It's Just SO Obvious!
Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. (Isaiah 42:1-4 ESV)
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 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. (Isaiah 53:3-6 ESV)
When we post-millenial Christians read Isaiah 40-55 generally, and/or Isaiah 52-53 in particular, we immediately think of Jesus. We can’t help it; we’re trained that way! It is what we do! It is what we’re about!
The second thought, tightly bound to the first, is, “Why didn’t the Jews see it?” Why didn’t those Pharisees and chief priests and teachers of the law, so deeply immersed as they were in the Bibles, why didn’t they see all the prophecies being fulfilled? IT’S JUST SO OBVIOUS!
Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified Christ of God, is so obviously the perfect suffering servant that we cannot imagine anyone ever thinking anything else. But, tell me what you think after reading these other passages from that same Isaiah:
But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of
Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:8-10 ESV)
“But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen! Thus says the LORD who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams. This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’s,’ another will call on the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ and name himself by the name of Israel.”
(Isaiah 44:1-5 ESV)
Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: “I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.
(Isaiah 45:1-4 ESV)
Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God.”
(Isaiah 49:1-4 ESV)
Can you really blame the Jews for seeing themselves in the words of the prophet? What they really failed to grasp is THE great problem of Scripture!
What happens as soon as Adam and Eve are placed in the Garden?
What happens as soon as they are cast out?
Murderous, horrible evil that multiples until, in Noah’s day, all the thoughts of humanity were evil all day long.
What happens almost as soon as Noah gets off the ark?
Sin that leads to the pride of Babel.
What happens almost as soon as Abram is called?
What about Moses?
Aaron and his sons?
Israel is the means by which God would save the world, but Israel herself is corrupted by sin. Only a Sinless Suffering Servant of the One True God can Save the world!
Israel, Abraham’s children by blood, Israel was indeed God’s suffering servant, but they failed. Over and over and over they failed to live up to the high calling of God to be a holy priestly nation before the world.
Jesus, Abraham’s child by blood and faith, IS God’s suffering servant, showing the incredible love of God to the world.
What was so obvious to Israel seems totally beyond us, for the same reason: Jesus. Because they knew THEY were the suffering servant, Israel could not see Jesus. Because WE know Jesus is THE suffering servant, we can’t see how we are called to be suffering servants to our world for God’s sake.
If sin-stained Israel could truthfully and accurately see herself as the suffering servant of Isaiah, how much more should we who are SINLESS by the blood of Christ, we who are the BODY of CHRIST, how much more should we see ourselves as the Suffering Servant of God for the world?
IT’S JUST SO OBVIOUS!