Happy New Year! We’re thankful to God for this New Year of 2021 to live for Him. Today, we’re continuing in our message series “Jesus the Messiah." Last Sunday we talked about how God desires for us to focus on Jesus in this New Year. There are many things that we could focus on. And a lot of those things could discourage us. But if we focus on Jesus, it will encourage and motivate us.
Colossians 3:1 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
As believers, we have been raised with Christ into a new life, an eternal life. As believers, we are to seek the things which are above, which is where Jesus is. Another translation of this verse says “set your hearts on things above.” The things above are the things that are eternal, that will last forever. To seek the things that are above is the opposite of seeking the things that are below in our world. So, in this new year, we are to set our goals in life in keeping with the things above. The things below, the things in this world are to be used by us to reach our eternal goals, that things above. To seek the things above, to set our hearts on things above, we must discipline our thought life.
Philippians 4:8 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
The things that we are to think about according to this verse are things above. In fact, when we think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable, who alone fits all these character traits? The answer is Jesus, the living Word of God. The Holy Spirit can help us discipline our thought life as we immerse ourselves in God’s Word on a daily basis. What happens to us as we seek things above and think about those things? As we focus on Jesus, it motivates us to worship and to pray. Keeping our thoughts on things above helps us to resist temptation. Seeking the things above by studying God’s Word builds our faith. Setting our hearts on eternal things help us to prioritize our lives.
Matthew 6:33 (ESV) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
This command of Jesus instructs us to prioritize two things in our lives. First of all, we are to seek first God’s kingdom. That means that everything we do in life should be to advance God’s kingdom. Secondly, we are to seek first His righteousness in our lives. We are to seek to become more and more like Jesus. When we do, according to Matthew 6, we don’t need to worry or be anxious about any else that we need in this world. Why? Because God promises to give to us all that we need as we seek His kingdom and righteousness first.
Today’s message is entitled “Suffering Servant.” In the remaining messages in this series, we’re going to continue focusing on Jesus and the most important aspects of His life. We’re going to learn that the principles of the kingdom of God are the opposite of the principles of this world. Worldly success consists of the accumulation of wealth, power and fame in this life. The Bible describes this as laying up treasure on earth. Kingdom success consists of laying up treasure in heaven, living for eternity, not for this life. As we seek God’s kingdom first, we will experience joy and fulfillment in this life as we walk with Jesus, along with suffering. And in eternity, we will experience glory with Jesus forever. Those who live only for this life may enjoy momentary pleasure, but live life without Jesus and will spend eternity apart from God in hell. So, as we continue our series, let’s choose to focus on and learn from Jesus’ life how we are to live for Him.
Isaiah 52:13 (ESV) Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.
The first part of Isaiah 52 speaks of the Messiah reigning over the earth and bringing salvation. Verse thirteen continues Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah. The Messiah will be exalted over every other king on the earth. This is what Israel expected the Messiah to do when He came. However, the exaltation of the Messiah as King over all the earth was not going to happen at His first coming. As we continue in Isaiah 52 and 53 this morning, we’re going to see that the prophet now turns to the Messiah’s first coming and the suffering that He endure.
Isaiah 52:14 (ESV) As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
Isaiah prophesies of the results of the scourging, beating and crucifixion of Jesus, the Messiah. Most of our sanitized movies of the crucifixion are nothing like what actually happened. The Passion of the Christ was much closer to reality. The demonic savagery directed to the Son of God resulted in Jesus being beaten beyond human recognition. The torture that He endured, both physically and spiritually, was beyond anything that any other human being had experienced. And why did Jesus have to endure such suffering and torment?
Isaiah 52:15 (ESV) so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
The blood of Jesus shed in His crucifixion sprinkled many nations, just as the blood of the Old Testament sacrifices was sprinkled on the altar. Jesus knew what He as going to go through, yet He choose willingly to suffer because of His great love for you and for me.
Isaiah 53:2 (ESV) For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
Jesus did not stand out in a crowd by his appearance. He was not the most handsome or the tallest or the strongest. He was an ordinary looking Jew of his day. Yet, because of his everyday appearance, He shows us that what matters is in one’s heart, in one’s words and in one’s actions. Jesus, the Messiah, healed thousands, performed many miracles and even raised people from the dead. Yet, when the Messiah came, the one who created the universe, what was the majority response to Him?
Isaiah 53:3 (ESV) He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Many despised Him and others completely rejected Him. Even among the twelve that He chose as disciples, one betrayed Him and another denied even knowing Him three times. Jesus’ life of ministry was a life of sorrows and grief. He was not esteemed and many had no desire to follow Him or His teachings. Jesus experienced both physical and spiritual trials of the greatest magnitude. Yet, He continued to do God’s will and love those who chose to be His enemies. Jesus, the exalted King was rejected by many.
We’ve already mentioned that many of the people of Jesus’ day missed out on Jesus because they thought the Messiah would come as a conquering king. Yet, Jesus suffering and death was the path that God had chosen for Him to win the victory for us. And one day, He will return to this earth as conquering king. As we choose to follow Jesus in our lives, we will experience the same things that He did.
As we spread the good news of the Gospel, Jesus taught us that most will reject the Gospel and us. They will avoid us and not want anything to do with us. Or they will try to censor and silence us. Jesus Himself warned that everyone who follow Him would be persecuted. Persecution of believers is already here in America and many have become silent because of it. Yet, Jesus continued to spread the Gospel, no matter the cost and so should we. Victory and being an overcomer comes through the path of suffering for Jesus. Jesus taught us to rejoice when we suffer for Him, as it is an honor to walk in His path. Let’s talk some more about how …
Isaiah 53:4 (ESV) Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
The Gospel of Matthew 8:17 quotes this verse to describe Jesus’ healing ministry as taking our illnesses and bearing our diseases. On the cross, Jesus bore every aspect of the curse that came on our world through the original sin in the garden of Eden. In a way that we can’t understand, Jesus bore the pain, the disability and the suffering of every disease that we may encounter. God afflicted His own Son with the results of the curse so that we could be healed. As Jesus ministered physical healing, so He gave the power to His disciples, including you and me to do the same.
Isaiah 53:5 (ESV) But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
This verse now speaks of Jesus carrying our transgression and our iniquities, our sins. He as pierced, crushed and chastised, speaking of the punishment we deserved that came upon Him. And what was the result of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross? We now can have peace with God and healing through His wounds. The sin in our lives made us an enemy of God, we could not have peace with God without Jesus’ suffering sacrifice.
Isaiah 53:6 (ESV) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
The prophet likens every human being to a sheep that has gone astray. He makes it clear that there are no exceptions, every person has strayed away from God and gone on his own way. The is the essence of sin, doing your own thing and not following God. So, the Lord laid on Jesus the sin of every one of us, the iniquity of us all. There was no other remedy for our sin and separation from God. Jesus chose to pay the price so that we could be forgiven and set free. The prophet Isaiah now gives us insight into how Jesus responded to His suffering.
Isaiah 53:7 (ESV) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
Jesus did not try to defend Himself, even though His was innocent and the charges against Him were false. He choose to die for us and follow the Father’s will.
Isaiah 53:9 (ESV) And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Isaiah makes it clear that Jesus neither sinned in action or word, He’d done nothing to deserve the punishment of crucifixion. He suffered alone for you and me
As we study what the prophet Isaiah has prophesied about Jesus as the suffering servant, it is important to consider how it applies to us personally. Yes, most of us have heard the story of Jesus many times. Yet, as we think about it this morning, let’s consider our involvement in the story. You see, Jesus had to suffer and die because of our sins. Your sins and mine caused the hammer blows that pounded the spikes into Jesus’ hands and feet. We should have been on that cross, we were the sinners, not Jesus. Yet, he died in our place, he paid the penalty for our sin.
When we sin and ask for forgiveness, consider the price that Jesus paid so that we could be forgiven. When you are tempted to sin, remember that every sin caused Jesus greater suffering. Ask God to help you truly comprehend how Jesus suffered to you, it will change your life.
Isaiah 53:10 (ESV) Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Isaiah goes on to speak of the results of Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice. First of all, Jesus’ death was not a surprise, nor a problem with God’s plan. No, it was God’s will that Jesus die, in fact, God’s judgement on sin was what ultimately killed Jesus. Jesus became a sacrificial offering, not for His own sin, but for our sin and guilt. The good news is that Jesus would not remain dead. He would rise from the dead and see his offspring. Who are Jesus’ offspring, they are the children of God that He provided salvation to, they are you and me. Jesus died to carry out God’s will and plan that was in place from creation.
Isaiah 53:11 (ESV) Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
Jesus was the righteous one and through His suffering, He made it possible for many to be made righteous. How can we as sinners be made righteous? Because Jesus carried our sins away, that we might be forgiven. Jesus’ suffering and anguish turned into joy and satisfaction as He rose from the dead.
Isaiah 53:12 (ESV) Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
This verse speaks of Jesus becoming victorious over death and sin and reaping His reward. He willingly chose to die, He allowed Himself to be considered a sinner so that He could carry our sins away, never to be remembered. Now, He lives as our High Priest, continually making intercession and praying for us as we follow Him through this life. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way.
Hebrews 12:2 (ESV) looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
We are to continually look to and focus on Jesus. It says here that He endured the suffering of the cross for the joy that was set before Him. What was the joy set before Jesus? I believe the joy was the knowledge that His suffering and death would result in many children to be born into the family of God. Jesus suffered and died because He looked forward to the joy of forgiving you and welcoming you into God’s eternal family. Jesus looked forward to an eternity with each person that is saved through His death. And now, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God in heaven. He rejoices over every person who has put their faith in Him. Jesus’ suffering provides salvation.
As giving us the gift of salvation gives Jesus great joy, so receiving the gift of salvation should give us great joy. Let’s not take the gift of salvation for granted. It cost Jesus everything to give us this gift. Salvation is the biggest and best gift that you’ll ever receive. Salvation is not just a one-time gift, it is a gift that will last forever. In eternity, we’ll be worshipping Jesus for the gift of salvation. A gift that was freely given out of love, despite the enormous suffering that it entailed. I believe that when we truly comprehend the greatness of Jesus’ gift to us, it will fill our lives with great joy. Nothing else in life matters as much as your salvation.
Many other blessings that we have in life could be taken away from us. But no circumstance or person can take our salvation away as we continue to follow Jesus. As we find our joy in our salvation, we will find it in every other area of life. Jesus’ suffering provides salvation.
Today, we’ve turned to the prophet Isaiah to learn about Jesus, the Messiah as the suffering servant. Jesus, the exalted King was rejected by His people when He came the first time. As we follow Him, we also will encounter rejection by those who choose not to believe. Jesus suffered and died for each one of us. We must remember that it was our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross.
Yet the good news is that Jesus’ suffering provides salvation to everyone who believes in Jesus. Forgiveness and salvation is the greatest gift that we could ever receive. Jesus went through His suffering for the joy of having us in the family of God. The more we comprehend the awesomeness of our salvation, the more the joy of the Lord will fill our lives.