The Career of the Suffering Servant

AdventThumbs11Advent Day 11

by John F. Klem

I am intrigued by stories of innocent people who are convicted of horrible crimes and then imprisoned for lengthy periods of time. I think, how could this happen? I wonder, what is wrong with our justice system? And I am amazed. How could so many people be duped? The Internet gives us instant access to many stories of innocent people wrongfully convicted. I discovered on the website “10 People Who Were Wrongfully Accused of Heinous Crimes” the story about Dr. Sam Sheppard, a successful doctor accused of and convicted for the murder of his wife. Dr. Sheppard was convicted despite repeatedly proclaiming his innocence and telling police about a struggle with a man in his house on the night of the murder. Although he was finally exonerated in 1966, he died four years later from liver disease as a completely ruined man.

The last Servant Song in Isaiah 52:12—53:12 is the climactic look at the Messianic Servant. The Lord Jesus is the innocent God-Man intentionally convicted of wrongdoing for the benefit of the whole world. Unlike Dr. Sheppard, the conviction and the penalty did not ultimately ruin the Lord Jesus Christ. The story of Jesus’ innocence, conviction, penalty, and resulting prosperity is the consistent theme of all the Servant Songs.

The Isaiah 53 song makes approximately 12 references to sin using seven words from the Old Testament sin vocabulary: our griefs, the disease of sin (53:4); our sorrows, the pain of sin (53:4); our transgressions, the criminal nature of sin (53:5; cf. v. 12); our iniquities, the misdeed and consequences of sin (53:5); the guilt of our sin, which requires an offering (53:10); the guilt and punishment of our sin (53:11); and the mark-missing nature of sin (53:12; cf. transgressions in verse 5). This thick description of our sin locks us up in our guilt.

The Isaiah 53 Song paints a very dark picture of our individual human need. Despite our need, the Messiah featured in the Song was rejected (53:3). He was despised. Instead of desiring Him, His contemporaries lifted their heads in a lofty, disdainful manner. He was rejected. They viewed Him as a stupid man. He was a man of sorrows, isolated and treated like a leper. He was acquainted with grief. He was detested to such an extent that He was rejected.

Isaiah 53 promises a divine solution for our gospel need. The Song promises that the Servant would give His body for us. The song explains that according to divine plan, He willingly and obediently gave Himself as our sin offering (53:10).

Isaiah 53 is the foundation of the New Covenant. The New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31ff. looks forward to a day when all Israel will know the Lord. The fulfillment of all the New Covenant promises are based upon the sacrificial work of the God-Man in Isaiah 53. Isaiah 53:7–12 describes the work of the God-Man that will bring about the New Covenant. As a result of His successful work, we have a confident hope of sins forgiven. The exalted, triumphant Servant is pictured dividing the spoils of war and surrounded by righteous ones who enjoy His victory (53:12).

O come, let us adore Him!

John F. Klem is director of Regular Baptist Press.

Regular Baptist Press is committed to providing educational resources that point people of all ages to Christ not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. RBP offers a wide range of curriculum, VBS programs, Bible studies, books, and training seminars that are Biblically sound, cover the entirety of Scripture, and designed for spiritual growth.

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