OBSERVE: In chapter 53 of the book of Isaiah, we read a very clear description of the coming Messiah.
Yet it was our weakness he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. (Isaiah 53: 4-6)
INTERPRET: Seven hundred years before Jesus came into the world, God opened the eyes of his prophet Isaiah to see into the very heart of Christ’s saving work – the miracle and mystery of substitution. According to this passage; the Messiah would be pierced and crushed in our place. The righteous would be in the place of the unrighteous; the loving shepherd would be in the place of his lost sheep; the exalted King would be in the place of his rebel subjects.
APPLICATION: Isaiah reveals a stunning truth to us in his prophecy – a truth that we might easily reject were it not so clearly presented. God inspired Isaiah not only to write about the suffering of the Messiah, but also to identify the true source of that suffering. The Messiah will suffer, not for his own failures and rebellion, but for ours. And even though God used human instruments to nail Jesus to the cross, it is God himself who will lay upon his beloved Son the sin of humanity - as well as the punishment for that sin. The Messiah would not be a helpless victim but rather our worthy and willing substitute.
God sent his Son into the world to become our willing substitute – the One who would bear our punishment in our place. God loves us that much.
REFLECTION: Have you been set free?
PRAYER: Loving God, you laid my sin on Jesus so that I do not have to bear it. It cannot be on my back and also on his. Jesus cannot have taken it upon himself and yet left it on me. Help me to experience the freedom that Christ has won for me. Help me to live a life that expresses love for others so that I may reflect your love for me to others.
VIDEO: The Forbidden Chapter: Isaiah 53 in the Hebrew Bible
SONG: By His Stripes We are Healed (Esther Mui)
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.