The Suffering Servant

Isaiah 53

In Isaiah 53, the prophet describes for us a servant who would be despised, rejected and die; with the result of saving many.  The poem here actually begins with verse 13 of the preceding chapter…

See, my servant will act wisely;
    he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
Just as there were many who were appalled at him—
    his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
    and his form marred beyond human likeness—

Isaiah 52:13-14

Notice in 52:13-14 an account of one who was disfigured beyond the likeness of a man.  Of course this disfigurement was the result of the brutality of men.  He was to undergo terrible treatment, but in the end he would receive great honor for what he had done.  As the poem moves forward into chapter 53, we see that he would be despised in part for who he was; having no apparent nobility or pedigree.  He came from the most humble of roots, and grew up as one who was not beautiful or privileged. (53:1-3) People hid their faces from him; but why?  He was a man of sorrow and hardship who grieved at the way he was received, for who would believe his message?

In verses 4-6 we find that he was oppressed on our account; that he was to bear the afflictions and sins of all of us who have gone astray.  This was no ordinary man, but rather He was One who had come to save the rest of us!  Note the parallels in this poem:

Our Experience His Experience
Grief Bore
Sorrow Carried
Transgression Pierced Through
Iniquity Crushed
Peace Chastening
Healed Scourging

In verses 7-9 the servant is silent during his trial; offering no defense against wrongful accusation.  He bore our guilt upon himself willingly, and was sent away to die.  Nobody would take much notice of his fate, even though he was guilty of no crime.  He would be tortured beyond human endurance, disfigured, ridiculed… and who would care?

Yet, in the final verses we see His triumph.  He would live after death; His “seed” (disciples) would spread over many nations and countless millions would be saved by His suffering.  He would share the spoils of His victory over sin and death with His followers; He had changed the course of human history, and accomplished the purpose of God.

Compare this account with that of the Apostle John: John 12:37-41.  Who is this servant, and how has He affected your life?


About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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2 Responses to The Suffering Servant

  1. All the pictures of his crucifixion make him at least tolerable to look at – blood smeared, but a peaceful face. With all the beatings, his teeth were probably knocked out, his eyes were swelled nearly shut, his lips cracked, his tongue swelled.

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