A study of Isaiah 53

Isaiah chapter 53 is one of the best loved chapters in all the Bible. It was written about 700 years before Jesus was born yet paints a vivid picture of the real reason He came. The details laid out for us in this chapter are so clear that it’s as if Isaiah was standing at the foot of the cross when he wrote the words were about to study. He can be describing only Jesus Christ.

(Vs. 1) Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

The message of salvation has been made available for everyone to hear and God’s forgiveness is offered to all people. That is not surprising. What is surprising is the method in which God chose to bring forgiveness to us. It is not the method we would have thought. Isaiah talks about this in verses 2 4.

(Vs. 2-4) 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. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

Even though he was God In Flesh, Jesus was humble and always willing to serve others. He was very modest looking and owned nothing more than the clothes on his back. He never held a public office and was constantly at odds with the religious leaders of the day. He was, and still is, misunderstood even his disciples didn’t understand why he came. He deserved praise but received suffering and sorrow. He would take the punishment that we deserved.

(Vs. 5-6) But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Here in the middle of the Old Testament we find the reason Jesus came. Isaiah doesn’t mince words here. He tells us that we have sinned. Romans 6:23 tells us that, “the wages of sin is death. But there is hope! Isaiah tells us that Jesus would pay for our sins. That he would take our place in judgement. And that the punishment that brought us peace with God would be upon him. It’s amazing how clearly Isaiah is describing the Savior.

(Vs. 7-9) 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 her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living, for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 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 found in his mouth.

Now in these verses Isaiah speaks of how Jesus would be a perfect and willing sacrifice. Jesus said that no man takes his life, rather he gives it up willingly. Jesus never sinned, yet he paid the wages of sin. It’s like the owner of a railroad buying a train ticket – he doesn’t need one. So he has a ticket he can give away to someone who can’t afford to buy his or her own. Because Jesus died even though He didn’t have to, He has a “free ticket” that we can use to pay for our sins. All we have to do is accept it.

(Vs. 10-11) Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. 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.

John 3:16-17 tells us that, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Our sin caused a gap between us and God. Jesus bridged that gap by taken our place in judgment.

(Vs. 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 onto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.