Decmber 19, 2020

Subject: Isaiah’s Answer for how to Save America, Part 6: The Gospel of Isaiah 53:1-9

Isaiah 53:6b “The Lord has laid on Him the sins of us all.”

Ed Croteau

Ben Shapiro, the 33-year-old conservative political commentator, host of his weekly news site “The Daily Wire”, defines his podcast “The Ben Shapiro Show” as the “fastest growing, hardest hitting, most insightful, and savagely irreverent conservative podcast on the web.” The NY Times estimates that his podcast is downloaded 10 million times every month, with 70 percent of his audience is under the age of 40.

Because he intelligently defends conservative ideals, he is a favorite of evangelical Christians. But he is also an orthodox Jew who denies the deity of Jesus Christ and His resurrection. In an April 2019 interview with atheist podcaster Joe Rogan, Shapiro not only denied that Jesus was a prophet but defined Jesus Christ as one of many failed revolutionaries, executed by the Roman government for inciting a revolt.

In 2019, Shapiro invited Pastor John MacArthur on his podcast. MacArthur went to the Old Testament book of Isaiah – specifically Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12 – to demonstrate to Shapiro the entirety of the Gospel: Christ’s deity, His death, and His resurrection. As MacArthur expounded on Isaiah’s words, Shapiro heard what the Bible, and especially his Jewish Old Testament, says about who Jesus Christ is.

Why has this section of Isaiah drawn so many into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ? In his book ‘The Gospel According to God’, MacArthur says “No passage gives a clearer explanation of Christ’s atoning work for sinners than Isaiah 53. It’s truly the first gospel (written 700 years before Christ came to earth).” In his interview with Shapiro, MacArthur emphasized that “Without the Old Testament, the New Testament is hardly believable. Isaiah 53 contains what is essentially Jesus’ biography. Jesus’s fulfilment of the Isaiah 53 prophecy is irrefutable evidence of the truth of His claim to deity.” Let’s examine the Gospel of Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:1-2 ➔ Messiah’s Obscure Lineage: “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” The Hebrew meaning here is that Messiah, when He comes, will be recognized for his humble, poor upbringing (a “tender plant” – a “root out of dry ground”). And His physical stature will not be kingly nor attractive to behold (“no form or comeliness”). He will appear to be your average Joe on the street.

Isaiah 53:3-4 ➔ Messiah’s Rejection: “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. And we hid our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” People will despise this Messianic figure, to the point of publicly denouncing Him as deserving punishment because YHWH has cursed Him. Yet, He will carry the griefs and sorrows of mankind upon Himself.

Isaiah 53:5-6,8 ➔ Messiah’s Punishment for us: “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, each to His own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was taken from prison and from judgment; who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people He was afflicted.” This Messianic figure will be crushed by YHWH for our sins. We are compared to sheep, who wander off on our own and do not listen to God’s instruction for our lives. We commit grievous acts of immorality that require payment. Yet YHWH, rather than laying them on each of us, He “has laid on Him the iniquity of us all”.

Isaiah 53:7 ➔ Messiah’s Silence: “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” This Messianic figure did not fight back nor try to defend Himself against His death sentence.

Isaiah 53:9 ➔ Messiah’s Sinlessness: “They made His grave with the wicked – but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit found in His mouth.” Incredibly, this Messianic figure never sinned. He lived a perfect life. He went to His death with no accusers.

In these first 9 verses of Isaiah 53, we have someone who will: 1) be a poor, humble, average-looking person, 2) be seen by everyone as cursed by God, 3) without complaining take all of our sins on Himself, and 4) be sinless Himself. Any historic individual come to mind? Next week, we look at verses 10-12.

Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.