The Suffering Servant - 2



Last week we looked at the substitutionary death of the Jesus Christ, the Servant of the Lord, focusing on verses from Isaiah 53. This week we will look at what followed that death.

It was not an ordinary death. Nor was it an ordinary out-pouring of judgement. This was not a man dying for his own sins, receiving the just judgement due to him. This was, as we saw, a substitutionary death, a vicarious death. The death of one who was himself sinless, standing in the place of those who are sinners. This was God remaining true to his justice, and yet at the same time justifying, acquitting, the sinner [see Romans 3:21-26].

A simple, but extremely significant, question arises from this: how do we know that this amazing thing is actually true? How do we know that it really does work? How do we know that this substitutionary death is legal and valid in God’s sight?

The simple answer to this is: the resurrection.

The resurrection of the Suffering Servant is right here in this fourth Servant Song [Isaiah 52:23 - 53:12]:

‘he will see his offspring and prolong his days’ [53:10]

‘After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied’ [53:11]

‘I will give him a portion among the great’ [53:12]

‘he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted’ [52:13]

‘kings will shut their mouths because of him’ [52:15].

This resurrection is also predicted in the second and third Servant Songs [Isaiah 49:1-7; 50:4-9]

‘Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see you and bow down,
because of the LORD, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you’ [49:7]

‘He who vindicates me is near’ [50:8].

Although not explicit, each of these references, in context, refers to the vindication or exaltation of the Servant, after his suffering and rejection, beyond his substitutionary death.

His resurrection is proof that the justice of God has been satisfied. His resurrection also vindicates all of his claims to be [1] without sin, and [2] the One sent from the Father and equal with Father.

Thus Paul wrote that Jesus Christ:

‘… through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead’ [Romans 1:4].

‘ … he was raised for our justification’ [Romans 4:25].

‘ … if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins’ [1Corinthians 15:17].

When we put the Servant Songs, with their message of the suffering of the Servant, alongside other references made by Isaiah to Jesus Christ, we realise that there could be no other outcome than the resurrection. Because this Suffering Servant is also the Lord of Glory:

He is the ‘Son’ who is given to us, of whom Isaiah wrote:

‘… he will be called … Mighty God, Everlasting Father …and of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end’ [9:6,7].

But in an even more astounding statement, Isaiah described Jesus Christ this way:

‘I saw the LORD seated on a throne and highly exalted …’ and heard the seraphs calling:

‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory’ [6:1,3; John 12:37-41].

Death could not hold this glorious Lord, not even a death in which he bore the sin of the world. He is the Lord of life. He has life in himself. John reports him saying:

‘For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself’ [John 5:26].

‘… I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me … I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again’ [John 10:17,18].

‘I am the resurrection and the life …’ [John 11:25].

This Suffering Servant, this risen Lord, is the one whom we honour, not only at Easter, but every day of our lives.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2014, 2023