Before starting Isaiah, Chapter 53, we need to look at Isaiah 52:13 for a clear understanding of the word “Servant.” Isaiah 52:13 says, “Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently, He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.”
The image of a servant is an individual who willingly serve their master out of love, gratitude and even out of a sense of debt. They have forsaken their own dreams and vision for their lives and submitted themselves to the will of a benevolent master.
The Sacrifice of the Servant
When a seed is planted, it dies in order for a beautiful flower to come into being. Jesus Himself used a farming illustration when He spoke of a seed falling to the ground and dying in order to produce a greater fruit (John 12:23-26). This principle is also used in human relationships. The person who is willing to sacrifice their own concerns, dreams, careers and finances for the good of others are people we usually admire most. Those who have been selfish and who have hoarded wealth to get to the top, we do not admire so much.
The text of Isaiah 53 introduces us to a Servant of the Lord who is “not” admired for His charismatic personality, good looks, popularity or great wealth: Isaiah 53:2 says, “For He shot up right forth as a sapling, and as a root out of dry ground; He had no form nor comeliness, that we should look upon Him, nor beauty that we should delight in Him.”
(He shall not come into the world with secular pomp and power, like an earthly monarch, as they had carnally imagined.)
Isaiah 53:3 – He was despised, and forsaken of men, a man of pains, and acquainted with disease, and as one from whom men hide their face: He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.
This Servant was willing to part with His limited worldly possessions, good health, reputation and self-respect for the sake of those who are undeserving and ungrateful.
Isaiah 53:4-6 – Surely our diseases He did bear, and our pains He carried; whereas we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (Verse 5) But He was wounded because of our transgressions, He was crushed because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our welfare was upon Him, and with His stripes we were healed. (Verse 6) All we like sheep did go astray, we turned every one to his won way; and the LORD hath made to light on Him the iniquity of us all.
According to Isaiah, Jesus, the Servant of the Lord, took upon Himself all the punishment from living unto ourselves, that would otherwise fall on us; He receives the judgment brought on by our moral failures.
Isaiah 53:8 – By oppression and judgment He was taken away, and with His generation who did reason? For He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of My people to whom the stroke was due.
Isaiah describes that the Servant endured all the pain, suffering and judgment that you and I should have borne as a result of our ignoring God and living according to our own standards and expectations without taking into consideration those of the Creator.
Because He was rejected, we are accepted by God; because He bore the guilt of our failures and sins, we are forgiven; because He took the stripes on His back, we are healed; because He bore the punishment of God’s judgment that was intended for us, we wont’ be judged. (Christians will only be judged according to their works.)
So, what motivated Jesus to do all of this for a people that had no respect or regard for Him? Love, in the true sense of the word. Yeshua told us Himself when He spoke in John 15:13, “No one has greater love than a person who lays down his life for his friends.”
There is no doubt that Yeshua, Jesus, fulfills the description found in Isaiah 53 of a self-sacrificing Servant who was willing to lay down all that He had, including His own life, so that others would benefit from His actions.
Isaiah’s writings in Chapter 53 takes the question of noble self-sacrifice to a new level. The Servant of the LORD is described as one who would willingly suffer for the sins of others. His suffering would be far more than an example of self-sacrificing altruism (the concern of the well-being of others); rather, in fact, His death linked to God the forgiveness of sin!
Redemption is a term that simply means to be brought out of slavery. The Israelites understood redemption because of the yearly Passover.
Isaiah 53:9, 10 – And they made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich His tomb; although He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth. (Verse 10) Yet it pleased the LORD to crush Him by disease; to see if His soul would offer itself in restitution, that He might, His seed, prolong His days, and that the purpose of the LORD might prosper by His hand.
The Servant of the Lord dies in the place of all men and women who have sinned and offended a holy God. In one sense, the death of Jesus is the fulfillment of the Passover!
We will never have the close personal relationship with God that He has always intended for us to have, until the sin barrier is removed and we receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ;’s blood sacrifice. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, God Himself acted on our behalf to remove that barrier.