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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lenschow

The Suffering Servant

Isaiah 53:1-6

During Lent, we remember the life and death of Jesus the Messiah. Today we turn to Isaiah's prophecy of "The Suffering Servant."

1. Recognize the Context:

Isaiah 53:1-6, is part of a more extensive section in Isaiah known as “The Suffering Servant” (52:13-53:12). Quotations and allusions from Isaiah 53 appear in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament passage. Because of his life and death, the New Testament authors believed Jesus Christ fulfilled this Old Testament prophecy (1 Peter 2:20-25).

Isaiah 52:13-15 introduces this Servant by identifying the themes of suffering and exaltation.

2. Read the Scripture: Isaiah 53:1-6

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

3. Reflect on the Scripture:

Verses 1-3 depict the Servant as someone who experienced adverse conditions, both despised and rejected. This is followed by describing the pain and punishment he received as a substitute for others (verses 4-6). Although the Servant was innocent, he offered no defense. Rather, he welcomed oppression, suffering, and death (verses 7-9). His obedience to the Lord led to his exaltation and triumph (verses 10-12).

Peter connected human suffering with the sufferings of Christ. He specifically referred to unjust suffering for doing right. Peter reminded his readers that in Christ's suffering, he set an example for us.

The Bible is familiar with the range of adversity and human suffering experienced in a fallen, sinful world. When we encounter pain and suffering, we may feel isolated and alone, as if no one could understand. The Bible never trivializes the experience of human suffering and adversity. But it does remind us that we have a Savior who knows the depths of suffering because he experienced suffering and is "Immanuel" God with us, even in the midst of suffering.

4. Relate to life:

Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.

To pray:

Jesus Christ knew precisely the suffering, shame, and rejection he would experience. However, he came to this earth anyway.

Today, prayerfully consider the price Christ paid as he suffered for the sins of the world.

Today, prayerfully consider the price he paid explicitly for you.

Today, prayerfully reflect on the impact this has on your life.

To do: (Actions with the Holy Spirit's help)

Given the prayer suggestions above, how do you need to respond today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, and co-workers.

To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)

Read and study the passages listed above.

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