Have you ever noticed how insignificant-looking people sometimes accomplish great things? In professional football, the players keep getting bigger and taller. There are two professional football players who have a show on television called, "Little, Big Men." They are both short by football standards. On their program they show video clips from the football games that week of smaller players who made bigger players look foolish. Sometimes the insignificant-looking players arent so insignificant after all.
To some, Jesus may have seemed insignificant. He did not come from an important family. Perhaps he was average looking. You wonder how many rejected Christs message because he didnt look important enough. He didnt look educated, prosperous, or regal. Isaiah tells us about this "man of sorrows" and what he accomplished for us.
Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
Isaiah starts off by asking, "who has believed what we have heard?" Does the story of Christ seem hard for you to believe? It was certainly hard for some of the Jews to believe. Jesus did not show any of the marks of success that his world, and our world, would find attractive. We Americans are too often chasing after the glitz and the glamour. Who are the people that Americans revere? Is it Christ, or Mother Teresa, or Albert Schweitzer, or Anne Frank? No, its Princess Diana and Elvis!
Meyer comments, "Such imagery awaits and receives its full interpretation from the New Testament, with its story of Christs peasant parentage, his manger-bed, and lowly circumstances fisherfolk his choice disciples; poverty his constant lot; the common people his devoted admirers; thieves and malefactors on either side of his cross; the lowly and poor the constituents of his Church."
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
Isaiah calls Jesus a man of sorrows. He was acquainted with grief as he struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane over the task before him. He was betrayed by one of his own disciples. He was despised by the religious rulers and he was rejected by the crowd at Pilates court.
Verse 4 tells us why he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. So what is our reaction toward Christ? Are we like the people in these verses who esteemed him not and rejected him? Do we hide our faces from him? The sorrow and grief that he bore was for us, for our deliverance, for our salvation.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.
Here is why Christ suffered what he did. He did it for us. He was wounded for our transgressions. He took the nails in his hands and feet and the spear in his side for our transgressions and sins, for all those times we have rebelled against God and his commands.
He was bruised for our iniquities. He was beaten by the soldiers and a crown of thorns was placed on his head for our sins and iniquities. Everything we have done wrong was taken by him.
Upon him was the chastisement that made us whole. He endured the suffering and humiliation of death on the cross that we might be made whole. That we might find peace with God and be able to enter into Gods presence.
With his stripes we are healed. The soldiers gave him 39 lashes across his back. It was these stripes across his body that purchased our healing. Jesus gives us spiritual healing, emotional healing, and physical healing.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Humans left to their own devices have done some very wicked things. But we have all gone astray. When I was involved in childrens ministries, one sure way of helping children to understand about doing wrong was to bring up stealing a candy bar while in the mini-mart. Every time I mentioned this, all the children would look guilty! But we all make bad decisions, dont we? We have all gone astray. We have even led others astray with us like a bunch of sheep following each other. But the message of the Bible is not that we are guilty, but that the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. We are no longer under the bondage of sin because Christ took our iniquity.
MacDonald explains, "The truth is that we were the one who went astray and who walked in self-will, and Jehovah placed our iniquity on Him, the sinless Substitute."
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.
John 19:9 tells us about Pilate, "He entered the praetorium again and said to Jesus, Where are you from? But Jesus gave no answer." Unlike Socrates who gave a stirring defense of his innocence before being sentenced to drink the hemlock, Jesus did not open his mouth. He was like a sheep who would not talk. He was the Passover lamb led to the slaughter. Imagine how history would have been changed if Jesus had spoken to the crowd eloquently defending himself. Everywhere he went crowds were mesmerized by his teaching and his ministry. But this time he was silent. He knew why he had come to this earth. It was not to defend himself; it was to give himself.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Jesus was cut off from the land of the living. He never enjoyed the blessings of having a wife or a family. He had no earthly descendants, no grandchildren to carry on after him. He even had to leave his mother in the care of another.
The Romans had crucified him and he had died with the wicked, but Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus the Pharisee requested the body of Jesus. These men were wealthy. Jesus was buried in Josephs own tomb and so, although poor, he was buried with the rich.
We may have no family or we may be poor, but because of Christ we are part of Gods family. We have brothers and sisters, parents and children throughout Gods kingdom. And we have the riches of Gods blessings upon us.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand;
This verse tells us why Jesus was bruised and put to grief. It was to make him an offering for our sins. It was to make us able to become children of God. We are Christs descendants all who have accepted him as our Savior. We are no longer in sin. We are now part of Gods family.
Remember when you were a child, and you would play hide and go seek. Someone would wait at the tree, close their eyes and count to one hundred as you ran to find a hiding place. Then the other person would come searching for you. Once he found you, youd go running back to that tree. If you could get back to the tree before the other person, you would touch it and yell, "Oly, oly, en, free!" or "Alley, alley, oxen, free!" depending on when you grew up. You were safe because you had made it back to the tree. It didnt matter how much bigger, stronger, or faster the other person was, once you were at the tree you were safe.
It is the same way with God. No matter what troubles chase us, no matter how much bigger and stronger evil forces seem that assail us; if we come to the tree of the cross of Christ, we are safe.
He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Someday Christ will receive his rightful portion when he comes back to earth to reign as King of Israel. But first, he had to bear our iniquities. It was Gods plan to not only be a blessing to Israel, but also to all of us Gentiles. We are now in the church age of grace. Notice verse 12 tells us that Jesus made "many to be accounted righteous." We may not feel very righteous, but through Christ we are. We have been completely cleansed from all our iniquity.
Concerning Christ, Moody wrote, "Despised, yet accepted and adored. Poor, yet rich. To die, yet to live. The Rabbis said there must be a double Messiah to fulfill this chapter."
Christ is telling all to come to him. During this period of grace before he re-establishes his kingdom, he is reaching out with mercy to all the world. He is reaching out to you. It was for your sins that he suffered and bled and died. Now he is offering you to be part of his family. Jesus is saying, "Come." Wont you accept him?
This study on Isaiah 53 © 1998 by David Humpal. All rights reserved.
All scriptures unless otherwise noted are from the Revised Standard Version © 1971, A. J. Holman Company
Meyer: quoted in Believers Bible Commentary, Old Testament volume, pg. 979 © 1990, Thomas Nelson Publishers
MacDonald: Believers Bible Commentary, Old Testament volume, pg. 979 © 1990, Thomas Nelson Publishers
Moody: quoted in Believers Bible Commentary, Old Testament volume, pg. 981 © 1990, Thomas Nelson Publishers