My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. . . .
But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. (Isaiah 53:2-6, 10-12)
This prophecy was given centuries before Jesus was beaten and crucified. In the Old Testament, people offered animals as sacrifices for their sins. Here, the sinless servant of the Lord offers himself for our sins. Jesus is the Lamb offered for the sins of all people (John 1:29; Revelation 5:6-14).
The central verses of this passage (53:4-6) recognize the benefits of Jesus’ death. Believers would become right with God because of the Suffering Servant—not by their own works, but by the Messiah’s great work on the cross.
The Messiah suffered for our sake, bearing our sins to make us acceptable to God. “It was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief.” What can we say to such love? How will we respond to him?
We will never suffer as Christ did, physically or spiritually. But for some of us, grief may be part of the Lord’s good plan. When we face it, we have two reasons to persevere: because Christ knows our grief, and because God has a good plan for it. This will not make it easier or less painful, but we can take courage in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings and in the good purposes God has (Philippians 3:10-11).