The Suffering and Glory of the Servant
13 See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him[c]—
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond human likeness—
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.
53 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
What kind of literature is this? Poetry. Isaiah is a book of prophecy, written mostly in poetry, telling us about the ways and thoughts of God.
What did it mean when it was written? It was a challenge to what people sought and trusted. Isaiah was speaking to people who felt abandoned by God. They were far from home. They dreamed of a strong leader who would serve as a King, a military leader. This picture of a “suffering servant” was not what they looked for. It challenged them to see life not just in economic or political terms, but to see deeper spiritual issues.
Who am I in this story? I’m not the servant mentioned here. I am the one who is challenged to believe (Isaiah 53:1); the one who despises, turns his head, who devalues the servant of God (53:2-4). This suffering servant was pierced for my transgressions (53:5). I am one of the sheep who has gone astray (53:6). I am one of those who can be justified by him (53:11).
Where is God in this Story? He is the one who chooses to punish the servant with the sins of others (53:6, 10). He is also the one who who the Lord will cause to prosper after his suffering and who the Lord will put in charge ((53:11-12).
Why is this in the Bible? This is in the Bible to tell us not to have preconceived ideas about how God is going to deliver us. Primarily, this passage is a prophecy about Jesus – what kind of Savior He will be.
What is God saying to me? He is asking me to slow down and pay attention to what Jesus endured to pay the price for my sins.