Scripture: Isaiah 50:5-9
Views of a wounded Saviour: #2—The suffering servant
The doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ is a vital truth. He did not have His beginning in Bethlehem, but as the eternal Son of God, from all eternity has lived and acted as the Redeemer of His people who in due course would become incarnate and live and die for them. Cp John 8:56-58.
The Lord Jesus therefore appears often in person in the pages of Scripture long before His birth. He appears directly, immediately and in person on the pages of prophecy. All Scripture is His word, 1 Peter 1:10-11. Yet in many special passages He appears and speaks in the first person. Very often these ‘appearances’ are in the context of extending mercy to the nation of Israel in spite of her rejection of Him. That is certainly the case here. These are not merely the words of the prophet, but through Isaiah the Saviour Himself speaks to us. We have another view of the wounded Saviour in these beautiful words.
I HE APPEARS AS THE WOUNDED SERVANT OF JEHOVAH.
- The suffering and reproach that He suffered, v6. There is a summary statement here of the physical sufferings of the Messiah. The Saviour endured humiliation and degradation at the wicked hands of men. There is no specific reference to His death at this point—just to His persecution and rejection. His death of course was the climax of those acts of hatred against Him. Nor is there any reference to the even more dreadful aspect of His sufferings as a sacrifice under the wrath of God. Yet these too were part of all that He endured.
- He suffered these things willingly. The sufferings of Christ were voluntary. This is stressed from two perspectives:
- Negatively. He was not rebellious (root = bitter) and revolt against what was being done to Him; nor turned away, v5—He did not ‘flinch’ or retreat backwards; nor did He hide from it, v6—he did not hide His identity or go undercover to avoid this shame. Cp 53:7.
- Positively.I gave…This was the gift of Christ to His people. He gave Himself body and soul, whatever it cost.
- He does so in obedience to the word of the Father, v5. He is presented here as the servant of the Lord. He uses the title Lord (Adonai), v5, 7, 9. Specifically, He references the word of the Father which outlined His duties. His ear was open to that word—evidenced by His obedience. Cp Phil 2:6-8, Luke 22:42. It is likely that there is an allusion to the event of Ex 21:5 in the language here and in Ps 40:6. The obedience of Christ in all things is foundational to our justification, Romans 5:19. The inescapable conclusion is that the sufferings of Christ were planned by God. Cp 53:10. Together, Father and Son devised the plan of redemption.
II THE REASONS GIVEN WHY CHRIST SERVED THE FATHER IN THIS WAY.
In v7 the word therefore appears twice. Here is an emphatic explanation of why He acts as He does.
- Jehovah will help His servant. The Saviour did His work with the help and support of the Father. Cp Is 42:1, John 5:17, 14:10. He is near… Cp John 8:29.
- The Lord will vindicate His servant. The Saviour pursued His service with the conviction that His work would be vindicated. The ‘rightness’ and perfect justice of His work was what supported Him in it. Cp Romans 3:26.
- This prompted the attitude of Christ to His service, v7. With supreme and unshakable confidence He gives Himself to do the will of the Father. He sets His face to follow unswervingly and rigidly the Divine plan. Cp Luke 9:51. He was hard and impervious in this matter.
III A DEFIANT CHALLENGE FROM THE SAVIOUR.
- He challenges those who oppose Him. That opposition is described here. There is a forensic context in view—as if a legal challenge is launched to Christ’s work. It’s legal validity is questioned and challenged. There is something terrible in these words. The Saviour will meet any challenger on the basis of His service. As the successful servant of Jehovah He will take up every instance of defiance of Him and His work.
- The unassailable nature of His work. The courtroom of God has ruled on the acceptability of Christ’s service. He has satisfied the Law. Cp Is 42:21. The legitimacy and acceptability before the Law of God of Christ’s work is unquestioned.
- The destiny of those who resist Christ as the servant of the Lord, v9. A striking picture is employed to represent the pathetic feebleness and utter folly of those who set themselves against the Saviour. By defying Him they are defying God! Any challenge of His work from whatever point is destined to fail.
- An implied challenge to be on His side. There is an implication here that men are challenged to recognize the true nature of Christ’s work and stand with Him, demonstrating the same spirit of obedience to the Father’s will; the same flinty determination to go through with God. This is an implication of the threat made against those who oppose and reject it. Cp Heb 12:1-4. By standing with Christ and aligning ourselves by faith with His work, we are placed in an incontrovertible position of security.