Chapter 53 is the Magnificat of the Hebrew Scriptures. Of all the hints and glimpses the Scriptures give of their Messiah, this one is the crowning glory. Yet the truth is disguised. Isaiah describes not a political victor coming in triumph but a man “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with suffering.”
Not the kind of Messiah they were expecting.
As Tim and I studied the chapter week after week, we read statements like, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. . . But he was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, the punishment for our peace was upon him and by his wounds we were healed.
“All of us went astray like sheep, we each turned to our own way and the LORD laid on him the iniquity of us all.
“He was oppressed and he was afflicted yet he did not open his mouth. Like the lamb led to slaughter and as a sheep before the ones shearing her is silent so he did not open his mouth.
“. . . 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. . .
“By oppression and judgment he was taken away. . . cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with wicked ones and with the rich in his death though he did no violence and in his mouth was no deceit. . .
“He poured out his life to the death and was numbered with the transgressors for he bore the sin of many and interceded for the transgressors.”
At last we got to the end of the chapter and I asked, “Tim, who do you think this is talking about?”
He thought for a moment and said slowly, “It’s talking about someone, a man, who dies for other people’s sins, not his own.”
“This is describing the Messiah,” I said. “A man with no sin of his own giving his life to pay for other people’s sins. A man who is cut off from the land of the living and yet prolongs his days and prospers. Who does that sound like?”
“I’m sure Christians think it’s talking about Jesus,” said Tim. Then, “I have no idea.”
After another pause, “Certainly Jesus is the best contender for the Messiah.”
He thought about it some more and said, “In fact, he’s the only contender.”