]Feb 25]--Suffering Servant, Part Four

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

            So now we come to the last of the "Servant Songs" in Isaiah. They've helped us complete the picture of our Savior, and anything that does that should be precious to us. This is by no means the last words that the prophets have about the Messiah. After today, we’re going to spend a few days on some of the more obvious passages.
            This is by far the most famous of the Servant Songs, and the very valuable to the writers of the N.T. Depending on how you count it, this is either #1 or #2 for the “quoted most times in the N.T.” prize (Psalm 110 is the only other contender). Interestingly, Jesus never explicitly applied it to himself in public: he just lived it.
            I need to say a word here about this and traditional Jewish teaching. I wrote for over a week about our relationship with the Jewish people, and I hope I made clear my enormous respect for them. We owe them a debt we can never repay. Having said that, how they handle this passage is a textbook case of letting your personal bias get in the way of what the Scriptures transparently say. I remember reading the testimony of a Jewish girl who attended synagogue regularly. Every Sabbath morning they'd have a reading of the Old Testament (or Hebrew Scriptures, as they like to call them), and they were on a reading plan to read it all the way through. When they came to Isaiah 53, however, they skipped it. She asked the rabbi about it, and he told her “That is for the Gentiles, not us.” She was confused by his answer, did some research on it, and ended up becoming a believer in Yeshua.
            Jewish scholars have—as we say in my family—gone from Dallas to Fort Worth by way of Houston in order to come to the obvious conclusion that this cannot be referring to Jesus of Nazareth. Absolutely not! It’s referring to national Israel! Or maybe the prophet Isaiah! Or whatever! Whatever it means, it cannot possibly be referring to Jesus of Nazareth!!! They’ve come to a conclusion beforehand, and nothing is going to change their mind. Paul said that when the Scriptures are read to them every Saturday morning, a veil is over their eyes. Only the Lord can remove it.
            I’ve written about this before, but I want to reiterate one major point: The doctrine of substitutionary atonement is taught in this passage like in no other. That’s the teaching that Jesus’ death is a substitution for our own. Our sins—and thus the punishment due us—were placed upon him on the cross. Our righteousness is filthy rags in his sight. Not the bad things we do—our righteousness. Jesus, the sinless, perfectly righteous One, came along, and our sins were “credited” to his “account.” Then his righteousness was "credited" to ours. Here’s my count, just in case you think this is something I’m overemphasizing:

• Surely he took up our pain
• and bore our suffering
• 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
• and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all
• for the transgression of my people he was punished
• and he will bear their iniquities
• For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors

            But I want to point out something: With all our emphasis on how this predicts the suffering of the Servant, that’s not the end of the story! Because of what he did in obedience to the Father, this Servant will be exalted beyond all measure. Kings will “shut their mouths” in astonishment.  After his death, he will see the “light of life” (be resurrected) and be satisfied with what he accomplished. In verse 12 the Lord will grant him what we would call the “lion’s share” as a reward. What this says in part, the New Testament says clearly: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [him].” The Father has placed all things under his feet. We don’t worship or memorialize a dead Savior. We worship and revere and serve the risen and exalted Lord of Heaven and Earth. Let’s not forget that, shall we?

Lord Jesus, I join the chorus of heaven and earth right now: You are Lord of all, and you deserve to be. For what you did, you deserve it all. All I can say is “Thank you,” and “I’m yours.”

No comments:

Post a Comment