ISAIAH 53 (ESV)
1 Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken,smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one — to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many and makes intercession for the transgressors.
The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah is considered to be one of the most stunning
presentations of the Gospel in all of the Old Testament. In twelve verses, the prophet
tells of the Messiah, the very “ arm of the Lord ” who would come to dwell among us from very humble beginnings. Rejected by everyone, the Messiah will die in place of His
people, satisfy God ’ s righteous requirements concerning the Law, and be utterly
satisfied in the work He performed on their behalf, becoming for His people the
intercessor for their transgressions.
The prophet begins this Gospel presentation by asking important questions. “ Who hath
believed our report? ” Another important question follows, “ and to whom is the arm of
the Lord revealed? ” Isaiah ’ s questions could never be more fitting for our age as
well. Who believes this? Do You believe this? Is the arm of the Lord revealed to you? Do
you rest in the strength of Christ as your only righteous plea before Almighty God?
For those who do believe the Gospel, for those to whom the Spirit of God has revealed
the glorious truth of the Gospel of Christ Jesus for poor and needy sinners, a well-
spring of sweet joy springs up in these verses, even as we read about the suffering
servant who innocently took upon himself the iniquities of us all, fully bearing
them, and conquering death, hell, and the grave for each and every one of His precious
blood-bought children. Praise God! The tender plant who grew up in a dry place out of
dry ground is Himself the giver of everlasting water of which we drink and never thirst
again! Hallelujah forevermore! Beloved of the Lord, Christ has borne of griefs!And now, let us turn our attention to our study of this important passage, praying that
the Lord will be pleased to bless our time together for our good and for His glory –
I. CHRIST COMES TO HIS PEOPLE (1-3)
1 Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
A. While the message of the Gospel sounds over most of the world, two important
questions are asked: (1) Who has believed our report? (2)To whom is the arm of the Lord
B. Few people believe the Gospel. The vast majority simply reject it out of hand
because, as Romans 8:7,8 declares: “ the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to
God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the
flesh cannot please God.”
C. Since men and woman cannot choose to believe the Gospel, the “ arm of the Lord ” must be revealed to them. What is the arm of the Lord? It is Christ and His saving power!
Consider Isaiah 51:5: “ My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine
arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they
trust.” When Christ ’ s saving power is revealed in the preaching of the Gospel, those who are “ ordained unto eternal life believe ” (Acts 13:48).
D. Who has believe the report of the Lord? Those who whom the saving power of Christ has been revealed in the preaching of the Gospel! Without the Spirit of God testifying of
Christ in the preaching, no one would ever truly and savingly come to Christ. In that
time of powerful visitation, God ’ s people are made “ willing in the day of His power ”
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
A. To the unregenerate eye, Christ ’s appearing was nothing special. Born in a stable
in a tiny town, no one would have dreamed that the King of Kings would enter into our
story in such an unassuming way.
B. He who would would bring His people the very “ water of life ” would Himself spring up from “ the dry ground ” as a “ small twig ” seemingly of little value in a dry and thirsty
C. There was nothing special about his earthly appearance. In fact, Scripture plainly
teaches us that our Savior “ had no form or majesty, ” meaning he did not come from a
wealthy or important earthly family. As well, our Savior was not a particularly
beautiful or handsome man either. Nothing about his earthy trappings or station was
desirable by most human standards.
D. In fact, Isaiah tells us that Messiah was both “ despised and rejected by men. ”
Christ was a man from whom men hid their faces, both in shame and in anger, despising
both His person and especially His message. And as the Apostle John wrote many
centuries after Isaiah, “ And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world,
and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil”
(John 3:19). From a very early age, Christ ’ s earthly life was saddled with despair and hardship. Mary and Joseph, barely escaping the cruelties of Herod and his cruel slaughter of babies in Bethlehem, migrated to Egypt for a time, eventually returning to Israel where Jesus would labor as a common carpenter. Sweat would be our Savior ’ s bread during the decades leading up to His public ministry. In fact, later on during His
ministry, his hometown crowd mocked Christ because they recognized Him as a local!
Truly, our Savior was not held in high esteem!
II. CHRIST SUFFERS FOR HIS PEOPLE (4-6)
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned— every one — to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
A. In spite the fact that we “ esteemed Him not, ” despite the fact that we “ rejected
Him ” and “ did not look at Him, ” our Lord in love and mercy considered the plight of His lost sheep! Surely, declares Isaiah, “ He has borne our griefs! ” Without a doubt, “ He
has carried our sorrows! ” Praise the Living God for His love demonstrated in Christ!
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God
made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14by canceling
the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside,
nailing it to the cross.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even
when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
B. With razor-like precision, Isaiah details exactly how Christ would suffer and die
for His people. He was pierced for our transgressions! Crushed for our iniquities!
Keep in mind that this book was written hundred of years before Christ ’ s birth! Notice
the carefulness in which Isaiah protects Christ ’ s sinless perfection. “ He who knew no
sin, became sin for us, ” not in a literal way as to become a sinner, but by having our
sin credited or imputed to Him. Likewise, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to
His people because the sin debt is fully paid by His perfect sacrifice.
C. “ with His wounds we are healed ” – This is not a guarantee that all physical ailments
will be healed with a simple prayer. This promise is much more profound than a mere
promise of physical health and well-being. The “ healing ” written of here is the
perfect healing and salvation of our lives in, by, and through the finished work of
Christ! In Christ, broken vessels are made fit for the Master ’ s use!
D. “ all we like sheep have gone astray ” – Truly there is no one who is righteous, no one
who can keep God ’ s perfectly holy Law. While Christians long for and thirst to please
the Father, only Christ ’ s once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of His people satisfies
God ’ s wrath concerning sin. Believers slip and fall, have victories and moral
failures, ups and downs. But our life is hidden in Christ! Our righteous robes are not
our own! Praise God! Christ pursued His straying sheep, bearing their iniquity!
Cleansing them from all sin! Becoming for them “ wisdom, righteousness, and
sanctification! Thank the Lord! The chief shepherd tends with loving care His
E. “ the iniquity of us all ” – We know from the opening verse that most people reject the
“ report of the Lord. ” We also know from verse one that only those to whom “ the arm of
the Lord ” is revealed ” will ever believe the Gospel to the saving of the soul. Christ bears only the iniquity of those He came to save. Nothing more, certainly nothing
III. THE LORD DIES FOR HIS PEOPLE (7-9)
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
A. Christ suffered, bearing the sin debt of those He came to save. Why? Because of His
great love for His own! “ In love, God predestined us to adoption as sons! ” Christ bore
it all, everything that could be thrown at Him, because He loves His church!
B. “ they made his grave with the wicked ” – Christ died on the cross between two
Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.
C. “ and with a rich man in his death ” – Christ would use a tomb of a rich believer named
Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. 51 He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the
Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate
and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid
it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before.
D. “ no deceit in His mouth ” – Again, Isaiah reminds the reader of Christ ’ s absolute
sinlessness. The Messiah would be “ tempted in like manner as are we, yet without sin. ”
IV. THE LORD REDEEMS HIS PEOPLE (10-12)
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul
makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the
will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall
see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many and makes intercession for the transgressors.
A. Despite the clear fact that Christ remained entirely sinless, it was the will of God
to crush Him! It was God Almighty who “ put Him to grief. ”
“ Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with
mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you
yourselves know — 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and
foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
B. “ His soul makes an offering for guilt ” – Christ ’s sinless and spotless offering was
acceptable to God because it was the first and last perfect sacrifice! Christ paid for
sin, but never became a sinner. Christ died an offering for guilt, but never became
guilty! Had he become guilty, His death couldn’t atone for His sins, being an
1 Peter 1:18
18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your
forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the
precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
C. “ shall make many to be accounted righteous, and shall bear their iniquities ” –
Christ ’ s righteousness is imputed or credited to His people. Likewise, our iniquities
are imputed, or credited to Him. Some call this a “ legal fiction ” and demand that
Christ become sin in some mysterious way. But in order for Christ to be the spotless
sacrifice for sin, He had to remain in all ways altogether lovely, perfectly sinless.
He bore the sin of His people as the truly and totally just dying for the unjust.
D. “ He was numbered with the transgressors ” – which is to say Christ died as a common
criminal among criminals, as one who transgressed the law of God. But Christ ’ s death
was far from a sinner ’ s death! Because through it Christ became the intercessor for
the transgressions of many, the precious elect children of God. His perfectly
acceptable sacrifice, one without spot or blemish, gave Him the full authority as
mediator of a new and living way through His precious blood! Praise the living God!
Christ has come to His people. He did not arrive to the fanfare of kings, but in the
humble surroundings of a stable in Bethlehem. Hated and despised by the darkness of
the world, Christ bore suffering and shame for the sake of His people. Demonstrating
the highest love of God for His elect children, Christ freely died on behalf of His
people, healing His people by and through His shed blood and broken body. Ultimately,
Christ ’ s death perfectly fulfilled all righteousness, Christ ’ s people, God ’ s elect
children, being perfectly ransomed from the penalty and curse of the Law and imputed
with the perfect righteousness of the sinless and spotless Lamb: Christ Almighty.
O God, you have freely given Your children eternal life by and through the finished
work of Christ. He has born our griefs, carried our burdens, and cast our sin as far as
the east is from the west. As poor and needy sinners, we thank you for the priceless
gift of grace in the person and work of your Son Jesus. Thank you for the cross. Thank
you for the the forgiveness of sins. Thank you for the imputed righteousness of
Christ, who drank damnation dry on behalf of your people. Receive my praise and thanks as it is offered in the precious name of Christ the Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit – Amen.