Isaiah 53:2–12comment (0)
April 2, 2009
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Isaiah 53:2–12
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Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
THE SACRIFICE IS SUFFICIENT
People resist the gospel truth that a faith relationship with Jesus Christ is absolutely adequate for the forgiveness of sins. In various ways, they seek to add requirements, including baptism, prayer and fasting, giving to the church and various good works. To do this is to declare Jesus’ atoning work through His death and resurrection inadequate. Certainly a faith relationship with Christ should produce good works, but God wants all people to acknowledge with faith that His plan to save sinners is simply for them to trust completely and only in His Son, Jesus Christ, who died for their sins. This week’s lesson teaches that God has provided salvation through the atoning sacrifice of His Suffering Servant, Jesus.
An Unrecognized Sacrifice (2–3)
Isaiah 40–66 are composed of prophecies proclaimed by Isaiah in the eighth century B.C., which look ahead to the Babylonian exile and beyond. Embedded in these prophecies is Isaiah 53, one of the four portions of the Song of the Suffering Servant of the Lord. As the New Testament makes clear (Acts 8:26–35; Phil. 2:8–11; 1 Pet. 2:21–25), Jesus is the fulfillment of these prophecies. Particularly is His sacrificial death described here. In verses two and three, the Servant was despised and rejected by people. On the human level, there was in Him no attractiveness at all. Nothing in His personal appearance would attract people to Him. There was nothing majestic about His person. There was no charisma or splendor about Him. He lived His earthly life in humble circumstances, not in worldly pomp. In fact, people spurned Him and rejected Him with contempt, turning their backs on Him. He experienced sorrow. The Servant was not recognized as the One sent to be the sacrifice for people’s sins.
A Costly Sacrifice (4–6)
These three verses are crucial to understanding the significance of Jesus’ death. That significance is bound up with the terms “propitiation,” “reconciliation” and “redemption.” Propitiation means His death was the satisfaction of God’s justice; He received what our sins had earned — death. By His death, God’s just wrath against sin has been satisfied. Reconciliation means Jesus’ death changed the relationship between God and man, a change from hostility to friendship. Our sins had made us enemies of God; now, because of Jesus’ death, peace with God is extended to us in Christ. Redemption means Jesus’ death delivered us from our horrendous condition as sinners who are spiritually dead. Our situation was helpless and hopeless. But Jesus took all our sin upon Himself. God’s plan to rescue people was Jesus bearing sins’ punishment that all people deserve. The benefits of His sacrifice become ours personally when we choose to trust Him.
A Voluntary Sacrifice (7–9)
Jesus was not an unwilling victim, compelled to go through suffering and death. He said, “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:18). He was indeed a voluntary sacrifice. As our Substitute, He willingly took our place on the cross. He bore the punishment due us. He suffered silently like a lamb brought to be slaughtered; there was no complaint from our perfect Substitute. Condemned by unjust judgment, He was crucified between two criminals. Although His enemies appointed for Him a shameful burial like all criminals, God intervened and Jesus was buried appropriately in the tomb of a rich man, a tomb never defiled with a dead body.
An Effective Sacrifice (10–12)
Men see Jesus’ death only as a tragedy. But the most mysterious and glorious fact about His death is that He was God’s sacrificial Lamb. And Jesus had in view that great number of sons whom He is to bring into glory (Heb. 2:10). When viewed in this light, His death is not a tragedy or a waste but the greatest triumph possible. Simply knowing about Jesus’ death and God’s plan of salvation does not bring salvation. People are saved only when they respond to salvation in Christ with repentance and faith in Him.