Saturday, January 29, 2011

Suffering for Others

Isaiah Chapter 53 foretells the sufferings of Messiah, the end for which He was to die, and the advantages resulting to mankind. There was a want of faith as the chapter opens. Not many believed the saving power of Christ due to his outward appearance, peasant parentage, lowly circumstances, etc. He was despised, rejected, and familiar with sorrows and grief. There was a mean spiritedness directed toward Him and prejudices were conceived by many against His doctrine.

Our lesson focuses on verses 4-6 and 10-12. In verse 4, it is our grief and sorrows that He carried. He shared our infirmities, broken conditions, and human weaknesses. He carried our sorrows when we experience pain because of the sins, troubles, disasters, and tragedies we encounter in life.

The enemies of the Suffering Messiah looked upon Him as having committed a crime. Because they hated Him, and persecuted Him, they thought that God did too. They believed God had forsaken Him and deemed Him “stricken,” “smitten,” and “afflicted”. This was not the case. The suffering of the Servant was the will of God. Use of the words “stricken,” “smitten,” and “afflicted” powerfully suggests the intense pain of the Servant.

The reason for the suffering of Christ was due to human sin. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities…” Is 53:5a. The Suffering Messiah made an atonement for all who will believe. He purchased a pardon when our sins were placed on the cross. The consequence of this to us is our peace and healing.

The prophet Isaiah compared all humans to wandering sheep. We go astray and get lost. The apostle Paul said, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Rom 3:23. It is our human nature. The whole race of mankind is under the original corruption of sin. Every person is charged with many actual transgressions. We move astray from our rightful owner, God. We are like sheep, and sometimes are unable to find our way home. We cannot be our own masters with corrupt appetites. Engaging in sin is a deliberate choice. Even though we are responsible for our sinful condition, God laid on the Suffering Servant the iniquities of us all.

It pleased God to bruise the Suffering Servant and subject Him to grief. It was necessary to atone for our sins to restore our relationship to God. The Messiah made His soul an offering for sin to become a ransom. Matt 20:28. The Servant will be able to “…see his seed, he shall prolong his days…” Is 53:10. The Messiah left a multitude of sons who believe in His sacrificial work. They shall receive the gift of prolonged life which is eternal life as believers of Christ. His prosperity will be the believers who trust in Him. He gave His life for the sheep and it has pleased the Lord.

The Suffering Servant foreknew of the prospect of the sufferings versus the prospect of the fruit and He was satisfied with the bargain. It was God’s will. There was a rich blessing awaiting the Servant after His suffering. After the “travail of his soul” (Is 53:11), which involved pain and death, the Servant saw the light of life, which represented His resurrection. Rom 6: 9-11. He is satisfied when He sees men and women give their lives to God – through His sacrificial suffering and death.

God will reward the Servant for His suffering. He will set Him high, and give Him a name above all others, and divide the spoil…a “great multitude” whom John could not count.

The Suffering Messiah was numbered with the transgressors during His life. Yet He knew no sin. He broke the Sabbath, was called a drunkard, and sat with the publicans, tax collectors, and sinners. When there was a choice as to who would be set free between Jesus and Barabbas, a known murderer, traitor, and thief, the people chose to free Barabbas. Then the Suffering Messiah was hung on a cross in the midst of two (2) malefactors. Yet as He hung on the cross in all His pain and bore our sins, He uttered an intercessory prayer for the transgressors. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

Written by Deborah Davis

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