Isaiah 53 is a very familiar chapter from Isaiah. Isaiah 53:5 is one of the most quoted verses of Isaiah. So, let’s nutshell the chapter: Isaiah 53 Starts off with Israel confessing their failure to recognize the Messiah when He first comes. It continues with the suffering of the Messiah. Then the Messiah dies. Then He is given “the light of life” and assurance that His redemptive work is completed.
Reread Isaiah 50:4-9 The servant’s mission is laid out. He will go to Jerusalem to suffer and die, but it is very specific that His sufferings and death are absolutely in reparation for what we have done and redemption for what price we need to pay.
Reread Isaiah 1:3-6 Israel is an individual person who is wounded because of her sins. She doesn’t know who God is. Notice the three key injuries in vs. 6 – wounds, bruises, and stripes. 52:13-53:12 corresponds to this.
Since chapter 40 there are two parallel lines of thought. The Servant parallels the “Arm” of the Lord. They have been parallel but haven’t converged.
The Servant in chapter 42:1-6 tells us the mission of the Servant to fulfill the covenant including the gentiles. 49:1-13 The mission of the servant will be complicated. 50:4-9 Says there will be suffering but doesn’t say why.
The Arm of the Lord 40:10 will rule for God. 51:5 The gentiles will trust in the arm of the Lord. 51:9 The Arm of the Lord will redeem. 52:10 The Arm of the Lord will provide salvation for the whole world.
52:13-53:12 shows us that the Arm of the Lord and the servant is the same.
52:3 They will be redeemed without money. How then? Through the Messiah.
Psalm 22 also gives details of the Messiah’s death, but not why.
53 tells us why. "5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all."
The difference between Messianic Jews and non-messianic Jews is that this chapter is often looked at as Israel as a nation. However, that is a fairly recent development historically. There was a medieval Rabbi Rashi who included this in his commentaries. It was rejected at the time by other rabbis. In the 1800’s it came into prominence. In all Jewish ancient literature including Talmud, Midrash, and Targum, whenever they commented on this passage they always refer to the messiah. It was never Israel in ancient times. Consequently, there was a push toward universalistic theologies in Judaism at the same time as Christianity. In several of the more liberal Jewish sects the messiah is a metaphor and a means to a global utopia. Waiting for messiah has become waiting for enlightenment. The same thing has basically happened in many of the mainline Christian denominations. Jesus has been reduced to a symbol or figurehead in a quasi-political movement which uses multiple religions to promote “justice.” Both of these movements were products of the age of enlightenment which drew human focus away from God and His sovereignty and upon human kind. There is an interesting history connecting Marquis de Sade to Marx and Freud and their influence on humanism. Anyway, only to say that many ancient doctrines began to go seriously sidewise beginning in the mid 1700’s which is why a lot of our Christian theology is murky today.
Thank Jesus that “he poured out His life unto death” for us.