Jesus, the Suffering Servant (Part 4)
In Isaiah 52:13-53:12, the prophet Isaiah paints a picture of the Suffering Servant who would rescue God’s people from judgment and exile, and restore them to their Lord by bearing their sins and giving them a share in his ultimate victory. Over 700 years before Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, Isaiah described what kind of savior God would send to his people.
So let us read this passage, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, and ask ourselves, “What kind of Savior did Isaiah promise that Jesus would be?”
- He will be a pursuing Savior. Isaiah says that the people of God are like sheep who have all wandered away from the Lord, their shepherd, and forsaken him to pursue their own ways (53:6). And rather than abandon us to our rebellion, the Suffering Servant comes to rescue us! In John 10, Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd who comes looking for his wandering sheep and who lovingly restores them to the fold of God. He says that his sheep hear his voice, and that when he calls them by name, they follow him because they recognize his voice (Jn. 10:3-4). He says, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me . . . and I lay down my life for the sheep” (10:14-15). And of course, this is exactly what Isaiah foretold, when he says that although the people of God have wandered away from him like lost sheep, the Servant bears their sin, and through his suffering brings them peace (Is. 53:5-6). Jesus is a pursuing Savior!
- He will be a vindicated Savior. The Servant does indeed die on behalf of his people, but his death is most certainly not be the last word. After dying to remove the guilt of the Lord’s people, Isaiah says that “he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days” (53:10). How can this be? How can the Servant be alive to see his offspring (i.e., those whom he has purchased and rescued by his death in their place) and how can he have a long and full life (“prolong his days”) if he is dead? The answer, of course, is that he does not stay dead! No doubt, this would have been mysterious to Isaiah’s original audience, but it would have been clear that after the Servant’s death, somehow he was still around to celebrate his victory with his people. Now that Isaiah’s prophecies have largely been fulfilled, we know that the very hour when Jesus seemed to be defeated was actually the hour that he achieved victory over sin, death, and Satan. Paul tells us in Colossians 2:15 that when Jesus bore our sins in his body on the cross, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them.” After his suffering and humiliation on the cross, Jesus triumphed over his enemies and put them to open shame. He is a vindicated Savior!