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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: Portraits of Christ

Don Smith :: Isa 53; The Lamb

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Portraits of Christ
Isaiah 53 — “The Lamb”

How are we to make sense of God, in flesh, suffering the agonies of the cross?

    • Jesus tried to prepare his disciples for His departure years before that fateful Friday.
    • But they just couldn’t comprehend the necessity of Christ’s suffering.
    • It was only after Christ’s resurrection that they began to understand God’s ordained plan of the ages.
    • What He told them is recorded in Luke 24:44-46, “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day.”
    • The Old Testament Scriptures spoke long before of the necessity for the Christ to suffer.
    • This evening is a time to gather around the Lord’s table to remember our dear suffering Savior.
    • To get some perspective on why His death was necessary, we turn to Isaiah 53.
    • It portrays Christ as the Suffering Servant.
    • We will divide up the prophecy into four parts.
    • Each pastor will read their assigned text and add brief color commentary.
    • Our intention is to show the relationship between this prophetic portrait of Christ and the actual events that were fulfilled in His life.
  1. The prophet begins Isaiah 53 by asking two questions: “Why did so few people believe the prophet’s message of Messiah’s coming?” (Isaiah 53:1-3)
    • “And to whom has the mighty power of God’s saving arm been revealed?”
    • It was revealed to Israel but they did not recognize Him as their Messiah.
  2. The Prophet explains why Israel didn’t recognize Jesus as their Messiah.
    • “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground.”
    • Christ grew up under the watchful care of His Heavenly Father, but He wasn’t recognized by Israel as their Messiah because He came in such lowly circumstances when the ancient promises seemed distant and impossible.
    • His identity was further obscured because He had no outward form or attractiveness that would indicate He was their promised King.
    • His humility revealed, however, the riches of His grace.
    • For though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor that we through His poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
    • Foxes had burrows to live in and birds had nests to raise their young, but the Son of Man had no place to lay His head. (Matthew 8:20)
    • And when they saw Him, there was no beauty in Him that they should desire Him. (Isaiah 53:2)
    • He made Himself of no reputation. (Philippians 2:5-7)
    • He took upon Himself the form of a lowly bondservant.
    • God entered time and space in the likeness of men.
    • “And being found in the appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to God to the point of death, even death on the cross.” (Philippians 2:8)
  3. How did Israel regard Jesus Christ?
    • Isaiah tells us, “He was despised and rejected by men.”
    • He was “A Man of sorrows and intimately acquainted with grief.”
    • He Himself faced so many sorrows in his life that He had a unique sympathy with the brokenness and grief of humanity.
    • He knew pain, thirst, hunger, depression and wept at the death of his good friend.
    • He was not only treated with disgust, but Israel esteemed Him as worthless.
    • They saw no value in Him or His claims.
    • As He hung suspended from the cross, stripped of His dignity, gasping for breath, His appearance was so marred and disfigured by the brutality of evil men that the people who passed by hid their eyes from Him so as not to see this spectacle of human suffering.
    • Therefore we conclude: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)
  4. So how are we to make sense of God, in flesh, suffering the agonies of the cross?
    • Jesus Christ is not only our beloved Savior who died in our place, but He is also our faithful, sympathetic High Priest who always makes intercession for us.
    • It was necessary for Christ to suffer and die so our sins can be fully forgiven and our earthly sorrows perfectly understood by a God, Who fully experienced what we are going through.

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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