:
How do we know this is Jesus he is talking about?
In John 12: 37-38 the apostle quotes from Isaiah 53 and tells us that despite all of the miracles that Jesus performed, some still didn’t believe.
In Acts 8: 32-35 there is a story of the Ethiopian eunuch that has traveled to Jerusalem to learn about the God of the Hebrews. As he is returning home, he is met by a disciple named Philip . . .reads part of this chapter 53 and the Eunuch asks: who is talking about: Philip replies: this man of sorrows name was Jesus.
In Romans 10:16-17 Paul is talking about how we can come to a salvation experience. He again quotes from Isaiah 53 that not all will believe but those who have faith will believe.
In the Protestant church especially we don’t like to emphasize the suffering of Jesus. The crosses we wear around our necks and display in our congregations are bare – they do not have the image of Jesus on them because Jesus is no longer on the cross. We like to emphasize the end of the story – the resurrection. We can’t rush by the passion week to get to Easter without pausing to remember the sacrifice of Christ for our sins. We can’t grow immune to his suffering for to ignore his suffering is to lessen the price he paid for our sins.
What did Jesus look like? 52:13-15; 53:2-2
There is no description of hair color or physical features. We know that he had a Jewish heritage and middle eastern features. Most cultures tend to picture him as being similar to their own heritage and that isn’t wrong because we want all people to identify with him.
Scriptures say: he will be raised and lifted up and his appearance will be so disfigured hard to recognize him as human. That makes me cringe. We don’t like to think about it – the film adaptation of the story is horrifying but it is true. Hanging on a cross is not pretty.
Some take 53:2 is saying that it wasn’t his physical appearance but his heart that attracted people to him.
Who believes this message? Vs. 1-2
Despite the incredible sufferings of Jesus, despite his sacrificial death, despite his marvelous resurrection, despite his universal appeal for salvation, there are still individuals who don’t believe it.
It’s a made up story – didn’t happen – didn’t come back from the grave. 2700 years ago, Isaiah knew there would still be people who wouldn’t believe. The real question is this: Do you believe it? If you believe it, it has great ramifications for your life.
Why did Jesus die? Vs. 4-6,8
These verses tell us why:
Our infirmities weakness
Our sorrows anguish/grief
Our transgressions overstepping the boundaries go beyond what the law allows morally revolting
Our iniquities lawlessness or wickedness
Do you see the word that keeps popping up there? It’s the word our not his. He’s talking about us. Vs. 6 says we are all guilty. The Lord laid the iniquity of us on him.
He was pure, innocent, and sinless be are the opposite of those things. The innocent took the blame for the guilty.
Vs. 6 says he doesn’t just take away sin; he takes it upon himself. Vs. 11 says his soul suffered not just his body. Having taken he blame for our crime; he accepted our punishment – he died for us.
Who are his descendants? Vs.8, 10
Since Jesus was a single man; if he died then there could be no descendants. Vs. 8 who can speak of them? But in verse 10 says though he dies he will see his offspring. How can that be?
The descendants of Jesus are spiritual descendants – you and I have the heritage of His faith; the blessings of being a part of his family and the hope of a future family reunion.
Why did he stay silent? Vs. 7
When he was on trial before Pilate; Matt. 27:14 says: “but Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge – to the great amazement of the governor.”
He didn’t defend himself. Do you know why? He would have had to lay the blame on us. Can you see Jesus saying: listen, I am innocent of all these charges but my followers – those that believe in me – are the guilty ones – you should really be crucifying them. When Jesus stayed silent, he was protecting your reputation, your name, your future. He took the blame and paid the price. He didn’t throw us under the bus.
Why did God do this?
It was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer – if that verse doesn’t make you tear up, you have never had children.
Listen, if there were an alternative way to God, Jesus would not have done what he did. If salvation could come any other way, you wouldn’t have seen Jesus dying on the cross. People want to invent their own methods of salvation. If you’re planning on going to God’s heaven, then you’d better play by God’s rules. You know what God said, “There is no other name, under heaven, whereby you must be saved.” When you stand before God one day, he’s going to want to know one thing: Did you bow your knee to Jesus?
Since all sin is against God, the forgiveness of sin must come from God.
The Lord made his life a guilt offering for our sin. Under the old covenant, there had to be a blood sacrifice to forgive sins because blood represents life and therefore for us to have life another life had to be sacrificed.
Jesus ended the sacrificial system once for all: Hebrews 10:14 it says: “because by one sacrifice, he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”
What are the benefits to me? Vs. 5
We receive peace and healing. Sin puts us at odds with God but forgiveness restores our peace with God. Sin is a disease not of the body but of the soul. By his wounds – the wounds not only of his body but of his soul we are healed spiritually.
How will I respond to this story?
I ought to love Jesus. Even if God never did another thing for me the rest of my life, he deserves my devotion because he has secured for my entrance into heaven. How can we not love someone who has sacrificed his all for us?
I ought to hate sin. Why? Because it was our sin that put Christ on the cross. So when we glorify and make light of sin, we are mocking Christ and his sacrifice. When we lower our standards below that of Gods word, we crucify again the son of God. When we laugh at sin, we belittle the cost of our victory. The cross teaches us that sin is not a trivial matter – it is a deadly virus.
I ought to tell others about my Savior
In II cor. 5:19 the scripture says: “For God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has give us to tell others.”
If someone died for you, wouldn’t you like to know it? Don’t they at least deserve to know about His love for them? None of us should be obnoxious, arrogant, or condescending in telling the story but shouldn’t we be willing to share the good news.
Right now at this moment people all over Pinellas County are sitting at home reading the paper with a cup of coffee oblivious to the fact of how much God loves them. Many people don’t have a clue what Jesus has done for them. They are wondering how they can maximize their time to squeeze out more happiness, pleasure and finances while ignoring the giver of every good and perfect gift.
God gives us a special observance to help us never forget the story. He knew us – knew we like to skip to the end and not remember the process. He knew the resurrection is more exciting than the cross. The beatitudes are more attractive than the brokenness of a body. He knew we would concentrate on the celebration more than the cup of suffering.
So he gave us a visual reminder. He took a piece of bread and said: this is my body – broken for you. He took a glass of wine and said: this is my blood – shed for you – as often as you do this; do it in remembrance of me.