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Isaiah 53:1-12 • tv095a
A television broadcast sermon delivered
Sunday, July 1st, 1979
Henry T. Mahan
Transcribed, edited and published
October 27th, 2016
Henry T. Mahan Tape Library
Zebulon Baptist Church
6088 Zebulon Highway
Pikeville, KY 41501
My message today will be taken from the book of Isaiah. I’d like for you to open your Bible to the book of Isaiah chapter 53. Now, we are going to (the Lord willing) look at every verse. There are just 12 verses but we are going to look at all of them just briefly if the Holy Spirit enables us to have that kind of liberty.
But Solomon once wrote these words; he said: “Of making many books there is no end and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” We are literally covered up with creeds, catechisms, confessions of faith and instructions in religion. Every time we turn around there’s a new book coming off the press written to explain the Book of Books.
Someone asked an old preacher many years ago this question; they said: “Is your creed in print? We would like to find out where your creed is printed. I’d like to see the book that contains your beliefs, your doctrine, and your creed.”
He replied in this fashion; he said: “Yes sir, you will find my creed in print. You will find what I believe summed up in the 53 chapter of Isaiah. There you have it; there you have a condensed Bible in one Chapter. There you have the whole Gospel of God’s free grace and God’s mercy as it is revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord, the 53 chapter of Isaiah.”
Let’s turn to that Scripture, Isaiah 53 and let’s see if we can find out something of what this old man was talking about, his creed, his catechism, his confession of faith, his doctrinal position, his confidence and his foundation, all in one chapter, Isaiah 53.
Now, you may be startled to learn that someone called Isaiah, “the Gospel in the Old Testament,” you may be startled to learn that just about everything that God reveals concerning His Son Jesus Christ is touched upon in this 53 Chapter of Isaiah.
Look at verse 1, for example it says: “Who hath believed our report?” Who out there among the sons of men believes our Gospel? Who believes our message?
It’s a message of God’s love. It’s a message of God’s grace and God’s mercy to sinners in Christ Jesus. It’s a message about Christ’s work and His person and His office. It’s a message about His sacrifice. It’s a true message and it’s the only message of hope. It’s the only message of comfort. It’s true and it’s the only one.
Paul wrote over in 1 Timothy: “This is a faithful saying, (that is, a true saying) and it’s worthy of all acceptation, (that is; it’s worthy of acceptation by all men) that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I’m chief.”
That’s our message but who believes it? Isaiah begins that way. Before he runs through this chapter and lays down this foundation of mercy he asks this question, “Who hath believed our report?”
Then he says: “To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Now, this I know, that no man will believe our message, no man will believe our Gospel unless this message and this Gospel is revealed to him by the Spirit of the living God.
Our Lord said: “No man can come to me except my Father which sent me draw him.” In 1 Corinthians 2:8 and 9 Paul said: “Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered the heart of men the things that God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.”
“Who hath believed our report? To whom is the arm, (the power, the person, the glory and the Gospel of Jesus Christ) revealed?”
When we talk about the arm of God we talk about the power of God. When we talk about the arm of God we talk about the Gospel of God because “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.”
And before Isaiah writes about this Gospel he said, “Who believes it?” Do you believe it? Has God revealed it to you? “God hath revealed it to us by his spirit.” Paul wrote again in Galatians 1:15: “It pleased God who separated me from my mother’s womb to reveal his son in me.” The Gospel comes by revelation. It is revealed to the hearts of sinners by the Spirit of God.
Then our Lord Jesus Christ one day asked the disciples; he said: “Whom do you say that I the Son of man am?” And Peter said: “Thou art the Christ, (thou art the Messiah), and thou art the Son of the living God.”
And our Lord said, “Peter; blessed are you, flesh and blood didn’t reveal that to you but my Father which is in heaven. Blessed are your eyes they see.”
What do they see? They see more than just a man standing here, they see the God-man. They see more than just a prophet; they see the Priest. They see more than just a leader or teacher; they see the King. They see more than just a religious person; they see the Substitute, the Redeemer.
“Blessed are your eyes they see and your ears they hear.” You hear more than just a man speaking, you hear God speaking through that man. You hear more than just words; you are hearing the Word of God, the Word of power, and the Word of life.
“Blessed are your hearts for they understand.” Yes, this is what Isaiah is saying, “Who hath believed this report and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”
Now, look at verse 2: “For he, (and he begins right away talking about Christ and this is the message); who believes it, to whom is it revealed, for he shall grow up before us as a tender plant, as a root out of a dry ground, having no form nor comeliness, and there is no beauty about him that we should desire him.”
Now, here are four things that Isaiah says about Christ:
First of all: “He shall grow up as a tender plant.”
Jesus Christ was born of a virgin; that is, He had no human father but He was born just like any other baby. And He came forth from His mother’s womb and He was washed and swaddled and cared for. And nursed on His mother’s breast and He grew up as a little infant, as a child, a tender plant, a frail, little, baby that just the slightest thing it seems like would snuff out His life, snuff out His existence, a tender plant. That’s the way he started “as a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground.”
What’s that talking about? Well, he’s the Messiah. He’s the King of Israel. He shall sit upon the throne of His Father David. But the family of David was all but forgotten. And the kingdom of Israel was at its lowest state. It was like a dry, parched, ground.
And here was a little root that came out of this dry, parched, ground. It didn’t look like it had any hope, any life, any strength, and any power. What possibly, what possibly can materialize from such a situation?
Here is a man who is going to be the King, but He’s born to people who had to go to a stable “because there was no room for them in the inn.” And His father (foster-father) was a carpenter and His nation was in slavery. And there was no throne any longer in Israel. Do you see what he is saying?
Who believes this, who’s going to believe this? To whom is this revealed that this little baby nursing on a mother’s breast is the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s, the Messiah, the Christ?
Who’s going to believe that this is true, that the heir to David’s throne, the eternal throne that God promised in the covenant to David, who’s going to believe that this root out of a dry ground of Israel will ever amount to anything?
“And there was no form or comeliness about him.” He was a peasant. They said, “Why, we know who you are, you are the carpenter, anybody knows that. We know your momma and daddy, we know your brothers and sisters and you came out of Nazareth and nothing good can come out of Nazareth.”
There was no form of royalty. “There was no comeliness about him.” There was no silk or satin or crown on His head, no signs of deity, and no signs of glory. “Is this the Messiah? There must be some mistake, he can’t be the Messiah.”
“There’s no form or comeliness, no beauty, that we should desire him, (nothing grand or majestic about him, nothing that would even suggest) that he’s the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord’s.”
You would have to have different eyes to see any beauty in Jesus Christ, but some people did. You would have to have different eyes to see any form or comeliness in this man of Nazareth. You would have to have some different eyes to see any future in following Him, but some people had eyes: “Blessed are your eyes they see and blessed are your ears they hear.” That’s right!
“Is not this the carpenter? Is not his mother Mary? Are not his brothers and sisters Josie and Judah? Well, we know his family. Who is this man? He’s an imposter; He can’t be the Messiah; He can’t be the King of Kings.”
You see, that’s what Isaiah said: “Who believes this report and to whom is this arm (power, this wisdom, this glory revealed?) Why, he grows up as a tender plant (so easily bruised or stepped upon or snuffed out), as a root out of a dry, (forgotten nation), no form, no beauty, no comeliness that we should desire him.”
Not only that; but look at verse 3: “He’s despised and rejected of men.” The Scripture says in John 1:10: “He was in the world and the world didn’t know him.” In verse 11 it says: “He came unto his own, (that is his own nation, his own people, his own tribe), and they received him not.”
And John 7:5 says: “And neither did his brethren believe on him (that is the members of his own household did not believe on him).” He was rejected by everybody that was anybody, He was rejected.
He was despised. He was despised because of the lowliness of His birth. He was despised because of the poverty of His parents. He was despised because of the people with whom He associated.
“Why this man’s the friend of publicans and sinners.” He’s not received in the temple. He’s not welcome in the temple. He’s not approved by the keepers of the temple. He was despised because of the company He kept.
He was despised because of His lack of education, formal education, their kind of education. They said; “Do you teach us, do you teach us having never learned? Where did this man learn letters? This man has no credentials. He has no approval and He has no authority.”
He was despised because of the Gospel He preached. He was despised because of the way He died. He was despised because He died on a cross between two thieves, “despised and rejected of men.” Look at the next line, “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.”
Lamentations; I believe it’s chapter 1 said; Behold all ye that pass by. Is there any sorrow like unto my sorrow? Is any grief like my grief?” His life was a series of sorrows from the cradle to the grave and grief was His constant companion.
A hymn writer wrote it like this:
“Rejected and despised of men
Behold the man of woe,
Grief His close companion still
Through all His life below.
I saw Him condemned of men
An outcast from His God
While for my sin He groaned and bled
Beneath the Father’s rod.”
“A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;” Jesus our Lord wept. He wept because of the sorrows that gripped His heart and the grief that gripped His soul and look at the next line, “and we hid as it were our faces from him.”
That’s right! Everybody deserted Him. His brethren didn’t believe on Him. His disciples wouldn’t stand with Him. He bore all the sorrows and the griefs of our sins all alone. He walked the winepress of God’s wrath alone, deserted by all men, and in the end, finally, deserted by God the Father Himself.
No man ever died as alone as the Lord Jesus Christ. No man ever suffered as completely and totally alone as our Lord died alone on that cross. One sold Him and betrayed Him, the rest forsook Him and all men denied Him.
He was despised and rejected not of one man, not even of a nation, but of all men, even by the Father. He died alone. Do you believe this report? Has the arm or the power of God been revealed to you?
Look at the next line in verse 4; it says: “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. We did esteem him, (and someone said; ‘we did ignorantly esteem’) him smitten of God and afflicted.”
Oh, there’s a little light here and I want you to listen to it; man made two great mistakes at Calvary, two great mistakes:
First of all: He rejected and crucified His Lord, and I should say, we rejected and crucified our Lord.
We cried at Calvary: “We will not have this man reign over us, the man ordained to reign, the man appointed to reign, the man given the Lordship by the hand of God himself. We refused and rejected and denied Him and cried, crucify Him.”
But do you know what else we did? We believed that He was an imposter!
And when He suffered and died on that tree, we believed that He was dying under the judgment of God for blaspheme. That’s what they said, “He’s a blasphemer, He’s a devil, and He’s the prince of devils. And He’s dying because He blasphemed.”
They stood there and they said: “If you are the Son of God come down from the tree. He trusted in God; let’s see if God will have him.”
And that’s what it is saying there in verse 4; it says: “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows and we did esteem him stricken of God and afflicted.” We did ignorantly believe that God’s judgment was upon Him for His sin. But God’s judgment was upon Him not for His sins, but for our sins.
What we fail to see, what we fail to understand is the Gospel of substitution. This is the Gospel, its substitution. He bore not His sorrows, but our sorrows.
Yes, He was suffering under God’s wrath. Yes, He was suffering under God’s judgment, real wrath and real judgment, an infinite wrath, and an infinite judgment, but not for His sorrows; He bore our sorrows.
He bore not His griefs, but our griefs. He was wounded not for His transgressions, but for our transgressions. He was bruised not for His iniquities; He had none, but for our iniquity. Yes, He “was stricken and smitten of God and afflicted” but it was as a substitute in our place and in our stead.
It was as a representative bearing our guilt and our sins. “We did esteem him stricken and smitten of God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon him and by his stripes we are healed.”
If you would learn the Gospel, you would get acquainted with words like these; substitution, satisfaction and reconciliation.
Substitution, “Christ bore my sins in his body on the tree.” Satisfaction, “By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Reconciliation, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. The just died for the unjust that he might bring the unjust to God.”
The sinless was made sinful that the sinful might be made sinless. Sin made us God’s enemy. Christ made us God’s friend. That’s what happened. Yes, He was wounded all right and He was bruised and He was chastised, but not for His sorrows, griefs, transgressions or iniquities, but for mine and for yours: “By his stripes we are healed.”
Listen to this song:
“Once it was mine this cup of wrath
But Jesus drank it dry,
Now, not a single drop remains
‘It’s finished,’ that was His cry,
No tongue can tell the wrath that He bore
That wrath was due to me
Sins punishment, my punishment, He bore it all
To set this sinner free.”
Look at the next verse, 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 iniquity of us all.”
Now, I want you to listen to some words here: “We,” all we, we all turn to our own way. My friend, don’t talk about what you would have done if you had lived in those days. Don’t talk about what you would have done if you had been at Calvary.
You too had a part in Adam’s fall. You too are a part of Adam’s fallen race. You too were at Calvary when they crucified Jesus Christ. The “we” and the “our” and the “us” in these verses, means all of us.
“We despised him. We esteemed him not. We hid as it were our faces from him. We went astray. We’ve turned to our own way. In Adam all died, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
“All we like sheep have gone astray. There’s none good, no not one. There’s none that understandeth, there’s none that seeketh after God. They are altogether become unprofitable.”
My voice is heard in Eden’s Garden crying: “I’ll be like God.” Can’t you hear your voice? “I’ll be like God.” My voice is heard by the fire when that girl said, “Why, you are one of them and Peter said, “I don’t know that man.”
My voice; I can hear my voice. I can see me under the same circumstances. “I don’t know that man.” My voice is heard there in Pilate’s Hall: “Give us Barabbas and crucify Jesus Christ.”
My voice is heard walking around that cross as they shoot out their lips and mock Him and say: “He trusted God; let’s see if God will have him. If you are the Son of God come down from the cross.”
I hear my voice and I hear your voice. “All we like sheep have gone astray. We’ve turned everyone to his own way but God has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
I hear my voice in Eden’s Garden and Pilate’s Hall and Calvary’s Hill. I hear my voice but thank God for His voice. When that awful, in that awful agony, He cried: “Father forgive them; they know not what they do.”
Look at that next verse, verse 8: “He was oppressed, he was afflicted. Yet, he opened not his mouth.”
They called him a winebibber, they called Him a glutton, they called Him a devil, and they called Him an imposter. He was accused of treason, He was afflicted by man and by God, yet it says; “he opened not his mouth: Like a sheep that is led to the slaughter; he opened not his mouth.”
There are two reasons why He was silent under this treatment. There are two reasons why He made no plea and He made no defense. There are two reasons why Jesus Christ did not reply against His accusers and the false witnesses that were hired to witness against Him at the trial. Do you know what they were?
First of all: He laid down his life willingly!
He said: “No man takes my life from me; I lay it down willingly.” His death was ordained of God. His death was purposed by God. He was a substitute dying for his people. He said: “I came to the earth for this cause. For this cause came I to this hour.”
It was ordained that He should die on the cross. He was born crucified. He came into the world with His face set like a flint toward Calvary’s cross, to die for His people; all of the Old Testament prophecies speak of the death of the Lamb of God.
Secondly: The reason He didn’t open His mouth was that all of the charges made against Him were true!
But you say: “He had no sin. He had no iniquity. Everything was false.” Yes, about Him it was false, but when He was bearing my sins and my guilt; they were all true of me.
You see now, my friends; the innocent legally can’t die for the guilty. The law can never be satisfied and justice can never be satisfied if John Smith commits a murder and John Brown dies in his place. The law is not satisfied. The man who committed the crimes got to die.
But Jesus Christ; now listen to me and learn some Gospel, “He was made sin for us.” He became sin. He actually took our sins in His body on the tree. He was numbered with the transgressors.”
When the accusations came His way, being me, He didn’t open His mouth because they were true. When all the charges were leveled at Him; He didn’t open His mouth because all the charges were true (and many more) because He was me, dying in my stead. Do you see that? “He was wounded for our transgressions.”
Look at the next verse, verse 8: “For the transgressions of my people was he stricken.” Sin must be punished. The guilty must die. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so, must the Son of man be lifted up.”
There’s no other way, there’s no other route. There’s no other plan and there’s no other way “God can be just and justify the ungodly. Christ must suffer. “The Son of man must be lifted up.” There’s no other way.
“Without the shedding of blood there’s no remission for sin.” Christ didn’t die as an example or as a martyr or as a reformer; He died as a substitute. He was me and He was you and He was every believer. All of the elect were in Christ.
“In Adam we died and in Christ we are made alive. For the transgression of my people was he stricken. He made his grave with the wicked,” that is, He died between two thieves.
“And with the rich in his death,” that is, He borrowed a tomb from a rich man. He borrowed it because He wasn’t going to keep it very long. He was coming forth. He made His grave with the rich “although he had done no violence and there was no deceit found in his mouth.”
“But it pleased the Lord to bruise him.” Yes, we crucified Him with our wicked hands but we did what God the Father determined before to be done. Yes,
“Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do what God determined before to be done. Christ was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world.”
Everything that took place in Jerusalem on Golgotha’s Hill and the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane’s Garden; all were foreordained, and all were prophesied and typified in the Old Testament.
It’s all right there, even the plucking of the beard, and the piercing of the hands and the feet, and the denial and the sale by Judas, the 30 pieces of silver. It’s all right there. “It pleased the Lord to bruise him.”
But now watch verse 11: “He shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” What’s travail? It is birth pains, bringing forth children. What is soul travail? “He made his soul an offering for sin.” Not only His body suffered but His soul, and He shall be satisfied; He shall not fail.
“He was numbered with the transgressors. He bore the sins of many.” And right now, the last line in this whole chapter; “he makes intercession for the transgressors.” He intercedes; He is the Mediator. We come to God through Christ because Christ has something to offer, not something we bring but something that He performed on that cross for our sins; He died.
That’s my creed. Do you see what that old man meant, (my creed) right there?