Jesus Christ was made God’s suffering servant when He died on the cross for man’s redemption.
HYMN: I GAVE MY LIFE FOR THEE
Text: Isaiah 52:54 (Reading Text: Isaiah 53:1-12
Right from the time of creation and especially after the disobedience of Adam, God devised a plan to redeem man from the effect of his disobedience. The price of sin is death for without the shedding of blood there is no remission. In the Old Testament sin was atoned for in various ways and sacrifices of different types of animals prescribed by the mosaic laws. These sacrifices had a shortfall as they could not both atone and wash clean man’s heart. Consequently, God raised His servant, Jesus Christ and delivered Him to an astonished world, astonished because of His underserved suffering and humiliation, and because of the dramatic end.
The scriptures reveal that He bore the punishment due to others voluntarily in obedience to the voice of God who call Him. The prophet Isaiah declares unequivocally “surely he has borne our griefs and carried away our sorrow …he was wounded for our transgression he was bruised for our inequities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we 21a0re healed”, Isaiah 53:4-5. Even when He received a no-case submission from Pilate, it pleased God in His good counsel, to make Him the sacrificial lamb for the redemption of man. Never in the history of mankind was it known for someone to be so cruelly treated for the sake of others.
His executioners acted ignorantly being motivated by the devil himself, 1 Corinthians 2:8. He was humiliated beyond recognition and sentenced to a capital punishment meant for criminals. But by His resurrection He emerged the only Way, Truth and Life. Based on what He has accomplished for humanity, God gave Him a name above all other names, Philippians 2:9. It becomes pertinent that man ought to appreciate this gesture and identify with Him by accepting Him as Lord and Savior, abiding in His word continually so as to enjoy with Him in His glory.
The objectives of this study are:
- To identify God’s suffering servant.
- To know why he has made a man of sorrow.
- To highlight the features of his suffering.
- To understand how we an identify with him.
- To emphasize what awaits those who reject him.
Q1. WHO IS THIS GOD’S SUFFERING SERVANT?
When the first Adam (who was earthly) brought transgression and death to humanity, there was need for another Adam (who was of heavenly origin and one that would live above sin) to redeem man from bondage of sin and corruption.
All through the Biblical period humanity waited patiently for this man who will be the Messiah. This was only made known at the visitation of Angel Gabriel to Joseph in a dream, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: For he shall save the people from their sins”, Matthew 1:21. John the Baptist also introducing Christ to those around him declared, “Behold, the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”, John 1:29. Thus Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah (Savior).
Nowhere in the scriptures is there a clear description of this process of saving man from sin that in our text today, Isaiah 53. There we see someone who was born great buy rejected by men and humiliated. Yet He was born to be the Messiah approved by God. One observes that God’s servant was jot going to be revealed with great local ovation and excitement but as a lamb an without form nor comeliness that we should desire Him.
It is not surprising to observe that when He came the Jews did not recognize Him and they rejected Him as a king, John 1:10-11. Today many people are still searching for salvation from all types of places and lifestyles. They are doing this by indulging in all manner of sin and wickedness – drinking of alcohol, sex, cultic practices, idolatry, etc. The world remains in the dark despite God’s gift for her salvation. Even those who claim to know Him are rejected Him by their lifestyles that do not conform to that of the Messiah.
Q2. WHY WAS CHRIST MADE A MAN OF SORROW?
After the fall of man, he began to drift into sin with reckless abandon. His pre-occupation was how to plan and carry out mischief which displeased God greatly, Genesis 6:5-6. In His desire to restore man to his exalted position, God decided to send His servant, Jesus to come and suffer for man’s wickedness. Jesus Christ was thereby made the only propitiation for man. God fore-knew that Adam would fall hence the lamb was slain from the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8. Christ was made a suffering servant for the following reasons:
A. All have sinned and come short of God’s glory, Romans 3:23. All need the help of God to regain this glory.
B. God’s pronouncement of death on Adam’s disobedience is binding on all generations. The blood of bulls and goats, and ashes of heifer could not make the necessary atonement for sin, Hebrews 9:13-14, 10:4.
C. Man was cursed and there is need for someone to carry the curse off him. The scripture says that Christ was made a curse for us, Galatians 3:13.
D. The offence was committed by man and so only the blood of a man could atone for him. Hence Christ had to become man (flesh and blood) to become an acceptable sacrifice before God.
E. Christ is the priest that abides forever after the order of Melchisedec, Hebrews 7:3, 17, 24-28. The former high priests were earthly and subject to death and full of infirmities but Christ lived a righteous life. People of His time had this testimony and God Himself bore this record of Him.
F. He is the only begotten Son of God, John 3:16, who only could satisfy the demands of God?
Q3. WHAT WERE THE FEATURES OF GOD’S SUFFERING SERVANT?
In our study text, the prophet Isaiah presents to us in clear terms the features of God’s suffering servant. IN the first place the marvelous Good News of what God was about to do with His servant will not be believed by all. Thus, when He came like a tender plant there was nothing of beauty or honor that would appeal to us. He had no superhuman qualities (outside of the perception of faith) and His birth was like anyone else by a woman.
Another feature of this man was loneliness. He suffered rejection at the hands of those He came to save. When He needed companionship, even His very disciples deserted Him and those who came near denied Him. They spat upon His face and gave Him a mocked trial. Justice was denied Him, verse 8. He did not choose to be lonely; He was made lonely. These were attempts by Satan to defeat the servant of the Lord.
He also suffered immense pain. This pain was both mental and physical. The pain that resulted from rejection and loneliness was excruciating. Our isolation He took upon Himself. He suffered great physical pain to such an extent that when men saw Him they turned away their faces. We could not stand the bruises from His face and body as He was severely wounded. The guilt was so much that we hide our faces from him because in His suffering we see the suffering of all humanity.
Another feature of His suffering was that He was smitten, stricken and afflicted (humbled) by God. We are presented with a picture of Jesus being humbled and afflicted by His Father for the work of obedience. Hebrews 5:8 tells us that Jesus learned obedience through His suffering. Thus, the discipline of Jesus Himself reached its zenith on the cross. The cross was the supreme test of His desire to obey, Luke 22:42. As you reflect on the cross of Jesus see before you the One whom God has stricken, smitten and afflicted. See the One who has taken away your sins so that we might be made whole.
This servant of God was oppressed, suffered great injustices at the hands of His accusers. Yet, in the midst of this oppression He did not complain to God. He knew that His deliverance was to take place after His victory over death and the grave. The defeat of death through His resurrection would render the law and sin ineffective. He was cut-off in His prime without a ‘seed’ or a living survivor. Jesus willingly turned Himself over to the ultimate power of death in order to fulfill the plan of redemption.
God chose to bring Him back and to revive His memory through a life transforming act: the Resurrection. Now Jesus calls to Himself all people who wish to live forever. He is truly the heir of all sons and daughters of God.
Q4. HOW DO WE IDENTIFY WITH THIS MAN OF SORROWS?
Christ was made to bear the iniquity of us all and this was accomplished by His death at Calvary. His resurrection became the proof of God accepting the sacrifice of Himself for our sins. Based on that He remains the only Savior of mankind. It is therefore imperative for man to truly identify with Him.
Man should appreciate the fact that by nature he is God’s enemy resulting from Adam’s disobedience. To regain this lost freedom, he stands at a hopeless and helpless situation to save himself (Romans 3:23. He should also acknowledge Christ by believing in Him for salvation and be born again, Acts 16:31; John 3:3. Also to identify with Him, believers must be willing to call sinners to repentance thereby participating in the ministry of reconciliation. Furthermore, works of love for God and man should be done from the depth of our heart, soul and strength.
Identifying with Christ involves suffering for righteousness sake. This race (Christian life) is not meat and drink but work of sacrifice, self-denial and taking up one’s cross and following Chris (Mark 10:30; 2 Timothy 3:12. God is righteous and demand righteousness from us believers at all times and those that are in Him should manifest fruits of righteousness continually. Christ Himself endured all contradiction of sinners against Himself. This He demonstrated when He forgave sinful mankind and this act of forgiveness should be a way of life for those who are in Christ.
Obedience to the word of God and humility before God and man are vital evidences of full identification with our Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, hearers and doers of the word are said to have identified fully with this man of sorrow.
Q5. WHAT AWAITS THOSE WHO REJECT HIM?
John 3:17-19, 36; Romans 6:23; 1 John 5:12; Revelation 21:8
God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved, John 3:17. It is not His will that any should perish, but that all should come to His knowledge and repent. Sadly, enough only, only few have responded positively to this singular unmerited favor and privilege. Others are still wallowing in ignorance and vices.
Those who reject Chris throughout their life-time are regarded as God’s enemies as a result of Adam’s willful disobedience. They are also being pursued by the wrath of God because they have rejected the only begotten Son of God. They shall be eternally separated from God who made man in His image and likeness. Even being a member of a church does not mean one has accepted Christ. It is only those who abide in the principles of the Bible that are said to have accepted Him.
Thank God, the door is still very open to as many that can accept the offer of salvation by God and make Christ their Lord and personal Savior.
Daily Living Application:
From Adam till now man has continued to fail God by being lukewarm to His laws and commandments, thereby making God to turn His face against him (man). According to God’s mercies, Jesus Christ was made a man of sorrow to bear the iniquities of us all when God placed the burden of man’s disobedience on Him on the cross. He was made God’s suffering Servant so that the enmity between man and God: the curse upon man and man’s infirmities might be borne by Him.
To appreciate what He has done for man, there is need for all to identify with Him. This we can do by making Him our Lord and Savior, being disciples of His, loving one another; living in righteousness and also a hearer and doer of the work. Christ has invested much to redeem man from God’s wrath. Therefore, no sacrifice is too much in appreciating His kind gesture. Such sacrifices may entail our suffering for others even when such unpleasant situations result from the action of a fellow believer or in the course of our carrying out God’s will. Many are yet to acknowledge Him. No wonder the scriptures say “who hath believed our report, Isaiah 53:1. The door is very wide open to all today.
Those that will finally reject Him to the end shall suffer damnation. They shall be separated eternally from God. That was not God’s intention for anybody, hence believer should as a matter of urgency identify efforts aimed at reconciling sinners to God, because he that wins souls is wise. Hence the sacrifice of Christ by shedding His blood will not be in vain.
“Who was delivered for our offence, and was raised again for our justification”.
Daily Devotional Guide:
Monday: He suffered for our sins.
Isaiah 53:12; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24
Tuesday: He suffered for our infirmities.
Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:17
Wednesday: He suffered to give us life. Hebrews 2:10, 13:12; 1 Peter 3:18
Thursday: He suffered loneliness.
Psalm 142:14; Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 26:69-73; Mark 14:48-50
Friday: He suffered rejection.
Isaiah 53:13; Luke 4:28-29; John 12:48
Saturday: He suffered oppression.
Isaiah 53:8-9; Luke 22:9; Acts 8:33