All Roads Lead To Jesus - Isaiah

Reading: Isaiah 53, Acts 8:26-40

When Isaiah was writing, Israel was a mess. The Northern Tribes were in serious trouble with Assyria. The Southern Tribes in Judah were not far behind. Isaiah preached that the Israelites were deaf and blind to the will and covenant of God. The prophet took a look at the world around him and he could see it coming. Judgment was on the horizon.

In the coming years, the North fell to the Assyrians and the South fell to the Babylonians. The world was falling apart for Israel and it seemed as if God had abandoned them. The irony is that God had every reason to abandon them. Israel had not kept God’s covenant. They had not remembered his works or his promises. But just as in the New Testament, so also in the Old Testament, God’s love for his people is a long-suffering love that does not depend on their performance but rather his promises.

In the middle of their fall, Isaiah writes about a suffering servant in Isaiah 53. He says that this servant is the revealed power of God. But what comes next doesn’t sound like the revealed power of God. Isaiah says this servant has nothing special going for him. He has no majesty, no beauty, and he is filled with sorrow and grief. When people see him, they are ashamed of him.

This suffering servant will carry the sins of God’s people on his back. He will carry their grief and sorrow. He will be pierced and wounded for their disobedience. But it is through those wounds and through his pierced body that the people of God will be healed.

While suffering, this servant will not rebel and he will not defend himself. As a result, he will ultimately be killed for the sins of others. According to Isaiah, it was God’s will to crush him and put him to grief because in the sacrifice of the suffering servant he would become an offering for our guilt.

His life will end in anguish, but he will be raised. His days will be prolonged, he will see the extent of his work and redemption accomplished, through him, many will become righteous, and he will rule the eternal Kingdom of God.

This passage is about Jesus Christ. Jesus said as much when he read the prophet Isaiah in Luke 4. Can you imagine the scene? Jesus is asked to read from the Prophets as was the custom for worship gathering during his life on Earth. Jesus stood up, unraveled the ancient scroll, read the words of Isaiah aloud, rolled the scroll back up, sat down, and said, “What I just read has been fulfilled in your presence today.” Israel had waited more than 700 years for the servant of the Lord to be revealed and now here he was. He was not what the Jews had expected.

The Jews wanted a powerful Messiah to deliver them from earthly oppression. They had not linked Isaiah 53, the suffering servant, with the Messiah who would deliver them. They responded to Jesus’ claim by saying that he was a nobody. He was Joseph’s son. How could he be the Messiah? How could this guy deliver the new heaven, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem to Israel? They had not made the connection that redemption would come through the suffering of the Messiah.

In Acts 8, an early church leader named Philip met an Ethiopian man along the road to Gaza. The Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah 53 when Phillip approached him and asked if he knew what he was reading. The Ethiopian asked Phillip if Isaiah was speaking about himself or about someone else. I love what happens next. Luke, the writer of Acts, tells us that Phillip began to share the good news of Jesus Christ from the text in Isaiah 53.

Jesus was right. Isaiah’s words had been fulfilled in him.

Now there are too many rich points in Isaiah 53 for me to write about in this short post. But the main idea is that Jesus as the Suffering Servant took all of our sins upon himself, shed his bled as the perfect sacrifice, and presented his shed blood to God the Father in the heavenly places as a final and truly atoning sacrifice for our sins. Redemption comes through the blood and sacrifice of the Suffering Servant.

The words that Isaiah opens up within Isaiah 53 are important to understand the rest of the passage. He says that the “arm of the Lord has been revealed”. This was another way of saying that God’s righteousness, his justice, and his power were revealed in the suffering servant. In Romans 3, Paul says that the righteousness of God has been revealed and made clear in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Do you see the connection? The entire book and message of Isaiah point only to Jesus Christ.

The latter half of Isaiah was important to a broken and battered Israel because it is full of God’s future promises of recreation and restoration. Israel would not suffer forever because of the sacrifice of the suffering servant. Isaiah writes of a time that is coming where God will dwell with his people and his people will dwell with him. He says that there will be restoration and creation will be reconciled. In Isaiah 65 God says, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” These words are also about Jesus. For it is Jesus in Revelation that reveals to John God’s plans for a new heaven and earth.

The Gospel story doesn’t stop when a person comes to faith in Jesus. Yes, our sins are forgiven. Yes, we have secured an inheritance of eternal life. But the story continues. Jesus is making all things new. Jesus is not returning as a suffering servant but as an unbeatable king!

The entire story of Redemption must travel through the pain of the Cross. This is why Isaiah does not skip to glory without first revealing the arm of God in the suffering of the servant of God. The new Heaven and new Earth, our redemption, our inheritance, our eternal life, is all due to the suffering of Jesus Christ on the Cross as he took on our sin. He opened the way to redemption.

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