This Christmas season, our message series is about “Jesus the Messiah.” In this series, we’re looking at prophesies of Old Testament prophets concerning the coming Messiah. The Messiah the prophets spoke of was the Anointed One. He was to be a coming King and the Savior of the people of God. Those aspects of the Messiah were what the Jewish people were looking for, someone to fight their battles, to free them from oppression and to lead their nation.
However, the prophets also spoke of the coming Messiah as a suffering servant. The prophet Isaiah spoke of this messianic suffering servant most extensively in Isaiah chapters 52 and 53. These two chapters are quoted in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament passage. Although the first century Jews had difficulty in reconciling the Messiah as King with the Messiah as suffering servant, we can now understand how they fit together in the person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to this earth 2000 years ago as the suffering servant, who would give His life as a sacrifice to save sinners who believed in Him. When Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended into heaven as King of Kings. Yet, the fullness of His kingly rule and His Kingdom will not be fully realized until He returns to the earth. Today’s message is entitled “Messiah’s Sacrifice” and we’ll be looking at a prophecy of Isaiah about the Messiah as the suffering servant of God.
Isaiah 52:13 (NIV) See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
The Messiah, Jesus Christ, is God’s servant. Everything that He does is wise. Even though Jesus was God’s servant and served His disciples on the earth, the promise is that He would be raised and highly exalted.
Isaiah 52:14 (NIV) Just as there were many who were appalled at him– his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness—
Yet, this servant would be attacked, crucified and killed on a cross. But this was no surprise to God or to Jesus Christ, the Messiah. It was part of God’s incredible plan of salvation.
Isaiah 52:15 (NIV) so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
The blood of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would serve as a sacrifice, sprinkling the nations, providing salvation for all who would believe. So, when Jesus was born 2000 years ago as a baby, He was born to give His life as a messianic sacrifice. His sacrifice would make it possible for the sins of mankind to be forgiven and for people to have an eternal relationship with God.
Today, we’re going to look at a beautiful prophetic passage of the Messiah in Isaiah 53 which describes the Messiah as a suffering servant. A servant of God, whose sacrifice is the defining point of human history. When the Messiah came to His people to whom the prophets spoke …
The Messiah was rejected
Isaiah 53:1 (NIV) Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
When Jesus came to Israel, to the people who had been waiting for the Messiah for hundreds of years, the majority of the Jews did not believe in Him. Even though Jesus performed many miracles of healing, of feeding thousands, even of raising the dead, they still would not believe. The arm of the Lord, the power of God, was revealed in Jesus’ ministry, yet many chose to reject Him as Messiah, as Savior. One of the reasons was that …
Jesus appeared as an ordinary man
Isaiah 53:2 (NIV) He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
Jesus was born in humble circumstances. In fact, most of the people around must have thought that Jesus was born out of wedlock, for Mary became pregnant before she married Joseph. Jesus’ parents were ordinary folk that everyone knew, who lived in a small village called Nazareth. Despite the Christmas cards and paintings you’ve seen, Jesus did not walk around with a halo over His head. In fact, according to this verse, He was not exceptional in appearance in any way. Jesus was not particularly handsome or attractive to the eye. He was just an ordinary-looking man from an ordinary family. In fact …
Jesus was a man of sorrows
Isaiah 53:3 (NIV) He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Of the people who heard his teaching and saw His miracles, many despised and rejected Him. On the day of His crucifixion, most Jews called for His death rather than the death of a known murderer. Of the twelve disciples Jesus hand-picked, one turned on and betrayed Him for money. The life of the Messiah on this earth was one of suffering and sorrow in many ways.
When Jesus had done many miraculous signs among the Jews, but still they refused to believe in Him, John wrote the following in His Gospel.
John 12:38 (NIV) This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
The same is true today. Jesus still works miracles through His church, yet people refuse to believe in Him. The majority of people think that Jesus was just an ordinary man who said some good things. They refuse to believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, that He came from heaven and rose from the dead to return to heaven. Yet, some do believe. Some do choose to walk on the narrow path that leads to life with Jesus.
So, our mission, just as Jesus’ mission is to be witnesses for this Messiah to a generation that wants nothing to do with Him. As we follow the one rejected, we also will be rejected by many. Yet, we do not live for the praise of men, but for the praise of God, just as Jesus did. Not only was the Messiah rejected …
The Messiah died for your sins
Isaiah 53:4 (NIV) Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
As a suffering servant, as a man of sorrows, the Messiah took our sicknesses and sorrows upon Himself in His death. In a way difficult to fathom, it was God who struck Him, it was God who poured out His judgement on our sin as Jesus died on the cross. As Jesus took our sin upon Himself on the cross, God the Father turned His face from His Son and left Him there alone. Yet, in the awful moment …
Jesus’ death brings healing
Isaiah 53:5 (NIV) But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Both the physical and spiritual suffering that Jesus endured on the cross was unimaginable. Yet, Jesus, the Messiah, choose to endure it, for our transgressions for our iniquities. He took the punishment, He endured the wrath of God, for our sins. Jesus did it so that God’s wrath could be turned away from us who believe and so that we could experience peace with God. Jesus’s death and the wounds He received bring healing and wholeness to every believer.
Jesus’ death brings forgiveness
Isaiah 53:6 (NIV) We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Every person, every one of us, has strayed from the path of God’s plan for our lives. We have done what we wanted to do, we have gone our own way and that is sin. That sin, that iniquity was laid on Jesus on the cross by the Father. Jesus, the Messiah, took every sin that you’ve ever committed and every sin that you will commit upon Himself on the cross. He bore the wrath and punishment of God for your sin, the terrors of eternal death in hell were experienced by Jesus, the Messiah. He did it, so that you could repent, be forgiven and return to following your shepherd. The Messiah died for your sins to bring you peace with God.
1 Peter 2:24 (NIV) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
Jesus died for your sins so that you might no longer live in sin. He died so that you might die to sin and live for righteousness. He died so that you might be healed of the effects of sin in your life. So that you might be healed physically, emotionally and spiritually. Jesus died to set you free from sin and sickness. Just as Jesus forgave sins and healed the sick in His ministry on this earth, so He continues to do the same through His ministry in His church. Believe in the forgiveness and healing power of Jesus, the Messiah. As the Messiah died for your sins …
The Messiah was God’s sacrificial lamb
Isaiah 53:7 (NIV) He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
In the Old Testament, God had given a system of animal sacrifice, for the forgiveness of sin. These sacrifices had to be repeated over and over. They were not effective in and of themselves. They looked forward to the ultimate sacrifice of the Messiah that would bring final forgiveness. Jesus was the lamb of God, whose death as a sacrifice, would take away the sin of the world. When Jesus was put on trial, He did not argue with His accusers or defend Himself before the. He was silent, accepting the cross as the purpose of His mission on earth.
Jesus was the perfect sacrifice
Isaiah 53:9 (NIV) He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
The reason that Jesus, the Messiah, could die for your and my sins, was that He had no sin of His own. He had done nothing wrong, Jesus had said nothing sinful. He was the perfect, unblemished sacrifice. Thus, He could pay for our sins, since He had no sin of His own to pay for. He was crucified between two criminals and His tomb was that of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, just as Isaiah had prophesied.
Jesus’ death was God’s will
Isaiah 53:10 (NIV) Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
Jesus’ death was part of God’s plan, in place before the creation of the world. His crucifixion was not a surprise to God or to Jesus. Jesus submitted His will to His Father’s will, offering His life as a guilt offering for the sins of the world. But notice, there is a promise of something beyond death in the second part of verse 10. The Messiah would have offspring, children of God in the future. Those children are those who believe in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and who therefore become the children of God. Even though the Messiah would suffer and die, God would prolong His days forever, by raising Him from the dead. Jesus is alive today, to rule and reign and carry out the Lord’s will.
1 John 4:10 (NIV) This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
As you better understand the Messiah’s sacrifice, you have much to be grateful for this Christmas season. We must celebrate Christmas with the cross in mind, for that is why Jesus was born. Jesus came to this earth to be born because God loved the people of this world. He wanted them to become His children, even though they had sinned and rejected Him. That’s why Jesus came, that’s why He willingly gave His life.
We do not remember often enough what Jesus has done for us. We do not give Him thanks enough for His sacrifice as the Messiah. As we remember Jesus, as we keep our eyes fixed on what He has done, it will help you walk with Him today. As we are grateful for what Christ has done for us, it will motivate us to tell others the Good News of Jesus, the Messiah. May we remember the Messiah’s sacrifice this Christmas in what we do and say.