Isaiah 53:4-6 – God’s Servant Will Be Smitten – Part 3 of 5

Isaiah 53:4-6 – God’s Servant Will Be Smitten – Part 3 of 5

In a coming day the Lord will gather the people of Israel to Himself, the scales will be removed from their eyes, they will look upon Him Whom they pierced, and then, God says, “You shall know that I am the Lord, when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel” (Ezekiel 20:44). The language of this third stanza in Isaiah 53 no doubt expresses what they will feel in that day. But it describes the attitude of all believers in the Lord Jesus towards Him.

1. What they assumed: 53:4

We esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” They assumed that suffering was the result of wrongdoing and that God was punishing Him. Job’s three friends had that attitude as they looked at what had happened to Job. On one occasion the Lord Jesus was asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”(John 9:2). Paul on the island of Malta was gathering some sticks when a viper fastened on to his hand and the natives concluded, “No doubt this man is a murderer whom justice does not allow to live” (Acts 28:3-4). In each case a superficial and wrong conclusion was arrived at. So it was with the Lord Jesus. The assumption was that He was getting what He deserved. “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, I am the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:43).

2. What they learned: 53:4-5

Actually, in one sense they were right: He was in fact being smitten by God. But not because God was rejecting Him as One who deserved to be punished. God was smiting Him because of our sins. The dying thief had it right: “we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:41). He wasn’t receiving what He deserved; He was receiving what we deserved. This stanza begins with, “Surely He has borne our griefs…”; and it concludes with, “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” His suffering was the divinely ordained means whereby we could be forgiven and blessed.

Joseph had that perspective on what had happened to him and so he told his brothers: “God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:7-8). Later he would say, “But as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20). Something similar happened at Calvary. Peter declared. “Him…you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” – they did it! But He was “delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23) – God did it on their behalf!

For our griefs and our sorrows: 53:4

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Matthew tells us how the Lord Jesus healed Peter’s mother in law and those who were brought to Him. Then he quotes these words from Isaiah 53, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses”(Matthew 8:17). He didn’t remain at a distance but identified Himself with us in our humanity and experienced what we experience in terms of hunger, thirst, weariness, sorrow and all that is associated with life in the flesh. There were no special privileges for Him, no easy path such that He avoided the pain and discomfort that comes into the lives of men and women. Moreover, He entered into the sorrows and sicknesses of others so much so that He felt for them and with them, like the Samaritan in the story the Lord told who “came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion” (Luke 10:33). And so, for example, He wept at the graveside of Lazarus. The onlookers interpreted that as an expression of His love for Lazarus and His sense of loss, but it was sorrow for Mary and Martha and all of humanity who experience in their lives the effects of sin and death. He understands human pain and loss and He feels for us.

For our transgressions and our iniquities: 53:5

It is true that He was smitten by God but not because of any displeasure with Him: “He was wounded (or pierced) for our transgressions, He was bruised (or crushed) for our iniquities.” He identified Himself with us not only in our humanity and in our suffering but also in our sin. His doing so was anticipated and illustrated in His baptism when He submitted to John’s baptism of repentance for our sake and in our place. It is not that He partook of sin, but He took our sin upon Himself.

He took our sins and our sorrows, He made them His very own,
He bore the burden to Calvary And suffered and died alone.

For our peace: 53:5

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him.” Peace is a state of well-being which depends upon our relationship (our peace) with God. Onesimus was a slave of Philemon who had stolen some goods and run off. Paul sends Onesimus back to Colosse and gives him a letter of introduction in which he urges Philemon to “receive him”, to“receive him forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave – a beloved brother”, and to “receive him as you would me” (Philemon 12, 15-16, 17). Onesimus was an enemy and a thief; Philemon had been wronged; and Paul came between them and made peace. So it is that we were “once alienated” (like Onesimus) but are “now reconciled”through the intervention of the Lord Jesus Who “made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20-21).

For our healing: 53:5

By His stripes we are healed.” These are not the stripes of a Roman scourging, although the Lord Jesus did experience that; these are the bruises which come from divine judgement. He was indeed stricken and smitten of God, with a view to our healing.
There is no suggestion here that physical healing is in the atonement. Sometimes God does heal but, when He does so, it is a demonstration of His grace and power and has nothing to do with the sufferings of Christ. However, God does not always bring physical healing into the lives of His people, as Paul discovered (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). The meaning of healing in this verse is clear. Isaiah describes the spiritual sickness of Israel: “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment” (Isaiah 1:5-6). They need to be healed from their sin and the consequences of that sin. And here is the answer: “By His stripes we are healed.” Peter confirms that this statement refers to spiritual healing when he quotes these words with respect to our being forgiven and receiving divine righteousness (1 Peter 2:24).

3. What they experienced: 53:6

Two clear messages emerge from this stanza and from this sixth verse:

I am a feeble sinner – and that is serious

We read about our transgressions, our iniquities, our need for peace and for healing (v. 5). And now we are told that “all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way.” The language emphasizes the reality of sin, the nature of sin, the seriousness of sin and the consequences of sin.

Jesus died for me – and that is sufficient

And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” God’s instruction concerning the day of atonement was as follows: “Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, confess over it the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land.” (Leviticus 16:21-22). It is a picture of how our sins were laid on Him.

A missionary was interviewing a number of people who desired to be baptized. When he asked one lady if she had sin, she answered, “No.” He then asked her if Jesus had sin and, much to his surprise, she answered, “Yes”. He rephrased the questions several times and explained the gospel message again, but her answers were unchanged. At last he asked, “How was it possible for Jesus, the Son of God, to have sin?” And this was her answer, “Why, He had mine. He had sin, I have no sin, He had mine.”

From whence this fear and unbelief Since God, my God, has put to grief
His spotless Son for me?
Can He, the righteous Judge of men,
Condemn me for that debt of sin
Which, Lord, was charged to Thee?
Since Thou hast my discharge procured
And freely in my place endured
The whole of wrath divine, Payment God will not twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand And then again at mine.

In the Hebrew text as in our English text, verse 6 begins and ends with the word, “all”. All of us are lost, wilful and wayward, doing our own thing, pursuing our own course. And God has made provision for all of us. DL Moody said, “Go in at the first ‘all’ and come out at the last ‘all’!”

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email