Isaiah 53 reveals the suffering of God’s righteous servant, Jesus Christ. The question being addressed here is this: was it God, or men who condemned Jesus?
The key verses in Isaiah 53 are as follows:
- Verse 3, He is DESPISED AND REJECTED OF MEN; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and WE HID as it were OUR FACES FROM HIM; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
- Verse 4, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet WE DID ESTEEM HIM STICKEN, SMITTEN OF GOD, AND AFFLICTED.
- Verse 6, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and THE LORD HATH LAID ON HIM THE INIQUIT OF US ALL.
- Verse 10, Yet IT PLEASED THE LORD TO BRUISE HIM; HE HATH PUT INTO GRIEF: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Not listed above is verse 8: He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
Verse 8 is a pivotal verse in rightly understanding the nature of the sufferings of Christ. Verse 8 reveals that Jesus suffered unjustly in his crucifixion. Other translations render Isaiah 53:8 as follows:
- Unjustly condemned, he was led away… (New Living Translation).
- By oppression and judgment he was taken away… (Amplified Bible).
- He was condemned to death without a fair trial… (Contemporary English Version).
Isaiah 53:8 is quoted in Acts 8:33: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth. Other translations render Acts 8:33 as follows:
- He was humiliated and received no justice … (NLT).
- In his humiliation he was taken away by distressing and oppressive judgment and justice was denied him … (Amplified Bible).
- In his humiliation justice was denied Him … (Holman Christian Standard Bible).
Jesus suffered unjustly, at the hands of men, from the time of his arrest to the time of his crucifixion. Yet it was the will of God that it be so.
In Acts 4, the gathering together of “the kings of the earth and the rulers against the Lord, and against his Christ,” is said to be according to that which “the Lord’s hand and counsel predetermined to be done” (Acts 4:26-28).
When Christ was condemned unjustly, the people were gathered against God and against Jesus, “the Lord and his Christ.”
If we know that according to the hand and foreknowledge of God, the people were gathered together against God and Christ, we can conclude that God was not the one opposing his Son by personally condemning him from Heaven by pouring out his wrath. God was IN CHRIST, reconciling the world when Jesus was crucified (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
Hebrews 2:9 tell us “by the grace of God Jesus tasted death for every man,” and Hebrews 9:14 tells us “Christ offered Himself without spot to God through the eternal Spirit.”
At the cross, God was not the one opposing and condemning Jesus; God was the one strengthening him and enabling him to endure the sufferings of the cross.
It is as a martyr giving his life for others, that Christ suffered and died, and it is in this way that statements such as in Isaiah 53:6, “…the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” and in Isaiah 53:10 “…it pleased the Lord to bruise him: he hath put him to grief…” were fulfilled. Not by God personally afflicting Jesus from Heaven, but by the surrendered obedience of Jesus to the will of God.
Notice the following from Paul’s sermon in Acts 13:
For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day, THEY HAVE FULFILLED THEM IN CONDEMNING HIM. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And WHEN THEY HAD FULFILLED ALL THAT WAS WRITTEN OF HIM, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. BUT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD… (Acts 13:27-30).
Notice that Paul says, “They fulfilled the scriptures by condemning him,” and in opposition to what they had done, “God raised him from the dead.”
According to Romans 15:3, the reproaches of the people towards God were levied against Jesus: “Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, THE REPROACHES OF THEM THAT REPROACHED THEE FELL ON ME.”
Jesus was God in the flesh dying for His people, and their hatred and rebellion against God were levied against Jesus and in that place he responded with forgiveness. Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).
The author of Hebrews tells us to keep “looking to Jesus who ENDURED SUCH OPPOSITION FROM MEN, DESPISING THE SHAME, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (see Hebrews 12:2).
The shame Jesus endured was humiliation which came from men who hated and opposed God. The son of God was placed on public display in the most humiliating fashion wherein he was mocked and ridiculed by those who despised both he and his and Father; God.
He that hateth me HATETH MY FATHER ALSO. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and HATED BOTH ME AND MY FATHER. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE (John 15:23-25).
The hatred of the people towards Christ, which drove them to crucify him, was hatred towards God. Yet, it was the counsel of God to overthrow them in their worldly wisdom through the sufferings of Christ at the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:6-7). For more teaching along these lines, follow the links below.