As a prophet to Judah in the reign of the four kings, Isaiah speaks to the people with a voice of concern for their ways of living apart from God, while indicating future events that are about to happen. For instance, Isaiah prophesies about Babylonian captivity, while declaring God’s eventual provision to rescue. Throughout the book, Isaiah reminds the people of God’s judgment, while transitioning to encourage them that God compassionately extends grace, deliverance and salvation. It is a picture of God’s relationship with His people, and His grace to lovingly pursue them and provide rescue for them despite their disobedience.
In Isaiah 53, Isaiah prophecies about Jesus as the slain Lamb of God. I love this passage because, uniquely, we get a glimpse of Jesus in the past, present and future. In summary, Isaiah writes about how Jesus suffered, how God will vindicate Him and His followers, and one thing that Jesus is currently doing.
Isaiah starts out by speaking about Jesus in the past tense. In verses 1-9, he prophecies about all the suffering and rejection that Jesus endured, as if it had already happened. Then in verse 10, Isaiah shifts to writing in the future tense, prophesying about God’s intention to pour out His wrath on Jesus and God’s response to Jesus’ submission. Finally in the last part of verse 12, it ends in the present tense as Isaiah writes that Jesus intercedes for the saints, as if this is currently happening and ceaselessly ongoing.
What I love about this passage is that the last verse, which talks about Jesus interceding for the transgressors, is in the present tense. When this book was written, it was the 8th century B.C., so Jesus had not yet come to die on the cross. Yet, Jesus is said to be presently making intercession for us in this passage, as one who has already accomplished the work on the cross. This is especially evident because of the past-tense language found in verse 1-10 regarding Jesus’ suffering on the earth as the one pierced for our iniquities. Thus, this indicates that Jesus is not limited by time as we know it. The plan for redemption has been accomplished, will be accomplished and is being accomplished by the sovereignty of God. It solidifies Jesus as one who is unshakable and stable in His place in the plan of God. It also reveals God’s position as the One who knows all things and thus can dictate the future from a past-tense point of view. It just blows my mind to think of how complex and big God is. He is not One who we can fully understand with our finite minds. Yet we trust in His Word that one day we will fully know Him as we are fully known, as it says in 1 Corinthians 13:12. Jesus is on the throne. He is trustworthy. He is a firm foundation.
It puts me at ease to know that Jesus is sure and steady in who He is. And through the way Jesus responded to suffering in his earthly life, we can learn to look at suffering in a different way too. For Jesus, suffering was not something to be avoided. Suffering served as a necessary part of His mission on earth, to make a way for us to enter into eternity with Him. In our lives, we may wonder why suffering exists, why bad things happen to good people, why injustice proliferates in the world… but maybe we should stop asking why suffering exists and start asking how we can embrace suffering like Jesus did. Jesus embraced suffering for a purpose. We can too. By gleaning faith in the midst of suffering. Gleaning perspective. Gleaning wisdom. Gleaning maturity. Those are all things that I want for myself and for you. And if suffering sometimes serves as the only way to get those things, then we need to be okay with that. 1 Corinthians 1:27 reminds us that God chose the foolish things in the world to shame the wise. Just because something seems foolish or wasteful does not mean it is. Ask God to use it for a purpose in the development of who you are as a Christ follower. He will answer you, if you let Him. For He forever lives to pray and intercede on your behalf.
Summary of Isaiah 53
Isaiah asks who will believe these prophecies that he is speaking; Isaiah describes Jesus as one who grew up like a young plant from dry ground; Jesus’ plain appearance is described; Isaiah describes Jesus as one who was despised and rejected by men; Isaiah prophecies how Jesus bore our grief and carried our sorrows; Isaiah prophecies that mankind looked at Him as afflicted; Isaiah prophecies that Jesus was pierced for our sins and brought us healing by his own affliction; Isaiah declares that we all have gone astray; Isaiah declares that God laid our sins upon Jesus; Isaiah prophecies how Jesus was treated but that he remained silent amidst all of his suffering; Isaiah prophecies how men tried to bury him with the wicked though he did nothing to serve it; Isaiah prophecies how it is the will of the Lord to crush Jesus; Isaiah prophecies how God will grant Jesus offspring and prolong their days because of Him; Isaiah prophecies how God will use Jesus’ anguish to illuminate the light of God and satisfy those who follow; Isaiah prophecies how God will use Jesus’ righteousness to account many to righteousness; Isaiah prophecies how God will reward Jesus; Isaiah declares that Jesus bore the sin of many people; Isaiah declares that Jesus intercedes for the transgressors.
Jesus in Isaiah 53
Jesus is One who is revealed (v. 1)
Jesus grew up as a human (v. 2)
Jesus did not reflect His majesty in His earthly body (v. 2)
Jesus did not reflect exceptional beauty in His earthly body (v. 2)
Jesus was despised by men (v. 3)
Jesus was rejected by men (v. 3)
Jesus was a man of sorrows (v. 3)
Jesus was acquainted with grief (v. 3)
Jesus was not esteemed by men (v. 3)
Jesus experienced human suffering (v. 3)
Jesus bore our grief (v. 4)
Jesus carried our sorrows (v. 4)
Jesus was looked upon as afflicted by God (v. 4)
Jesus was pierced for our transgressions (v. 5)
Jesus was crushed for our iniquities (v. 5)
Jesus was chastised (v. 5)
Jesus’ chastisement brought us peace (v. 5)
Jesus’ wounds bring us healing (v. 5)
Jesus experienced physical pain (v. 5)
Jesus absorbed the iniquity of every person in the world (v. 6)
Jesus was oppressed (v. 7)
Jesus was afflicted (v. 7)
Jesus received suffering (v. 7)
Jesus endured suffering (v. 7)
Jesus submitted to suffering (v. 7)
Jesus was selfless (v. 7)
Jesus was steadfast (v. 7)
Jesus was like a lamb, led to the slaughter (v. 7)
Jesus was like a sheep, silent before His shearers (v. 7)
Jesus was taken away in oppression (v. 8)
Jesus was taken away in judgment (v. 8)
Jesus was considered cut off from the land of the living by His generation (v. 8)
Jesus experienced social rejection (v. 8)
Jesus was doubted (v. 8)
Jesus was gossiped about (v. 8)
Jesus was stricken for the transgression of people (v. 8)
Jesus suffered for the very people who despised Him (v. 8)
Jesus’ did not act out in violence (v. 9)
Jesus did not speak with deceit (v. 9)
Jesus’ death was God’s will (v. 10)
Jesus was put to grief by God (v. 10)
Jesus soul makes an offering for the guilty (v. 10)
Jesus will prolong the days of His followers (v. 10)
Jesus makes us His offspring (v. 10)
Jesus will prosper in the will of God (v. 10)
Jesus death was planned by God (v. 10)
Jesus’ anguish will renew sight to all who believe (v. 11)
Jesus anguish will bring satisfaction to all who believe (v. 11)
Jesus’ righteousness will make many accounted to righteousness (v. 11)
Jesus will bear mankind’s iniquities (v. 11)
Jesus will save the world (v. 11)
Jesus will be rewarded by God (v. 12)
Jesus poured out his soul to death (v. 12)
Jesus was numbered with the transgressors (v. 12)
Jesus became our substitute to pay for our sin (v. 12)
Jesus bore the sin of many (v. 12)
Jesus intercedes for the transgressors (v. 12)
“But He was pierced for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and by His wounds we are healed.”
Questions for Today:
- Why does God allow suffering in my life?
- How do I respond when others reject me?
- Do I remember that Jesus is interceding for me right now?
- How should that impact the way I view Jesus?
- What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him today?
“Man of Sorrows” by Hillsong Worship