April 19th, 2019 | Good Friday
Main idea: The crucifixion of Christ was a sin-bearing death in the place of a guilty humanity.
I. THE SUFFERING SURROUNDING HIS DEATH (52:13-53:3, 7-9)
Isaiah describes this servant as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (53:3). We see various levels and types of suffering sprinkled throughout this passage.
Physical (52:14): his appearance is “marred beyond human semblance,” to the extent that many were “astonished” or “appalled” at his physical state.
Social (53:1-3): he was “rejected by men” and did not fit the expectations of the Jewish people for the coming Messiah.
Injustice (53:7-9): although he “had done no violence” and “there was no deceit in his mouth,” he was oppressed, judged, and “cut off out of the land of the living.”
Cosmic: the most significant of the suffering Jesus faced, which explains the significance of his death.
II. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HIS DEATH (53:4-6)
The chiastic structure of these verses indicate that 53:4-6 is the heart of the passage. It’s also the heart of the gospel message and the good news that we remember on Good Friday.
The pronouns are key to understanding the significance of his death. Though Jesus is bearing grief, iniquity, and transgressions, they were not his own. They were our griefs, sorrows, iniquities, and sins. Isaiah writes as if we were there at the cross, because we were.
The issue here is sin which cannot simply be “swept under the rug.” Someone must absorb the cost and the debt that sin creates. The cross tells us that God himself will absorb this cost, as he voluntarily takes our sins and iniquities off of us and upon himself.
“That is the mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied himself of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill us with it. He has taken our evils upon himself that he might deliver us from them… in the same manner as he grieved and suffered in our sins and was confounded, in the same manner we rejoice and glory in his righteousness.. ” ~ Martin Luther
The Jews also viewed the cross with great disdain, because Deuteronomy states, “cursed is anyone who is hanged on a tree.” On the cross, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). The cross was his death, but it is our life.
III. The Success of His Death (53:10-12)
This last stanza tells us that the cross is not the end of the story, and the death described here is not the final note. Even though this servant is “crushed,” the prophecy indicates he will “see his offspring” and that his soul will be “satisfied.”
This is all because it was the “will of the Lord to crush him” (53:10); this was all in the divine strategy and plan of God. What looks like defeat to the world is actually victory in Christ.
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 1:18
Jesus does not want us to look at the cross and have pity on him. This is an invitation to worship and participate in this new way of life as he divides the spoils of victory with us (53:12), interceding on our behalf.
What does all of this mean for us? We are a people who are shaped by the cross. We must keep the cross at the center of everything, both we we are and how we act. It is a reminder of our sin and our salvation.
“While the Calvary-event happened one weekend in Jerusalem, we are to deny our own desires and pick up our cross daily and follow Jesus. Crucifixion happened for us and to us. And now we view our lives, our identities- the totality of all that we are – as being ‘in Christ.’ Now, our greatest accomplishment is something we didn’t do, but rather something that’s been done for us and in us. We boast in Jesus’ cross. What is most significant about our lives is that we have been crucified with Christ” ~ J.A. Medders