Isaiah 53:3 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.
Some people stare at those who are suffering to satisfy their curiosity; others turn away to avoid the misery. As Jesus hung on the cross some people stared, while others turned away. But since he was a man of suffering, Jesus can relate to us whenever we suffer. He does not turn away from us, or stare out of curiosity. He looks on us with compassion, and enters into our pain. The reason he can do this is because he knows what it is to suffer.
Isaiah 53:4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
The fact that Jesus died on a cross proved to some that he could not be the Messiah. [A]nyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse (Deuteronomy 21:23), wrote Moses. Since Jesus was hung on a pole, he could not have been blessed by God, but was cursed by God. Could the Messiah ever be cursed by God?
This theological problem was solved by the Apostle Paul: Jesus became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13), he wrote. The pain and suffering Jesus endured was not for sins that he committed, but for sins that we committed. When Jesus hung on the cross he became the worst murderer, adulterer, blasphemer, liar and thief the world has ever known. The only one who should have been blessed, became a curse for us.
Isaiah 53:5 [H]e was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities.
The piercing of his hands and feet was visible to all, but the crushing he received was only seen by God. Our offenses and sins weigh us down (Ezekiel 33:10), wrote Ezekiel. If you have ever felt the weight of your own sins, you can begin to imagine the weight of the sins of the world that were laid on Christ.
An earthquake caused a home to collapse, and a baby’s cry was heard beneath the rubble. The child was found beneath her mom, cradled in her arms. The mom allowed herself to be crushed, to save her baby’s life. And Jesus was crushed for our iniquities, that we might live forever with him.
Isaiah 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way.
There is a part of us that wants to wander, even after we have come to Jesus Christ. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love (Robert Robinson), wrote the poet. That is why we need others to look after us.
A little girl wandered from her parents, and found herself deep in a swamp, surrounded by snakes and alligators. She survived a horrible night, and against all odds, was rescued the following day.
Likewise, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death (James 5:19-20), wrote James.
Isaiah 53:7 [H]e was led like a lamb to the slaughter [and] did not open his mouth.
This describes Jesus Christ when he was on trial. As he stood before the high priest he remained silent (Matthew 26:63). And when he was examined by Pilate, he gave him no answer (John 19:9). Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent (John 19:4), and thought he would fight for his life. But Jesus came to die for our sins, so he had no need to fight for his life. He was the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
Isaiah 53:9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.
The wicked and the rich were often linked in people’s thinking, since some of the rich got their money by oppressing the poor. Not all the rich were wicked, of course, but a burial site for the wealthy would likely include the graves of some who were wicked.
Joseph of Arimathea was not wicked, but he was rich. He was a member of the Jewish high court who did not consent to the crucifixion of Jesus (Luke 23:50-51). In fact, he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders (John 19:38), wrote John. But after Jesus died, Joseph went to Pilate and requested Jesus’ body.
Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock (Matthew 27:59-60). So Jesus was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death. Since Jesus was poor (Matthew 8:20), the odds of this prophecy being fulfilled are extremely remote. Again we see that God governs future events (Isaiah 46:10), to see that his word is fulfilled.
Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.
Ever since our first parents were banished from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23), it has been God’s purpose to bring us back to him (Genesis 3:15). Because he is a God of justice (Psalm 50:6), sin had to be punished. And because he is a God of mercy (Deuteronomy 4:31), he was willing to bear it himself.
The heavenly Father also knew that, through his death, Jesus would gain a people for himself. Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world (Matthew 25:34). The reason God created the world was to prepare a kingdom for his Son. The cross of Christ was the way to his throne.
Reflection and Review
How was Jesus crushed on the cross?
Why do people wander from God?
What did Jesus gain by dying for our sins?