1) Evidences of Faith: The Suffering Servant (part 2 of 2, Jim Robson)
2) News & Notes
Evidences of Faith
The Suffering Servant (part 2 of 2)
III. And By His Stripes We Are Healed
When we return to the passage in Isaiah, we find many more remarkable things. In order to fully appreciate how remarkable Isaiah’s prophecies are, we must remember that he wrote more than seven hundred years before Jesus came to earth. Moreover, we must imagine ourselves to be living before the gospel had been preached all over the world. Let us pretend that we never heard of Jesus Christ, and pick up reading where we left off:
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6).
How can we explain such a passage? Who is Isaiah talking about? How could someone else’s suffering help to heal you or me? How can God lay my iniquities on someone else? It is a truly puzzling message.
Of course, if we stop pretending, the answers are easy. For those of us who have heard the gospel message, it is obvious that Isaiah is referring to Jesus. We know this because the New Testament teaches that all have sinned, and that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 3:23, 6:23). It is through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that sinners have the opportunity to be forgiven, and to be granted eternal life:
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:27-28).
It is only through the atoning death of Jesus Christ that we have hope of everlasting life, for all “we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
There is yet another point to be observed in these verses. Isaiah indicated that people would think that the Servant had been smitten by God. Rather than seeing that He was suffering willingly, in obedience to God, the people would think that He was being punished by God. And, in fact, that is what happened to Jesus as He hung on the cross:
“And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, “I am the Son of God”‘” (Matthew 27:39-43).
We can see in the sarcastic taunts of these men that they felt Jesus was lying when He claimed to be the Son of God. Thus, from their point of view, His suffering was what He deserved, being a blasphemous heretic. They felt that He had been smitten by God.
IV. As A Lamb to the Slaughter
You will recall that we were led to this study of the suffering Servant by the eighth chapter of the book of Acts, where Philip the evangelist met the Ethiopian eunuch on the deserted road from Jerusalem to Gaza. The eunuch was reading from the prophet Isaiah, and Philip was able to preach Jesus to him beginning with that passage. Let us now turn to the verses which the eunuch was reading when Philip approached his chariot:
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken” (Isaiah 53:7-8).
Isaiah asserted that the Servant of God would accept His suffering without complaining or defending Himself — even though He was innocent. His suffering, after all, was not for the sake of His own sins, but for the sins of God’s people.
We see here that Isaiah again prophesied about the redemptive nature of Jesus’ sacrifice. Somehow, Isaiah — who wrote more than seven hundred years before Jesus — knew that a Man would give His life to pay for the sins of others — as he wrote a few verses later, the Servant would be an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10). When considering such a passage, we can see how this would indeed be a perfect place for Philip to begin telling the eunuch about Jesus. On the other hand, if we put ourselves in the place of the eunuch, who had not yet heard of Jesus, we can see why he had trouble understanding these verses. Why would God’s Servant be stricken for the sins of His people?
Of course, it is only in the teaching of Jesus and His apostles that we find the answer to this question. Jesus’ sacrifice was an expression of God’s love for mankind (John 3:16). It was the way of bringing men and women from all nations into one people (Ephesians 2:14-18). It was the only way for God to be just — that is, to punish sin — and also merciful — to forgive the sinner (Romans 3:21-26). Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection were the fulfillment of God’s ultimate plan of redemption, whereby He bought back people from the clutches of sin, and gained the eternal victory over Satan (I Peter 1:17-19; Hebrews 2:14). It is in Jesus that God accomplished the plan of salvation He had announced in the garden of Eden, wherein the Seed of the woman triumphed over the serpent (Genesis 3:15). Once again, we are brought face to face with the fact that the books of the Bible, though penned by some 40 human authors over a period of 1500 years, work in harmony to present one coherent message.
But there is something else about these verses in Isaiah that is striking. Notice that it is prophesied that this Servant, although He did not deserve the punishment inflicted upon Him, would accept it quietly. And, in fact, when we read the passages that describe Jesus’ final hours, we find that He made no attempt to defend Himself, and that He offered no complaints (Matthew 26:47-27:50; Mark 14:43-15:37; Luke 22:47-23:46; John 18 & 19). Although He possessed the ability to eliminate His tormentors in an instant, He accepted their abuse with all the meekness of a sheep before its shearers. Indeed, He is the Lamb of God, the pure and perfect sacrifice for sin (John 1:29).
Again, we need to ask ourselves, why would Isaiah, in the eighth century BC, think to write about these things? What would make him imagine a Servant of God who would suffer for the sins of the people? What would make him think that this Servant would suffer quietly, without defending Himself or complaining? Where would Isaiah get such ideas? It is difficult to explain in naturalistic terms.
In this article, we have looked at eleven verses of Isaiah’s prophecies of the Suffering Servant. We have seen that, in point after point, Isaiah’s predictions were fulfilled in Jesus. The skeptic may suggest that the New Testament writers somehow manipulated their accounts to give the impression that Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophesies, but this assertion is without any factual basis. On the contrary, many of the instances where the New Testament describes how Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy make no mention at all of Isaiah. If they were frauds trying to deceive people into believing that Isaiah’s prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus, they would certainly point out the correlation between their own stories and Isaiah’s prophecies. Moreover, we cannot go to any one book of the Bible to see all of these connections; the passages which show the connections between the Suffering Servant and Jesus are scattered throughout the New Testament. It is simply not within the realm of reason to suppose that all of the men who wrote these books, being in different parts of the world as they wrote, somehow collaborated to produce such a perfectly harmonious correlation between Jesus and Isaiah’s Suffering Servant. Furthermore, when we consider that all of the various passages we have cited blend seamlessly in their context, we conclude that they could not have been fraudulently inserted.
In other words, the passages we have considered are genuine, authentic, and honest. That being the case, we cannot escape the conclusion that Isaiah foretold of a Person and events more than seven hundred years beforehand. That is powerful evidence of the inspiration of the Bible.
— Via The Watchman Magazine, September 1, 1999
“Jesus answered them and said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father, even God, has set His seal.’ They said therefore to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent'” (NASB).
News & Notes
I was sorry to hear that Alma Lee Mayfield passed away February 20. It was probably in 2002 when I first met her and her husband Jim who were members of the church of Christ in Metairie (a suburb of New Orleans), where I had attended some gospel meetings. After the damage Hurricane Katrina brought to their building, the church no longer met there. So Jim and Lee soon placed membership with the Southside church of Christ in Gonzales, which was about 58 miles from their home. Since it was on Tuesday that we had our midweek service in Baton Rouge, it was there in Gonzales where I became more acquainted with the Mayfields, for I began attending the Wednesday evening services there on June 30, 2010 and continued to do so until moving from the Baton Rouge area in June 2014. Lee was such a gentle, sweet, and friendly person, and had also been quite an encouragement to others. I always enjoyed talking with her. She will truly be missed.
Also passing away was Herbert S. Craft, Jr., of Trenton, Florida. He was an uncle of Danny Bartlett, one of our members.
It was also mentioned last week of the passing of Robert Allen Young (the husband of Anita, another of our members), and of Shirley Jernigan who was the mother of Gege Gornton, who used to also attend here before moving away, and still has family who does.
We extend our condolences to all of these who have lost loved ones, and let those of us who are Christians be remembering them in our prayers.
And also for the following:
Carol Drain, who will soon begin chemo treatments for a total of six.
Michelle Rittenhouse, who has been undergoing some medical tests for her heart.
Also with heart trouble are Misty Thornton and Rex Hadley, Jr.
Barbara Sutherland (Marie Pennock’s niece), who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
And Danielle Howard, who has been having some trouble with her back.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)