“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. 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” (Isaiah 53:4-6).
As Isaiah continues to comfort God’s people following their being carried away into Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 39:6-7; 40:1), he now speaks of how God would accomplish not only their deliverance, but the deliverance of all men from the greatest captivity of all, the captivity of their own sins (Isaiah 53:1-12). In His infinite love, grace and mercy, God would accomplish this redemption by having His Son pay the price for our sins, the penalty of death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). As the opening verses above indicate, this passage speaks about Jesus’ suffering on our behalf (Isaiah 53:4-6).
First, the 53rd chapter of Isaiah is powerful as it speaks about our rebellion against God: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one, to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6). All of us have sinned and fallen short of the standards that God wants us to live by (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
Second, this chapter speaks about our rejection of our Savior: “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:3-4). Jesus came to save us from our sins, yet, as the ugly scene at the cross indicates, as sinful men, we rejected His love for us by cruelly nailing Him to a cross (Matthew 27:27-50).
Third, this great section of Scripture speaks about the Savior’s resolve to fulfill God’s mission for Him to suffer on our behalf that we may have the opportunity to be saved from our sins: “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
Fourth, this chapter speaks of our redemption which the Savior accomplished. Jesus’ sacrifice pleased God, not because God rejoiced in seeing His Son suffer, but because God so loved the world that His Son’s suffering and death would satisfy God’s justice for the penalty of our sins: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief…” (Isaiah 53:10).
Finally, Isaiah 53 speaks about the Savior’s reward. God would give His Son a kingdom, the church: “Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).
I never tire of reading Isaiah 53. It is incredibly humbling as I read about what my Savior did for me and how my sins caused Him to have to suffer. However, Isaiah 53 is also marvelously uplifting for me as it forcefully reminds me of God’s amazing love for me that He would go through such measures to save me from my sins. Today, I rejoice that Jesus bore my iniquity to redeem me!
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).