Today: [Isaiah 53] Who Has Believed the Report? In this chapter, we find for the first time no mention of contemporary events to those Isaiah is writing to. Chapter 53 is purely a Messianic declaration speaking of the suffering of Jesus and the rejection of the Messiah in behalf of all mankind. There is no other sacrifice or substitute we can bring to God other than our faith and our surrender to the one who bled and died in our behalf as Isaiah, speaking by the Holy Spirit so poignantly testifies to in our chapter today.
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[Isa 53:1-12 KJV] 1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither [was any] deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see [his] seed, he shall prolong [his] days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, [and] shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him [a portion] with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53 is a description of the rejection of Jesus during what is referred as the year of opposition during His ministry that concluded with His crucifixion. This is the first chapter in the book of Isaiah that is purely Messianic in nature without any overtones of reference to Cyrus, the Babylonian captivity or other events contemporary to the people to whom Isaiah is initially writing. Verse 1 asks the question “who has believed our report…” speaking of the coming of Christ not only as a reigning king but as a suffering Messiah. This verse is quoted twice in the New Testament, once in the gospel of John and once in Paul’s letter to the Romans.
[Jhn 12:37-38 KJV] 37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
Often, we reflect and come to the conclusion that if we had lived in the days when Jesus walked the earth we would have surely believed. The miracles of Jesus were undeniable even by the Pharisees who plotted Jesus’ demise on the cross – yet they rejected His message and refused to believe that He was the promised one that should come. Paul gives a very detailed reason why the Jews rejected Jesus, describing a veil of unbelief that rested upon the people of his generation because of their flawed veneration of Moses.
[2Co 3:13-16 KJV] 13 And not as Moses, [which] put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which [vail] is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
We see hear that Moses placed a veil over his face so that the people would not see when the glory faded from his face. He didn’t want the people to see him in his humanity. He wanted them to think that the glory was always there so that the people would be more manageable and obedient. It was in reality a self-serving religious sleight of hand on Moses’ part that doomed generations of Israelites to look more to Moses than they looked to God Himself. We fall into this kind of thinking ourselves when we seek out leaders who are larger than life, who leave us more impressed with the man than we are with the God whom the man is supposed to be serving. The ripple effect of Moses’ committing this one act rippled down through the ages and resulted in the devastating unbelief that caused the Jews to cry out “crucify Him!” as they stood on the porch of Pontius Pilate crying out for Barabbas instead of their Messiah.
Verse 2 tells us that Jesus would grow up as a spiritual root out of the dead dry ground of the backslidden nation of Israel in the first century. How very different He was than the leaders of our day. He had no comeliness our outward attractiveness that drew people to Him. To pass Jesus on the street one would scarcely notice Him or consider Him to be remarkable in anyway – we would pass on without a second look. Jesus was not a man of deep oratory. He had no charisma to hold people to Him or to attract them to follow Him. To those of us that are called to follow Him and to leadership in the kingdom this is a measurement for us of the absolute vanity of the cult of the celebrity that typifies the charismatic, larger than life leadership model of the church today. It is anti-Christ and anti-God, completely unreflective of anything redemptive in nature, without affinity whatsoever to the character of Christ that we are called to portray.
Jesus was a man of sorrows, despised, rejected, acquainted with grief. A modern day physician would have thought to write Jesus a prescription for depression or to correct mood swings. He would have been looked down on and pitied rather than venerated or worshipped. He was despised so that we could be accepted. He was acquainted with grief as our substituted so that our joy could be full. He bore our griefs and carried our sorrow so that you and I could have the yoke easy and the burden light that He so often spoke of. To look upon Jesus in His substitutionary work in our behalf was to conclude that here was a man stricken, smitten of God – and in fact He was, for our sake. He was not stricken and smitten as our example, but He was stricken and smitten as our substitute so that you and I could enjoy the life and the life more abundantly that He so strongly declared and prophesied of. We are not rejecting the example of Jesus when we believe for highest and best, we are embracing the substitutionary work of the cross realizing that He suffered so that we don’t have to. It is not necessary for us to carry in our persons what He took to the cross, suffering in our behalf.
Verse 5 says that Jesus was wounded for our transgressions. Not only for the transgressions of others, but our transgressions. At every point where our character in word or deed departs from the character of Christ was a stinging blow upon the person of Christ in our behalf. The full wrath and judgment of God was poured out upon Jesus with our name attached to every crushing blow that He suffered. We cannot look dispassionately upon the suffering of Jesus because it was our sin and our transgression that caused it and called for so that you and I could be cleansed and freed from the consequences of our own disobedience when we come humbly seeking the forgiveness that Jesus so freely extends to us. Let us examine ourselves daily so that we never look glibly or without consideration upon the brutal reality of the cross but rather thoughtfully and deeply we constantly bear in mind that all that He suffered was for our sake.
We also see that Jesus took stripes on His body for our physical healing. Theologians today suggest that God is to ineffable, too removed in His glory from the natural world for us to expect Him to care about human suffering and sickness. Still others teach that God allows sickness to come upon us so that we can learn to be more like Jesus, or that some other murky purpose of heaven is fulfilled by God’s people suffering the ravages of disease. Isaiah stands 3000 years in the past boldly repudiating all such thinking when he declares by the spirit of God that by His stripes we are healed. Not just healed from spiritual maladies but from every sickness in mind, spirit and body. The promise furthermore is not conditional. He didn’t say by His stripes we might be healed, unless some other purpose is being carried out. No, it is a universal promise to whosoever will – by His stripes we ARE healed, a universal promise to all that believe in His name. Peter quoted this verse, strengthening the statement even further when he said:
[1Pe 2:24 KJV] 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
For us in the New Testament we not only have the positive promise of physical healing but we find it as an expression of past provision. There is no other condition than faith believing to receive what God has for you in this area. There are no caveats or exceptions. God will never say no to what the cross says yes to. If it is not God’s will to heal then all of God’s word is a lie and a deception for this is the plain and unclouded testimony of the promise of God that when we suffer we can look to Him and live, without exception as we believe and draw by faith upon the past provision of the Cross.
The chapter ends declaring that in all of this it pleased the Lord to bruise Jesus and to put Him to grief. It was in God’s purpose to offer Jesus up as the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. It didn’t just happen because the Jews rejected Him. It was the eternal purpose of God that through the cross Jesus would see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied in seeing salvation made available to us and the possibility of coming into a right relationship with the Father not through religious law or adherence to the demands of shallow Christian cultural conditioning but through the shedding of the life’s blood of a sinless Messiah fully poured out that the sin debt might be paid and you and I then by faith would walk free from Adam’s judgment.
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