By Russ Ramsey
I am not exaggerating when I say these two chapters of Isaiah have been crucial to my own understanding of the person and work of Jesus. Church councils have convened and libraries of books have been written on the subject of the nature of Jesus, but these two chapters from Isaiah, 53 and 54, show us who He is, what He came to do, and why. These passages describe how God would fulfill His Covenant of Peace, of which I am on the receiving end.
Who Is Jesus? Isaiah 53:1-3 tells us He is the Servant of the Lord who was, in every way, ordinary in appearance. His birth was like a root out of dry ground—unnoticed by almost everyone. He had no beauty that people would be drawn to Him. He would not walk an easy road. His life would be filled with sorrow. People would despise Him.
But He came to be our Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:4-6). Jesus took upon Himself our grief. He carried our sadness. Yes, people in positions of power brought pain upon pain into His last days, but they were not the ones to crush Him. God was the One who did that. Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, and the punishment that would bring us peace was laid upon Him (v.5).
In verses 5-9, we also learn that Jesus would willingly submit to the Father’s plan. As the full weight of God’s wrath toward the sins of His people was placed upon His Servant, Christ received it. When He could’ve spoken up to defend Himself, He stayed silent, like a lamb led to its slaughter. He’d be struck dead, cut off from the land of the living for the sins of God’s people. He would die among the guilty and be buried in a rich man’s tomb, even though He’d done no violence. And yet He would yield willingly, even unto death.
Why? Because we all have gone astray and deserve God’s wrath.
But God laid upon His servant the iniquity of His people. Jesus took God’s wrath toward our sins upon Himself. He stood in for us to be our substitute in death, and God looked upon this substitution and was satisfied.
God did not perform some magic trick to secure our salvation. It was a life for a life. The Suffering Servant—God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, described in Isaiah 53-54—came incarnate as a living, breathing man in order to die a real death in our place. But since death held no claim on Him, He rose from the grave, securing our victory over death forever—thus fulfilling God’s covenant of peace.
That is a lot to take in, isn’t it?
But it’s beautiful.
It’s also true.
Written by Russ Ramsey