Jesus Thank you (Isaiah 53:10-12)
How much do you value your status? Think about it. You may initially say that you don’t care but you know how you react when you are wrongly accused, when you are unfairly turned down for a job or when someone makes a mean joke about you. We want to defend our honour don’t we.
How much does Christ’s honour matter to you?
We are at the end of our look at Isaiah 53. How did you feel when you read those verses about Jesus having no beauty, no attraction, nothing worthy of drawing worship? How do you feel as you read about what he went through?
Where is God the Father in all of this. Was he happy to let all this happen to his son?
And then there are the practical questions for us. How are we to respond to present circumstances. What does it mean to worship God now? You see the aim of this series when we first planned it was to encourage worship and praise. That is no less true in lockdown than it would have been outside.
We can and should be joyful and give thanks to God
Because we give thanks for Christ’s willingness to suffer for us (v10a)
(The apparent defeat and shaming of the Son)
V10 Earlier in the chapter, we saw that Jesus is the one who is “bruised” or “crushed” for our iniquities. The language of “bruising” contrasts sharply with Isaiah 42:3 where Jesus will not break a bruised read. Compare the way that he shows loving gentleness towards those who are bruised whilst willing to receive bruising himself.
However, the shock factor here is that Jesus does not merely endure bruising or crushing as a passive event. It is not just that he is crushed. Rather, someone actively crushes him. Isaiah says that it was God’s will to strike, bruise, crush him
We struggle with that don’t we? The idea that the father would do this to the son horrifies us. This has caused some people to react against the teaching that Jesus bore the penalty of our sin and turned God’s wrath away from us. They can cope with the idea that Jesus might have died to demonstrate love, to soak up evil, to give us a moral example and to win victory himself but this sounds barbaric. Yet, this is exactly how Scripture describes God does.
“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief;”
As our song this morning says
“You the perfect Holy One, crushed Your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me”
The author of the song recognises that this is a mystery. There is an agony, a pain at Calvary that is beyond our comprehension, Perhaps we are not meant to work out the ins and outs of it logically. Rather we are simply meant to know that God takes something on himself, Jesus, the son takes something on himself that I deserve.
So at this stage it may be helpful to say three things here.
First of all, the Gospels don’t seem to take particular pleasure and delight in the gory details of the Cross. You may remember a few years ago that there was a film “The Passion of the Christ” produced by Mel Gibson. It was wall to wall, gruesome blood and violence. I understand that a lot of people were emotionally moved by it. I’ve heard sermons where people have used the talk to lay on thick the details, I’ve done it myself. But that isn’t the Bible’s approach, those things are rather understated, not because it wasn’t violent and horrible but that is not where God’s focus is.
So, when we talk about crushing, I think it is not so much the imagery of stamping on and physically crushing. Rather it is the image of total defeat. A crushing victory. There are no half measures. Jesus says “it is finished.”
Secondly, by using the active voice, Isaiah makes it clear that the Father is fully involved in our redemption. He is not a passive bystander helplessly watching on whilst his Son takes the hit from sinful human beings. No, the event at Calvary is his intended will because he cares about sin.
Thirdly, we need to get rid of the image of Jesus as helpless and passive too. Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Our doctrine of the Trinity matters. Jesus is fully God, the second person of the Trinity. He ad the Father share the same all powerful, all present, eternal nature. In our song, the Father’s wrath is emphasised but here we see that it is also the Son who is satisfied (v11). They are united in will.
This leads to a fourth point. This poem is all about the victory of the Son
Because we see what Christ’s death has achieved for us (v10b -11)
(The Victory of the Son)
Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You
Our song starts with us struggling to understand the mystery but turns to thanks giving and joy. Jesus may be the one who experienced what looked like crushing defeat but in fact his death is victory.
10b. Notice how “the will of the Lord” is paralleled between the start and the end of v10. At the start, it is the will of the Lord to crush him. At the end, The Lord’s will prospers in his hand. This reminds us that this is The Son’s will, not just the Father’s.
The first sign of victory is in the words that tell us that Jesus will see his offspring and that his days will be prolonged. How is that possible when he is experiencing the crushing defeat of death. This points to the resurrection. Jesus raises not just to a lengthened life but to take his eternal throne. He sees many offspring as people are saved and brought into his family.
V11 tells us that his anguish, his pain and grief leads to satisfaction. This is both a legal concept, justice is satisfied, sin is dealt with, The Father (and the Son)’s wrath completely satisfied. The focus on Christ’s death offering “satisfaction” became important in Mediaeval times with Anselm. If someone injured, robbed or insulted you then it wasn’t just about physical or financial loss. You were shamed. It was a matter of honour. Anslem argued that sin robs God of the honour he deserves. Sin removes praise from God and gives it to idols instead. Satisfaction in this context means that honour is restored.
There have been some questions raised about whether Anselm was imposing his culture onto Bible times. However, honour and shame were of central importance to Israelite and Jewish culture too. So I think there is something in this. The Cross means that God’s honour is restored. Christ is vindicated.
But satisfaction also speaks of hunger and thirst being satisfied, Christ at the well describes Gospel work as his food. Christ is satisfied when he sees lost sheep brought safely home.
By his knowledge, the righteous one brings many to righteousness. In my paraphrase I’ve gone with “by his experience.” It is through his knowledge of death and resurrection, by him experiencing this that we are set free from sin.
In exchange, he bears the burden of my sin and yours. This is sometimes called the great exchange, he swaps me my sin for his righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that he became sin for us so that we might become God’s righteousness.
By Your perfect sacrifice I’ve been brought near
Your enemy You’ve made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end
Because we delight in Christ’s resurrection and his glory (v12)
(The Reward of the Son)
In the last verse (v12) we see Jesus glorified. He is risen and ascended. We are nearly at Easter. The way of the Cross leads to the empty tomb. Jesus is rewarded for bearing our sin, of pouring out his life.
He is rewarded with a great inheritance. The New Testament is full of this understanding. Jesus is now glorified, he receives the praise of the angels and one day will receive the praise of multitudes of believers.
One thing this means is that we share in that inheritance, the spiritual blessings we have in Christ. So we sing
Lover of my soul
I want to live for You
Sometimes the practical application of our sermons is to help us to know how to live godly lives in the week, how to overcome challenges including suffering and how to be faithful witnesses. The specific aim of this series has been to encourage us to worship. We want to see Jesus for who he is. He left his throne and took on our shame and guilt so we could be justified and clothed in his righteousness.
This Christ is worthy of our worship. What stops you from worshipping him?
We began with “Man of Sorrows” So it is maybe worth finishing with words from another hymn that describes the man of sorrows.
Look, ye saints, the sight is glorious;
See the Man of sorrows now;
From the fight returned victorious,
Every knee to Him shall bow;
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crowns become the Victor’s brow.