So begins the fifth and final stanza of Isaiah’s fourth song of the Servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12).
- First stanza – Wake Up, City of God; the suffering of the Jews foreshadowed the Messiah’s suffering.
- Second stanza – Believe It, People of God; as hard as it might be to believe, the Messiah came as a man.
- Third stanza – Consider the Why, Rebels of God; the Servant’s suffering had purpose.
- Fourth stanza - Behold the Lamb, Children of God; the Servant was shorn and slaughtered as a lamb.
And all of this made God happy? It pleased Him?
The four previous stanzas described the sacrificial death of the Servant with awful terms.
- Disfigured, beaten to the point of being unrecognizable
- Despised, rejected, a man of suffering
- Stricken, struck down by God, afflicted
- Pierced, crushed, punished
- Oppressed, judged, cut off
Because of this…
The Servant’s death would make restitution for wrongs done against the holy name of God. Jesus gave Himself up as a restitution offering (aka, guilt offering in other translations). Jesus’ death created a way for the ultimate wrong to be made right – for God’s creation to be restored to their former position. God and people could dwell together once again.
The anguish of restitution
With restitution made, the Servant will see His spiritual offspring. Through resurrection, He will no longer experience death. He will accomplish the desire of God (Isaiah 53:10).
Yes, He will go through anguish to reach the end goal. God’s not pleased with that part. But sin’s entrance into the world brought with it the need for sacrifice. God is pleased that the Servant willingly offered Himself as the final sacrifice to permanently make right the wrong done by our choice to sin. And despite the anguish, Jesus will be satisfied because He knows the results (Isaiah 53:11).
He knows His anguish will make restitution to declare us righteous. He knows it will bear our distortion of truth (Isaiah 53:11); His resurrection will defeat our distortion of truth. He knows that He is the truth (John 14:6).
He knows His suffering will take us from co-conspirator to co-heir (Romans 8:17). From vile to victorious (1 John 5:4). From condemned to conqueror (1 John 4:4).
The victory of redemption
Jesus experienced anguish that none of us will ever know. But with that anguish came the victory of redemption. He died as our Passover lamb so that the death angel might pass over us.
He exposed His soul – the very part of Him that communed with God the Father – to death. Although He was sinless, He allowed Himself to be counted among those who have rebelled against God. He carried away our sin and caused the punishment for it to fall upon Himself (Isaiah 53:12).
Because He willingly did so, His is the greatest victory and the greatest reward. God will make Him chief or captain over all. That is why Paul later wrote, “Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:7-11).
Yes, God will make Him chief over all, but He won’t keep it all to Himself. That’s the part that knocks me to my knees every time. When final victory is His, He will assign the spoils among the mighty. In other words, there’s a part in there for us. We will be with Him. The fourth cup will be drank. The victory will be complete. In the midst of all that, He will say, “Come here, my beloved. Good job, my mighty one. I have a little something for you.” I can’t wait. How about you?