1 Who has believed what we have heard? And who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to? 2 He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.
4 Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. 6 We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth. 8 He was taken away because of oppression and judgment; and who considered His fate? For He was cut off from the land of the living; He was struck because of my people’s rebellion. 9 They made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man at His death, although He had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully.
10 Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely. When You make Him a restitution offering, He will see His seed, He will prolong His days, and by His hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished. 11 He will see it out of His anguish, and He will be satisfied with His knowledge. My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will carry their iniquities.12 Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil, because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
He will see it out of His anguish,and He will be satisfied with His knowledge.My righteousServantwill justify many,and He will carry their iniquities. —Isaiah 53:11
Anyone who’s at all familiar with the gospel will be able to read Isaiah 53 and know immediately that this is a description of the suffering, execution, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The details are so precise that it’s almost as if it were written after the fact instead of 700 years prior to the events described. The Gospel writers were certainly convinced that this well-known Messianic passage was about Jesus.
What we have just read is the most heavily quoted Old Testament passage in the entire New Testament, with over 40 cross-references to Isaiah’s “Servant Song” (52:13-53:12). They understood that God had painted an incredibly detailed picture of the Messiah ahead of time, and that Jesus had fulfilled every single one of those prophecies. This is why you read so often in the Gospels a version of, “This happened to fulfill the writings of the prophets.”
While reading this passage and comparing it to the Gospels is a great exercise for defending the validity of Jesus as Messiah, these verses should also send true followers of Christ to their knees. When we read Isaiah 53, there should be a sense of growing anticipation, so that by the time we get to verse 11 we are engaged in full-fledged worship. “After the suffering of His soul, 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.”
I don’t know of anyone who especially enjoys reading about the suffering of Christ. When we come to those passages that describe the brutality and the pain and humiliation He endured on our behalf, it is tempting to skim over them and not want to spend time reflecting on how great the suffering was. Why did it have to be so brutal? Why did Jesus have to go through so much?
What does it mean to you that Jesus bore your sin? When you stop and really think about it, how much does your sin bother you? Do we water down how much God hates it because we know we’re already forgiven? Does the fact that grace is a free gift to us mean that it didn’t come at great cost? Sometimes we think that because salvation is free to us that it is something God just decided to freely give.
But read Isaiah 53 again. Imagine the agony of a father watching his beloved only son be pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, oppressed, afflicted, like a lamb led to slaughter, despised, rejected, stricken, oppressed, numbered with the transgressors and assigned a grave with the wicked. Our salvation came at incredible cost to God, the Father, and Jesus, the Son. Who does that?
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
You and I were the ones who deserved to die. God in all of His holiness would have been perfectly justified to abandon us to eternal punishment because of our rebellion. Yet He took His perfect Son, the only one through whom our sins could be atoned, and allowed His sacrifice to count as if we had been the ones on the cross. How can we possibly respond to that?
First, take the time to let it really sink in.
You took our sin
You bore our shame
You rose to life
You defeated the grave
A love like this, the world has never known.
Jesus, Son of God
Writer(s): Chris Tomlin, Matt Maher, Jason Ingram
Copyright: Sony/ATV Timber Publishing, Open Hands Music 2012
- Reread Isaiah 53. What does it mean to you that Jesus bore your sin and shame?
- Does reading this passage draw you closer to God? Have you expressed your deep appreciation to Him recently for the sacrifice He made on your behalf?
- Have you accepted God’s free gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? If not, what is holding you back?