Suffering Servant

Week 4 Day 1

Isaiah 53:4-6
4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
Isaiah, in chapter 53, highlights the outrageous nature that is the Christian faith. The Messiah did not come as a conquering king, defeating all those who dare rebel against His rule, but instead He came in the form of a suffering servant. How could God allow his Messiah to be rejected in such a way? Should not the creator of the universe come in mighty glory, forcing the world to bow before Him? One might think this to be the case, but Jesus comes in such an unexpected way. Isaiah describes Jesus as being grieved, having carried sorrow, stricken, afflicted, pierced, crushed, chastened, and scourged. Instead of ruling over his people, Jesus came in the form of a servant, humbly laying himself down. He suffered adversity, rejection, and pain. The world sees this as a failure, yet in the Christian faith, this suffering servant is worthy of our praise. His life was not a tragedy, but it was triumphant.

How do we know this? Look at the personal pronouns that Isaiah uses. He bore our griefs. He carried our sorrows. He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. Our chastening fell on Him. And all of this was done so that through his suffering we might be healed. This is the scandal of the cross, that the God who created the universe would humble himself to take the form of a servant and endure the rejection and torture brought by his beloved creation, so that through his suffering, death, and resurrection his image bearers might find salvation and new life.

John Calvin comments on Christ’s role as the suffering servant by saying, “The loftiness of the mystery is a reason why it scarcely obtains credit in the world. It is reckoned to be folly because it exceeds all human capacities. Achieving exaltations through suffering is a strange thing indeed. It is foolishness in our way of doing things, but it is wisdom in God’s economy. We should never diminish the scandal of the cross.” Christ came to suffer death, but it is through His suffering that we find new life.

Reflection and Prayer

In what ways is the cross scandalous to our world?

How might your life reflect the features of the suffering servant?

Dear Lord, as we take time to remember your work done on our behalf, help us never to become accustomed to the scandal of the cross. We praise you that you humbled yourself to the point of death so that we might be raised to new life. So now as we go about our day, help us to trust in your work done on our behalf.

Faith Bible Staff