Day 5. Twelve Days to Christmas
Please do read Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12
The Servant Exalted
The beginning is an adoration of the Servant, as is the song’s finale. Sandwiched between them is the description of suffering. This servant acts and speaks with wisdom. How could He be faithful and obedient to God, if He were not wise? Not just any wisdom, but Godly wisdom which flusters and confounds mere human wisdom. This Servant will be raised up! Here Isaiah uses ecstatic language used of God Himself. And what attracts people to this Servant? Certainly not his looks, charisma or appearance for He had no outer beauty that would attract anybody. Verse 14 indicates the level of suffering the Servant will endure. Many are flabbergasted by it! Verse 15 shows the cleansing, the sprinkling indicating a sacrifice. Sprinkling needed to be done with water, oil or blood in order that people could enter into the presence of God. This cleansing, is not for Israel alone, but for all nations and people. He who was considered unclean by many humans (52:14), will be the one to cleanse many other humans from across the world. Then all accusations, and slander against the Servant will cease.
The Servant Despised
The passage now looks at the Servant through the eyes of the nation of Israel, for it is through their words and actions that others will come to know and understand about the Servant. Even though Israel is disobedient and rebellious, there are still some who fear the Lord (50:10). When those people see the full picture of what the Servant has done, then they will go naturally to tell others about it. Whereas before they would simply be witnesses about God, now they would be witnesses about the saving power of God through the Servant’s suffering, death and glorification. What of this Servant?
He had grown up like any other boy, just as a plant grows from a root in soil. As time goes on, nothing about Him is special and any promise He showed was decidedly unimpressive. The Servant will be persecuted, despised, rejected, insulted and hideous. So hideously malformed that people could not look at Him. These people considered him an implement of God’s deserved torment. That was what the witnesses were thinking.
While God ultimately crushed the Servant, it was not because the Servant deserved it. But rather the witnesses realize that they were the ones who deserved punishment and not the Servant. Just as the animals when offered as sacrifices were substitution offerings in Israel’s worship, so too was this Servant a substitutionary sacrifice. A sacrifice that through His body being pierced and his being crushed for sin, the Servant has provided a way for others to be comforted and pardoned. That way being at a cost. A cost of the Servant’s own life.
The Servant Suffers Silently
Now a solitary witness speaks out. If this is Isaiah, he was cleansed by God back in chapter 6. but what of his countrymen? How will they be cleansed and how as stray sheep will they be gathered back into relationship with God? The Servant is led to His death, just as a lamb is led to be butchered. This Servant goes quietly and obediently to certain death, through oppression and judgment. His death as an innocent Servant, and buried in the grave with the wicked and guilty. Silent.
The Servant Suprises
Now in verse 10 we have the surprise! Death is not the end of this Servant! Yes God had bruised Him and caused the Servant to suffer. But, the Servant was an offering for sin! That way the Servant will offer righteousness to all the nation. The Servant’s mission will be accomplished! God will raise this Servant from the dead and the Servant will be exalted! His sacrifice will surpass any and all previous sacrifices and be the only and final sacrifice needed! Through His death, the Servant will be able to judge righteously and enable those who follow Him to live righteously. Righteously in the sense that His knowledge and wisdom will cause many people to live new lives that are pleasing to God. A righteousness that only comes from people being in relationship with God, instead of being enemies of God.
How is Jesus this Servant?
In Acts 8:26-40, the Ethiopian asked the question of Philip “who does the prophet speak about?” Philip replied that it was about Jesus.
Jesus Christ who grew up as Luke said “increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.” (Luke 2:52). This Jesus who people called the son of a Nazarene carpenter and who people said “Can anything good come from Nazareh?” This Jesus who did not have anything attractive about him, but the way in which He spoke, the wisdom He imparted and the life that He lived. Jesus Christ who was betrayed by one of his closest friends. This Jesus, who was the Lamb of God, who died on a Roman Cross, after a trial where he was falsely accused, tortured and oppressed. This Jesus, who was rejected by even those closest to Him when He died. This Jesus who cried out “My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me? This Jesus who even though without sin, was buried in a grave for the wicked.
This Jesus who rose victoriously from the dead 3 days later, in order to conquer death, sin and the devil. This Jesus, who ascended to the right hand of the throne of God, in the beauty of exaltation and glorification. This Jesus, who alone is the only way that people can one day enter into God’s presence when all of history is consummated. This Jesus, the suffering Servant who was a Servant King, Servant Prophet and Servant Disciple. This Jesus, who is the Lord and Saviour of the universe. This Jesus who as fully God and fully human simultaneously, is the only one who could be the full sacrifice demanded of God for the everlasting payment for sin. The Jesus who will judge with righteousness and wisdom, give all people a choice to make – be His disciple and be in a dynamic relationship with God, or go your own way and be astray from God forever.