Paid in Full
April 8, 2015 by Bob Putman 0 comments
In the Book of Isaiah, the gospel is proclaimed and predicted 700 years before Christ. Nowhere in the Old Testament is the gospel more clearly stated than in Isaiah 52 and 53. God opened the prophet Isaiah’s heart and eyes to the gospel, and the heart of the gospel: substitution. Seven hundred years before Christ was born, God claimed responsibility for one of history’s most brutal acts.
Unexpected Triumph (Isaiah 52:13-15)
Isaiah begins with the end in view: “See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted” (v. 13). God’s servant, Jesus, will be successful, he will be lifted up (the cross) and exalted (resurrection). This is a declaration of unexpected triumph. But in what sense has he triumphed? A few miracles? A few people following him? The masses listening and then turning on him? We will see his triumph later in our passage.
The next two verses (14, 15) describe how his triumph was accomplished. Why were the people “appalled” by him and “astonished”? They did not expect their messiah to come riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, but on a stallion, in command of the armies that would drive out the Romans. They had no expectation that this Jesus on the donkey was the messiah. He was from Nazareth, and as one of Jesus’ future followers asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” I have been to Nazareth. It is a very small, unimpressive place. Jesus was a small branch on the family tree of Jesse, which was the line of David, but many people believed the story that he was Mary’s illegitimate child.
How quickly triumph turned into betrayal and destruction. In 53:1-3 we read, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows familiar with suffering.” The Jews of Jesus’ time were not expecting a servant-savior.
Think of modern-day people who have claimed to be the messiah. I’ve been to Waco, Texas, and seen the small compound of the Branch Davidians. David Koresh led a group of people to believe he was the messiah. What was he? A madman. Delusional. A deceiver. Evil. Or Jim Jones in the Amazon jungle, who led 700 people to die by drinking poisoned Kool-aid. Same thing. That’s what many people thought about Jesus: he’s a crazy, demon-possessed Samaritan, the illegitimate child of a 15-year-old. Jesus walked through unimaginable humiliation.
Inexplicable Suffering (Isa. 53:4-8)
Isaiah gives us a divine perspective on Easter. Jesus carried our infirmities and sorrows. His punishment brought us peace with God, and by his wounds we are healed. Verse 6 shows us God’s compassionate response to our cosmic rebellion against our Creator: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way: and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Instead of us, who deserved it, Jesus was pierced, crushed, punished for us. In his holiness, God pours out the justified wrath for our sin upon his Son. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cried on the cross.
It’s springtime, and I love the spring weather and to be outdoors. But spring faith doesn’t last. All of us will experience suffering and winter. I need a savior when I’m going through winter in my health or experiencing winter in my parenting. I need a suffering savior who brings hope.
Why was Christ crushed? Because “we all, like, sheep, have gone astray.” If God was not just, there would be no need for his Son to die. If God is not compassionate, he would have no will to crush his Son for us. The guiltless one allowed our guilt to be placed on him because we needed someone to pay our ransom. I was an enemy of God because of my sin and needed to be forgiven, so he was crushed. By his stripes we are healed. To heal us from our moral and spiritual sickness, he was crushed.
Unbelievable Obedience (Isa. 53:7-9)
Now we catch the full drama of Jesus’ silence before his accusers. He is brought before the Sanhedrin, the chief priests, Pilate and Herod. The injustice of his death is magnified as he stands there in silence before his incredibly sinful accusers. Isaiah is saying, When the messiah comes, it will be like a lamb led to the slaughter. In silence he will stand before his accusers. Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy 700 years later.
Isaiah realized the blood of lambs and goats was not enough to deal with his sinful heart. It takes the willful sacrifice of the innocent to die for the willfully disobedient. Jesus took it upon himself to die. He was oppressed and afflicted (v. 7, but “he did not open his mouth.” He suffers and dies (v. 8), and is buried (v. 9). Good Friday according to Isaiah.
Unmatched Exaltation (53:10-12)
Jesus will prosper and see his offspring. God says, “My servant will be raised up and triumph. And I will place my seal of approval upon him, and my wrath will be satisfied.” In 2 Corinthian 5:21 we read: “God made him who had no sin [Jesus], to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” My sin was exchanged for his righteousness. God has been satisfied.
Christ was crushed. God was not willing to leave us in our guilt. He planned from ages past to send his Suffering Servant for us. That redeeming servant was raised from the dead to provide the righteousness that leads to our guiltlessness. The punishment for your sin has been paid in full.
In the Book of Revelation we see Jesus in heaven walking among his offspring [his followers]. He is not angry. He is not condemning. He is smiling, having paid the price to have us with him, full of joy forever. He is walking amongst us, taking our hands, tell us that our sins have been paid in full. Is he calling you to trust in him, to accept his payment and forgiveness for your iniquities? Please do so today. Trust in the Suffering Servant of Isaiah’s prophecy, who is Christ the Lord.
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