Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12
The description of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah chapters 52 and 53 is one of the most compelling passages in the Tenach (Old Testament). This Scripture portion contains five prophetic insights concerning the suffering of the Messiah. The portrayal of Jesus within the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) shows how He fulfilled Isaiah’s prophetic vision.
The Identity of the
Who is the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 52:13-53:12? The Jewish community, almost universally, considered this passage a Messianic prediction until Rashi (1040-1105), the esteemed medieval French rabbi, introduced an alternative interpretation. This great teacher, who interpreted the passage as a reference to the sufferings of the nation of Israel as a whole, has influenced Jewish teaching ever since.
Looking at the text and the context, however, demonstrates very clearly that an individual—namely the Messiah—is the reference, since the Servant is differentiated both from the remnant and from the entire nation. Here, the Servant suffers not only on behalf of Israel, His people, but also for the entire human race.
The Fame and Renown of Messiah’s Sufferings – Isaiah 52:13 – 53:3
The One described in this prophecy is said to be the “Servant of the Lord” (Isa. 52:13; 53:11). The numerous synonyms indicate the magnitude of His exaltation (Isa. 52:13). Many will be disgusted by His bruised and marred appearance (Isa. 52:14).
There are at least 80 references to Isaiah in the New Testament, and many of these allude to this passage. Philip, the evangelist, did not hesitate to identify Jesus with the fulfillment of Isaiah 53 (see Acts 8:35).
The Purchase of Redemption through Messiah’s Sufferings – Isaiah 53:4-6
Messiah did not die for Himself. No sins are connected with His sufferings. He bore the grief and consequences for His people. Through His death, He made atonement for Israel’s transgressions and iniquities (Isa. 53:4-6). As our substitute, God allowed the Messiah to be attacked, because God’s people wandered off like sheep, so they might experience redemption (Isa. 53:4-6).
This text conveys the great theological concepts of Ransom, Propitiation, Redemption, and Substitution. Messiah’s bruising accomplished each of these
The Resignation to Messiah’s Sufferings – Isaiah 53:7-9
We read that there was no protest or complaint when Messiah suffered. In fact He was meek and gentle. He did not open His mouth to protest (Isa. 53:7). Amazingly, Jesus the Messiah did not ask for a defense.
The depiction of the trials of Jesus mirrors the suffering of Isaiah’s Servant. As the Gospels portray Jesus’ trials, Messiah was absolutely submissive throughout His sufferings and thoroughly resigned to all His cruel treatment (Isa. 53:7-9).
The Rewards of Messiah’s Sufferings – Isaiah 53:10-12
The Servant pleased the Lord (Isa. 53:10) and will see the fruit of His travail (Isa. 53:11). Because He would justify many and would bear their iniquities, He will receive the “portion of the great and divide the spoil with the strong” (Isa. 53:12).
The New Testament indicates Jesus had the privilege of interceding for the transgressors and still does as our great High Priest (Isa. 53:12; Heb. 7:25).
The prophetic insights gleaned from Isaiah 52:13-53:12 point us in one direction—to Jesus the Messiah and the wondrous gift of redemption that God extends to us through His suffering. Have you received that priceless gift?