Easter is just ahead, and I’m getting ready for it by memorizing parts of Isaiah 53 along with many others who are tracking with Revive Our Hearts’ Monthly Memory Plan. In case you’re not aware, this prophecy was written centuries before Jesus came to earth, and it foretells His death, burial, and even includes hints of His resurrection.
Beware. The portrait of Christ in Isaiah 53 can be surprisingly shocking.
Surely we wouldn’t have written the story this way! This “suffering servant” is not outwardly impressive (53:2); He knows well grief, sorrow, and suffering (53:4–5); He’s guiltless, yet He silently takes God’s absolute, holy judgment against the sin-debt of the world—including yours and mine (53:9, 4, 12).
He’s not the only one pictured in this passage. We’re there in verses 4–6, like foolish, helpless sheep—yet sheep who have a great Servant Shepherd:
Surely he has borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
"But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
"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.
If you’re like me, spending even a few minutes in this passage raises a lot of questions. Questions like what does it mean that He has borne my griefs and carried my sorrows (53:4)? And how does this impact the way I grieve and respond to sorrow today?
I encourage you to ask God these questions (He’s the Author of the Book, after all), to meditate on the passage, and to reference commentaries. You can also tune in to Revive Our Hearts March 29–April 2 as Nancy teaches a series on Psalm 22 called "Psalm of the Cross," and references this passage in Isaiah.
If you haven’t started yet, I hope you’ll consider memorizing Isaiah 53 with us this month. I’d also love to hear your questions and comments as you dig in. Whether you join us or not, be awed today by your God:
“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).