by Mike Ratliff
13 Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand. (Isaiah 52:13-15 NASB)
In his fine book Escape from Reason, Francis Schaeffer analyzed 20th Century philosophy, science, art, and popular culture to get to the “cause,” if you will, of the decline of reason, which was and is still shaping our society. Modern thought in our time, it seems, has been diverted from an eternal, heavenly focus to one that is entirely geared to the temporal. Part of his thesis is that the advent of humanistic philosophy and reason began with Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). He contends that prior to Aquinas, the heavenly things were all-important, but since his teaching and discussion of “nature and grace,” the focus of human thought has made the temporal all-important with the heavenly becoming only an abstract “unreality.”
A troubling product of this line of reasoning has been growing and developing for well over the last 150 years in the humanizing of Christianity. Spurgeon called it the “Great Downgrade.” All through their ministries in the 20th Century, A.W. Pink and A.W. Tozer sounded the alarms of the this move away from the genuine Gospel which produced godly Christians living in an eternal focus to a man-centered gospel which produced mostly religious Christians who had no idea why Jesus really went to the cross. If we were to take a poll of “average” pew sitters to see who could define the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ I think the results would be very discouraging. If we were to go by what is usually preached in the vast majority of “evangelical” churches Sunday after Sunday then we will see why most of those people will believe that Christianity is all about having felt needs met, being healthy, and wealthy. Or, in other churches they may hear only about cultural relevancy and everyone just getting along. In any case, they never hear of Jesus being wounded for our transgressions.
1 Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well- being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed. (Isaiah 53:1-5 NASB)
The first question implies that in spite of all of prophecies speaking of the coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, only a few would recognize Him as such. He came as the suffering Servant instead of the conquering King, for whom they were looking. The rulers of the Jews and most of the people did not welcome him.
9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. (John 1:9-11 NASB)
The second part of v1 speaking of the arm of the Lord is telling us that even though Jesus performed miracles that only could be done by God, most people did not recognize His power in that that very thing was a sign that their Deliverer was in their presence, and they rejected Him. In v2 the “he” is Jesus Christ while the “him” is the Father. Though Jesus grew up unrecognized by the world, the Father sovereignty ordered all circumstances of His life. Jesus did not wear the soft rich clothing of rulers or the wealthy. He came from humble beginnings and lived simply. I remember several years ago hearing a “preacher” on TBN say something like this, “Jesus was wealthy, and he wore designer clothes, and drove the finest cars.” Of course he was trying to say that Jesus preached the same message he preached which was, “come to Jesus so He can make you healthy and wealthy.” Utter nonsense! Jesus came humbly and those who did recognize Him did so by faith instead of by seeing outward manifestations of whom He really was.
In v3 we see exactly how Jesus was received by nearly everyone. He was hated and rejected. This not only hurt Him physically, it hurt Him in His Spirit. He grieved when people refused to believe His message or receive Him as Lord. I think that this part of this passage gives me the most grief. I tear up when I read it or hear that song based on these verses. Why? Because I know that I am just as responsible for His sorrow as the people who saw Him there. I am a sinner who rebelled and lived sinfully for over 34 years before He saved me. If you are in Christ, this should break your heart as well for all of us are sinners who deserve nothing but hellfire. Not only was Jesus despised by the Jews when He came, when He was crucified they did not show Him any respect, but vilified Him instead.
In v4 we have the miracle and wonderful work of God placing the darkness, the consequences of the sin of His people, on Christ. Christ bore the consequences of His people’s sin as He died on the cross. However, those watching Him die thought that He was suffering for His own sins and that God approved of it. Ironically, they were right, but He was sinless. It was for the sins of His people that He suffered and died. In v5 we see very clearly that Christ was the substitute for those for whom He died. He deserved none of it. It was me that should have to suffer for my sins. I should have to be wounded for my transgressions and bruised for my iniquities. However, all that would do would be to destroy me. However, one who knew no sin took my place and bore my sins and paid the price in His death so that I could have peace with God. And the same for all whose names are in the Book of Life of the Lamb. In the last part of v5 we read, “And by His scourging we are healed.” Here is Peter’s version.
24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24 NASB)
The healing then is what? Through the wounds of Christ before and at the Cross, believers are healed of the great and deadly spiritual sickness of sin. Peter tells us that salvation includes dying to sin and living righteously. This is the healing that we will deal with progressively the rest of our lives in these bodies. However, in eternity we will be totally free from sin.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
10 But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:6-12 NASB)
None of us deserve salvation. We are stupid sheep going our own way. We are all sinners. However, God took our sins and laid them on Christ. This caused Jesus to suffer and die horribly, but he opened not His mouth. He never tried to talk His way out of it. He did not rail and complain. He simply spoke the truth at certain points, but kept silent the rest of the time. Christ was spit upon. He was treated shamefully. Even in death he was laid in someone else’s tomb. He had committed no crimes or any sins whatsoever yet He was hated and killed. However, all of this was the will of the Father. Christ fulfilled the role as the Lamb of God. His sacrifice satisfied God’s requirements for payment for our sin. Think of it. All through His ordeal before and on the Cross, Christ knew that through his suffering and death many would be accounted righteous by the Father with His Righteousness. When Christ’s Kingdom is fulfilled He will enjoy the spoils of His victory on the Cross. When we see Jesus we will see Him in His glorified body, but bearing the marks of His suffering and death. His scars will ever be before us. He is interceding for us right now. He is praying that you will read this passage from Isaiah and understand, and take it to heart and live your life in light of it.
Why would anyone take this precious gift of salvation and make it the basis of a temporal blasphemous fiction that says that people can partake of it if they feel like it?!?!? If they say that prayer they are saved whether they are actually changed by it or not?!?!? That is a huge insult against my Lord and precious Saviour. Those dealing in this falsehood will have to deal with Him in eternity. Until then though, let’s tell the truth about why Jesus went to the Cross and make people understand that they are sinners who are on the way to Hell unless they receive Christ as Lord and Saviour.
1 Ἦν δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων, Νικόδημος ὄνομα αὐτῷ, ἄρχων τῶν Ἰουδαίων· 2 οὗτος ἦλθεν πρὸς αὐτὸν νυκτὸς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ῥαββί, οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἀπὸ θεοῦ ἐλήλυθας διδάσκαλος· οὐδεὶς γὰρ δύναται ταῦτα τὰ σημεῖα ποιεῖν ἃ σὺ ποιεῖς, ἐὰν μὴ ᾖ ὁ θεὸς μετʼ αὐτοῦ. 3 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. 4 λέγει πρὸς αὐτὸν [ὁ] Νικόδημος· πῶς δύναται ἄνθρωπος γεννηθῆναι γέρων ὤν; μὴ δύναται εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ δεύτερον εἰσελθεῖν καὶ γεννηθῆναι; 5 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ πνεύματος, οὐ δύναται εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. 6 τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς σάρξ ἐστιν, καὶ τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος πνεῦμά ἐστιν. 7 μὴ θαυμάσῃς ὅτι εἶπόν σοι· δεῖ ὑμᾶς γεννηθῆναι ἄνωθεν. 8 τὸ πνεῦμα ὅπου θέλει πνεῖ καὶ τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ ἀκούεις, ἀλλʼ οὐκ οἶδας πόθεν ἔρχεται καὶ ποῦ ὑπάγει· οὕτως ἐστὶν πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος. 9 ἀπεκρίθη Νικόδημος καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· πῶς δύναται ταῦτα γενέσθαι; 10 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· σὺ εἶ ὁ διδάσκαλος τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ταῦτα οὐ γινώσκεις; 11 ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι ὅτι ὃ οἴδαμεν λαλοῦμεν καὶ ὃ ἑωράκαμεν μαρτυροῦμεν, καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἡμῶν οὐ λαμβάνετε. 12 εἰ τὰ ἐπίγεια εἶπον ὑμῖν καὶ οὐ πιστεύετε, πῶς ἐὰν εἴπω ὑμῖν τὰ ἐπουράνια πιστεύσετε; 13 καὶ οὐδεὶς ἀναβέβηκεν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εἰ μὴ ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς, ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. 14 Καὶ καθὼς Μωϋσῆς ὕψωσεν τὸν ὄφιν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, οὕτως ὑψωθῆναι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, 15 ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐν αὐτῷ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. 16 οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλʼ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. 17 οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἵνα κρίνῃ τὸν κόσμον, ἀλλʼ ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ. 18 ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν οὐ κρίνεται· ὁ δὲ μὴ πιστεύων ἤδη κέκριται, ὅτι μὴ πεπίστευκεν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ μονογενοῦς υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ. 19 αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ κρίσις ὅτι τὸ φῶς ἐλήλυθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον καὶ ἠγάπησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι μᾶλλον τὸ σκότος ἢ τὸ φῶς· ἦν γὰρ αὐτῶν πονηρὰ τὰ ἔργα. 20 πᾶς γὰρ ὁ φαῦλα πράσσων μισεῖ τὸ φῶς καὶ οὐκ ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ· 21 ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα φανερωθῇ αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα ὅτι ἐν θεῷ ἐστιν εἰργασμένα. (John 3:1-21 NA28)
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus during the night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one is able to do these signs You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen I say to you, unless one is born again, he is not able to see the Kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to him, “How is a man able to be born being old? Surely he is not able to enter into his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Amen, amen I say to you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he is not able to enter into the Kingdom of God. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of the spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, it is necessary for you to be born again. 8 The wind blows where it wishes and the sound of it you hear, but you do not know where it comes from and where it goes, so is everyone having been born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus answered and said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “You are a teacher of Israel and you do not know these things? 11 Amen, amen I say to you, that which we know we speak and that which we have seen we testify about, and our testimony you do not receive. 12 If I told you earthly things and you do not believe how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 And no one has ascended into Heaven except the Son of Man who has descended out of Heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up 15 that everyone believing in Him may have eternal life.”
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that everyone believing in him should not perish but have life eternal. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 The one believing in him is not judged, but the one not believing has been judged already because he has not believed in the only name of the Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, light has come into the world and men love the darkness rather than the light for their works were evil. 20 Everyone practicing evil things hates the light and does not come into the light lest his works be exposed, 21 but the one doing the truth comes to the light that it may be manifested that his works have been wrought in God. (John 3:1-21 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Soli Deo Gloria!