Isaiah 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.
Someone asked an old minister of the gospel, ‘Is your creed in print?’ He replied, ‘Yes, you will find it all in Isaiah, Chapter 53.’ Here is the gospel of God's grace in one chapter.
v. 1. ‘Our report’ is our message of the love, mercy, and grace of God in Christ Jesus. It is the testimony of God concerning Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:1-4). There has never lived a prophet who did not mourn the fact that men would not believe the good news of grace.
‘The arm of the Lord’ is Christ Jesus, the wisdom and power of God; for the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). Natural men do not see, hear, nor understand how God can be just and justifier, righteous and merciful to sinners through the obedience and death of Christ, the substitute (1 Cor. 2:8-14). He must be revealed to the heart by the Holy Spirit.
v. 2. ‘A tender plant’ signifies his lowly entrance into the world. He came not full grown in the pomp and glory of men but as a tiny, frail, helpless infant, born of a woman (Gal. 4:4-5).
‘A root out of a dry ground’ reveals the condition of David's house and the nation of Israel at this time. There was nothing left of the glory of David's kingdom, only dry ground, its king an unlikely son of a carpenter (John 6:42).
‘No form ... no comeliness ... no beauty.’ In sending our Redeemer into the world, the Lord God rejected and refused all fleshly, human attraction. Anything that would attract the eye of the flesh or support of the natural mind was refused. ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ (John 1:10-11).
v. 3. ‘Despised and rejected of men.’ Because of the lowliness of his birth, the poverty of his parents, his hometown and vocation, his lack of formal education, the people with whom he associated, his personal habits, the doctrine he preached, his claim to be one with the Father, and his condemnation of their tradition, everybody who was anybody turned from him, esteemed him not, and despised him. ‘A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.’ From the cradle to the grave, two words can sum up his pilgrimage through this world—‘Jesus wept’ (Lam. 1:12).
v. 4. ‘He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.’ The grief and sorrows, spiritual infirmities and sicknesses (Matt. 8:17), which he bore were not his own but ours. He had no sin, knew no sin, and did no sin. He was our substitute and representative.
‘Stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.’ The wrath of God and the sword of God's justice were sharpened to pierce him because he bore our sins and stood in our place. Though he had no sin, he stood before the justice of God as the world's greatest sinner; for on him were laid all the sins of all the elect of all ages.
v. 5. If you would learn the gospel, then learn the meaning of these two words—substitution and satisfaction. ‘He was wounded for our transgressions.’ He was literally our substitute before the law and justice of God. In our place, in our stead, bearing our transgressions and all of our iniquities, he took upon himself all that justice could inflict. He made full satisfaction, for ‘by his stripes we are healed.’ God is reconciled, the debt is paid, justice is satisfied. He fully reconciled us to God by his obedience and his death (2 Cor. 5:19-21). The heart of the sinner was not changed toward God in the sufferings of Christ (that is accomplished later by the Holy Spirit and the word), but the wrath of God was removed toward the sinner. Reconciliation is the work of God in Christ toward himself (Rom. 3:24-26).
v. 6. The prophet is careful not to say ‘they’ or ‘them,’ but ‘we!’ ‘All we like sheep’ and ‘the iniquity of us all.’ Read Verses 4-6 and put your name in every place you read ‘our’ and ‘we.’ Someone wrote: ‘My sins, my sins, my Savior, how sad on thee they fall; when I see them in thy death, I ten-fold own them all. My sins, my sins, my Savior, their guilt I never knew; till I saw them at the cross, the Lord of hosts they slew.’
v. 7. ‘He opened not his mouth.’ He was a willing Redeemer. ‘No man takes my life, I lay it down.’ He was brought as a lamb to the altar, as a sheep to be shorn of all dignity, comfort, honor, and even his life. ‘Yet he opened not his mouth,’ not against his people, his Father, his enemies, nor justice. He was willing to die for his sheep (John 10:14-18).
v. 8. His life was taken away in a violent manner, under a pretense of justice. Wrong charges were brought against him; false witnesses lied. ‘He was cut off out of the land of the living.’ Who shall declare the wickedness of men? But for the transgression of his people he was stricken (1 Peter 3:18).
v. 9. ‘Grave with the wicked’ signified the fact that he was assigned to die between two thieves. ‘With the rich in his death’ denotes the fact that he was laid in the borrowed tomb of a rich man. Such vile and wicked treatment was accorded him, although he had done no violence and knew no sin.
v. 10. ‘It pleased the Lord to bruise him.’ This is a key verse. (1) The Lord bruised him, (2) the Lord put him to grief, and (3) the Lord made soul an offering for sin. The Father not only permitted him to suffer as our substitute and sin-offering, he purposed it, predestinated it, and willed him to die (Acts 2:22-23; 4:26-28). His soul suffering shall make an offering, an atonement for our sins; and ‘he shall see his seed’ (every son, sheep, and elect person is seen, known, and loved by Christ); ‘he shall prolong his days’ (he lives forever and so shall they); and ‘The pleasure, purpose, and will of the Father shall prosper, be accomplished, fulfilled in his hands’ (John 3:35; Eph. 1:3-14).
v. 11. Our Lord did not suffer in vain. He is ‘satisfied,’ yea even seated, having finished his work! All for whom he suffered are justified, for he bore their iniquities (Rom. 8:29-32). ‘Payment God's justice cannot twice demand, first at my bleeding surety's hand, then again at mine.
v. 12. He is exalted above all exaltation (Phil. 2:9-11), and he shall divide the spoil of the strong because:
He has poured out his soul unto death— satisfaction.
He was numbered with the transgressors— representation.
He bore the sins of many—substitution.
He made intercession for the transgressors— mediation.