There’s a handout for today’s lesson and everyone will need a copy. (Click to download)
Isaiah is a record of visions of this “son of Amoz” who lived and prophecied during the lives of four kings of Judah. A catalogue of his prophecies may be found online with a reference to their fulfillments in both the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah also prophecied things concerning the new heavens and new earth, things which have yet to have their fulfillment.
Today, let’s focus on one of Isaiah’s most famous chapters: Isaiah 53. Isaiah 53:1-6 is perhaps the clearest vision of the suffering of Christ in the Old Testament. Of all the Old Testament passages that we might use to convince a modern Jew to accept Jesus as the Messiah, this passage is the most compelling.
Check out this article:
In Acts 8:26-39 we read about Philip’s encounter with an Ethiopian Eunuch. (Read passage)
Verses 26-34. Notice the question of the Ethiopian to Philip. Who is the prophet talking about? Himself or someone else? Good question! Answer this the way Philip did and you are on your way to becoming a Christian. Let’s read Philip’s answer.
Verse 35 Who did Philip see in Isaiah 53? Who do you see here? Isaiah 53 was written about 700 years before Jesus died on the cross, yet its message still begs the question be answered: Who is this?
What happened when this Ethiopian discovered who Isaiah was talking about? Let’s finish the reading in Acts 8:36-39.
(You will notice in most modern translations verse 37 is missing. That’s because it does not appear in the oldest Greek manuscripts. These were discovered after the KJV was translated. There are witnesses to this passage in the Latin Vulgate and writings of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Augustine, and other church fathers. So, it has early witnesses, but evidence is questionable as to whether Luke actually wrote it in Acts, or if it was inserted later as a gloss. It does not change the point of the text.)
When this Ethiopian worshipper of God read Isaiah 53 his heart was stirred with the question: Who is this? Philip’s answer clearly is: This is Jesus Christ.
Let’s go back now and look at this ancient passage from the pen of Isaiah and hear for ourselves what it says. As we read it, take your handout and a pen. Take special care to notice what Isaiah says about this servant of the Lord. Let’s mark everything it says about Him by putting a cross through it. (That is a “t” shaped cross, not an x. I want you to see how the cross of Christ surrounds us in this passage). But also, notice what Isaiah says about “us.” Let’s mark everything this passage says about “us” or “we” or “our” etc. by circling those words. Ok? Let’s see what we learn.
1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected of men,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 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.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered, 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.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
The amazing message of Isaiah 53 is that we go our way, and He has to pay. Everything bad that happens to the Servant in this passage is punishment for our sins and weaknesses. Everything that happens to us in this passage is a direct benefit given to us because of the Servant’s suffering.
Verse 5 in particular in terse phrases paints the picture for us:
He was pierced for Our transgressions
He was crushed for Our iniquities
He was punished for Our peace
He was wounded so We could be healed
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
But then notice, everything good that happens to the Servant comes as a result of His sacrificial service.
Isaiah saw the cross and the saving work of Christ’s suffering for us. Then he saw the resurrection of the Christ and His reward for His sacrifice. May we see it and believe and follow Him.