A. Mount Everest, in the Himalayas, has an altitude of approximately 29,000 feet; it is the highest peak on earth. Likewise, Isaiah 53 is the highest prophetic revelation about the suffering Messiah.
1. No other Bible passage presents in a clearer way Christ’s vicarious nature and the character of His death. It is the anticipated story of Christ’s suffering.
2. Although it was written in the seventh century B.C., it could almost have been written yesterday. Carlos Spurgeon, the acclaimed evangelist, said “What a chapter, a miniature Bible, the Gospel in its essence!”
B. Its inspiration and its power to move hearts are unmeasured.
C. Ellen G. White says that Satan diligently studied Isaiah’s prophecies and other prophecies which referred to the Messiah. The prophecies instilled in him fear and apprehension, and he decided to blind the people so that they could not see the relevance. He was mostly successful, and he is still trying to prevent us from understanding the sacrifice Jesus made for us and from giving Him our love. Ellen White also states that we should “let the imagination grasp each scene” of the life of Jesus, especially the final ones. “This chapter should be studied. It presents Christ as the Lamb of God […] The entire chapter should be committed to memory” (Ellen G. White, SDA Bible Commentary, 1147).
JESUS FORETOLD (ISAIAH 53:1-3)
A. A plant has a root that sustains it. When a tree is cut to the root, a tender plant grows and flourishes from the apparently lifeless root.
1. Revelation 22:16 says that Jesus is the “root and the offspring” (generation). The root tells us of His divinity; the offspring tells us of His humanity.
2. The “offspring” tells of Bethlehem’s baby. The word became flesh. It took part in our nature.
B. “Dry ground.” There was neither life nor joy; however, the root was there. Any farmer knows that it is not normal for a sprout to appear in dry land. The laws of nature demand moisture in the ground for germination.
1. The servant would come precisely from an origin as strange as “dry land.”
2. From a human viewpoint, this last comparison is very appropriate: “What distinguished person was born in a stable? Who among the great men of the Earth has worked hard to conquer and influence others only by his integrity, character, and virtue?”
JESUS IS THE SUBSTITUTE (ISAIAH 53:4-6)
A. In Isaiah 53, the vicarious nature of Christ’s suffering is emphasized 11 times:
1. He has borne our grief;
2. Carried our sorrows;
3. Smitten by God, and afflicted;
4. He was wounded for our transgressions;
5. He was bruised for our iniquities;
6. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him;
7. By His stripes we are healed;
8. The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all;
9. He was cut off from the land of the living;
10. He was stricken for our transgressions;
11. Sinners are justified through Him, and He will carry their iniquities upon Himself.
B. The suffering was vicarious, voluntary, in obedience to the Lord, for us all, and for mediation.
1. Jesus took upon Himself our grief and blame and their consequences. Through Christ’s death, both mercy and justice would be kept.
2. He suffered in our place. “It is for thee that the Son of God consents to bear this burden of guilt […] He, the Sin Bearer, endures the wrath of divine justice, and for thy sake becomes sin itself” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, 755, 756).
“The guilt of every descendant of Adam was pressing upon His heart” (ibid., 753).
JESUS FULFILLED THE SCRIPTURES (ISAIAH 53:7-9)
A. Isaiah presents Jesus as being obedient until death.
1. The term “as a lamb” points out the victim’s submission. He did not protest or defend Himself. Silence was the evidence of total and unconditional submission.
2. He emptied Himself from His divinity (Phil. 2:6-8; 2 Cor. 5:21).
B. He fulfilled the prophecies about Himself:
1. Suffered for others (Matt. 26:28).
2. Silenced before abuse (Matt. 26:63; 27:12-14).
3. Was counted among the transgressors (Mark 15:27, 28).
4. Interceded for the transgressors (Luke 23:34).
5. Shed His soul until death (Matt. 27:50).
JESUS AND THE FRUIT OF HIS WORK (ISAIAH 53:10-12)
A. The battle to free Satan’s captives was terrible. While Satan tried to exalt himself to be like God, Jesus divested Himself from everything. He humbled Himself.
1. He prospered despite His terrible humiliation.
2. Seeing the fruit of His work in the conversion of the nations, even He, through this work, felt fully repaid by the agony He suffered.
3. Christ Himself saw His crucifixion as a fulfillment of this prophecy (see Luke 22:37).
B. How great is a person’s value to God! In what will the Messiah find satisfaction? He will be happy to see the plenitude of the glory that comes from the Father. He rejoices in seeing the countless millions of people who seek Him with honest faith and become new creatures.
Seeing that it pleased the Lord to save us, let us be thankful by accepting His salvation today.
Laercio Mazzaro is the communication secretary for the Central Brazil Union.