Sermon series: God Speaks - part 2
Connection to unit theme
Adam failed to believe and obey God. Israel, as a nation, failed to believe God and obey Him. At the end of Deuteronomy, God promised to send one greater than Moses. Through Samuel, God promised to provide a son of David who would reign forever. Through Isaiah, God tells that this promised Savior will suffer and die, not for His own sin but for those of the people. Jesus Christ came and was obedient unto death, according to God's promised plan.
By almost every worldly standard, a hero is viewed as a powerful, mighty conqueror. There is the expectation that he will kill the enemy, conquer evil, and live. God, however, often does things in ways that defy earthly standards. Man has failed to walk by faith and obey God, resulting in spiritual death and exile. Man is hopeless to correct this situation on his own, due to the sinful nature of his heart. God promised to send a Savior that would be from the seed of the woman (Genesis 3); greater than Moses; and a son of David (2 Samuel 7). In this passage we see that this promised Savior would be an ordinary man in appearance, like those he came to save, and would suffer and die, not for his own sin but for the sin of others.
I. The promised Savior as suffering servant (vv. 1-3)
While "the arm of the Lord" indicates the Lord's power, the promised Savior from God would grow up as a "young plant" (53:2). This is consistent with the description Isaiah gave earlier (11:1), describing the promised Savior as a "shoot" that will come from the "stump of Jesse." His outward appearance would not be admirable. If anything, it would be quite the contrary. This contrasts with the physical appearance of King Saul, and even of the older brothers of young David. In both these cases, people looked upon them and marveled at their stature and physical strength. As God reminded Samuel, however, it is not the outward appearance but rather the heart with which God is concerned. If the promised Savior came as a mighty man of war, people would be inclined to follow him for his might. With his lowly appearance, this was not an option. The only explanation for the effectiveness of his ministry would be his dependence on God and his commitment to carry out God's plan, even in the face of suffering.
Suffering would indeed be the experience of God's promised Messiah. Far from being applauded by men, Isaiah says He will be "despised and rejected." Further, suffering will not be a small, momentary part of His experience, but rather the characterizing feature of it. He would be a "man of sorrows" and "acquainted with grief."
Sin always brings about suffering and shame. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, they immediately hid themselves because they were ashamed. When the suffering servant came, He would experience the suffering and shame that was part of sin's penalty, though the sin for which He suffered was not His own. He would willingly endure this suffering, not because He deserved it, but because it was required for Him to walk in complete obedience to His Father's will.
Application: Do you limit God's ways of working in your life to those which make sense to you? If so, how might you be limiting what God wants to do in your life simply because you don't like or understand it? Are you willing to follow in obedience to the will of God, even if the result is suffering? Remember, it was Christ's willingness to face undeserved suffering on our behalf that brought us salvation.
II. The promised Savior as substitute (vv. 4-12)
Through animal sacrifices, God provided a picture of the necessity of a sin payment - a substitute to take God's punishment for sin. As the writer of Hebrews says, those sacrifices were only an "annual reminder of sins," because "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin" (Hebrews 10:3-4). The promised Savior would be the "lamb of God who takes away" (not temporarily withholds judgment against) "the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Though the Savior would carry the "sorrows" and "griefs" of those who deserved the punishment, many would misinterpret His suffering as God's curse against Him. Far from being the curse of God, it was His will that led Jesus to suffer (53:10). It was His unwavering obedience to the will of God, all the way to the cross, that provided the payment for our sin God's justice demanded.
The promised Savior would receive the piercing, crushing, and chastisement that we deserved. The sinless servant would take upon Himself the iniquity of all. As a result, those to whom His blood are applied receive His healing and peace. What rightly belonged to man (sin, suffering and death) was placed upon Him. What rightly belonged to Him (righteousness and life) was given to man, through repentance and faith in Him.
Application: Because Christ died in your place and has given you life, are you living in a way that reflects that life? How does Christ's willingness to fully obey the Father's will despite shame, suffering, and death challenge you to fully surrendering to God's will for your life, no matter the cost?
Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, was the fulfillment of God's promise to send a Savior. He was the suffering servant and our substitute. He was the better sacrifice the writer of Hebrews talks about. He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, as proclaimed by John the Baptist. He suffered in our place. He died for our sin. He took the punishment we deserved. He did all this to fully obey the will and plan of His Father, walking in perfect obedience and surrender to Him. Because of His perfect obedience, even to the death on a cross, we can be counted free.
As the great song "Before the Throne of God Above" reminds us:
"Because the sinless Savior died, My sinful soul is counted free. For God the just is satisfied, To look on Him and pardon me."
Not only did He die on the cross as our substitute, but He also rose from the dead three days later. And in Him, we have life.