Let’s read the Bible passage first:
I want to read Isaiah 52:13-53:12: listen to the connection to the crucifixion of our Savior:
See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him—
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond human likeness—
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.
53 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
When I was in seminary I was given an image of Scripture as a rose. Actually, this image is for Scripture and all of God’s revelation to us. Now, the revelation is developed. In the Scriptures the revelation was developing. You see, today we view the Scriptures looking backwards. We view the Scriptures complete. In addition to that we have close to two thousand years of Theology built on the Scriptures. As the rose grows and forms people are realizing more about who God is and His plan of salvation.
So, if we imagine a rose:
• The roots of the rose would be the only Scripture or Revelation from God that Adam and Eve might have understood.
• The stem of the rose would be Abraham- Moses.
• We would see the early leaves developing and those are the prophets.
• We would see another few leaves being the intertestamental period. There was a lot that happened then.
• We would see another leaf being Jesus’ death and resurrection.
o As this is happening the people are realizing more about who God is and God’s plan of salvation.
• Then there are some more leaves and those are the Apostles.
• Finally we have the Rose start to bud and would the New Testament canon, the Trinity, the church Fathers.
o As all of this happened the people really began to understand more about the character of God and His plan of salvation.
• Now we finally have the flow.
We can look back and we view the Scriptures with this understanding. We view the Scriptures with the understanding of what God has done for our salvation. We view the Scriptures with the doctrine of the Trinity complete. They did not understand that in the Old Testament. But when we read the Old Testament we do so with an understanding of the cross.
So, that brings us to such an important passage as Isaiah 53. We view the passage looking backwards. I read the passage, now listen to Romans 5:6-8 showing how Jesus fulfilled this passage.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This passage is such an awesome passage and so begins a series on our awesome salvation. This passage was prophesied 700 years before Christ. We will focus on Isaiah 53:5 today.
As talk about the passage and its fulfillment there are three responses:
1. Be encouraged
2. Accept the message
3. Respond to the message in commitment
Sheldon Vanauken was a student of the English professor and Christian apologist C. S. Lewis in the early 1950s. He recounts in his book A Severe Mercy the story of his last meeting with his mentor when Vanauken was leaving Oxford for the United States. Over one final lunch together at a pub, they had spent time wondering aloud about the nature of life after death. When they had finished eating, they stood outside of the pub, talked for a few more minutes, and just before parting ways, Lewis said to Vanauken, “I shan’t say goodbye. We’ll meet again.” The great apologist then plunged into the traffic to cross the street while Vanuaken watched his friend walk away. When Lewis got to the other side of the street, he turned around, anticipating that his friend would still be standing there. With a grin on his face, Lewis shouted over the great roar of cars, “Besides—Christians never say goodbye.” [Eternity]
Let’s look at verse 5 of Isaiah 53.
I. As I look at this verse, I will be encouraged by Isaiah 53:5 and Romans 5:6-8.
a. This passage is encouraging becomes it shows our great salvation. But alongside that, this passage is encouraging in my faith.
b. I am sure that many of you are like me and have doubts in your faith occasionally. Anytime I have doubts I am reminded of passages like this. Can you believe the passage was written over 700 years prior to Jesus while the Northern Kingdom of Israel was following apart. Yet, this is striking about the Messiah.
c. The passage is even written in the past tense. Starting in chapter 52:14 Isaiah switched from the future tense to the past tense.
d. This, to me, comes off as God knowing what was to happen. This comes off as God knowing that His plan of salvation was in place.
e. Listen we sinned, we messed up, we missed God’s perfect standard, but as devastating as God’s plan was on Jesus, it was planned to fulfill God’s purpose. It was taken care of. There was no emergency in Heaven. This did not catch God by surprise. Amen? This is awesome.
f. We worship God as He is Worthy, He was slain for us, Amen?
g. Here long before the event, God speaks to Isaiah and Isaiah writes this as if it were already done, complete.
h. So, be encouraged because God had a perfect plan and it was laid out 700 years prior to the plan.
i. Then be encouraged by God’s grace. I did nothing for my salvation and I could not do anything for my salvation. That is what this is showing.
j. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by grace and not by works so that no one can boast. This passage says nothing at all about what we must do for salvation, there is nothing that we can do.
k. Verse 5 says: He was pierced for our transgression.
i. Transgression is one word for sin. It means to cross a moral or Divine law.
ii. Pierced, this is the idea that Jesus was pierced in multiple ways on the cross.
l. Verse 5 continues: He was crushed for our iniquities.
i. An iniquity is a gross behavior.
ii. Jesus was crushed for our iniquities.
iii. I can think of multiple ways. One is the suffering on the cross and another is the suffering from God the Father as Jesus took the wrath of God upon Himself.
m. Verse 5: We needed punished for peace [between us and God] but that punishment went on Jesus.
n. Verse 5: We are healed by His wounds. Amen!
o. Be encouraged because the salvation is taken care of by Him.
I read the following: [set up, I once heard]
In May 2009, my family was in Azusa, California, because one of our kids was graduating from Azusa Pacific University. My wife, Nancy, was going to speak at the commencement ceremonies, so she and I were invited to a special gathering of about 50 people—people from the graduating class of 50 years ago and a few faculty members. During the gathering, John Wallace, the president of APU, brought out three students who were graduating that year and told us that for the next two years, they were going to serve the poorest of the poor in India.
These three students thought they were there just to be commissioned and sent out with a blessing—which they were. But then something happened that they did not know was coming. John turned to them and said, “I have a piece of news for you. There’s somebody you do not know—an anonymous donor—who is so moved by what you’re doing that he has given a gift to this university in your name, on your behalf.”
John turned to the first student and said, “You are forgiven your debt of $105,000.” The kid immediately starts to cry. John turns to the next student: “You’re forgiven your debt of $70,000.” He then turns to the third student: “You are forgiven your debt of $130,000.” All three students had no idea this was coming. They were just ambushed by grace—blown away that somebody they don’t even know would pay their debt. The whole room was in tears.
II. As I read this I realize that I must accept the message.
a. This message is different.
b. I cannot earn salvation but I must believe the message. I must trust.
c. John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting live.
d. Best way to illustrate this is with an example that I heard about.
When I was five-years-old, I first fully understood the message of these words:
He sees you when you’re sleeping,
He knows if you’re awake,
He knows if you’ve been bad or good,
So be good for goodness’ sake!
Until that moment, I had lived in this childhood bliss, in which Christmas was the best day of the year. I had always believed that the gifts at Christmastime were there because Christmas always came with gifts. You could count on them. But now I painfully understood that if I wanted any gifts at Christmas, I had to be good. It was all riding on me. There was this all-seeing, all-knowing Santa, and if there was going to be any gifts, I had better shape up.
But then I thought, How good is “good”? Can a person be “pretty good”? Does Santa understand that I have a twin brother, so I have more reasons to be provoked than other kids? It was all so worrisome to me.
I grew up a little more and went on to elementary school. In the fourth grade, when I was 9, I continued to learn that all the good stuff in life depends on my effort. We had a reading program called SRA. Here’s how it worked: There was a giant box of color-coded cards on the side of the classroom. You went and got one of the cards in the front of the box, read what was on it, and then answered questions about what you’d read. If you got most of the answers right, you moved up to the next highest color—red, yellow, blue, and if you were good enough and worked hard enough, you reached exotic colors, like magenta.
Moving up in SRA was all we cared about, because if you were still on one of the lower-level colors—red or yellow—you were a loser. Everybody’s goal was to move up—to work really hard and reach the ultimate pinnacle of fourth-grade glory: aquamarine. But if you wanted the glory, you had to hustle. We would literally run from our desks to the box. No pain, no gain! You had to be good enough, to work hard enough.
I grew up a little more. I was 14-years-old, and a friend invited me to a meeting after school called Campus Life. There was a guy there who had a beard, which automatically made him cool. He also had a guitar, which made him even cooler. He started saying stuff I’d never heard before. He said that if you wanted the good stuff from God—stuff like peace and forgiveness and the Holy Spirit—it didn’t work like Santa, where you had to be good or you got nothing but coal in your Christmas stocking. He pointed out that it didn’t work like SRA, where it all depended on your being smart enough and good enough and hustling enough. He said there was a thing called grace. God had decided to take all my sin, all my screw-ups, and forgive me. Grace had something to do with Jesus dying on the cross for me, and all I had to do was believe.
This man read from the Bible, which I hadn’t really ever read. He read that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him, will not perish, but have everlasting life.” This message was different from anything I’d heard before. It was not what I expected. It wasn’t all on me. It was all on him—on Jesus. That message was so freeing, that as I took it in, I almost started to cry. But I was a 14-year-old guy, and we didn’t do stuff like that. The next week, I thought, I better not go to that meeting again, because I almost started to cry last week, and I cannot be humiliated by breaking down in front of my friends. But I did go. And I did hear the message. And I did believe. And I experienced “amazing grace.”
III. Lastly, as I read this passage, I will commit to Christ, responding with Romans 12:1-2
a. Think about it. When we are faced with the amazing suffering of Christ, because of the amazing grace of Christ, is there any other response than commitment. We respond with Romans 12:1-2:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I read the following:
In his best-selling book The Reason for God, Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan, shares the story of a woman in his congregation who was learning how the grace extended to us through Christ’s work on the cross can actually be more challenging than religion. He writes:
Some years ago I met with a woman who began coming to church at Redeemer and had never before heard a distinction drawn between the gospel and religion [i.e. the distinction between grace and what is often a works-based righteousness]. She had always heard that God accepts us only if we are good enough. She said that the new message was scary. I asked why it was scary and she replied: If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with “rights”—I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by grace—then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.”
She understood the dynamic of grace and gratitude. If when you have lost all fear of punishment you also lose all incentive to live a good, unselfish life, then the only incentive you ever had to live a decent life was fear. This woman could see immediately that the wonderful-beyond-belief teaching of salvation by sheer grace had an edge to it. She knew that if she was a sinner saved by grace, she was (if anything) more subject to the sovereign Lordship of God. She knew that if Jesus really had done all this for her, she would not be her own. She would joyfully, gratefully belong to Jesus, who provided all this for her at infinite cost to himself.
In his book The Jesus Creed , Scot McKnight shares the moving story of Margaret Ault. When Margaret was just about to complete her Ph.D. at Duke, something unexpected—but quite welcomed—happened: she fell in love. She went on a date with a man named Hyung Goo Kim, and the proverbial sparks flew. But almost as quickly as the sparks became a fire, they were doused with water. Hyung Goo informed Margaret that he was HIV positive. Needless to say, Margaret was devastated. In her own words, “I’d just met someone I liked, and we were definitely not going to live happily ever after. I felt like I had been kicked in the gut by the biggest boot in the world.”
Still, she and Hyung Goo were married. In his book McKnight asks the question many of us would ask: “Why would anyone invite into the core of their being so much pain?” He then goes on to share that the answer unfolds in the rest of Margaret and Hyung Goo’s story. He writes:
When Margaret was in graduate school at Duke, she and Hyung Goo loved to walk in the Duke gardens, and so knowledgeable did they become of its plants that they “supervised construction” of a new project. They walked through each part of the garden routinely and had names for some of the ducks. In their last spring together, the garden seemed especially beautiful [to them].
Hyung Goo died in the fall and Margaret returned to the gardens in the spring where a memorial garden of roses was being constructed in his honor.
McKnight then points the reader to a series of quotations from Margaret’s book Sing Me to Heaven, where she reflects on the days she returned to the gardens. She writes:
Where peonies were promised, there were only the dead stumps of last year’s stalks; where day lilies were promised, there were unprepossessing tufts of foliage; where hostas were promised, there was nothing at all. And yet I know what lushness lay below the surface; those beds that were so brown and empty and, to the unknowing eye, so umpromising, would be full to bursting in a matter of months.
Is the whole world like this? Is this what it might be like to live in expectation, real expectation, of the resurrection?
Was not Hyung Goo’s and my life together like this? Empty and sere, and yet a seedbed of fullness and life for both of us. He died, and I was widowed; yet in his dying, we both were made alive.
After quoting Margaret’s words, McKnight concludes:
Where does she find strength to grip such faith and such hope? It is found in [her question]: Is the whole world like this?
The answer, “Yes, the whole world is like this: the whole world offers us tokens of new life beyond death and disasters.” It offers the promise of new life beyond the grave, a life of renewed love in the presence of God. Why? Because Jesus was raised from the dead.
1. Be encouraged
2. Accept the message
3. Respond to the message in commitment
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)