SF909 - The Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53 13-53)

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Isaiah 52:13‑53:12


Nowhere in all the Old Testament does the gospel of Jesus Christ shine more clearly than in Isaiah 53.  Seven hundred years before Jesus came into the world, God opened the eyes of his prophet to see into the very heart of Christ's saving work.  And the heart of that saving work is substitution.  The Messiah is pierced and crushed in our place.  The righteous in the place of the unrighteous.  The loving shepherd in the place of the lost sheep.  The exalted king in the place of the rebel subjects.

Sermon Background

This is the heart of Isaiah

Ø      Has been called the John 3:16 of the OT

Ø      Isaiah 53 is referred to 85 times in the NT

This is a five stanza song.  I have outlined the passage around these five stanzas.

Ø      The revelation on God’s servant  (52:13-15)

Ø      The rejection of God’s servant  (53:1-3)

Ø      The substitutionary sacrifice of God’s servant  (53:4-6)

Ø      The silent suffering of God’s servant  (53:7-9)

Ø      The triumph of God’s servant  (53:10-12)

1A.      The Revelation of God’s Servant (52:13-15)

1B.      The servant’s position (52:13)

The servant identified.  (52:13a)

Ø      Sometimes the servant of the Lord refers to people of Israel. (Isaiah 41:8, 10)

Ø      Sometimes the servant is the prophet Isaiah himself.  (Isaiah 49:5)

Ø      In Isaiah 53 the servant cannot be the prophet or the people.  (53:4, 5)

Ø      The New Testament answer is that he was Jesus the Messiah.

Mark 10:45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

The servant glorified (52:13b)

“He will prosper,” he will succeed

“He will be high,” rum; refers to the resurrection

“Lifted up,” nasa; refers to the ascension of Christ

“greatly exalted,” gabah; refers to the Lord’s exaltation

2B.      The servant’s passion (52:14)

This passage describes the physical beating that Christ endured.

Mark 15:19 “They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him.”

3B.      The servant’s purpose (52:15)

This refers to the tremendous accomplishments he achieved, not only during his ministry, but through the intervening centuries since.

He will redeem men from all nations (52:15a)

He will reign over all men.  (52:15b)

His sovereignty will be revealed to all men.  (52:15c)

2A.      The Rejection of God’s Servant (53:1-3)

John 1:11 “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.”

1B.      The world rejects His words (53:1a)

Matthew 13:13-17

2B.      The world rejects His work (53:1b)

John 12:37-41

3B.      The world rejects Him (53:2-3)

In other words, his whole demeanor, his style, his view of life and money and possessions and lust and prayer and worship and pride and humility and fear and faith--none of it endorsed our own rebellion. 

We did not feel endorsed around Jesus.  He was so lowly and unimpressive that our aspirations for power and reputation felt evil.  His happy poverty made our wanting more and more feel foolish.  His willingness to suffer for others made our craving for comforts feel selfish.

And so to protect ourselves we despised him.  We even hoped it was God that struck him.  That would be a good endorsement of our rejection.  And we rejected him.  He was an offense.  A rejected Servant.  (John Piper)

3A.      The Substitutionary Sacrifice of God’s Servant (53:4-6)

2 Corinthians 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

1 Peter 2:24 “… He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

1B.      Notice the physical price Christ paid (53:5)

He was pierced

Refers to His death on the cross; He was pierced by nails

Zechariah 12:10 "I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

He was crushed

Means to be crushed as under a burden

He was crushed by our sin (Isaiah 53:6)

He was punished

Punished as though He had broken the law

2B.      Notice the spiritual price Christ paid 

He bore our griefs and sorrows (53:4)

Ø      Literally our sickness and pain; Our calamities and the unhappy results of our sins  (Romans 6:23)

He bore our transgressions  (53:5,8)

“Transgressions,” pesha; rebellion, a deliberant breaking of the Law of God

Isaiah 53:6 "...each of us has turned to his own way..."

He bore our iniquities  (53:5‑6)

“iniquities,” avon; The crookedness of our nature

Ø      We are all sinners by nature and by choice  (Romans 3:23)

4A.      The Silent Suffering of God’s Servant (53:7-9)

1B.      How he suffered  (53:7)

He was “oppressed.”  The word is most often used in the Old Testament of what taskmasters do to make the life of their slaves miserable.

He was “afflicted.”  The word implies humiliation, being brought low, treating with contempt, shaming, belittling, scorn, jest, mockery, ridicule, derision.

He was “led like a Lamb to the slaughter.”  The slaughter does not come until verse 8.  Here he is just led to it with no hope of escape.

He was “sheared.”  He was stripped of his clothes, his friends, his honor, his divine protection. 

2B.      How he responded (53:7)

His response was an amazing silence, patience, acceptance.

Matthew 27:11-13

3B.      How he died (53:8)

"He was cut off out of the land of the living."  He was not just led to the slaughter.  He was slaughtered.

And like all the other lambs of the Passover or the sin offerings of Israel, he was slaughtered not for his own transgressions.  He was slaughtered for the transgressions of his people.  .

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “… Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

4B.      How He was buried (53:9)

Literally: "They appointed His grave with the wicked, yet He was with a rich man in His death."

Matthew 27:57-59

Now why is that significant?  The work of redemption was done.  There was no more need for humiliation.  Instead God signified the honor of his servant by arranging for him an honorable burial in the grave of a rich man, the disciple, Joseph of Arimathea.  (John Piper)

5A.      The Triumph of God’s Servant (53:10-12)

1B.      He pleased God in His death.  (53:10)

Acts 2:22-24

2B.      God raised Him from the dead.  (53:10)

"... prolong his days..."

3B.      God has given Him a spiritual heritage.  (53:10b-12)

"He will see his offspring..."

How?  (Isaiah 53:11)

John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name”

“Therefore I will allot Him a portion with the great”

Philippians 2:9-11


The story is told of a group of pioneers who were making their way across one of the central states to a distant place that had been opened up for homesteading.  They traveled in covered wagons drawn by oxen, and progress was necessarily slow.  One day they were horrified to note a long line of smoke in the west, stretching for miles across the prairie, and soon it was evident that the dried grass was burning fiercely, and was coming toward them rapidly.  They had crossed a river the day before but it would be impossible to go back to that before the flames would be upon them.  One man only seemed to have an understanding as to what should be done. He gave the command to set fire to the grass behind them.  Then when a space was burned over, the whole company moved back upon it.  As the flames roared on toward them from the west, a little girl cried out in terror.  "Are you sure we shall not all be burned up?"  The leader replied, "My child, the flames can reach us here, for we are standing where the fire has been!"

On Him Almighty vengeance fell,
Which would have sunk a world to hell.
He bore it for a chosen race,
And thus becomes our Hiding Place.

The fires of God's judgment burned themselves out on Him, and all who are in Christ are safe forever, for they are now standing where the fire has been.  (H.A. Ironsides)

Isaiah 52:13‑53:12

1A.      The Revelation of God’s Servant  (52:13-15)

1B.      The servant’s ____________________  (52:13)

The servant identified.  (52:13a)

The New Testament answer is that he was Jesus the Messiah.  (Mark 10:45)

The servant glorified  (52:13b)

2B.      The servant’s ____________________  (52:14; Mark 15:19 )

3B.      The servant’s  ____________________ (52:15)

2A.      The Rejection of God’s Servant  (53:1-3; John 1:11)

1B.      The world rejects His ______________  (53:1a; Matthew 13:13-17)

2B.      The world rejects His _____________  (53:1b; John 12:37‑41)

3B.      The world rejects _________________  (53:2-3)

3A.      The Substitutionary Sacrifice of God’s Servant  (53:4-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24)

1B.      Notice the physical price Christ paid  (53:5)

He was __________________  (Zechariah 12:10 )

He was _______________________________

He was punished

2B.      Notice the spiritual price Christ paid 

He bore our ______________ and sorrows  (53:4)

He bore our transgressions  (53:5,8)

He bore our _______________________  (53:5‑6)

4A.      The Silent Suffering of God’s Servant  (53:7-9)

1B.      How he __________________________  (53:7)

2B.      How he ______________________  (53:7; Matthew 27:11-13)

3B.      How he ____________  (53:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

4B.      How He was buried  (53:9; Matthew 27:57-59)

5A.      The Triumph of God’s Servant  (53:10-12)

1B.      He pleased God in His death.  (53:10; Acts 2:22-24)

2B.      God raised Him from the dead  (53:10)

3B.      God has given Him a spiritual heritage  (53:10b-12; John 1:12; Philippians 2:9-11)

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