Isaiah 53:4,5

THE SERVANT SONGS SERIES: Crushed For Our Iniquities

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Please Read Isaiah 53:1-6

This morning we come to the third stanza of this final Servant Song in Isaiah, and in doing so we come to the very heart of the message of this passage. In fact, we come to the very heart of the Servant Song series and of the Bible itself. Here is the message of the Bible in a nutshell, that rescue plan of God drawn up from before the foundation of the world, coming together in the Person and Work of the Servant of God as described in this passage before us this morning. The united witness of the Old Testament and the New Testament finds its greatest expression here in this chapter of Isaiah.

Do you want to understand the gospel and how a sinner is to be saved - then get a good grasp of this chapter in Isaiah, for here is the only way of salvation for sinful man. Do you want the key to understanding the Bible - well here is the key that unlocks the great mysteries of the Scriptures, for it turns the lock of all the Old Testament patterns, types and promises. Here is the way to be freed from your guilt and to enter into a restored relationship with God, and to have the promise of eternal life turned into reality for yourself.

This is a message that has been going out to the world for centuries, and yet it has been rejected for centuries by an unbelieving and ungodly humanity. ‘Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed (Is 53:1)?’ So many witnesses of the truth have reported to the world the way of salvation, yet there have been so few believers of the message that these witnesses have proclaimed. The message declared seems to the world to be a fairy tale, too good to be true perhaps. It seems too far-fetched to be trustingly regarded. The Servant of God couldn’t resist an earthly empire, so how could it be that He is the Saviour of the world? ‘He is a nobody, a false Messiah, for He is not the Messiah we are looking for,’ say those of His own race.

‘He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not (Is 53:3).’ Humanity does not want the salvation that the Servant of God so freely offers to them. The world wants nothing to do with the Servant King and His gospel of saving grace. No, the world turns from Him and His salvation and pursues its own devices and pleasures. The world turns its collective face from Christ and looks upon its own religion and schemes.

Perhaps you love your sin too much to come to the Suffering Servant and to gain life through His salvation. Perhaps it would cost you too much to believe in Him who died for sinners. Perhaps you have pacified an accusing conscience with a form of religion and you are satisfied with that for it allows you to do your own thing also. There are many reasons why you might not want the salvation that the Servant of God has purchased on behalf of sinners.

Yet here O world is the way to freedom from sin and the oppression of a guilty conscience! Here sinner you will find a salvation so full and free, that though it demands your all, it expects nothing to be paid for possession of it. The turning away of the wrath of God is within your grasp, if only you would hear and heed this message of hope, of love and of grace. If only you would embrace Him by faith and rest in what He has done.

But what of those that do embrace the report of salvation in the Servant of God? What about you that have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and who have so willingly taken hold of His salvation? What about you that have forsaken all and held to the Lord Jesus Christ and His salvation alone? What about you that have forsaken the ways of the world and embraced The Servant of God as your way of escape from sin and the judgment that is to come? What is the result of the mission of the Servant of God for you? What have you gained from hearing and heeding the gospel message, the gospel report?

You look upon the accounts in the gospels of the death of Christ and observe the mocking and the ridicule of the world upon this One you call Lord and Saviour, and what do you see? What do you understand by this seeming madness that would have the Lord of glory crucified in the place of common criminals? What do you see? What do you have? Look at the passage brethren.

‘Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted (Is 53:4).’

Though the world sees only someone that has been justly condemned for ‘obvious evil (for being so afflicted is proof enough for them),’ we see something different in the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. The arm of the Lord has indeed been revealed to us, so that we are able to see by the eyes of faith that which was really accomplished through the life and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t see mere human suffering there on the cross, we don’t see someone not to be desired, and we do not see someone suffering for His own sin - what we see is the true spiritual significance of that event that only a regenerated child of God can see. We are now spiritually alive, and so we see spiritual things.

When we look upon the suffering Servant of God, we recognize that He was not suffering for His own sin, but that ‘Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows (Is 53:4a)’. There on that Roman cross He was accomplishing something, somehow, that would bring sinners to God in a way that would make them acceptable to Him, and in a way that would make heaven their eternal abode. We don’t know it all brethren, but we know that much - whatever was going on there, it was making my salvation not possible, but actual. It became a reality through that greatest gift of God to man.

Now what was happening there at the cross? Consider our passage brethren and know the mind of the Spirit of God. Notice that the emphasis in the passage is on the word ‘He,’ for it is ‘He’ that has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, and not ‘we.’ For our salvation to be accomplished we needed the ‘He’ to do the work of deliverance for us. No Christian has ever delivered himself from the damnation of Hell and from sin, but ‘He’ has saved all Christians in all times. At the cross He was carrying our griefs and our sorrows and not we.

Instead of having to carry the burden of sin upon our own spiritual backs, so that we should work out our own deliverance from them, or that we should suffer the punishment for them in eternity ourselves, ‘He’ has borne them in our stead. In other words the Lord Jesus Christ has lifted them up from off our spiritual backs and put them upon His own back and carried them away from us and for us to the place of punishment for sin. That’s what the Bible is actually saying to us in this verse. He has taken our griefs and sorrows from upon us, put them onto Himself, and then carried them away from us so that they are no longer our own. They have now become His sins, not by actual commission, but by transmission. They have been put into His account as though they were His very own, and He carried them to that place of punishment in order to suffer for those that had become His very own through the electing purpose of God.

Christian, your sin has been carried away from you by the Lord Jesus Christ. Those sins are no longer your own but His. They became His responsibility, and therefore He became accountable to God for them. That’s what the Bible means when it says, ‘For he hath made him to be sin for us (2 Cor 5:21a )’.

It doesn’t mean that you can now sin with impunity, but it does mean that you are no longer held accountable for the sins that you have committed and will commit. They have been taken from you and are no longer your own, they now belong to Christ by imputation - they have been put to His account. He is the one that has had to bear those sins and suffer the consequences for having committed those sins - and that He has done at the cross, for you who have believed and trusted in Him.

So the first thing to recognize this morning is that the sins we have committed are no longer our own to carry, for they are now reckoned as belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘But I have sinned so grievously in doing...’ What sin is that Christian, you have no more sin for it has been borne by another, even the Lord Jesus Christ. It is now His sin, be no longer cast down by it. Christian, the Father no longer sees any sin in your account; it is all gone, carried away by His Servant. You are free from the guilt of sin as regards accountability for it. Your sin account is bankrupt, for you have no more of it in your account. The Servant of God has had the responsibility of bearing your sin, ‘Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1 Pet 2:24).’

‘yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted (Is 53:4b).’ The Lord Jesus Christ was carrying the sins of His people during His earthly mission, yet when we looked at Him we saw someone being punished for His own sin. Oh, how wicked must this Jesus have been to die the death of a criminal on that Roman Cross. Before we were saved we thought this sort of thing, and the world still thinks that sort of thing.

The Jews seemed especially able in bringing this charge against those that were innocent - remember the Tower of Siloam, the blood of the Jews mixed in Pilate’s sacrifices, and the account of Job - all these were accused of great sin by the Jews, because they suffered so much - surely that’s evidence of great sinning! That is how the darkened world understands the suffering of Christ - a just death for a revolutionary, the right end for a blasphemer, and so on. Surely someone that suffered so much was being rightly punished by God, surely there is no other answer?

But again, we now see with spiritual eyes what we once only saw with natural eyes. We now see things better, and with spiritual understanding, recognizing that that was not the case with the Lord Jesus Christ at all. He wasn’t punished for His own sin or struck down on account of His own unrighteousness. In fact the Scriptures teach that He knew no sin by way of personal experience at all, but became sin only by imputation in order to bring us to God, and was therefore suffering for sin only by way of standing in the place of sinners.

 

‘But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed (Is 53:5).’

Here then is the reality of the suffering of the Servant of God; He suffered not for His own sin but for ours, for those of his elect, for believers. Note again that the emphasis for the punishment of our sin falls upon the word ‘He.’ Not only did the Lord Jesus Christ carry our sins, having taken them from off our backs and putting them on His own, but He also paid the penalty that was due for these sins. Not only do we not carry the responsibility of our own sins, but the punishment due to our sins also falls upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

He was wounded, or as the Hebrew correctly translated says, He was pierced through for our transgressions. In other words He was not merely injured for carrying our sins, He was not only wounded by becoming a Substitute sin-bearer for us, but He was actually pierced through on account of our transgressions. He took the punishment that was due for our sin right through to its conclusion, even to a violent death. Christian, it is finished, the work of paying the price of sin and bearing its punishment is over, for the Servant of God has already brought it to a complete conclusion through His suffering on the cross.

He was bruised, or as the Hebrew correctly translated says, He was crushed, shattered, destroyed, for our iniquities. The idea expressed is that of a complete destruction at the hands of an avenging and wrathful God. In other words He went through Hell on that cross because of our sin, in order that we would be freed from that date with eternal destiny and everlasting destruction.

Christian you need to understand that Christ did not just suffer the agony of the cross, as though he merely suffered what any other man would have suffered upon the cross if he hung there instead of Jesus. No, there was more than physical suffering here. He also suffered the full weight of God’s judgment upon His people’s sin as He hung on that cross, an unimaginable suffering in the place of sinners. You see He was pierced through with the judgment of God for sin, for your sin, in contrast to the infinitely insignificant suffering of human pain on the cross.

Yes, He was smitten by God, but not for His own sin - it was for ours. Christian, no longer do you have any sin to carry, and no longer do you have any sin to give an account for, for the account of your sin has been paid in full already, and it has been stamped as paid by the resurrection from the dead. It’s finished, paid for.

The chastisement or the correction necessary, the only possible remedy that would bring us peace with God came at the expense of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In order for you and I to escape the eternal consequences of sin it was necessary for the Servant of God to suffer the just punishment for sin that had been put to His account from ours. Someone had to pay, the Law demanded it, strict justice required it, and the Holiness of God called for it. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ came forward into the breach, so that instead of an eternity paying the debt we owed because of our sin, He paid the full price - ‘For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Pet 3:18).’

So here then is the reason for the suffering of Christ, for the griefs and sorrows, for the wounding and piercing, for the bruising and crushing, for the chastisement and correction of the cross - that the wrath of God would be turned away from us through the taking away of our sin and the payment of its debt, and so that reconciliation would be effected. With the barrier between God and man removed, peace was once again instituted between redeemed humanity and rescuing divinity.

‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Rom 8:1).’

That sin problem that has afflicted humanity since the Garden of Eden has now been dealt with through the punishment suffered by the Lord Jesus Christ at the cross. Our spiritual affliction has now been healed through the stripes suffered by the Lord Jesus Christ at the hands of His Father’s justice. This then is what we remember as we observe the Lord’s Supper this afternoon. We remember a Saviour that went through Hell for us in order to join the hands of the Father to the hands of sinners. We reached not out to Him, but He reached out to us through His only begotten Son, whom He gave to be a sacrifice for sin, thereby providing the only means of escape from everlasting destruction at the hands of an omniscient and omnipotent thrice-holy God.

Oh redeemed sinner, we have much to remember and to be thankful for as we come to the Lord’s Supper this afternoon. Not only did the Lord Jesus Christ die for the salvation of all His elect, but he did so for us as individual members of His elect body.

That harsh word spoken to a parent or to a child or to a partner - that mistruth told to cover a sin or a mistake - that lustful look or sexually perverted thought concerning a neighbour or a friend - that extra plate at dinner time - that preferring time in front of the television and thereby neglecting the Scriptures, and a multitude of other individual and personal sins, these are they that required the piercing through and crushing of the Servant of God that day on the cross under the judgment of God.

Remember what it cost your God to deliver you from sin as you observe the Lord’s Supper, acknowledge it before Him, and thank Him out of sincere hearts. Render Him the praise and the glory due to His exalted Name. Live in the way that is expected of those that have been delivered from the curse of sin.

To God be the glory, great things He hath done - Amen.

 

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UPDATED: 19 April 2014

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