The Suffering Servant - The Disciplined Servant
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Isaiah, chapter 52. We are studying the last of four Servant songs which are recorded in the book of Isaiah. The Servant, we have learned, is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, and the theme of this particular song is the theme of the suffering Servant .

We pointed out to you that this song begins with verse 13 of chapter 52 and continues through verse 12 of chapter 53. The song is divided into five stanzas, each stanza represented by three of our Scripture verses. In the first stanza of the song, the destiny of the Servant is presented, described in the words beginning with verse 13:

Isaiah 52

13Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
14As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
15So shall he sprinkle [astonish] many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him [they will put their hands over their mouths] : for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

The second stanza of this song presents the despised Servant in the words:

Isaiah 53

1Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

The third stanza of the song in which we are going to look at today presents the disciplined Servant in these words:

Isaiah 53

4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; 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 hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

As we consider this third stanza of the song which tells us the story of the disciplined Servant , I suggest that we follow three lines of thought. The first we are going to term, for want of better phraseology, a formal evaluation . The second we are going to term a pleasant realization . The third we are going to term a detailed identification .

On the surface these various phrases may not seem particularly significant or appropriate to a discussion of these three verses, but I think before we are through with this lesson, you will see that they do represent good mental pegs upon which you can hang some of the thoughts that we want to leave with you.

When I speak of a former evaluation and a present realization, I have in mind the nation of Israel for though, in one sense of the word, Isaiah, chapter 53, can be applied to every one of us, we need to remember that the primary interpretation of Isaiah, chapter 53, represents the fact that it is a prayer of confession that Israel will pray at the end of the Tribulation just before the Lord Jesus Christ comes back, when they will acknowledge their sin and seek His face.

I have pointed out to you in other studies that the only way the Lord Jesus Christ will be able to come back in glory at the end of the Tribulation is for the nation of Israel to ask Him to come back. Certainly if they do ask Him to come back, they are going to come to a new realization of His importance, and that new realization will immediately disallow a former evaluation which they have made.

Israel's First Opinion of the Lord Jesus Christ

In order that we might recognize just how this is going to be, let me suggest that we notice what is represented here in the text connected with a former evaluation or their first opinion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice the last part of verse 4:

Isaiah 53

4…yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

The word esteem in verse 4 and the word esteem in verse 3 are exactly the same in our English text, and they are the translation of the same word in the Hebrew text. We discovered that the word esteem in verse 3 means that they placed no value upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

They evaluated everything they knew about Him, and they said, “We just don't think that He is worth anything at all.” Somebody said, “Well, there must be some explanation for all that He is going through. There must be some explanation for all that He is suffering. What is it?” So they evaluated the situation and said, “He is stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. He is being disciplined by God for some reason. We don't know the reason, but nevertheless the hand of God is resting heavily upon Him.” There was no question in their minds that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered. There was no question in their minds that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered more than most men had suffered. Their hearts were moved for Him, but they did not realize why He was suffering. They simply felt that God's hand was against Him.

Notice the three words which they used to describe the manner in which God disciplined this man Jesus. You will remember that their first evaluation of Him did not include the fact that He was the Son of the living God. Notice the first word in the last part of verse 4. The word is stricken , and I remind you that it comes from the Hebrew word naga, which means “to lift up your hand and strike with a great force.” It wasn't just a little love tap that Jesus Christ suffered. They pictured God as drawing back His hand and striking Him with all the force with which He was capable. They did not belittle the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. They did not make out like it was all imaginary. They knew He suffered, but they did not know the real reason He suffered.

Look at the word smitten. This is another word which will describe the manner in which God did discipline His Son. This word smitten comes from the Hebrew word nakah , which means not only “to be beaten,” but also “to be cast out or kicked out of society,” as we would use a colloquial expression today. It wasn't only a matter of the Lord Jesus Christ suffering corporal punishment at the hand of God, it was a matter of His being made an outcast, a castaway. They did not doubt it for they were among the number who turned up their lips at Him as they passed by.

Notice the word afflicted . As they looked back on Him and their first evaluation of Him, they considered Him a man who was stricken, smitten of God and afflicted of God as well. The word afflicted comes from a Hebrew word which means “to look down on” or “to disown.” I wonder why they said that. I think they must have said that because some of them were there when the Lord Jesus Christ said, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

We look upon those words as the cry of the Son of God. They didn't. They looked upon those words as the cry of a man who was forsaken by his God. As they evaluated Him, they said that He was stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. I repeat: They may have wondered why this Jesus of Nazareth was suffering as He was. They may have even felt sorry for Him. As a matter of fact, I think, they did. Did you ever wonder why it was that somebody ran and got a sponge and dipped it in wine and gave it to Him when He cried, “I thirst.”?

I know that the comment in the Scripture was that the prophecy might be fulfilled, but did you ever wonder why somebody did that? Nobody ordered that person to do it. I think that they did it because as they were standing there watching that cruel scene, the milk of human kindness had not drained out of the veins of everybody, and they did feel sorry for Him as He suffered there, but keep in mind that as far as they were concerned, He suffered only as a man whom God was dealing with in sore fashion for some unknown reason. That is why I have used the phrase, a former evaluation , as we discussed this passage of Scripture, because in the last part of verse 4, that is what we find. That is what they felt about Him.

How will they feel about Him? They feel now, as a nation, the very same way that they felt then for, as we have pointed out in another study, the tribulation they have known under those who have persecuted the Jews will be but a drop in the bucket in comparison to the tribulation which they will suffer before the Lord Jesus Christ comes. After they have suffered to the point that they can stand it no longer, they will begin to examine their lives just as you and I examine our lives. The truth of the Word of God will be brought to them in some fashion, and they will acknowledge their iniquity and will seek His face.

A Present Realization

The conclusion to which they will come we have labeled a present realization . That is the realization to which they will come when they have suffered as no people have ever suffered before. That realization is discovered in verse 4, where we read:

Isaiah 53

4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…

In a sense, as I mentioned to you earlier, you can say that, but I don't think that you and I realize the full depth and significance of the meaning of the word surely . This word surely comes from the Hebrew word which means “to be convinced after long trial and tribulation that the statement that they are about to make is true.” That is the reason I say that this is present realization as far as they are concerned in relation to that future day. They will come to the realization, after tribulation and trial, that the Lord Jesus Christ, whom they have thought was being disciplined by God for reasons they did not know, was really not being disciplined on His behalf, but on their behalf. They will decide very definitely that He Who was stricken, smitten of God and afflicted was being disciplined not for His sins, but for theirs.

They will have a new spiritual preception then. The book of Zechariah reminds us that God is going to pour out upon them the Spirit of supplication. That is the Holy Spirit. Just as an individual today in this Gentile world cannot comprehend spiritual things unless the Holy Spirit opens hearts and lives, so the nation of Israel will not be able to comprehend until God permits the Holy Spirit to deal with them in a very special way.

Notice the conclusion to which they came in the first part of verse 4:

Isaiah 53

4Surely [that is, we are fully convinced; we have no doubt now] he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…

Look at the word griefs for a moment. It comes from the Hebrew word choliy which speaks of a malady. It speaks of anxiety, and it speaks of turmoil and trouble. Actually the picture word back of this Hebrew word choliy is a word that described something that is rubbed against a rough object until the pain is unbearable. That is the grief they were talking about.

When we read that they recognized He had borne their griefs, we do not mean that He carried them. That is involved in the word, but it means something more than that. This word borne comes from the Hebrew word nasa which means “to accept for one's own.”

This is a tremendous realization to which they came. If every individual Jew today could come to the realization that Jesus of Nazareth who died on the Cross accepted their griefs as His own, they would not feel as bitterly toward Christians as they do. He did bear their griefs. He did accept their griefs as His very own. He entered into all of their tribulation and all of their trials.

Did you notice, because this is poetry and represents not rhyming of words but parallelism of thought, that the word carried is added—“He carried our sorrows.”? The word carried comes from the Hebrew word cabal which means “to labor and to stagger under a heavy load.” When they came to a realization that He carried their sorrows, they were not simply speaking in a light fashion that Christ was their Savior, but they realized the enormity of their iniquity, and realized that it was so great that it caused the Lord Jesus Christ to stumble and to stagger.

I have often wondered if the Holy Spirit of God did not permit a picture in a physical way of this spiritual truth when it is recorded in the Gospel story that the Lord Jesus Christ staggered and fell under the weight of the Cross. That was a wooden Cross upon which He died. It was heavy, and it was the weight of that Cross under which He fell.

We would make no more out of it than that, but we cannot help but wonder if perhaps that was not an illustration of the greater weight which He was to bear when we read that He bore our griefs and He carried our sorrows.

The word sorrows comes from the Hebrew word makobah which refers to pain. Sorrow brings pain, and we mention that because they were not thinking about the kind of suffering which you and I sometimes endure and say, in so many words, “I don't believe that I can stand any more of this. I have suffered about as much as I can suffer.” We overdraw the picture sometimes. That is not the kind of suffering that caused the Lord Jesus to stagger as He labored under the load. It was much greater than that.

That brings me to the third thing that I want to say to you about this brief stanza. I use the phrase, a detailed identification , for when the Jewish nation comes to the full realization that they have wrongly evaluated the Savior, when they come to the full realization that indeed He did bear their griefs and carry their sorrows, they will look at Him more minutely, and they will come to a more definite decision.

Christ Bore Three Kinds of Sin

In the paragraph that is before us we are going to find that they evaluated Him so minutely that they spoke of three kinds of sin which they realized the Lord Jesus Christ bore for them. Let me pause and emphasize that though I am presenting this Jewish interpretation of Isaiah, chapter 53, it is not to suggest that it excludes any Gentiles, for though the Lord Jesus Christ did come unto His own—the nation of Israel—He came for the whole world. That is why John says that He came unto His own and His own received Him not, but as many as did receive Him to them gives He the authority to become the sons of God.

Original Sin Confessed

Glance at this paragraph with me as I mention the fact that it portrays for us truth related to original sin. That is brought to our attention in the first phrase of verse 6, where we read:

Isaiah 53

6All we like sheep have gone astray…

That is a reference to original sin. Why do we say it is a reference to original sin? Because it is a reference to what an individual does by nature. A sheep wanders away by nature. That's why you need a shepherd. You have to have somebody to watch over you.

The Bible says that you and I went astray from the womb, speaking lies as soon as we were born. That is not a pleasant thing to think about. As you look down at that innocent little baby who has brought so much cheer and joy to your home, it is hard for you to think that he is a sinner, but the Bible says that he is. It is hard for you to think that that innocent baby has a sinful nature that has already planted his feet on the path away from God, but he does. It is hard for you to think that that little innocent baby of yours will ever tell a lie unless those dirty neighbor kids teach him to do it; but, you can keep him away from those dirty neighbor kids, and the first chance he has, he will lie because he has a nature that is pointed in that direction.

“All we like sheep have gone astray.” The nation of Israel will never come to its realization of the need of a Messiah until it comes to the realization that it, as every other nation and every other individual, was born in sin and shaped in iniquity. They will come to that conclusion, for in this great prayer of confession they pray, “All we like sheep have gone astray…”

Personal Sin Confessed

They not only confess original sin, they confess personal sin as well, as is indicated in verse 6:

Isaiah 53

6…we have turned every one to his own way…

That is personal. You have a sin nature. There is no question about that, but you yourself commit s-i-n-s. You should realize that you are not a sinner because you sin; you sin because you are a sinner. “All we like sheep have gone astray” comes first. “We have turned each one to his own way,” comes second, and that is a representation of personal sin.

The Manner In Which the Sin Manifests Itself

The third thing that I would like for you to notice in this paragraph in relation to sin is the manner in which the sin manifests itself. Israel recognizes original sin and she recognizes personal sin. She recognizes the manifestation of this sin as she confesses that when the Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross, He died for her trangressions.

In verse 5, transgressions is a kind of sin. The word trangressions comes from the Hebrew word pesha , which means literally “to break away from all authority.” Somebody puts a restraining hand on you and you shrug your shoulder out from under that restraining hand. You will have none of it. You are not going to have anybody telling you what to do. That is the meaning of this word transgression .

When you make the application from the Word of God, you are familiar with what the Apostle Paul calls the law of God . That is God's restraining hand. The Apostle Paul said, “I would not have known sin if it had not been for the Ten Commandments.” He didn't mean that he would not have been a sinner; he simply said, “I would not be conscious of my sin if it had not been for the Ten Commandments.” He said, “I was alive without the law. I was having a real good time. I was enjoying life, but the law came in and I died.” That is, “When the restrictions were mentioned, I realized what a horrible sinner I was.” The nation of Israel will come to that realization when they say, “He was wounded for our transgressions.”

Notice the following statement in the verse, where we read:

Isaiah 53

5…he was bruised for our iniquities…

The word iniquities comes from the Hebrew word avon , which speaks of perversity, which is doing something different just for the sake of doing it, disclaiming all authority, but also doing something crooked when you could do something straight—lying when you could tell the truth because there is within you a fountain of iniquity that defiles the whole body. Some people who are not walking in the Spirit of God, but are walking according to the flesh, lie when it would be easier to tell the truth. You know that, and you say, “I can't understand it. That fellow lies when it would be easier to tell the truth.” The reason that he does is that iniquity dwells within his bosom. Man is held responsible for his sin.

The Full Manifestation of Sin

The full manifestation of sin is mentioned in verse 5 under the phrase, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him . Literally it is, “The discipline that brings peace was upon Him.” This speaks of the sin of rebellion, because the Bible very plainly teaches that not only the nation of Israel but the whole human race is in a state of rebellion against God. The whole human race is at enmity with God.

Notice carefully what I am saying. I am not saying that God is your enemy. He isn't. God loves you. God cares for you. God sent His Son to die for you. But, I am saying that you are at enmity with God if you have never received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. You are in open rebellion against Him, and that is sin that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered on the Cross in order that full pardon might be offered to all the enemies of God. That is the meaning of the phrase, the chastisement of our peace .

The Realization That He Suffered for Them

I would like to suggest that we notice, in relation to this detailed identification with the Savior on the Cross, that they came to a full realization of the sufferings of Christ on their behalf. When we began this discussion we said in verse 4 that they did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted, but they did not associate themselves with what He suffered. But, in verse 5, they did associate themselves with what He suffered, because, “He was wounded for our transgressions.” That means literally that His side was opened for our transgressions.

Some of them stood there that day at Calvary and saw the soldier plunge the spear into the side of Christ, and they saw blood and water flow forth and they did not know the meaning of it. Perhaps they said to themselves, “It is enough to crucify that poor fellow without plunging the spear into his side as well.” But when the nation of Israel reviews the whole situation, they will realize that His side was opened for them.

As He hung there upon the Cross, He bore all the marks of the whipping that He had received while He was on the way to the Cross. As they saw Him there that day hanging with His body torn to shreds because of the thongs of leather with embedded steel, perhaps their hearts went out to Him, but as they re-evaluated the situation in verse 5, they said, “He was bruised for our iniquities.” The word bruised literally means, “He was beaten to pieces for our sins.” They look back there and they say, “We understand it now. We know. We know why He was beat to pieces like that. He was beaten to pieces for our sins.”

He Took Upon Himself the Burden of Intercession

If you will glance down at the last part of verse 6, you will hear the making of an added confession when they said:

Isaiah 53

6….and the LORD [all letters are capitalized; it is the word Jehovah ] hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

This phrase, laid on him , is a very interesting phrase. It comes from the Hebrew word paga . If you read verse 12 in the original text, you will find this very same word, but it is translated differently in verse 12. Notice:

Isaiah 53

12Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Notice that word intercession . It is this Hebrew word paga , which is translated by the words laid on Him . When we read in verse 6 that God laid upon Him the iniquity of us all, it is not only that He did bear our sins, our griefs, our sorrows, but it was that He took upon Himself the burden of intercession, the burden of intercession for those who are His own.

Do you believe in intercession? Do you understand what intercession is? Do you do intercession? Are you an intercessor? Some people say very glibly, “Yes, I am. I pray for lots of people.” I am not talking about praying for lots of people. I am talking about the ministry of intercession. There are very few intercessors. Many people will pray for you if you ask them to, but there are very few intercessors. That is the reason the Hebrew word speaks of bearing a burden when it describes intercession, because it is a burden. The Lord Jesus Christ, when He hung there upon the Cross, took upon Himself the burden of intercession, and it has never ceased. He is still doing it after 2000 years. He is still carrying the burden of intercession.

He died for sin once, and He will never die again, but when He assumed the burden of intercession, He never laid it down. That is the reason why the Word of God says, “He is able to save from the uttermost to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him, seeing that He ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

That was the reason the Apostle Paul could say with such forceful words in Romans, chapter 8:

Romans 8

34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

The only reason that nobody can point a condemning finger at you and me if we have trusted Christ is that the Lord Jesus Christ is alive at the right hand of the throne of God to make intercession for us. He bears our burden. The nation of Israel is going to come to a full realization of that one day:

Isaiah 53

5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

“God hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.” I say that the nation of Israel will come to that realization someday. I hope you have already come to it, and I hope because you have come to that realization that you can testify that Jesus Christ is your Savior. I would encourage you if you have not already trusted Him to trust Him now.


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