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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
Nave's Topical Bible - Atonement; Chastisement; Jesus, the Christ; Jesus Continued; Persecution; Prophecy; Quotations and Allusions; Thompson Chain Reference - Burden-Bearer; Saviour, Christ Our; Sin-Saviour; Sufferings of Christ; The Topic Concordance - Affliction; Branch of Jesse; Healing; Jesus Christ; Justification; Oppression; Sacrifice; Servants; Suffering; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Atonement, the; Human Nature of Christ, the; Prophecies Respecting Christ; Sickness;
Verse Isaiah 53:4. Surely he hath borne our griefs - "Surely our infirmities he hath borne"] Seven MSS. (two ancient) and three editions have חליינו cholayeynu in the plural number.
And carried our sorrows - "And our sorrows, he hath carried them"] Seventeen MSS. (two ancient) of Dr. Kennicott's, two of De Rossi's, and two editions have the word הוא hu, he, before סבלם sebalam, "carrieth them," in the text; four other MSS. have it in the margin. This adds force to the sense, and elegance to the construction.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 53:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/isaiah-53.html. 1832.
The servant’s suffering and glory (52:13-53:12)
Just as people were startled at the sight of the servant’s great sufferings, so will they be startled at the sight of his great glory. They will be struck dumb, as it were, as they witness a sight more glorious than they or anyone else could ever have imagined (13-15).
Many people find it hard to believe that God will give his servant such power and magnificence, because when they look at the servant they see just an ordinary person of insignificant beginnings. They liken him to a small plant growing in dry and infertile ground - so different from the magnificent trees that stand majestically in the tall forests. They see nothing in his appearance that is impressive or attractive. On the contrary, when they see the extent of his sufferings they turn away from him in disgust, like people repelled by the sight of a diseased person (53:1-3).
At first those who see the servant’s intense suffering think that he is being punished by God for some wrong he has done. However, as they think further they realize that he is suffering not for his own sins, but for the sins of others; in fact, their sins. They are the ones who have turned away from God and they are the ones for whom the servant dies. It is for them that he bears God’s punishment (4-6).
The servant is treated cruelly, but he bears it silently. Those who judge him show neither mercy nor justice; they just send him off to be killed. His fellow citizens are just as heartless, and show no concern that he suffers death unjustly. Yet he bears all this for the sake of those who are sinners (7-8). Those who hate him leave him to die in disgrace like a criminal, but those who love him give him an honourable burial. They know he has done no wrong (9).
Despite the inhumanity of people, the servant’s death is according to God’s will. It is a sacrifice for the removal of sin. But beyond the sorrow of death is the joy of the resurrection. The servant is satisfied when he sees the fruits of his suffering, namely, a multitude of spiritual children who are forgiven their sins and accounted righteous before God because of his death (10-11). The sufferer becomes the conqueror and receives a conqueror’s reward. Because he willingly took the place of sinners and prayed for their forgiveness, he is now exalted to the highest place (12).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Isaiah 53:4". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/isaiah-53.html. 2005.
THE THIRD STANZA
"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all."
This is the heart of the Song of the Servant; here we learn why Jesus suffered, that it was not for himself but for us that he suffered. Note the emphatic recurrence of the word "our," as in our griefs, our sorrows, our transgressions, our peace, and our healing. "The atoning significance of the suffering is expounded here."
Right here is the vital heart of Christianity: The case of Adam's race was hopeless. All had sinned and fallen short of God's glory. The penalty of sin is death, and the justice of God required that the penalty be paid; otherwise all of the human race would have been lost forever. But there was no one who could pay it. What was the solution? God Himself stepped into the human race; and, in the person of his Son, paid the penalty himself upon the Cross! Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift! No wonder that Satan executed every cruelty possible upon Jesus; because without the sacrifice of Jesus in paying the penalty of human transgressions, Satan would have achieved his purpose of the total destruction of Adam's race.
The words "borne our griefs" in Isaiah 53:4 in the Hebrew are literally "borne our sicknesses"; but this is not a reference to Jesus' suffering from all our sicknesses, but to his healing all diseases. It was to make this point clear that the translators rendered the word "griefs." Thus, "The rendition griefs is justifiable."
"We did deem him stricken of God, and afflicted ..." (Isaiah 53:4). There is an inadvertent condemnation of the whole human race in this. No tendency among men is any more prevalent than that of attributing all the sorrows on earth to the fault and sins of the suffering people. This unhappy trait of men is often noted in scripture. The parents of the man born blind, asked, "Who sinned this man, or his parents, that he should have been born blind?" (John 9); and the citizens of Malta attributed Paul's snakebite to the supposed criminality of the apostle (Acts 28:4). This indicates that the terrible and unlawful punishments, even death, that befell Jesus were considered by the people as being the natural result of the sins of Jesus. How wrong and misguided were the people!
"Chastisement ..." (Isaiah 53:5). Little did Pilate know, when he ordered the chastisement of Jesus that his command caused the fulfillment of this specific prophecy of the Christ. That the chastisement was indeed for "our sins" and for "our peace" is certain; because the Roman Procurator declared upon the occasion of his command that it was not indeed for anything that Jesus was guilty of; and he declared him innocent on that very occasion!
"Stripes ..." (Isaiah 53:5) is another reference to the chastisement; and modern treatment of criminals has no indication whatever of the terrible and sadistic brutality that accompanied such "scourgings." Excavations of the old judgment seat of Pilate have discovered the very truncated pillar upon which our Lord might have been chained, while two Roman soldiers, standing one on each side, with the brutal whips made lethal and bloody by small pieces of bone or glass chips attached to the cords of the whips, applied the awful punishment, first to the back, and then after turning the victim over, to the chest and face, each soldier smiting the victim with all his strength, and taking time about with their blows, tortured the victim within an inch of his life. No wonder the Lord fainted under the weight of the cross. After that chastisement, Jesus presented such a pitiable spectacle, that Pilate actually thought the Jews would declare that he needed no more punishment; and so he brought Jesus out and presented him to the mob, saying, "Behold the Man"! How pitifully wrong was Pilate's underestimation of the sadistic hatred of that Jewish mob screaming for his crucifixion!
"Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all ..." (Isaiah 53:6). No greater declaration from Jehovah was ever given than this affirmation that Jesus Christ suffered for the sins of all men. The perfect, sinless life of Jesus was a sacrifice sufficiently adequate to atone for the sins of all mankind.
Note here that the prophecy states that Jehovah laid the sins of all men upon Jesus. This corresponds with Paul's statement that "God set forth his son to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood" (Romans 3:25). Thus the initiative lay with God in the sufferings of Jesus upon the Cross. (1) God so loved the world that HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON. God was not the only one, however, who had a part in Jesus' sacrifice upon the Cross. (2) Satan did indeed bruise the heel of the Seed of Woman. (3) Christ himself engineered his death upon Calvary (Luke 9:31). (4) The Jews crucified him. (5) the Romans crucified him. (6) The human race crucified him. (7) Every man crucified him. Were you there when they crucified my Lord? See the extensive discussion of these seven under the question, "Who Crucified Christ?" in Vol. 6 (Romans) of my New Testament Series of Commentaries, pp. 117-122.
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Isaiah 53:4". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/isaiah-53.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
Surely - This is an exceedingly important verse, and is one that is attended with considerable difficulty, from the manner in which it is quoted in the New Testament. The general sense, as it stands in the Hebrew, is not indeed difficult. It is immediately connected in signification with the previous verse. The meaning is, that those who had despised and rejected the Messiah, had greatly erred in condemning him on account of his sufferings and humiliation. ‘We turned away from him in horror and contempt. We supposed that he was suffering on account of some great sin of his own. But in this we erred. It was not for his sins but for ours. It was not that he Was smitten of God for his own sins - as if he had been among the worst of mortals - but it was because he had taken our sins, and was suffering for them. The very thing therefore that gave offence to us, and which made us turn away from him, constituted the most important part of his work, and was really the occasion of highest gratitude. It is an acknowledgment that they had erred, and a confession of that portion of the nation which would be made sensible of their error, that they had judged improperly of the character of the sufferer. The word rendered ‘surely’ (אכן 'âkēn, Vulgate, vere), is sometimes a particle strongly affirming, meaning truly, of a certain truth Genesis 28:16; Exodus 2:14; Jeremiah 8:8. Sometimes it is an adversative particle, meaning but yet Psalms 31:23; Isaiah 49:24. It is probably used in that sense here, meaning, that though he was despised by them, yet he was worthy of their esteem and confidence, for he had borne their griefs. He was not suffering for any sins of his own, but in a cause which, so far from rendering him an object of contempt, made him worthy of their highest regard.
He hath borne - Hebrew, נשׂא nâs'â'. Vulgate, Tulit. Septuagint, φερει pherei - ‘He bears.’ Chald. ‘He prayed (יבעי yibe‛ēy) for, or on account of our sins.’ Castilio, Tulit ac toleravit. In these versions, the sense is that of sustaining, bearing, upholding, carrying, as when one removes a burden from the shoulders of another, and places it on his own. The word נשׂא nâs'a' means properly “to take up, to lift, to raise” Genesis 7:17, ‘The waters increased, and lifted up the ark;’ Genesis 29:1, ‘And Jacob lifted up his feet (see the margin) and came.’ Hence, it is applied to lifting up a standard Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 50:2 : to lifting up the hand Deuteronomy 32:40; to lifting up the head Job 10:15; 2 Kings 25:27; to lifting up the eyes (Genesis 13:10, et soepe); to lifting up the voice, etc. It then means to bear, to carry, as an infant in the arms Isaiah 46:3; as a tree does its fruit Ezekiel 17:8, or as a field its produce Psalms 70:3; Genesis 12:6.
Hence, to endure, suffer, permit Job 21:3. ‘Bear with me, suffer me and I will speak.’ Hence, to bear the sin of anyone, to take upon one’s self the suffering which is due to sin (see the notes at Isaiah 53:12 of this chapter; compare Leviticus 5:1, Leviticus 5:17; Leviticus 17:16; Leviticus 20:19; Leviticus 24:15; Numbers 5:31; Numbers 9:13; Numbers 14:34; Numbers 30:16; Ezekiel 18:19-20). Hence, to bear chastisement, or punishment Job 34:31 : ‘I have borne chastisement, I will not offend anymore.’ It is also used in the sense of taking away the sin of anyone, expiating, or procuring pardon Genesis 50:17; Leviticus 10:17; Job 7:21; Psalms 33:5; Psalms 85:3. In all cases there is the idea of lifting, sustaining, taking up, and conveying away, as by carrying a burden. It is not simply removing, but it is removing somehow by lifting, or carrying; that is, either by an act of power, or by so taking them on one’s own self as to sustain and carry them. If applied to sin, it means that a man must bear the burden of the punishment of his own sin, or that the suffering which is due to sin is taken up and borne by another.
If applied to diseases, as in Matthew 8:17, it must mean that he, as it were, lifted them up and bore them away. It cannot mean that the Saviour literally took those sicknesses on himself, and became sick in the place of the sick, became a leper in the place of the leper, or was himself possessed with an evil spirit in the place of those who were possessed Matthew 8:16, but it must mean that he took them away by his power, and, as it were, lifted them up, and removed them. So when it is said Isaiah 53:12 that he ‘bare the sins of many,’ it cannot mean literally that he took those sins on himself in any such sense as that he became a sinner, but only that he so took them upon himself as to remove from the sinner the exposure to punishment, and to bear himself whatever was necessary as a proper expression of the evil of sin. Peter undoubtedly makes an allusion to this passage Isaiah 53:12 when he says 1 Peter 2:24, ‘Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree’ (see the notes at Isaiah 53:12). Matthew Matthew 8:17 has translated it by ἔλαβε elabe (“he took”), a word which does not differ in signification essentially from that used by Isaiah. It is almost exactly the same word which is used by Symmachus (ἀνελαβε anelabe).
Our griefs - The word used here (חלי chăliy) means properly sickness, disease, anxiety, affliction. It does not refer to sins, but to sufferings. It is translated ‘sickness’ Deuteronomy 28:61; Deu 7:15; 2 Chronicles 21:15; 1 Kings 17:17; ‘disease’ Ecclesiastes 6:2; 2 Chronicles 21:18; 2 Chronicles 16:12; Exodus 15:26; ‘grief’ (Isaiah 53:3-4; compare Jeremiah 16:4). It is never in our version rendered sin, and never Used to denote sin. ‘In ninety-three instances,’ says Dr. Magee (On atonement and Sacrifice, p. 229, New York Ed. 1813), ‘in which the word here translated (by the Septuagint) ἀμαρτίας hamartias, or its kindred verb, is found in the Old Testament in any sense that is not entirely foreign from the passage before us, there occurs but this one in which the word is so rendered; it being in all other cases expressed by ἀσθένεια astheneia, μαλακία malakia, or some word denoting bodily disease.’ ‘That the Jews,’ he adds, ‘considered this passage as referring to bodily diseases, appears from Whitby, and Lightfoot. Hor. Heb. on Matthew 8:17.’ It is rendered in the Vulgate, Languores - ‘Our infirmities.’ In the Chaldee, ‘He prayed for our sins.’ Castellio renders it, Morbos - ‘Diseases;’ and so Junius and Tremellius. The Septuagint has rendered it in this place: Ἁμαρτίας Hamartias - ‘Sins;’ though, from what Dr. Kennicott has advanced in his Diss. Gen. Section 79, Dr. Magee thinks there can be no doubt that this is a corruption which has crept into the later copies of the Greek. A few Greek manuscripts of the Septuagint also read it ἀσθενείας astheneias, and one copy reads μαλακίας malakias.
Matthew Matthew 8:17 has rendered it, ἀσθενείας astheneias - ‘infirmities,’ and intended no doubt to apply it to the fact that the Lord Jesus healed diseases, and there can be no doubt that Matthew has used the passage, not by way of accommodation, but in the true sense in which it is used by Isaiah; and that it means that the Messiah would take upon himself the infirmities of people, and would remove their sources of grief. It does not refer here to the fact that he would take their sins. That is stated in other places Isaiah 53:6, Isaiah 53:12. But it means that he was so afflicted, that he seemed to have taken upon himself the sicknesses and sorrows of the world; and taking them upon himself he would bear them away. I understand this, therefore, as expressing the twofold idea that he became deeply afflicted for us, and that. being thus afflicted for us, he was able to carry away our sorrows. In part this would be done by his miraculous power in healing diseases, as mentioned by Matthew; in part by the influence of his religion, in enabling people to bear calamity, and in drying up the fountains of sorrow. Matthew, then, it is believed, has quoted this passage exactly in the sense in which it was used by Isaiah; and if so, it should not be adduced to prove that he bore the sins of men - true as is that doctrine, and certainly as it has been affirmed in other parts of this chapter.
And carried - Hebrew, (סבל sābal). This word means properly to carry, as a burden; to be laden with, etc. Isaiah 46:4, Isaiah 46:7; Genesis 49:15. It is applied to carrying burdens 1 Kings 5:15; 2 Chronicles 2:2; Nehemiah 4:10, Nehemiah 4:17; Ecclesiastes 12:5. The verb with its derivative noun occurs in twenty-six places in the Old Testament, twenty-three of which relate to carrying burdens, two others relate to sins, and the other Lamentations 5:7 is rendered, ‘We have borne their iniquities.’ The primary idea is undoubtedly that of carrying a burden; lifting it, and bearing it in this manner.
Our sorrows - The word used here (מכאב make'ob, from כאב kâ'ab, “to have pain, sorrow, to grieve, or be sad”), means properly “pain, sorrow, grief.” In the Old Testament it is rendered ‘sorrow’ and ‘sorrows’ Ecclesiastes 1:18; Lamentations 1:12-18; Isaiah 65:14; Jeremiah 45:3; Jeremiah 30:15; ‘grief’ Job 16:6; Psalms 69:26; 2 Chronicles 6:29; ‘pain’ Job 33:19; Jeremiah 15:18; Jeremiah 51:8. Perhaps the proper difference between this word and the word translated griefs is, that this refers to pains of the mind, that of the body; this to anguish, anxiety, or trouble of the soul; that to bodily infirmity and disease. Kennicott affirms that the word here used is to be regarded as applicable to griefs and distresses of the mind. ‘It is evidently so interpreted,’ says Dr. Magee (p. 220), ‘in Psalms 32:10, ‘Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;’ and again, Psalms 69:29, ‘But I am poor and sorrowful;’ and again, Proverbs 14:13, ‘The heart is sorrowful;’ and Ecclesiastes 1:18, ‘He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow;’ and so Ecclesiastes 2:18; Isaiah 65:14; Jeremiah 30:15.’ Agreeably to this, the word is translated by Lowth, in our common version, and most of the early English versions, ‘Sorrows.’ The Vulgate renders it, Dolores: the Septuagint, ‘For us he is in sorrow’ (ὀδυνᾶται odunatai), that is, is deeply grieved, or afflicted.
The phrase, therefore, properly seems to mean that he took upon himself the mental sorrows of people. He not only took their diseases, and bore them away, but he also took or bore their mental griefs. That is, he subjected himself to the kind of mental sorrow which was needful in order to remove them. The word which is used by Matthew Matthew 8:17, in the translation of this, is νόσου nosou. This word( νόσος nosos) means properly sickness, disease Matthew 4:23-24; Matthew 9:35; but it is also used in a metaphorical sense for pain, sorrow, evil (Rob. Lex.) In this sense it is probable that it was designed to be used by Matthew. He refers to the general subject of human ills; to the sicknesses, sorrows, pains, and trials of life; and he evidently means, in accordance with Isaiah, that he took them on himself. He was afflicted for them. He undertook the work of removing them. Part he removed by direct miracle - as sickness; part he removed by removing the cause - by taking away sin by the sacrifice of himself - thus removing the source of all ills; and in regard to all, he furnished the means of removing them by his own example and instructions, and by the great truths which he revealed as topics of consolation and support. On this important passage, see Magee, On atonement and Sacrifice, pp. 227-262.
Yet we did esteem him stricken - Lowth, ‘Yet we thought him judicially stricken.’ Noyes, ‘We esteemed him stricken from above.’ Jerome (the Vulgate), ‘We thought him to be a leper.’ The Septuagint renders it, ‘We considered him being in trouble (or in labor, ἐν πόνῳ en poiō) and under a stroke (or in a plague or divine judgment, ἐν πληγή en plēgē), and in affliction.’ Chaldee, ‘We thought him wounded, smitten from the presence of God, and afflicted.’ The general idea is, that they thought he was subjected to great and severe punishment by God for his sins or regarded him as an object of divine disapprobation. They inferred that one who was so abject and so despised; who suffered so much and so long, must have been abandoned by God to judicial sufferings, and that he was experiencing the proper result and effect of his own sins. The word rendered ‘stricken,’ (נגוע nâgû‛a) means properly “struck,” or “smitten.”
It is applied sometimes to the plague, or the leprosy, as an act by which God smites suddenly, and destroys people Genesis 12:17; Exodus 11:1; Leviticus 13:3, Leviticus 13:9, Leviticus 13:20; 1 Samuel 6:9; Job 19:21; Psalms 73:5, and very often elsewhere. Jerome explains it here by the word leprous; and many of the ancient Jews derived from this word the idea that the Messiah would be afflicted with the leprosy. Probably the idea which the word would convey to those who were accustomed to read the Old Testament in Hebrew would be, that he was afflicted or smitten in some way corresponding to the plague or the leprosy; and as these were regarded as special and direct divine judgments, the idea would be that he would be smitten judicially by God. or be exposed to his displeasure and his curse. It is to be particularly observed here that the prophet does not say that he would thus be in fact smitten, accursed, and abandoned by God; but only that he would be thus esteemed, or thought, namely, by the Jews who rejected him and put him to death. It is not here said that he was such. Indeed, it is very strongly implied that he was not, since the prophet here is introducing them as confessing their error, and saying that they were mistaken. He was, say they, bearing our sorrows, not suffering for his own sins.
Smitten of God - Not that he was actually smitten of God, but we esteemed him so. We treated him as one whom we regarded as being under the divine malediction, and we therefore rejected him. We esteemed him to be smitten by God, and we acted as if such an one should be rejected and contemned. The word used here (נכה nâkâh) means “to smite, to strike,” and is sometimes employed to denote divine judgment, as it is here. Thus it means to smite with blindness Genesis 19:11; with the pestilence Numbers 14:12; with emerods 1 Samuel 5:6; with destruction, spoken of a land Malachi 4:6; of the river Exodus 7:25 when he turned it into blood. In all such instances, it means that Yahweh had inflicted a curse. And this is the idea here. They regarded him as under the judicial inflictions of God, and as suffering what his sins deserved. The foundation of this opinion was laid in the belief so common among the Jews, that great sufferings always argued and supposed great guilt, and were proof of the divine displeasure. This question constitutes the inquiry in the Book of Job, and was the point in dispute between Job and friends.
And afflicted - We esteemed him to be punished by God. In each of these clauses the words, ‘For his own sins,’ are to be understood. We regarded him as subjected to these calamities on account of his own sins. It did not occur to us that he could be suffering thus for the sins of others. The fact that the Jews attempted to prove that Jesus was a blasphemer, and deserved to die, shows the fulfillment of this, and the estimate which they formed of him (see Luke 23:34; John 16:3; Acts 3:17; 1 Corinthians 2:8).
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 53:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-53.html. 1870.
4.Surely he carried our sicknesses. The particle
Matthew quotes this prediction, after having related that Christ cured various diseases; though it is certain that he was appointed not to cure bodies, but rather to cure souls; for it is of spiritual disease that the Prophet intends to speak. But in the miracles which Christ performed in curing bodies, he gave a proof of the salvation which he brings to our souls. That healing had therefore a more extensive reference than to bodies, because he was appointed to be the physician of souls; and accordingly Matthew applies to the outward sign what belonged to the truth and reality.
We thought him to be smitten, wounded by God, and afflicted. In this second clause he shows how great was the ingratitude and wickedness of the people, who did not know why Christ was so severely afflicted, but imagined that God smote him on account of his own sins, though they knew that he was perfectly innocent, and his innocence was attested even by his judge. (Matthew 27:24; Luke 23:4; John 18:38) Since therefore they know that an innocent man is punished for sins which he did not commit, why do they not think that it indicated some extraordinary excellence to exist in him? But because they see him wounded and despised, they do not inquire about the cause, and from the event alone, as fools are wont to do, they pronounce judgment. Accordingly, Isaiah complains of the wicked judgment of men, in not considering the cause of Christ’s heavy afflictions; and especially he deplores the dullness of his own nation, because they thought that God was a deadly enemy of Christ, and took no account of their own sins, which were to be expiated in this manner.
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 53:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-53.html. 1840-57.
By Chuck Smith
When men made chapter and verse divisions, they did make mistakes. The Word of God is divinely inspired; it's inerrant. But men, for the sake of helping us to find scriptures and to memorize passages, divided the Bible into chapter and verses. And it's a very convenient way to reference. However, many times they made the divisions in the wrong place, and in our reading we are prone to read to an end of a chapter and then quit until the next reading. And sometimes the thought carries right through, so that in the dividing of the chapters, they should have ended chapter 52 with verse Isaiah 53:12 . And they should have started chapter 53 with verse Isaiah 52:13 , because the last three verses here definitely fit in with Isaiah 53:1-12 . And so that we might see the relationship with 53, we will begin our study of chapter 53 with verse Isaiah 52:13 of 52.
As God now speaks about His servant, His only begotten Son, "who was in the form of God, and thought it not something to be grasped to be equal with God: and yet He humbled Himself and took on the likeness of man or the form of man and came in likeness of man. And being humbled, He came as a servant" ( Philippians 2:6-8 ). And so Jesus said, "I came not to do My own will but the will of the One who sent Me" ( John 6:38 ). And in the garden He said, "Not My will, Thy will be done" ( Luke 22:42 ), as He submitted as a servant unto the Father.
Now Isaiah begins to prophesy here concerning God's servant that was to come.
Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled ( Isaiah 52:13 ),
The Hebrew word extolled is the word lifted up. It is the very same word that Jesus used in the New Testament when talking to His disciples said, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me" ( John 12:32 ). Now Jesus when He was referring to being lifted up was referring to the death that He was to die upon the cross, as He would be lifted up upon a cross. "And I, if I be lifted up." And the idea is being lifted up on a cross, I will draw all men unto Me. Now that scripture has been carelessly interpreted by many people as just lifting up Jesus. If you'll just lift up Jesus, He'll draw all men to Him, you see. So in your ministry, just lift up Jesus, and they even have choruses, "Let's lift Him higher, let's lift Him higher. That all the world may see." Well, whoever wrote that chorus doesn't have a real understanding of scripture, because they have taken it out of its context. In the context, the gospel writer said, "This said He signifying the manner of death that He was going to die" ( John 12:33 ). That is, signifying the cross, lifted up on a cross.
And so here the cross is predicted, prophesied in Isaiah. "He shall be exalted and lifted up, and be very high."
As many were astonished at thee; his visage [or face] was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men ( Isaiah 52:14 ):
In the Hebrew this reads more literally, "His face was so marred that He could not be recognized as a man or as a human being."
Now we are told in the gospel that they covered His face and they began to buffet Him. That is, with His face covered they began to hit Him. Now as a general rule our bodies have an automatic reflex kind of an action, when we see a blow coming we give with the blow so it cushions the blow. You don't get the full brunt of it. If you don't cushion the blow, a surprise blow that you don't see coming, that's where you get hurt. You guys that watch the Monday night football, you know that. When a quarterback gets blindsided, he's in trouble. If he can see the guy coming, you just sort of, you reflex action to it and you sort of go with it. And you may get bounced all over, but you're reacting and coordinating with it and thus it's a lot easier to take. But if you don't see that big tackle barreling in on you, and he hits you without your having any ability to defend yourself by the feigning that a person does, that's when you get the broken bones. And that's when you get laid out of the game. Those blindsides are the really thing that will put you out.
Now with Jesus as they covered His face and began to buffet Him, no way to feign or to give with the blow, and thus His face must have been horribly disfigured. Here Isaiah declares that it was so shocking. "As many as looked upon you was shocked when they saw how marred your face was. So marred that you could not be recognized as a man, as a human being."
So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them they shall see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. But who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: now he has no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him ( Isaiah 52:15 , Isaiah 53:1-2 ).
Interesting prophecies concerning Jesus Christ. He has no beautiful form or comeliness. There is no beauty there that we should desire. In other words, we'll not be attracted to Him by the physical beauty. So often we have in our minds sort of a mental picture of what a person may look like. And we sort of automatically do this even though we haven't seen a person.
I get this all the time where I go into areas where people have been listening on the radio. And I'll go into an area to speak and all they've heard is my voice. And it is interesting to watch their shocked expressions when they see me. Because they have envisioned usually something far different than what I look like. But somehow we always create sort of a mental image. It's an ambiguous kind of an image, but yet there is sort of a mental image of what the person must look like who has a voice like that. And it so often is very shocking when you see the person that you've been listening to. I was shocked when I first met Dr. McGee and I didn't think he would look like that at all with that southern voice. I expected to see some tall, Texan type of a guy, and it was just a surprise to me. And I suppose he was just as surprised to see me and to see what I look like.
So we have in our mind sort of a mental image of what Jesus is going to look like and we sort of imagine just being enthralled with the physical beauty of Christ. But as many as looked upon Him were astonished because really, there is no form or comeliness that is really attractive when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. It isn't for the beautiful form that we will be attracted. And I think that this is, I think that this is rather great that it will not be the beautiful form that we're attracted to. Because face it, the majority of the people are ugly. Very few beautiful people, really beautiful people. Most of us are in the category of we can get by. But it isn't our looks that really attract people.
Now if He were one of those beautiful persons, then it would be more difficult for us to identify with Him. But the fact that it isn't the beauty of His form that is attractive or draws us to Him means that each of us can identify with Him, because it is that spiritual beauty and the love that just draws us so much that we care not what the form may look like.
Now when John was in heaven and he saw the scroll in the right hand of Him who sits upon the throne, and he heard the angel proclaim with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to take the scroll and loose the seals?" And as he observed that no one was found worthy in heaven and earth to take the scroll or to loose the seals, he began to weep. And one of the elders said unto John, "Don't weep, John. Behold, the lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed to take the scroll and to loose the seals." And John said, "And I turned and I saw Him as a lamb that hath been slaughtered" ( Revelation 5:2-6 ). No beauty that we should desire Him.
John's first glimpse of Christ in heaven, he saw Him as a lamb that had been slaughtered. Not as some tremendously physical, robust, handsome creature that we all sort of envision Jesus to be. But perhaps the Lord still bears the marks of His suffering for you. He did bear those marks after the resurrection. For you remember Thomas said, "Except I can put my fingers into His hand and thrust my hand into His side, I won't believe" ( John 20:25 ). And so the next time Jesus showed Himself to the disciples, Thomas being present, He said, "Okay, Thomas, go ahead. Put your finger in My hand. Put your hand in My side." The marks were still there. It said, "And they shall look on Him whom they have pierced" ( Zechariah 12:10 ). And they shall say unto Him, "What are the meaning of these wounds in Your hands?" Yet future, still bearing them; the marks of His love for you.
So as many as saw Him were astonished. "He has no form nor comeliness." That is, really an attractive, desirable or attracting feature. "When we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him."
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief ( Isaiah 53:3 ):
Now you probably have in your mind mental pictures of what Paul must have looked like. I read the epistles of Paul and I think of him as a giant. Surely he's a spiritual giant. I read in one of the apocrypha books, one of the early writings, a description of Paul the apostle. And it describes him as a skinny little runt about five feet tall with a horribly large hooked nose and eyes that were red, swollen and constantly running, and it gave this horrible... And I was upset because that's not how I pictured Paul at all. I'm in love with Paul. My, what this man has given to us of his great depth of understanding and background. And I so love the writings of Paul that I've been drawn to him. He is one of those that I'm looking forward to just really spending some time with in the future. And yet, without seeing the physical person, it is possible to be in love with an individual and yet not be physically attracted. And yet, it is interesting how so often today we only associate love with physical attraction, and not with the person themselves. And that's rather tragic. And that's why so many marriages are miserable, because the person has married the face but there's nothing behind the face. There's no depth of character. There's just the face and that's it.
One of the most miserable dates I ever had in my life was with a girl with a pretty face. Oh, I was excited. I thought, "Man alive, this is going to be great!" My sister worked with her sister, and as they talked... "My brother," "Oh, my sister... " "Well, my sister thinks your brother is cute," or something. And that's all I needed. So you call up and you make a date. Most miserable night. She had a beautiful face, but man, she was a dud. I mean, just a dull evening. No conversation, nothing. And people make mistakes many times in relationships because we relate on the physical, rather than upon the true nature of a person.
Now, "He is despised and rejected of men; He is a man of sorrows, He's acquainted with grief."
and we hid as it were our faces from him ( Isaiah 53:3 );
Perhaps in shock and in horror. Have you ever looked at something that was so shocking you couldn't look; you turned your face? You couldn't stand to look at it. It was so horrible. It may be that that will be your first response when you see the marks of the suffering that He bore for you. You look and you can't even... He doesn't even look like a human being. You just sort of cringe at it.
he was despised ( Isaiah 53:3 ),
and we didn't esteem him ( Isaiah 53:3 ).
But surely in that suffering, in that death,
He bore our griefs, and he carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions ( Isaiah 53:4-5 ),
Now this is why it is so ridiculous to try to hold the Jews responsible for the death of Jesus Christ and to blame them and to persecute them as has been the history of the church; persecute them for the death of Jesus Christ. That's sheer unscriptural idiocy. They are no more responsible for the death of Jesus Christ than you or I. We are all equally responsible for His death. For He was wounded for our transgressions. It was my sin that put Him on the cross. It was my sin that brought Him that suffering and that beating and that shame and that reproach. I'm guilty! And we shouldn't seek to blame someone else for our own guilt and to persecute someone else for that for which we are ourselves responsible. Surely He hath borne our griefs, carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions.
he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed ( Isaiah 53:5 ).
So we are the ones responsible for the suffering and the death of Jesus Christ, because He suffered and died for me that He might bring me the forgiveness of my sins. That He might bring me into fellowship with God. You see, God created man in the beginning for fellowship. That was the purpose of God when He created man-that God might be able to fellowship with man. But when man turned his back upon God and sinned, fellowship with God was broken. And fellowship with God who is holy and righteous cannot be restored until something is done about my sin. And that is why Jesus came that He might take the guilt of my sin. That He might bear my iniquities, my transgressions, my guilt, die in my place in order that through His death I can now come to God and have fellowship with God.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Jesus Christ the iniquities of us all ( Isaiah 53:6 ).
You remember Jesus cried on the cross, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Crying out the twenty-second psalm, and in the verse Isaiah 53:3 the answer is given, "For Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Thy people." God forsook His Son when your sin was placed upon Him. For that's the effect of sin. It's being forsaken of God. Being separated from God. And when your sin was placed upon Jesus Christ, He was separated from the Father. And thus the cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" But He was forsaken of God in order that you won't have to be forsaken by God. "For God laid on Him the iniquities of us all."
He was oppressed, he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth ( Isaiah 53:7 ):
You remember before Pilate, Pilate marvelled that He didn't answer. He said, "Answerest Thou not me? Don't You know that I have power to free Thee, the power to put Thee to death?" Jesus said, "You don't have any power except that which My Father gives you. But don't worry, those that turned Me over to you have the greater sin than you do. I know you're troubled, Pilate." He didn't know what he had on his hands and he did his best to free Him. But, "He opened not His mouth."
he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth ( Isaiah 53:7 ).
All of the accusations. "Hear not all these things they accuse Thee of? What do You say for Yourself?" Jesus didn't answer.
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off ( Isaiah 53:8 )
You see, without any children, who's going to declare His generation?
He was cut off out of the land of the living ( Isaiah 53:8 ):
Now that's an interesting phrase, "Cut off out of the land of the living." You remember that Daniel prophesies, "From the time the commandment goes forth to restore and rebuild Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah the Prince will be seven sevens and sixty-two sevens, three score and two sevens. And the wall shall be built again in troublous times, and after the three score and two sevens shall the Messiah be cut off. But not for Himself, but for the people" ( Daniel 9:25-26 ). For He's cut off. He'll be crucified. Out of the land of the living. And God cries out,
for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death ( Isaiah 53:8-9 );
You remember Joseph of Arimathaea, a very rich man, came and begged Pilate for the body of Jesus that he might bury it. And here it is. He's with the rich in His death.
because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when he shall make his soul an offering for sin ( Isaiah 53:9-10 ),
So Christ became the sin offering for us. According to the will of God because God loved us.
he shall see his seed, and prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied ( Isaiah 53:10-11 ):
That is, He travailed in order that you might be born again. And in seeing your redemption, in seeing you in fellowship with God, He's satisfied. He looks upon Him and says it was worth it all because of the redemption that He is able to offer to us. That fellowship that He can bring to us with the Father. And so, "He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied."
and by his knowledge ( Isaiah 53:11 )
That is, by the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
my righteous servant shall justify many ( Isaiah 53:11 );
So how many of us tonight have been justified before God through the knowledge of Jesus Christ? So God declares, "By his knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many."
for he shall bear their iniquities ( Isaiah 53:11 ).
Now all of this written 700 years before Christ was born. That is why when Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost and talked to the people who were involved in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, he said unto them, "Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was proved to be of God by the signs and the wonders which He did while He was still living with you, whom you according to the predeterminate counsel and foreknowledge of God with your wicked hands have crucified and slain" ( Acts 2:22-23 ). But when he talks about the crucifixion, he speaks about the predetermined counsel and the foreknowledge of God. God knew it. God had planned it in order that He might demonstrate to you how much He loves you. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us, and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins" ( 1 John 4:10 ). Paul said, "For a righteous man some might dare to die: for a good man peradventure some would even give their lives. But herein is God's love manifested, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly" ( Romans 5:7-8 ). He bore your iniquities. He bore your sins.
Therefore [the Father says] will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong ( Isaiah 53:12 );
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and if sons, then heirs, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ" ( Romans 8:16-17 ), as He divides the spoil with the strong.
because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors ( Isaiah 53:12 );
Two thieves on either, one on either side. "He was numbered with the transgressors."
and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors ( Isaiah 53:11 ).
You remember even as they were nailing Him, He said, "Father, forgive them; they know not what they do" ( Luke 23:34 ). Interceding for the transgressors. All of these things prophesied in advance. All of them fulfilled through the death of Jesus Christ. Surely it sets Him alone in history as the only man who could ever qualify to be the Messiah, the suffering servant. If Jesus is not the Messiah, there is no Messiah. No other man can qualify. But Jesus has qualified in all 300 points of prophecy that spoke about His life, His ministry, His death. And here in Isaiah, outstanding example of clear-cut prophecy. And if it doesn't refer to Jesus Christ, it can't refer to any other person in history. He stands alone as the only One who has fulfilled these things. And to reject Him after the basis of this kind of evidence is to sin against your own conscience and to sin against the truth, which becomes even a greater evil. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 53:4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/isaiah-53.html. 2014.
The Servant’s humble appearance and unattractiveness were for the benefit of humankind. It was the consequences of our sins that He would bear, not those of His own sins (cf. Matthew 8:17). Yet onlookers would consider that God was striking, smiting, and afflicting Him for His own sins. This is a typical response to suffering. People often conclude that a person is suffering because he or she has done something bad, and God is punishing him or her. This was the viewpoint of Job’s friends. Because the Hebrew word for stricken, nagua’, refers to smiting with leprosy in 2 Kings 15:5, a tradition arose among the Jews that Messiah would be a leper. This view also appears in some of the ancient Greek versions. [Note: Young, 3:346.] The Servant did not just suffer with His people but for them. His atonement was substitutionary.
Who were the people that Isaiah had in mind when He described the benefits of the Servant’s work? Were they only those who would become the people of God by faith in the Servant, or were they all people? Isaiah did not make this distinction in His prophecy. He did not contribute to the debate about limited and unlimited atonement. What he wrote does not enable us to solve the question of for whom Christ died.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 53:4". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/isaiah-53.html. 2012.
The Servant wounded 53:4-6
It becomes clear in this stanza of the song that the Servant’s sufferings were not His own fault, as onlookers thought. They were for the sins of humankind and resulted in our healing. Furthermore, He would not merely suffer because of the sins of the people, because He was one of them. He would suffer in their place. The substitute nature of His sufferings is clear in the descriptions Isaiah presented, in the context of the arm of the Lord references, and in view of the nature of sin. Since sin is against a holy God it does not just require physical suffering, which Israel had experienced in abundance, but spiritual suffering: separation from God. Animal sacrifices covered human sin only temporarily, but a perfect sinless human sacrifice was necessary to remove the sin of humanity (cf. Hebrews 9:13-14).
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 53:4". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/isaiah-53.html. 2012.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows,.... Or "nevertheless", as Gussetius k; notwithstanding the above usage of him; though it is a certain and undoubted truth, that Christ not only assumed a true human nature, capable of sorrow and grief, but he took all the natural sinless infirmities of it; or his human nature was subject to such, as hunger, thirst, weariness, c. and to all the sorrow and pain arising from them; the same sorrows and griefs he was liable to as we are, and therefore called ours and hence he had a sympathy with men under affliction and trouble; and, to show his sympathizing spirit, he healed all sorts of bodily diseases; and also, to show his power, he healed the diseases of the soul, by bearing the sins of his people, and making satisfaction for them; since he that could do the one could do the other; wherefore the evangelist applies this passage to the healing of bodily diseases, Matthew 8:17, though the principal meaning of the words may be, that all the sorrows and griefs which Christ bore were not for any sins of his own, but for the sins of his people; wherefore these griefs and sorrows signify the punishment of sin, and are put for sins, the cause of them and so the apostle interprets them of Christ's bearing our sins in his own body on the tree, 1 Peter 2:24, and the Septuagint and Arabic versions render the words here, "he bears our sins"; and the Targum is,
"wherefore he will entreat for our sins;''
these being laid upon him, as is afterwards said, were bore by him as the surety of his people; and satisfaction being made for them by his sufferings and death, they are carried and taken away, never to be seen any more:
yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted; so indeed he was by the sword of divine justice, which was awaked against him, and with which he was stricken and smitten, as standing in the room of his people; but then it was not for any sin of his own, as the Jews imagined, but for the sins of those for whom he was a substitute; they looked upon all his sorrows and troubles in life, and at death, as the just judgment of God upon him for some gross enormities he had been guilty of; but in this they were mistaken. The Vulgate Latin version is, "we esteemed him as a leprous person"; and so Aquila and Symmachus render the word; and from hence the Jews call the Messiah a leper l; they say,
"a leper of the house of Rabbi is his name''
as it is said, "surely he hath borne our griefs", c. which shows that the ancient Jews understood this prophecy of the Messiah, though produced to prove a wrong character of him; and so it is applied unto him in other ancient writings of theirs; 1 Peter 2:24- :. The words are by some rendered, "and we reckoned him the stricken, smitten of God" m, and "humbled"; which version of the words proved the conversion of several Jews in Africa, as Andradius and others relate n; by which they perceived the passage is to be understood not of a mere man, but of God made man, and of his humiliation and sufferings in human nature.
k Ebr. Comment. p. 41. אכן "verumtamen", Junius Tremellius, Piscator "et tamen", so some is Vatablus. l T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 2. m מכה אלהים "percussum Deum", Sanctius. n Vid. Sanctium in loc.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 53:4". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-53.html. 1999.
|The Humiliation of the Messiah.||B. C. 706.|
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
In these verses we have,
I. A further account of the sufferings of Christ. Much was said before, but more is said here, of the very low condition to which he abased and humbled himself, to which he became obedient even to the death of the cross. 1. He had griefs and sorrows; being acquainted with them, he kept up the acquaintance, and did not grow shy, no, not of such melancholy acquaintance. Were griefs and sorrows allotted him? He bore them, and blamed not his lot; he carried them, and did neither shrink from them, nor sink under them. The load was heavy and the way long, and yet he did not tire, but persevered to the end, till he said, It is finished. 2. He had blows and bruises; he was stricken, smitten, and afflicted. His sorrows bruised him; he felt pain and smart from them; they touched him in the most tender part, especially when God was dishonoured, and when he forsook him upon the cross. All along he was smitten with the tongue, when he was cavilled at and contradicted, put under the worst of characters, and had all manner of evil said against him. At last he was smitten with the hand, with blow after blow. 3. He had wounds and stripes. He was scourged, not under the merciful restriction of the Jewish law, which allowed not above forty stripes to be given to the worst of male factors, but according to the usage of the Romans. And his scourging, doubtless, was the more severe because Pilate intended it as an equivalent for his crucifixion, and yet it proved a preface to it. He was wounded in his hands, and feet, and side. Though it was so ordered that not a bone of him should be broken, yet he had scarcely in any part a whole skin (how fond soever we are to sleep in one, even when we are called out to suffer for him), but from the crown of his head, which was crowned with thorns, to the soles of his feet, which were nailed to the cross, nothing appeared but wounds and bruises. 4. He was wronged and abused (Isaiah 53:7; Isaiah 53:7): He was oppressed, injuriously treated and hardly dealt with. That was laid to his charge which he was perfectly innocent of, that laid upon him which he did not deserve, and in both he was oppressed and injured. He was afflicted both in mind and body; being oppressed, he laid it to heart, and, though, he was patient, was not stupid under it, but mingled his tears with those of the oppressed, that have no comforter, because on the side of the oppressors there is power,Ecclesiastes 4:1. Oppression is a sore affliction; it has made many a wise man mad (Ecclesiastes 7:7); but our Lord Jesus, though, when he was oppressed, he was afflicted, kept possession of his own soul. 5. He was judged and imprisoned, as is implied in his being taken from prison and judgment,Isaiah 53:8; Isaiah 53:8. God having made him sin for us, he was proceeded against as a malefactor; he was apprehended and taken into custody, and made a prisoner; he was judge, accused, tried, and condemned, according to the usual forms of law: God filed a process against him, judged him in pursuance of that process, and confined him in the prison of the grave, at the door of which a stone was rolled and sealed. 6. He was cut off by an untimely death from the land of the living, though he lived a most useful life, did so many good works, and they were all such that one would be apt to think it was for some of them that they stoned him. He was stricken to death, to the grave which he made with the wicked (for he was crucified between two thieves, as if he had been the worst of the three) and yet with the rich, for he was buried in a sepulchre that belonged to Joseph, an honourable counsellor. Though he died with the wicked, and according to the common course of dealing with criminals should have been buried with them in the place where he was crucified, yet God here foretold, and Providence so ordered it, that he should make his grave with the innocent, with the rich, as a mark of distinction put between him and those that really deserved to die, even in his sufferings.
II. A full account of the meaning of his sufferings. It was a very great mystery that so excellent a person should suffer such hard things; and it is natural to ask with amazement, "How came it about? What evil had he done?" His enemies indeed looked upon him as suffering justly for his crimes; and, though they could lay nothing to his charge, they esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted,Isaiah 53:4; Isaiah 53:4. Because they hated him, and persecuted him, they thought that God did, that he was his enemy and fought against him; and therefore they were the more enraged against him, saying, God has forsaken him; persecute and take him,Psalms 71:11. Those that are justly smitten are smitten of God, for by him princes decree justice; and so they looked upon him to be smitten, justly put to death as a blasphemer, a deceiver, and an enemy to Cæsar. Those that saw him hanging on the cross enquired not into the merits of his cause, but took it for granted that he was guilty of every thing laid to his charge and that therefore vengeance suffered him not to live. Thus Job's friends esteemed him smitten of God, because there was something uncommon in his sufferings. It is true he was smitten of God,Isaiah 53:10; Isaiah 53:10 (or, as some read it, he was God's smitten and afflicted, the Son of God, though smitten and afflicted), but not in the sense in which they meant it; for, though he suffered all these things,
1. He never did any thing in the least to deserve this hard usage. Whereas he was charged with perverting the nation, and sowing sedition, it was utterly false; he had done no violence, but went about doing good. And, whereas he was called that deceiver, he never deserved that character; for there was no deceit in his mouth (Isaiah 53:9; Isaiah 53:9), to which the apostle refers, 1 Peter 2:22. He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. He never offended either in word or deed, nor could any of his enemies take up that challenge of his, Which of you convinceth me of sin? The judge that condemned owned he found no fault in him, and the centurion that executed him professed that certainly he was a righteous man.
2. He conducted himself under his sufferings so as to make it appear that he did not suffer as an evil-doer; for, though he was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth (Isaiah 53:7; Isaiah 53:7), no, not so much as to plead his own innocency, but freely offered himself to suffer and die for us, and objected nothing against it. This takes away the scandal of the cross, that he voluntarily submitted to it, for great and holy ends. By his wisdom he could have evaded the sentence, and by his power have resisted the execution; but thus it was written, and thus it behoved him to suffer. This commandment he received from his Father, and therefore he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, without any difficulty or reluctance (he is the Lamb of God); and as a sheep is dumb before the shearers, nay, before the butchers, so he opened not his mouth, which denotes not only his exemplary patience under affliction (Psalms 39:9), and his meekness under reproach (Psalms 38:13), but his cheerful compliance with his Father's will. Not my will, but thine be done. Lo, I come. By this will we are sanctified, his making his own soul, his own life, an offering for our sin.
3. It was for our good, and in our stead, that Jesus Christ suffered. This is asserted here plainly and fully, and in a very great variety of emphatical expressions.
(1.) It is certain that we are all guilty before God. We have all sinned, and have come short of the glory of God (Isaiah 53:6; Isaiah 53:6): All we like sheep have gone astray, one as well as another. The whole race of mankind lies under the stain of original corruption, and every particular person stands charged with many actual transgressions. We have all gone astray from God our rightful owner, alienated ourselves from him, from the ends he designed us to move towards and the way he appointed us to move in. We have gone astray like sheep, which are apt to wander, and are unapt, when they have gone astray, to find the way home again. That is our true character; we are bent to backslide from God, but altogether unable of ourselves to return to him. This is mentioned not only as our infelicity (that we go astray from the green pastures and expose ourselves to the beasts of prey), but as our iniquity. We affront God in going astray from him, for we turn aside every one to his own way, and thereby set up ourselves, and our own will, in competition with God and his will, which is the malignity of sin. Instead of walking obediently in God's way, we have turned wilfully and stubbornly to our own way, the way of our own heart, the way that our own corrupt appetites and passions lead us to. We have set up for ourselves, to be our own masters, our own carvers, to do what we will and have what we will. Some think it intimates our own evil way, in distinction from the evil way of others. Sinners have their own iniquity, their beloved sin, which does most easily beset them, their own evil way, that they are particularly fond of and bless themselves in.
(2.) Our sins are our sorrows and our griefs (Isaiah 53:4; Isaiah 53:4), or, as it may be read, our sicknesses and our wounds: the LXX. reads it, our sins; and so the apostle, 1 Peter 2:24. Our original corruptions are the sickness and disease of the soul, an habitual indisposition; our actual transgressions are the wounds of the soul, which put conscience to pain, if it be not seared and senseless. Or our sins are called our griefs and sorrows because all our griefs and sorrows are owing to our sins and our sins deserve all our griefs and sorrows, even those that are most extreme and everlasting.
(3.) Our Lord Jesus was appointed and did undertake to make satisfaction for our sins and so to save us from the penal consequences of them. [1.] He was appointed to do it, by the will of his Father; for the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. God chose him to be the Saviour of poor sinners and would have him to save them in this way, by bearing their sins and the punishment of them; not the idem--the same that we should have suffered, but the tantundem--that which was more than equivalent for the maintaining of the honour of the holiness and justice of God in the government of the world. Observe here, First, In what way we are saved from the ruin to which by sin we had become liable--by laying our sins on Christ, as the sins of the offerer were laid upon the sacrifice and those of all Israel upon the head of the scape-goat. Our sins were made to meet upon him (so the margin reads it); the sins of all that he was to save, from every place and every age, met upon him, and he was met with for them. They were made to fall upon him (so some read it) as those rushed upon him that came with swords and staves to take him. The laying of our sins upon Christ implies the taking of them off from us; we shall not fall under the curse of the law if we submit to the grace of the gospel. They were laid upon Christ when he was made sin (that is, a sin-offering) for us, and redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us; thus he put himself into a capacity to make those easy that come to him heavily laden under the burden of sin. See Psalms 40:6-12. Secondly, By whom this was appointed. It was the Lord that laid our iniquities on Christ; he contrived this way of reconciliation and salvation, and he accepted of the vicarious satisfaction Christ was to make. Christ was delivered to death by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. None but God had power to lay our sins upon Christ, both because the sin was committed against him and to him the satisfaction was to be made, and because Christ, on whom the iniquity was to be laid, was his own Son, the Son of his love, and his holy child Jesus, who himself knew no sin. Thirdly, For whom this atonement was to be made. It was the iniquity of us all that was laid on Christ; for in Christ there is a sufficiency of merit for the salvation of all, and a serious offer made of that salvation to all, which excludes none that do not exclude themselves. It intimates that this is the one only way of salvation. All that are justified are justified by having their sins laid on Jesus Christ, and, though they were ever so many, he is able to bear the weight of them all. [2.] He undertook to do it. God laid upon him our iniquity; but did he consent to it? Yes, he did; for some think that the true reading of the next words (Isaiah 53:7; Isaiah 53:7) is, It was exacted, and he answered; divine justice demanded satisfaction for our sins, and he engaged to make the satisfaction. He became our surety, not as originally bound with us, but as bail to the action: "Upon me be the curse, my Father." And therefore, when he was seized, he stipulated with those into whose hands he surrendered himself that that should be his disciples' discharge: If you seek me, let these go their way,John 18:8. By his own voluntary undertaking he made himself responsible for our debt, and it is well for us that he was responsible. Thus he restored that which he took not away.
(4.) Having undertaken our debt, he underwent the penalty. Solomon says: He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it. Christ, being surety for us, did smart for it. [1.] He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows,Isaiah 53:4; Isaiah 53:4. He not only submitted to the common infirmities of human nature, and the common calamities of human life, which sin had introduced, but he underwent the extremities of grief, when he said, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful. He made the sorrows of this present time heavy to himself, that he might make them light and easy for us. Sin is the wormwood and the fall in the affliction and the misery. Christ bore our sins, and so bore our griefs, bore them off us, that we should never be pressed above measure. This is quoted (Matthew 8:17) with application to the compassion Christ had for the sick that came to him to be cured and the power he put forth to cure them. [2.] He did this by suffering for our sins (Isaiah 53:5; Isaiah 53:5): He was wounded for our transgressions, to make atonement for them and to purchase for us the pardon of them. Our sins were the thorns in his head, the nails in his hands and feet, the spear in his side. Wounds and bruises were the consequences of sin, what we deserved and what we had brought upon ourselves, Isaiah 1:6; Isaiah 1:6. That these wounds and bruises, though they are painful, may not be mortal, Christ was wounded for our transgressions, was tormented or pained (the word is used for the pains of a woman in travail) for our revolts and rebellions. He was bruised, or crushed, for our iniquities; they were the procuring cause of his death. To the same purport is Isaiah 53:8; Isaiah 53:8, for the transgression of my people was he smitten, the stroke was upon him that should have been upon us; and so some read it, He was cut off for the iniquity of my people, unto whom the stroke belonged, or was due. He was delivered to death for our offences,Romans 4:25. Hence it is said to be according to the scriptures, according to this scripture, that Christ died for our sins,1 Corinthians 15:3. Some read this, by the transgressions of my people; that is, by the wicked hands of the Jews, who were, in profession, God's people, he was stricken, was crucified and slain, Acts 2:23. But, doubtless, we are to take it in the former sense, which is abundantly confirmed by the angel's prediction of the Messiah's undertaking, solemnly delivered to Daniel, that he shall finish transgression, make an end of sin, and make reconciliation for iniquity,Daniel 9:24.
(5.) The consequence of this to us is our peace and healing, Isaiah 53:5; Isaiah 53:5. [1.] Hereby we have peace: The chastisement of our peace was upon him; he, by submitting to these chastisements, slew the enmity, and settled an amity, between God and man; he made peace by the blood of his cross. Whereas by sin we had become odious to God's holiness and obnoxious to his justice, through Christ God is reconciled to us, and not only forgives our sins and saves us from ruin, but takes us into friendship and fellowship with himself, and thereby peace (that is, all good) comes unto us,Colossians 1:20. He is our peace,Ephesians 2:14. Christ was in pain that we might be at ease; he gave satisfaction to the justice of God that we might have satisfaction in our own minds, might be of good cheer, knowing that through him our sins are forgiven us. [2.] Hereby we have healing; for by his stripes we are healed. Sin is not only a crime, for which we were condemned to die and which Christ purchased for us the pardon of, but it is a disease, which tends directly to the death of our souls and which Christ provided for the cure of. By his stripes (that is, the sufferings he underwent) he purchased for us the Spirit and grace of God to mortify our corruptions, which are the distempers of our souls, and to put our souls in a good state of health, that they may be fit to serve God and prepared to enjoy him. And by the doctrine of Christ's cross, and the powerful arguments it furnishes us with against sin, the dominion of sin is broken in us and we are fortified against that which feeds the disease.
(6.) The consequence of this to Christ was his resurrection and advancement to perpetual honour. This makes the offence of the cross perfectly to cease; he yielded himself to die as a sacrifice, as a lamb, and, to make it evident that the sacrifice he offered of himself was accepted, we are told here, Isaiah 53:8; Isaiah 53:8, [1.] That he was discharged: He was taken from prison and from judgment; whereas he was imprisoned in the grave under a judicial process, lay there under an arrest for our debt, and judgment seemed to be given against him, he was by an express order from heaven taken out of the prison of the grave, an angel was sent on purpose to roll away the stone and set him at liberty, by which the judgment given against him was reversed and taken off; this redounds not only to his honour, but to our comfort; for, being delivered for our offences, he was raised again for our justification. That discharge of the bail amounted to a release of the debt. [2.] That he was preferred: Who shall declare his generation? his age, or continuance (so the word signifies), the time of his life? He rose to die no more; death had no more dominion over him. He that was dead is alive, and lives for evermore; and who can describe that immortality to which he rose, or number the years and ages of it? And he is advanced to this eternal life because for the transgression of his people he became obedient to death. We may take it as denoting the time of his usefulness, as David is said to serve his generation, and so to answer the end of living. Who can declare how great a blessing Christ by his death and resurrection will be to the world? Some by his generation understand his spiritual seed: Who can count the vast numbers of converts that shall by the gospel be begotten to him, like the dew of the morning?
|When thus exalted he shall live to see A numberless believing progeny Of his adopted sons; the godlike race Exceed the stars that heav'n's high arches grace.|
|SIR R. BLACKMORE.|
Of this generation of his let us pray, as Moses did for Israel, The Lord God of our fathers make them a thousand times so many more as they are, and bless them as he has promised them,Deuteronomy 1:11.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Isaiah 53:4". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/isaiah-53.html. 1706.
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19