INSTEAD OF FUTILITY, GOD’S SERVANT FINDS SATISFACTION AND EXALTATION THROUGH BEARING OUR SINS ON THE CROSS
The life and death of Christ seem like such a tragic waste when viewed apart from the results He accomplished. How could the Son of God come unto His own and not be received as the royal, majestic Sovereign that He was? How could His miracles and works of love and compassion and mercy be so misinterpreted that they were attributed to the power of Satan? How could He be rejected so violently by the religious leaders who swore such loyalty to God’s revelation? How could He be abandoned by all men, especially his close disciples as He went to the cross to suffer a humiliating and painful execution at the hands of sinful men? The answers to these questions get back to the fundamental question of all: Why did Jesus have to die?
Review: All of these threads of the first four stanzas
come together in the concluding stanza which circles around to the theme of Exaltation
52:13-5 The Exaltation of the Suffering Servant
Coupled with extreme suffering and degradation
53:1-3 The Rejection of the Despised Servant
Overlooked as largely Unknown, Unremarkable, Unpopular
53:4-6 The Substitution of the Punished Servant
Paid the penalty for our sins to give us peace
53:7-9 The Submission of the Sacrificed Servant
Voluntarily laid down his life in silent submission
53:10-12 The Exaltation of the Satisfied Servant
Reading of Text – substituting the personal pronouns
But the Lord was pleased
To crush Jesus Christ, putting Jesus Christ to grief;
If Jesus Christ would render Himself as a guilt offering,
Jesus Christ will see His offspring,
Jesus Christ will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of Jesus Christ’s soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By his knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As Jesus will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Jesus Christ a portion with the great,
And Jesus Christ will divide the booty with the strong;
Because Jesus Christ poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet Jesus Christ Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
INSTEAD OF FUTILITY, GOD’S SERVANT FINDS SATISFACTION AND EXALTATION THROUGH BEARING OUR SINS ON THE CROSS
I. (:10) COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS OF THE DIVINE SATISFACTION
A. Intent of the Father – Surprising Crushing of the Righteous Servant
“But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief;”
Lord is emphatic subject
in spite of his sinlessness – his perfection in deed and word
John Piper: You know someone’s heart when you know their deep desires and what satisfies them. That’s what this text is about—knowing the heart of God and his Servant, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Parunak: He is faced with the moral dilemma of undeserved suffering that the Lord not only tolerates, but actually takes pleasure in bringing about! How can this paradox be resolved?
Lord, I’m confused. Here is a righteous man, suffering at the hands of wicked men, yet suffering patiently. He is not guilty. They are. And you, who should defend the righteous and punish the wicked, not only allow this to happen, but are bringing it about! How can this make any sense? Hmm—it would make sense, if you were trying to provide a guilt-offering. That would then bring great blessing to your Servant, in compensation for the suffering he has borne. . .
The rest of this paragraph consists of the consequences that will result if the Lord provides the Servant’s soul as the reparation offering that his people need to make amends for their offenses against the Lord.
Constable: The Father did not find the sufferings and death of His Son something pleasurable (or enjoyable) to behold, but they pleased (satisfied) Him because they fulfilled His great purpose of providing redemption for humankind.
MacArthur: In other words, the Lord is doing something to Him that is horrific. Men, of course, are unjustly crushing Him. We saw that, didn’t we, in the earlier verses. Men are doing the worst that they can do with an unjust trial and brutality and abuse and harassment and punching and slapping and hitting with sticks and crowning with thorns and nailing and piercing. Men are doing the worst that they can do, the worst that sinners can do, and they’re pleased to do that. But here, God is pleased and God is delighted to crush Him. While men are doing the worst that they can do, at the very same time God is doing the best that He can do. . .
It’s a very powerful phrase, “putting Him to grief,” because it has the idea of making Him sick…not sick with an illness or sick with a disease…but, literally, such an excruciating experience as to completely debilitate His entire being. God not only crushes Him in the sense that kills Him, but He makes it as excruciating and painful as conceivable or inconceivable. He is crushed agonizingly, painfully, excruciatingly. And God is doing the crushing. . .
Jesus died under divine wrath unmitigated. No comfort, only divine fury. Jesus died tasting hell. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” No believer ever died like that. And every unbeliever dies like that. Every believer dies tasting heaven. Every unbeliever dies tasting hell. Jesus died tasting hell. He died the death of an unbeliever with no comforts and no grace and no mercy. . .
God’s delight and God’s pleasure in crushing His Son in this way was not in His pain, but in His purpose. It was not in His agony; it was in His accomplishment. It was not in His suffering; it was in His salvation. And that’s what it says. Why was the Lord pleased? Why pleased to crush Him, putting Him to that grief? Literally in Hebrew, “Because He would render Himself as a guilt offering. Because He would give His life to save sinners.” It was the outcome that pleased God, not the pain. But the pain and the agony were necessary. He had to die under the full, unmitigated, unrelieved, comfortless realities of divine law and wrath.
B. Results of the Crushing of the Righteous Servant
1. Benefits to God the Father — Reparations Satisfied by the Guilt Offering
“If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,”
Oswalt: What is the condition that must be met for the realization of God’s purpose in putting the Servant to such grief and humiliation? The Servant’s life (not merely he, but his person, his nepes) must be offered up as a sacrifice! This then is why the Servant could accept what came to him with such submission. It was not that he lacked character or self-esteem or courage, but that he knew these things came to him from the hand of his God, and that the purpose for which he was undergoing all these things was a great and good one.
Beall: Note that the Servant voluntarily sets His soul as a trespass offering; no one forces Him. The voluntary obedience of the Servant to the will of the Father in offering up Himself as an offering for our sins is again emphasized here (see also 50:5, 7).
MacArthur: There were five offerings the Jews gave, according to Leviticus, when they had their sacrificial system laid out by God. There was the burnt offering, and then there was the grain offering and the peace offering and the sin offering and the guilt offering. Three of those were sacrifices. The first one, the burnt offering, and the fourth and fifth the sin offering and the guilt offering, were animal sacrifices. The other two, grain and peace, were not. . .
the guilt offering, or sometimes called the trespass offering…it’s the same one…it was the offering that added the dimension of restitution, or satisfaction or propitiation, which is a verb that means to be satisfied. It is the last of the offerings in Leviticus in the first seven chapters. It is an advance from the others.
Motyer: guilt offering for reparations – satisfied the requirements of God in relation to his broken law and offended holiness.
2. Benefits to God the Son — Results of the Voluntary Sacrificial Death
a. Result #1 – Spiritual Offspring
“He will see His offspring,”
Parents love to take pictures of their children; as they grow older they love to see their children who may have moved away to distant places; Grandparents now get to facetime with their beloved grandchildren; think of how we are a delight to the Savior – the Shepherd rejoices in seeing His beloved sheep
Constable: Seeing one’s offspring was a blessing on those whom God favored (cf. Ps. 127:3-5; 128:6; Prov. 17:6), as was living a long life (cf. Ps. 21:4; 34:12; Prov. 3:2). The Servant would also accomplish Yahweh’s good purpose for His life (cf. 52:13; 55:11; Josh. 1:7; 2 Chron. 20:20; Ps. 1:3; John 17:4). Thus the Servant’s life would not be futile after all.
Thompson: One of the results of Christ’s sacrifice is that He would continually see His offspring. The verb “see” is in the imperfect tense meaning that Jesus Christ would continually be able to see His offspring come into His family because of His sacrifice. He would see millions and millions of people come into the family of God. . .
What is actually amazing is that the thing that would enable Him to see His offspring would be His death. This is such an odd thing because most people who die cannot see their offspring. But in this case, His death would lead to Him seeing all of His offspring.
John Piper: When the servant dies, he doesn’t just provide the basis for justification; he also provides the basis for new birth—the new birth into God’s family. His death and resurrection produces not only justified sinners, but offspring—new born children.
Or another way to put it would be: the death of Jesus not only solves the problem of guilt, but also the problem of alienation or loneliness or estrangement. His death and resurrection not only give us forgiveness, they give us family. We are not just OK before the law in a legal sense; we are at home with the Father in a personal, relational sense.
b. Result #2 – Resurrected Life
“He will prolong His days,”
Parunak: OT examples:
Gen 25:8 Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of
years; and was gathered to his people.
Jdg 8:32 And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre
of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites
1Ch 29:28 And he [David]died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead.
Job 42:17 So Job died, being old and full of days.
Young: Refers to the promise God gave to David and his seed (cf. Ps. 21:5; 2 Sam. 7:13, 16; Ps. 89:4 and 132:12).
c. Result #3 – Worthwhile Mission
“And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.”
52:13 “Behold my servant will prosper” will successfully accomplish the Father’s mission
Key phrase in our stanza for this morning
Thompson – quoting Hebrew Lexicon: Everything Jesus Christ would do would please the Lord and prosper the Lord’s work. That word “prosper” is one that means everything Jesus Christ would do would continually cause the work of God to succeed and flourish.
Beall: the Lord’s pleasure included the marvelous redemption wrought by the offering of the Servant and the Servant’s exaltation.
II. (:11) EXPLANATION OF PROPITIATION AND JUSTIFICATION
A. Explanation of Propitiation
1. Required Paying a Steep Price
“As a result of the anguish of His soul,”
No minimizing of the cost of propitiation
2. Resulted in the Turning Away of God’s Wrath
“He will see it and be satisfied;”
Some ambiguity regarding this personal pronoun – is it God the Father (our expectation theologically in the study of the doctrine of propitiation) … or more consistently with how the pronouns are used in this section, God the Son – He is the one who ends up satisfied here (as well as the Father)
B. Explanation of Justification
1. Consistently Executing the Divine Plan [God starts speaking again]
“By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many,”
Piper: It means that the Servant was not taken off guard by the will of the Lord to crush him. He knew it. And he agreed with it.
Parunak: How about the subjective sense, “by the knowledge that he has”? This clause lies between two others, the first emphasizing what the Servant knows, and the second pointing out what he does. The second half of the clause summarizes what he does, so it makes sense to understand the first half as summarizing what he knows.
Beall: [takes the other view] “knowledge of him” is probably to be construed in this way [knowledge that people have regarding Jesus Christ], rather than the Servant’s knowledge, though both are possible grammatically
Motyer: the knowledge which he alone possesses regarding what God requires in relation to sin and what to do about it
Importance of the righteous character and life lived on earth of God’s servant; as the Second Adam, he did not fail the test of obedience; he alone stood in the position of being able to justify sinners
Again the scope is “the many” – not every person in the world down through the ages, but the elect of God from before the foundation of the world – including both Jews and Gentiles who would subsequently repent and believe
2. Voluntarily Enduring the Penalty for Sin
“As He will bear their iniquities.”
Beall: Thus, the gospel is clear: the Servant bore our sins for us in order to provide justification, if we but come to know Him. He has borne our iniquities, but we must accept the justification His death offers us by coming to know Him personally.
MacArthur: Starting in the middle of verse 11, God speaks. The pronouns all change. They go from being plural to singular. The verbs go from being past tense to future. It goes from the Jews as a nation, looking back to the cross, to God speaking, looking forward to the cross. And what is God’s view?
Oswalt: The reason the Servant has the power to make people righteous before God is that he himself bears their iniquities – the entire book has been about the persistent sin and unbelief of the chosen people, not to mention the world at large. This man will change all that in a sentence
III. (:12) EXALTED RICHES REALIZED THROUGH HIS SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE
A. Reward Shared with the Redeemed
“Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;”
Rom. 8:16-17 fellow heirs of Christ
Oswalt: far from being despised and rejected, an unknown, the Servant will be given a place at the very forefront, dividing spoil with the victors.
B. Resolve to Suffer Shame and Death –
Followed through on His commitment to go to the cross
1. Sacrifice of Death on the Cross
“Because He poured out Himself to death,”
Language of sacrifice – cf. apostle Paul: poured out as a drink offering
Rom. 12:1-2 we are to offer our bodies as a sacrifice –dedicated to performing the will of God
2. Shame of Death on the Cross
“And was numbered with the transgressors;”
C. Redemption Accomplished by Substitutionary Mediation
“Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,”
2. Intercession / Mediation
“And interceded for the transgressors.”
Luke 23:34 “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
Beall: Note that while the first three verbs in v. 12b were in the perfect tense, expressing completed action, the final verb is in the imperfect, indicating a continuing action: He has died, numbering Himself with transgressors, and has borne the sin of many, but He is still making intercession for the transgressors (all major English translations miss this point and translate the four verbs with the past tense). In the NT, Heb 7:25 and Rom 8:33-35 express this glorious truth (Heb 7:25: “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them”; Rom 8:33-35: “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies, who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died and is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”).
Constable: The reason for the Servant’s exaltation is that He would surrender Himself to death (cf. Matt. 26:38-39, 42) and consent to being numbered among the rebels against God; He would take His place among sinful humans (cf. Matt. 26:50-54; Mark 15:27; Luke 22:37). Yet He would do more than simply identify with the rebels. He would bear their sin (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21) and intercede for them (cf. Heb. 7:25). This intercession is more than prayer; it would also involve intervention (cf. 59:16; Heb. 9:12-14). This final promise of exaltation returns to the thought with which this passage began (52:13). The Servant’s exaltation is for accomplishing redemption.
MacArthur: The word means mediated. It means to mediate, to go between, to stand between. And this is the statement of God, that Christ is the One who is between God and man. First Timothy 2:5, “There is one” – what? – “mediator between God and Man, the Man Christ Jesus.” Yes, in that mediation, He is the intercessor. He is the One who pleads our case. He is the One who is the bridge to God, the bridge to heaven. . . But His intercession is imperfect because it goes on. “He ever lives to make intercession for us.” He’s ever our defender. He’s ever our intercessor. He’s ever and always our mediator until we finally get to heaven. Hebrews 7:25, Romans 8:34 celebrate the mediating, interceding work of Christ.
Motyer: The base meaning is “to cause to reach” and hence to “cause someone’s plea to reach someone’s ears” (to intercede) or to “introduce someone into someone’s presence” (to mediate). The Servant is thus a go-between, interposing between two parties, not as a barrier but as a bridge. In verse 6, the Lord put his Servant in between, using him as a means of disposing of that (our iniquity) which alienated him from us. Here the Servant comes voluntarily to stand with us so that when he had borne our sin he might bring us to God.
Charles Simeon: The intercession of Christ was that part of his work which he was to carry on in heaven, after he should have finished the work which was committed to him on earth. The high-priest, who typically represented Christ, was first to kill the sacrifice, then to carry the blood within the veil, and sprinkle it upon the mercy-seat, and then to burn incense before the mercy-seat: nor, till this last ceremony was performed, was the rest of any avail: it was not till after he had covered the mercy-seat with the clouds of incense, that he had any authority to bless the people. Thus was our Lord, not only to offer himself as a sacrifice for sin, and to enter into heaven with his own blood, but he was to make intercession for us at the right hand of God. This was stipulated between the Father and him as one part of the condition, on which the conversion of sinners was to depend; “Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession [Note: Psalms 2:8.].” Now the prophet, seeing this part of Christ’s office, as it were, already fulfilled, declares its efficacy towards the salvation of men, and represents it as another ground for the performance of the Father’s promise. In this view the intercession of Christ is often mentioned in the Holy Scriptures. It is put altogether on a par with the death of Christ as the procuring cause of our salvation: it is said, “He died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification [Note: Romans 4:25.].” In one place a decided preference is given to it, as being, if possible, even more influential toward the acceptance of men than the death of Christ itself; “Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again., who also maketh intercession for us [Note: Romans 8:34.].” His death is spoken of as effecting nothing without; “If Christ be not risen, we are yet in our sins; and they, who are fallen asleep in Christ, are perished [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:17-18.]:” nor is this all: his sufficiency for the wants and necessities of his people is represented as turning upon this hinge, and as standing altogether upon this ground; “He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them [Note: Hebrews 7:25.].” Let his intercession then be considered in this view: did the Father hear him always when he was on earth, and will he not hear him now that he is in heaven? Did Moses, a sinner like ourselves, arrest, as it were, the arm of Omnipotence, and avert God’s vengeance from the idolatrous Jews [Note: Exodus 32.], and shall not the prayers of Jesus prevail for us? Did the efficacy of his intercession appear on the day of Pentecost in the conversion of thousands, and shall it not be further manifested in the salvation of all whose cause he pleads!
Ray Stedman: When I first came here as a pastor, many years ago, we had an unusual opportunity to have in our home a Japanese man who had become a Christian evangelist. His name was Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, the commander of the squadron that bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He told us in his broken English of that event and how he felt at the time he gave the command to drop the bombs. After the war he became a hero in Japan, yet he felt his life was empty. Then he heard the amazing story of one of the American fliers, Jacob DeShazer, one of Doolittle’s bombers, who had been captured and put in prison in Japan. At first he was a very intractable prisoner, but someone gave him a New Testament and, reading it, his whole life was changed.
Fuchida heard about that change in the life of DeShazer, and Fuchida himself began to read the New Testament. When he came to the story of the crucifixion, he told us that he was so moved by the prayer that broke from the lips of Jesus as he hung upon the cross with his torturers and tormentors gathered about him, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), that his own heart broke. He could not understand how anyone could pray for his enemies and ask for them to be forgiven. In that moment he opened his heart to Christ, and ultimately became a Christian evangelist. For some years he traveled throughout this country, speaking especially to young people about the grace that could come into a life through One who was “numbered with the transgressors . . . and made intercession for them.”
Jesus did not die a heroic martyr’s death as we have seen with many of the heroes of the faith down through church history who testified of the peace and presence of God. For example, He didn’t have the inner peace of Stephen who passed from this life enjoying the vision of close fellowship with His exalted Savior standing at the right hand of his heavenly Father. Instead He suffered the full penalty and agony of our sins, dying as our substitute and crying out, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?” Isaiah 53 fully explains the Why question – Why did Jesus have to die. But it fast forwards to show us as well the Satisfaction and Exaltation attained by our Savior through bearing our sins on the cross.
MacArthur: So the promise of Isaiah is a future generation of Israel will be saved finally in the end, and this will be their confession. And God Himself affirms that this confession is a true understanding of the work of Christ on the cross. But this confession must be your confession. To repent of your sin, to know what Christ has done, to embrace Him in faith as the substitute who took your place, to confess Him as risen Lord is to be saved. Whoever calls on His name will be saved and escape eternal hell and enter eternal heaven.