“For My Transgression”
Isaiah 52:13 - 53:9
March 28, 2013
Lord Jesus, you suffered all this for me!
I. You were disfigured for me! (Isaiah 52:13-15)
II. You were despised and rejected for me! (Isaiah 53:1-3)
III. You bore my sins (Isaiah 53:4-6)
IV. You died for me (Isaiah 53:7-9)
Welcome and Prayer
This evening we have a great opportunity to remember the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf by walking through the events of Easter week. We’ll focus on the truth that when you look at all that Jesus suffered and all that he bore, you can and should say “Lord Jesus, you suffered all this for me.” Jesus himself provides the outline for us in perhaps his greatest prophetic teaching:
Matthew 20:17-19 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18“See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
My Song is Love Unknown
Here is Love
I. You were disfigured for me! (Isaiah 52:13-15)
This evening we will be thinking about the truth "Lord Jesus, you suffer all this for me." We will look at Isaiah chapter 52, verse 13 through Isaiah chapter 53 verse nine, and we will see that truth spelled out in four paragraphs. During the third and fourth of these paragraphs, Isaiah 53 versus 4 to 9, we will be taking communion. Here's how that will work: We’ll focus on "his body broken" during the third section of the text, verses 4-6, and after we worship we will ask you to go to one of these tables, and to take the bread individually, reading the text from Matthew and a personalized version of the paragraph before you prayerfully partake.
In the same way after the fourth section of the text, verses 7-9, we will worship and then you will be able to go and prayerfully take the cup. So the idea is to make this very personal. Finally, to fix this firmly in the events of the passion, we are going to read much of that account from Matthew’s Gospel. I've asked several of you to read sections from this text. We’ll begin now:
Matthew 26:17-19 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” 19And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.
Matthew 26:26-29 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Isaiah 52:13-15 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. 14As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— 15so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see; that which they have not heard they understand.
This is the fourth of what Bible students call "the servant songs" in Isaiah. Two of these servant texts might, arguably, be thought as referring to Israel as God’s servant, but the other two, in Isaiah 49 and here, cannot really be taken that way. Even Jewish teachers recognized this. As one commentator says “The messianic interpretation of Isaiah 53 was held by Jewish rabbis till the twelfth century. After that, Jewish scholars started interpreting the passage as a description of the sufferings of the nation of Israel. But how could Israel die for the sins of Israel, as we’ll see in verse 8? It’s clear that Isaiah wrote about an innocent individual, not a guilty nation. This individual died for the sins of the guilty so that the guilty might go free. This was Jesus.
The first paragraph of this servant song is really a summary which looks forward to the details of Isaiah 53. He tells us first that Jesus, as God’s servant shall act wisely. But the Hebrew can be understood as ‘he shall succeed.’ Jesus knew just what to do to achieve his purpose, and it worked. Isaiah looks all the way forward to the far end of the suffering and reminds us that Jesus shall be high and lifted up and exalted. He shall be lifted up on the cross but then raised up in the resurrection and exalted to the right hand of God.
Isaiah’s summary next tells us that in this process “many were astonished” at his marred and disfigured appearance. One commentator says ‘the first thing we notice about a crucified Savior is that he looks, well, crucified.’ I’ve never been a huge fan of the movie Passion of the Christ, because I think it takes the physical suffering of Jesus too far, and distracts from his deep spiritual suffering. But when I think of this verse, I have a more sympathy for the movie as it tries to show the extreme brutality with which Jesus was treated.
The question we need to ask, even at this initial stage is, ‘why was he mistreated?’ Was it just the evil of the Jewish leaders or the Romans? No. It was because of you and me; it was because of our sins he bore this suffering - and for all nations, not just Israel. Verse 15 “So shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see; that which they have not heard they understand.”
‘Sprinkling’ refers to the work of the Israelite priests. For example, when a leper was cleansed, a priest sprinkled blood on him to show that his disease was washed away. He was healthy, ready to be accepted back to the community. That's what Jesus does with us, moral lepers. In fact, the sprinkling of his blood is pure and lavish enough to cleanse "many nations." He touches the unwashed, the unclean, the outsiders, making them - making us - fit for God. Ray Ortland says “One solitary man, abandoned, ground into the dirt under our heel, giving to us in return life-transforming purity—it's the only way lepers like us are healed. Before him we are left speechless in wonder.”
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
Sing to Jesus
II. You were despised and rejected for me! (Isaiah 53:1-3)
Let’s listen to a bit more of the story:
Matthew 26:36-45 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
40He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43Aain he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Matthew 26:59-68 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” 62And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”
Isaiah 53:1-3 Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isaiah looks forward to the Messiah with the eyes of a prophet: he sees him despised and rejected. In chapter 52 God had promised that he would bare his holy arm, that is, he would reveal his power, and that all the ends of the earth would see his salvation. But now Isaiah tells us that even as that power is at work, it is hidden from the eyes of many: how many people recognized Jesus as the Suffering Servant? Few. How many people believed? Few.
Why? Isaiah tells us: “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” Jesus simply didn’t look like a king; he looked like a baby, a young boy, a carpenter, a poor, itinerant preacher with dust on his feet and no place to lay his head. He was not what people expected; his majesty, power and beauty were veiled in his flesh and people thought he was just a man. In the trial account we just read, when Jesus said his proper place was at the right hand of God they were appalled: no mere man could say that. And that’s obviously all they saw in him.
So he was despised and rejected. The high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy,” and all of the Sanhedrin said “He deserves death.” 67Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?” To what can we compare this? It’s a little like what has been happening in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afganistan. These are the only three countries where polio continues to be a serious risk. But recently dozens of aid workers, bringing polio vaccines to villages in these countries have been murdered by Islamic radicals who accuse them of plotting to poison the children. That’s what’s happening to Jesus - he’s bringing healing and they accuse him of blasphemy.
He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. We see this in the Garden of Gethsemane, where his sorrows began long before they struck the first blow. He agonized because the cup he had to drink was the cup of his wrath, his father’s wrath toward rebellious sinners. Even earlier Jesus had said “Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.”
In the Gospels we occasionally see Jesus full of joy, but we also see him weeping; grieving. When Lazarus died and his sisters mourned, Jesus also wept: death was his enemy, and those he loved were still enslaved by fear of it. He wept during Easter week when he looked down on Jerusalem, because he longed to “gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Jesus was a man of sorrows and grief.
Furthermore he was despised, not esteemed; not given his rightful place of honor, majesty and obedience by the very people he had come to save. And how are you and I doing with this one? Do I honor him with my heart? With my life? With my obedience? Do I see his majesty and honor him with praise and worship he deserves? But the amazing part of this text is that despite the fact that his people had all these wrong attitudes and all this evil behavior toward him, he loved them enough to continue this path of suffering.
Ray Ortland says “Why did the servant of the Lord sink so low? He had to become like us for us to become like him. But if we'd been there, every one of us would have despised and rejected him and turned away to follow after really cool people like Barabbas or Caiaphas or Pilate, depending on our politics. That's who we are. When the only true remedy for the guilt that tortures us and threatens us with eternal destruction appeared right in front of us, our emotions were dead, our decisions misguided, our minds corrupted. And he accepted it as the price love had to pay to give us our lives back.”
Stricken Smitten and Afflicted
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
The Silence of God
III. You bore my sins (Isaiah 53:4-6)
Matthew 27:1-2 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. 2And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.
Matthew 27:11-17 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. 15Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”
Matthew 27:20-26 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
24So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
Matthew 27:27-37 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head.
31And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him. 32As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
These are the most famous verses in the chapter, memory verses for many of us. They show what Bible students call ‘substitutionary atonement.’ Many years ago I read John Stott’s great book called ‘The Cross of Christ’ and his formula for what happened on the cross has always struck me as deadly accurate: self-satisfaction through self-substitution. Jesus was not satisfying someone else’s sense of justice when he went to the cross, he was not paying a debt owed to someone else, he went to the cross as God and he was paying the debt owed to God. And he did not nominate someone else to pay the debt. God satisfied his own character of justice by himself taking the punishment we were due: self satisfaction through self substitution.
Isaiah says it seven ways: He has borne or carried our grief - he was a man acquainted with grief, but it was not just his own grief, it was ours. Every grief and all the pain that sin causes in a fallen world - he carried. That why he cries at Lazarus’s tomb - he is carrying the grief of Lazarus’ loved ones, and mourning the pain and death that has brought so much misery to the perfect world he created. He carried our sorrow. Do you have sorrow? Jesus knew every bit of your sorrow, as well as his own on the cross. Don’t miss this tonight, friends: when you remember his sacrifice recognize that he not only paid for your sins, but took on all your pain and sorrow. Without the cross the Revelation promise of no more death or sorrow or crying or pain would be impossible. Jesus, you bore my grief; you carried my sorrow.
Matt Maher has a song that floors you the first time you hear it. “Lost, everything is lost; and everything I've loved before is gone; Alone like the coming of the frost; And a cold winter's chill in my stony heart; And where were You when all that I've hoped for? Where were You when all that I've dreamed? Came crashing down in shambles around me. You were on the cross; Pain, could you take away the pain? If I find someone to blame, would it make my life seem easier? Alone, all my friends are asleep; And I can't find anyone to stay awake with me; Where were You when sin stole my innocence? Where were You when I was ashamed? Hiding in a life, I wish, I never made.
Jesus, where were you when I needed you? Right where I needed you to be; you were on the cross. There you were pierced for my transgressions; you didn’t deserve a spear; you took it for me. You were crushed for my iniquities. Crucifixion crushed you under your own weight; every breath was agony; with every exhale the weight of my sin bore down on you. Upon you was the punishment that brought me peace. God’s justice demanded punishment before peace could be restored, but you took the punishment so I could find the peace. And with your stripes I am healed - every blow of the lash that opened another bloody stripe upon your back, every blow was punishment of my sin; you had no sin. Paul says that God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might, in him, receive the righteousness of God.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Scripture teaches that all have sinned. You’re a sinner; I am; we’re all rebels; all broken, like sheep that have bolted the flock to fall from a cliff. But Jesus says “I am the good shepherd. I lay down my life for my sheep.” “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
We’re going to worship briefly, then you’ll have the opportunity to come to any one of these tables and take the bread. There will be a piece of paper in front of you at the table and I’d like to ask you to pick it up, whisper aloud the words from Matthew, and quietly pray the words from Isaiah before you eat.
Behold the Lamb
Individual Taking of the Bread
Matthew 26:26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”
Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely you have borne my grief and carried my sorrows; yet I considered you stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5But you were wounded for my transgressions; you were crushed for my iniquities; upon you was the chastisement that brought me peace, and with your stripes I am healed. 6Like a sheep, I have gone astray; I have turned - lie every one - to my own way; and you, O Lord have laid on him the iniquity of us all.
IV. You bled and died for me (Isaiah 53:7-9)
Matthew 27:38-50 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44The robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him the same way.
45Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
Matthew 27:57-61 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
Isaiah 53:7-9 He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus was God’s lamb, led to the slaughter. This verse implies the role of the sacrifice lamb in forgiveness. Peter says “you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” John hears the elders in heaven say “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
By his blood he ransoms. And even while suffering as a sacrifice lamb, Christ was silent. We see this in his trials: before the Sanhedrin; before Pilate; before Herod. In each case Jesus was silent before his accusers. He was willing to be wrongly accused and mistreated so he might bear the punishment of our sin. Peter says “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”
Notice that this prophecy doesn’t overlook even the burial of Jesus: “they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” Although Jesus was buried in the garden tomb of a rich man, he was crucified as a criminal, with the wicked. So Isaiah emphasizes that he was completely innocent, both in deed and word; he did no violence; no deceit in his mouth. God’s suffering servant is a man of total moral purity, the only true substitute for sinners.
But the important thing to focus on as we individually move toward taking the cup of communion is that he bled, died and was buried for us; for you, for me. His blood was poured out for the forgiveness of our sins and he truly died for us. Verse 8 says directly: By oppressive judgment, he was taken away; and by the evil knowledge and disbelief of his generation he was “cut off out of the land of the living,” In other words, Christ died for our sins. He didn't just endure grief and sorrow, he also endured crucifixion and death.
And this was far more than merely physical death. Paul says that God made him who had no sin to be sin for us. On the cross Jesus said "my God my God why have you forsaken me," revealing that Jesus the Son was separated from his father because our sins required us to be separated from the father. We should have been exiled into an eternal hell. But Jesus took hell upon himself, took the death that we deserve and defeated them. As the new indelible Grace album puts it, "upon a life I did not live, upon the death I did not die, another's life, another's death, I stake my whole eternity."
So as we move back toward the table, we remember his sacrifice, like a lamb without spot or blemish; we remember his blood shed, his life given, his death embraced for our sakes. He bled and died for me. He bled and died for you. We’ll worship with two great songs, and then you'll have the opportunity to go to the table and take the cup. Whisper the words of communion from the paper in front of you, and then from your heart pray the words of these verses personalized for you. Then take the cup.
Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed
Beautiful Scandalous Night
Individual Taking of the Cup
Matthew 26:27-28 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Isaiah 53:7-9 You were oppressed, and you were afflicted, yet you did not open your mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so you did not open your mouth. 8By oppression and judgment you were taken away; and as for your generation, who considered that you were cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for my transgression of my people? 9And they made your grave with the wicked and with a rich man in your death, although you had done no violence, and there was no deceit in your mouth.
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
The Power of the Cross