Sermon on Isaiah 53:10-12
Text: Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. 11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
When we read the 53rd chapter of the book of Isaiah, you cannot help but be struck by how clearly Isaiah prophesied saving work of Jesus. It was as if Isaiah was walking beside Jesus, saw him on the cross, went with him to the empty tomb, even though Isaiah lived some 700 years before Jesus was born. The Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to tell the people exactly why the Messiah would come. He would come to save his people. As we study this particular portion of God’s Word, we will see Jesus’ humiliation, his exaltation, and blessings that are ours. As we listen to Isaiah’s words, we are reminded to FIND YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS IN CHRIST.
When we read this portion of God’s Word, we may be struck by the opening words, “It was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.” (Verse 10) When we read of the last days of Jesus’ life on this earth, it looks as though everything had gotten out of control. The plans of the chief priests and the elders seemed to be full in motion. They managed to push their phony charges through the courts. They bullied Pilate into handing down a guilty verdict. They cheered and jeered as Jesus hung on the cross.
It may have been that Satan and his angels also cheered as all of this happened. The one they had feared was being punished. He suffered and died. However, this was all a part of God’s plan. When Jesus suffered and died, he was still carrying out his Father’s will. Remember when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” He knew what lay ahead of him later that night and the next day. However, we also remember that continued by saying, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) He continued to follow his Father’s will, even though it meant following a path that would lead to a cross. It was the LORD’s will that Jesus be crushed and suffer.
The reason for this suffering is found throughout our text. In verse 10, it says, “The LORD makes his life an offering for sin.” In verse 11, we read, “He will bear their iniquities.” Verse 12 tells us, “[He] numbered with the transgressors.” Let’s take a few moments and look at each of these. “[He] was numbered with the transgressors.” Jesus put himself in our place. He didn’t come as the Master of all, as the Lord of all. Rather, he came as a Servant. This is what Jesus was teaching in our Gospel lesson (Mark 10:35-45). He came to the earth and lived among its inhabitants.
When it says that he was numbered among the transgressors, it also pointed ahead to the type of death that Jesus would die. Death on a cross was reserved for the worst criminal. Crucifixion has been called the cruelest, most inhumane way in which a person could be executed. As a result of the fact that Jesus was crucified, people would have assumed that Jesus was a horrible criminal. Even though Jesus was innocent, his death put him among the ranks of the transgressors.
And, in one respect, Jesus was the worst sinner there has ever been. This is because, as was prophesied by Isaiah, “He will bear their iniquities.” (Verse 11) When Jesus went to the cross, he took all of the sins of the world upon himself. When the Father looked upon Jesus on the cross, he saw every single sin that has ever been committed or will ever be committed. Because God cannot abide sin, he completely rejected his own Son. Not only did Jesus’ fellow countrymen reject Jesus, his own Father rejected him.
Note that it says, “The LORD makes his life an offering for sin.” The offering that is highlighted here was a special offering in the Old Testament. It was offered to make good for some damage by giving compensation. For example, if you stole something, you had to pay it back plus 20 percent. Then, you were to go and make a special offering to the Lord.
God made Jesus’ life a guilt offering for us. You and I have stolen from God. We have cheated him. By all rights, as our Creator and God, he should have first place in our lives. Yet, how often isn’t God crowded out of our lives by other things? The pleasures and treasures of this world try to take our attention away from God. We have so many things going on in our lives and the time is short. How often don’t we cut God out of our daily lives, with the feeble promise that we will make time for him tomorrow? God asks for the firstfruits of all that we have. Yet, all we can “manage” to give him are the leftovers. We could go on and on. The fact remains that we have cheated God, stolen from him, and must repay him.
The fact of the matter is that we can never repay God the debt of sin that we owe him. That is why God sent his Son, Jesus, to be a guilt offering on the cross. There Jesus paid our debt in full. In answer to why Jesus died, we turn to the words of Romans 4:25, where it says, “He was delivered over to death for our sins.”
However, Romans 4:25 continues by saying, “[He] was raised to life for our justification.” Isaiah also prophesied Jesus’ resurrection. Even though Isaiah doesn’t use words like “resurrection”or “rise from the dead,” they are certainly implied in our text. In verse 11, we read, “After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied.” The road would not end with his suffering. He would see the light of day.
The result of that resurrection is “My righteous servant will justify many.” (Verse 11) Not only did Jesus suffer and die because of our sins, he was also raised to life. Because of this fact, we have been justified. The word “justify” comes to us from the legal world. It means “to declare ‘Not Guilty.’” What a fitting word to describe what Jesus has done for us! Imagine, if you will, that we are on trial before God. The charges that against us are every single sin that we have ever committed. If we are honest with ourselves, we cannot plead anything but guilty of all of the charges. The penalty is the death penalty, an eternity in hell. Then, Jesus steps forward and tells his Father that all of those sins were paid for by his perfect life and suffering and death. He paid the debt that we owed. Because of Jesus’ actions, the Father can and does declare us “Not guilty.” Jesus’ resurrection is the Father’s seal of approval on all that Jesus has done. He was raised to life for our justification.
Because of this, we read in verse 12, “I will give him (Jesus) a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong.” First of all, we read about Jesus’ exaltation. Because of what Jesus has done, he now sits at the right hand of the Father. He deserves full glory and praise as our Savior. It says in Philippians 2:9-11, “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Jesus has done it all for us and is worthy of all of our praise both now and for all eternity.
We are the beneficiaries of all that Jesus has done for us. It says, “He will divide the spoils with the strong.” Isaiah uses the picture of a conquering hero sitting down and dividing all the goods that he won with those who are with him. You and I are beneficiaries of these spoils of war. Because Jesus won the victory, he shares with us the fruits of that victory. We receive the forgiveness of sins, salvation, and eternal life. He won them and he shares them with us, who have ben brought to faith through the working of the Holy Spirit. Other spoils are ours, as well. We have God’s promises that he will always be with us. We will never be left alone to face the world. He promises to provide all that we need for this life. He has promises to hear all of our prayers. These are just a few of the spoils of victory that are ours because of the work of Jesus Christ. As we are reminded in 1 Corinthians 15:57, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Because of Jesus’ work, we have been justified. We are at peace with God.
This morning we have looked at a familiar concept for Christians. We spoke about Jesus’ death and resurrection. On one hand, how thankful we are that this is so familiar, because it is only through the work of Jesus that we are saved. On the other hand, we want to be careful that we become so familiar with this fact that we begin to take it for granted. Dear Christian, you have been saved through the work of the Suffering Servant. His work was prophesied in the book of Isaiah. His life is recorded for us in the Gospels. May this wonderful message comfort and strengthen us when we face days of struggle and temptation. Our righteousness is found in Christ. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Amen.
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