We have been talking about the prophesies from Isaiah 53. Today we come to our last sermon on Isaiah 53. Next week we will look at a prophesy regarding the triumphal entry.
Many times I catch myself knowing that I cannot earn my way into Heaven but almost living as if I can. In other words, I pride myself in living the right life. That is good, but for what purpose? I must live the right and pure life for Jesus, not for me. Do I want my righteousness, which will not get me anywhere? Or, do I want Christ’s righteousness, which is free? I cannot have both. Mercedes is three years old. She wants both apple juice and chocolate milk in the morning. In fact she wants many things. She will think critically of many things. In fact, I do as well. I will weigh things critically in my head. I am not good at quick thinking. But this ought to be a “no brainer.” I need and ought to desire Jesus’ righteousness. Jesus freely gives me right standing with God.
Before we move on, listen to something I read from Ravi Zacharias regarding the cross:
Apologetics Study Bible:
I often think back with nostalgia to growing up in India and the late-night conversations we would have about a Hindu play or some event that featured Hindu thought. Now, through the lens of Jesus Christ, I have learned to see how deep-seated culture and religion can be and how only the power of the Holy Spirit can reveal the error of an ingrained way of thinking. Consequently, whenever we speak with someone from another faith, it is essential to remember that we must not attempt to tear down another’s belief system but rather to reveal the hungers of the human heart and the unique way in which Christ addresses them.
For the Hindu, karma—the moral law of cause-and-effect—is a life-defining concept. Life carries its moral bills, and they are paid in the cyclical pattern of rebirth until all dues are paid in full. Hinduism here conveys an inherited sense of wrong, which is lived out in the next life, in vegetable, animal, or human form. This doctrine is nonnegotiable in Hindu philosophy. Repercussions of fatalism (that is, whatever happens will happen) and the indifference to the plight of others are inescapable but are dismissed by philosophical platitudes that do not weigh out the consequences of such reasoning. Thus it is key to bear in mind that although karma is seen as a way of paying back, this payback is never complete; hence life is lived out paying back a debt that one cannot know in total but that must be paid in total. That is why the cross of Christ is so definitive and so complete. It offers forgiveness without minimizing the debt. When we truly understand that forgiveness, we develop a loving heart of gratitude. There is a full restoration—in this life and for eternity.
The Christian should also understand the attraction of pantheism, the Hindu view of seeing the divine in everything. It superficially appears more compatible with scientific theorizing because it presents no definitive theory of origins. Life is cyclical, without a first cause. Pantheism also gives one a moral reasoning, through karmic fatalism, that one is trapped in the cycle until one escapes, without the need to invoke God. But in the final analysis, it is without answers when one needs to talk about the deepest struggles of the soul. Hindu scholars even admit this in their creation of a path of bhakti (love, devotion) to satisfy the inescapable human hunger for worship.
It is here that a keen understanding is needed. Krishna’s coming to earth as an avatar—that is, one of the incarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu—in a way brings “God to man.” But a huge chasm still remains. How does one bring man to God? For this, there is only one way—the way of the cross. A profound and studied presentation of the cross, and what it means, is still the most distinctive aspect of the Christian faith. Even Gandhi said it was the most unexplainable thing to him and was unparalleled. For the Christian, the cross of Jesus Christ is the message “first to the Jew, and also to the Greek” (Rm 2:9)—to the moralist and the pantheist, to the religious and the irreligious. We can communicate this message with a Hindu acquaintance or friend only through a loving relationship. The love of Christ, a patient listening and friendship, and the message of forgiveness provide the path to evangelism.
Let’s talk more about the cross. Let me tell you my theme and the key application:
Great Idea, theme:
Jesus Paid it all, so He is Lifted up. Jesus is exalted.
I hope we are all convicted by this passage. I recently heard that if I am reading the Bible and I do not find something I do not agree with, then I am reading it wrong, then I am lacking understanding. In other words, if when I am reading the Bible I do not come upon a passage where I stop and think: “hmmm, I don’t like that.” Then I am not really understanding what I am reading. The person who shared this was not meaning that I notice errors in the Bible, there are none. What he was talking about is that as I read God’s Word I must be convicted. This was a heavy convicting truth to me. As I read the Bible I must look for God to speak words of conviction into my life.
So, application in this passage:
We all must bow our knee to King Jesus. (Eph. 3:14; Phil. 2:6-11)
Let me now put the Theme and application together:
Jesus Paid it all, so He is Lifted up. Jesus is exalted.
We all must bow our knee to King Jesus. (Eph. 3:14; Phil. 2:6-11)
Read with me Isaiah 53:11-12:
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.
- Jesus paid it all.
- How did Jesus pay it all?
- Jesus took my place and your place on the cross.
- If you look in your Bibles you will notice that verse ten is in the past tense. But then verse eleven is in the future tense. In fact, from chapter fifty-two verse fourteen through fifty-three verse ten the passage is in the past tense. In that section God is looking down on our salvation as done. But now it changes. Now, all the verbs are in the perfect tense and the pronouns are plural. The verbs are the imperfect tense.
- Why is that significant? This is showing that Jesus is continuously making intercession for us.
- Verse 12 at the very end of the verse says that He bore the sin of many and made intercession for us. “Intercession” is an imperfect verb. Jesus is continually interceding for us. 1 Timothy 2:5 says that Jesus is our one Mediator.
- Hebrews 7:25 and Romans 8:34 are important:
- Hebrews 7:25:Therefore he is able to savecompletely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
- Romans 8:34: Who then is the one who condemns?No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
- Jesus paid our sin debt. Jesus intercedes for us. Amen!
- In death we have hope.
In Christ and the Meaning of Life, German theologian Helmut Thielicke tells the story of a young [soldier] who reached out to pick a bouquet of lilacs and uncovered the half-decayed body of [another] soldier beneath the bush: “He drew back in horror, not because he had never seen a dead man before—he drew back because of the screaming contradiction between the dead man and the flowering bush.”
Thielicke notes that the soldier’s reaction would have been different if the man had come upon a dead and faded lilac bush instead: “A blooming lilac bush will one day become a withered lilac bush—this is really nothing more than the operation of the rhythm of life—but that a man should be lying there in a decayed condition, this was something that simply did not fit, and that’s why he winced at the sight of it.”
We can only understand the mystery of death if we see it through the lens of Adam’s rebellion against God. We are pilgrims who traverse an “empire of ruins” with death as our fellow traveler. Unable to rid ourselves of this cheerless companion, we attempt to rehabilitate it instead, treating death as if it were a neighbor and not a trespasser.
We clothe it in our best dress and apply make-up to its waxen features. Laid out before us in stiff repose, death looks as if it were merely asleep and if we do not look too carefully, we can almost convince ourselves that it has a beating heart within its breast and warm blood pulsing through its veins. We whisper to ourselves that it is not as alien as it first appeared. But this fool’s dream vanishes the minute we attempt to embrace death, finding that it repays our kiss with only sorrow and loss.
Death is not a natural stage in the cycle of human development. Death is a curse. The presence of death is an intrusion. It is “natural” only to the extent that nature itself suffers from the stroke that fell upon Adam as a consequence for his sin. Nature endures death but not willingly. It groans in protest, loathing the bondage to decay which death has brought upon it and yearning for “the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Death is “the last enemy,” a tyrant who acts on sin’s behalf and whose sway over us was finally broken at the cross but will only be fully realized at the resurrection (Romans 5:21; 1 Corinthians 15:26).
Death is our enemy but, like the law, it is also a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. Death’s hard lesson exposes the true nature of sin. Indeed, the law and death are strange allies in this mysterious work. In the hands of God both act as a goad, puncturing our denial and prodding us to turn to Christ for relief from death’s sting.
- This brings me to the next point. In death Jesus is exalted.
- Jesus is lifted up.
- Verse 12 in the Isaiah passage begins with “Therefore.” This means that because of Jesus’ sacrifice Jesus is given a portion with the great. This is meaning a few things but I only want to focus on one and that is Jesus’ exaltation.
- The whole focus of the passage we have been studying is in Phil 2:6-11. This is called “the Christ Hymn.”
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. 
- Every knee should bow, now let’s apply this.
- Bow our knees, both of them. (Eph. 3:14)
- When I was a child I would go to my brother’s baseball games and I loved the concession stand. I still do. There was a candy called “now or laters.” They were sweat and took forever to chew up. Question: Are you going to “bow now or later”? Am I going to bow, “Now or later”? I prefer to bow now. I must bow both knees now.
- Sometimes we only bow one knee. My pun is intended. I must surrender my life to Jesus as Lord. I must live Luke 9:23. I must deny myself and take up my cross and follow Jesus.
- This means that Jesus is not in my passenger seat, He is driving my life. Then I cannot be in the passenger seat because I may try to give Him directions or steer my life. I also cannot be in the back seat because I will end up as a back seat driver. No, I must be in the trunk or maybe a trailer behind the car of my life. I must let Jesus run my life. I must surrender to Him.
- I surrender to Him in worship and I surrender to Him in my daily living.
- I must bow my knees, both of them. Jesus is exalted, He is Lord.
- He must be Lord of my finances.
- He must be Lord of my eating.
- He must be Lord of my pride, transforming that to humility.
- He must be Lord of my church involvement.
- He must be Lord of my thought life.
- He must be Lord of my television viewing.
- He must be Lord of my reading.
- He must be Lord of my listening habits.
- He must be Lord of my relationships.
- He must be Lord of my occupation.
- He must be Lord of my hobbies.
- He must be Lord of my rest.
- He must be Lord of my driving.
- He must be Lord of my learning.
- He must be Lord of my talking.
- He must be Lord of my, you finish it.
Author and speaker Brennan Manning has an amazing story about how he got the name “Brennan.” While growing up, his best friend was Ray. The two of them did everything together: bought a car together as teenagers, double-dated together, went to school together and so forth. They even enlisted in the Army together, went to boot camp together and fought on the frontlines together. One night while sitting in a foxhole, Brennan was reminiscing about the old days in Brooklyn while Ray listened and ate a chocolate bar. Suddenly a live grenade came into the foxhole. Ray looked at Brennan, smiled, dropped his chocolate bar and threw himself on the live grenade. It exploded, killing Ray, but Brennan’s life was spared.
When Brennan became a priest he was instructed to take on the name of a saint. He thought of his friend, Ray Brennan. So he took on the name “Brennan.” Years later he went to visit Ray’s mother in Brooklyn. They sat up late one night having tea when Brennan asked her, “Do you think Ray loved me?” Mrs. Brennan got up off the couch, shook her finger in front of Brennan’s face and shouted, “What more could he have done for you?” Brennan said that at that moment he experienced an epiphany. He imagined himself standing before the cross of Jesus wondering, Does God really love me? And Jesus’ mother Mary pointing to her son, saying, “What more could he have done for you?”
The cross of Jesus is God’s way of doing all he could do for us. And yet we often wonder, Does God really love me? Am I important to God? Does God care about me?
Jesus loves us. Jesus died for us, Jesus rose again, Jesus is exalted. Be encouraged by those Truths. Accept those Truths. Let’s bow our knees to Him.
Do you know Jesus?
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)
 Rev. Dr. Russell Moore shared this at Cedarville University’s Chapel on February 26, 2015
 The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Php 2:6–11.