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Isaiah 53 • tv209a
A television broadcast sermon delivered
Sunday, December 11th, 1983
Henry T. Mahan
Transcribed, edited and published
February 20th, 2011
Henry T. Mahan Tape Library
Zebulon Baptist Church
6088 Zebulon Highway
Pikeville, KY 41501
This morning’s message will be taken from the Book of Isaiah. We are going to be looking at Chapter 53 of Isaiah. I’d like very much if you will take your Bible and open it to the 53rd Chapter of Isaiah.
I want to speak to you today on this subject: “THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ISAIAH.”
This is an important message. I would like for every one of you to just sit down, be still, and listen for the next few minutes to this subject: “THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ISAIAH.”
A friend told me yesterday that he was visiting in a certain city, visiting some relatives, and they attended church a few Sundays ago. He met the Pastor. He was a fine young man. It was a large congregation.
The morning service began and they finished the song service and the Pastor got up to preach. He had a nice delivery and a nice voice. He kept talking about the Gospel. My friend said that he never did define the Gospel; he just talked about the Gospel. He mentioned the Gospel this and the Gospel that.
My friend sat there and listened to him, he thought to himself, “Why doesn’t he define the Gospel; why doesn’t he tell people what the Gospel is?” He keeps talking about the Gospel but he is not preaching the Gospel.
This is one of the great failures of modern preaching. It is the failure of most preachers today. They talk about the Gospel and they even use Gospel words; but seldom, very seldom, is the Gospel of God’s glory and the Gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, seldom, is it actually defined. Seldom is the Gospel clearly presented as it is to men as they are.
That’s my subject this morning: “The Gospel according To Isaiah.”
John wrote about Isaiah in John chapter 12:41. This is what he said; “When Isaiah saw His glory (I’m talking about Christ) he spake of Him.”
In the 8th chapter of the Book of Acts, Phillip was sent to the desert by the Spirit of God to speak to a man (a eunuch). This man was journeying from Jerusalem to Ethiopia and was reading the Bible when Phillip met him and preached the Gospel, the Gospel of salvation and redemption. He preached that Gospel from the 53rd Chapter of Isaiah.
Now, the Gospel is there, it is clearly defined, and it is clearly presented. I want to present it to you today. Will you take your Bible and turn to Isaiah 53?
You are going to hear the Gospel of the grace of God, the glory of God, and the Gospel of redemption clearly presented this morning, as plain as I can make it.
Look at verse 1, chapter 53: Isaiah began the chapter asking this question; “who has believed our report?” or who has believed our Gospel; who has believed our message? To whom has the Gospel, the good news of God’s mercy been revealed?
Most men do not believe the Gospel. This is what Isaiah is saying. He is saying, “Who hath believed our report?” Who has believed our message and our Gospel? It is true and even in His day, in the day of our Lord, when He was here on this earth in the flesh.
In our day, even men who hear the Gospel don’t believe it. Listen to what the Master says: “You will not come to me that you might have life.” He said, “He came unto his own and his own received him not. He was in the world and the world knew him not.”
He said to the religious people; “I have come in my Father’s name and you will not receive me. Let another come in his own name and him you will receive.” This is the way Isaiah begins by asking, who is going to believe this message? “Who hath believed this report?”
In the next line he gives us the key words, he says; “to whom is the arm, (that is the power, the grace and glory of God) and here is the key word (‘revealed’), to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”
This Gospel message, if it is to be believed, must be revealed. The Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 2; “eyes have not seen, ear hath not heard, neither have it entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him, for He hath revealed them unto us by His spirit.”
Who hath believed our Gospel? “Who hath believed our report? To whom is the Gospel or the message of the glory of God in Christ, revealed? “God hath revealed it unto us by His spirit.” God hath revealed His glory in the face of Christ Jesus.
When Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord said to Peter, “flesh and blood did not reveal that to you but my Father which is in heaven.”
Natural men, “natural man receiveth not the things of God; they are foolishness to him. Neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.”
So, as we approach this subject this morning, the very first thing that Isaiah presents to us is this; who is going to believe it? I will tell you who will believe it; it is those to whom it is revealed by the spirit of God.
Now, verses 2 and 3: In Isaiah 53 it says; “He shall grow up before him.” This whole chapter is about a person; it is about the Christ and it says; “He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, as a root out of dry ground. He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”
Here is the first reason why men do not believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am going to give you the first reason: I know there is inability and all of these other things, but here is the first concrete reason why it is called foolishness to the natural man and a stumbling block to the religious.
First of all: It was because Jesus Christ did not come into the world as men expected Him to come.
That’s right! He says, “Who hath believed this Gospel? To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” The first reason why they don’t believe it is because “He came as a tender plant, as a root out of a dry ground. He hath no form nor comeliness and no beauty that we should desire Him.”
They were looking for the Messiah, there is no question about that. They were looking for a great prophet; there was no question about that. The people asked Him; “are you the Christ? Are you the one of whom Moses wrote?”
They were looking for a Christ and they were looking for a King. They were looking for a coming Redeemer. But wait a minute! They did not know the sinfulness of natural flesh and did not know the holiness of God’s Law. They said, “We have kept the law. We are not born of fornication; we are not born in sin; we are not in bondage to any man; God is our Father.”
Not knowing the strictness of God’s justice, not knowing the necessity for atonement, they looked not for a lamb but they looked for a king. They looked not for a sin-offering; they looked for a political leader.
They looked not for a sacrifice; they looked for a ruler to restore the great glories of Israel as they had known them in the days of David and Solomon. They didn’t look for a lamb. They didn’t look for a Saviour. They didn’t look for a sin-offering. They didn’t look for a “man made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them from the law.”
Oh Christ will come as a King but He will not come as a King until He first of all comes as a lamb. “Who hath believed this message? To whom is it revealed?”
The first stumbling block is this; “He will grow up as a tender plant.” That is talking about His infancy. He was born of a virgin. He came forth from the womb as a little, tender, helpless, infant.
You don’t look for a Messiah in a manger. You don’t look for a Christ or a King in the arms of a teenage girl. You don’t look for a King depending on someone else. They weren’t looking for a lamb.
“He is a root out of a dry ground.” He came from the nation Israel. They were under the bondage of Rome. There was nothing about Israel of any value or of any consequence. “He has no form (and no earthly majesty). He has no comliness.”
He was not robed in satin and silk and wearing a King’s garb and a crown. He was born in a manger and raised in a carpenter’s shop. “There is no beauty about him that we should desire him.”
Even His friends were repulsive. He was a “friend of sinners and publicans.” He was called “a winebibber, a gluttonous man.”
Read the next verse: “He is despised.” Everybody who was anybody turned thumbs down on Him. He was rejected of men. He was “a man of sorrows,” a man who never owned a piece of ground, who had no formal education.
He was no one of any influence. “He was acquainted with grief. We hid as it were our faces from Him.” This is why they refused Him. This is why they rejected Him. He didn’t come in the character in which they were looking for Him. He came as a lamb. He came as a sacrifice. He came as a sin-offering. He came to put away the sins of His people.
He was a baby born to a young maiden, laid in a manger, and worked in a carpenters shop. He had no formal education. He never owned a piece of land. He was a friend of publicans and sinners. His followers and disciples were uneducated men. He walked among men. He was betrayed, denied, rejected, and nailed to a cross.
The message that this man is God, the message is that this man is that Prophet of whom Moses wrote and that Priest after the order of Melchisedek and that King, like David. Difficult to believe; it was impossible to believe except by divine revelation.
Now; look at verses 4 through 6: Isaiah starts off and this is where most people fall, right here. They don’t even believe the first part because they are not looking for a lamb, a sin-offering.
Here is the reason why He came to earth in this way; this is why He came in this way; He came as our Saviour and our substitute.
If He had come as a King, which He will, man would say; “we will not have this man to reign over us.” They would not bow to His sovereignty, to His lordship, to His kingdom. They would not bow to it. Adam didn’t bow to God in the Garden of Eden. Sinners won’t bow to God now until they are broken.
So, here is why Christ came in this way. Listen to Isaiah 53, verses 4 through 6: “Surely, He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”
Now, He was a man of sorrows but not with His sorrows; they were my sorrows (sins) laid on Him. “He was a man acquainted with grief.” It was not His grief but it was my grief. He was a man tempted and tested under the law of God but not for Himself; He gave the law; He wrote the law. He is the law. He is the essence of the law.
He was bearing it in our place, you see; He was a substitute. He was a representative. Let me read it to you in Isaiah 53: 4 through 6: “But surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. We did esteem Him stricken, (not only of men), but smitten of God and afflicted,” afflicted of God.
But, “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon him.” We needed peace with God, we needed atonement. We needed to be reconciled and the chastisement or the punishment of that which secured our peace and reconciliation was laid on Him. “With His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, (every one of us), to our own way. God laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Now, my friend; “He grew up as a tender plant,” a human being, an infant. He came from a nation all but forgotten, “a root out of dry ground. He had no form, (no fleshly attire), no beauty and no comeliness.” In Hebrews we read, “He was tested in all points as we are yet without sin,” as a man.
Why? God is holy. Don’t ever forget that. God is immutably, unchangeably, infinitely holy. God is just and God is righteous. He created this world in perfect holiness and pure glory. That’s the way that He made the heavens and the earth, without sin.
“He made man upright;” that is what the Scripture says; “and holy, without sin.” He put him on this earth subject to His holiness, subject to His perfect purity and holy law, under a covenant which says; “walk before Me in holiness and purity and live; sin and die.”
That’s the way it is; it has never changed and it is not changed now. God is not less holy than He was. He is just as infinitely holy as He ever was; He is unchangeably holy.
We’ve changed, we’ve sinned and we’ve failed and we sinned against God. The Scripture says; “For by one man’s disobedience, sin entered this world and death by sin. So, death passed upon all men.” Everything about us is death, dying death. There is darkness, evil, lies, hatred, greed, covetousness, lust, envy, and jealousy. Everything about us “from the sole of our feet to the top of our head” is sin and guilt.
“There is none righteous, no not one,” you, me, or any other son of Adam. “There is none that doeth good, none that understandeth, none that seeketh after God.” Men love darkness and they love sin. They are sinful, selfish, and self-willed, everything about them.
Now, if God is going to have a kingdom, if God is going to have subjects in that kingdom, it is going to be a holy kingdom and there are going to be holy subjects.
If God is going to have a kingdom, He is going to have a kingdom established upon a perfect, holy law and the subjects of that kingdom will be a holy people who have fulfilled themselves that law, a people against whom justice has no claim and no charge.
That leaves everyone of us out. So, that is why Christ came. That is why He came to this world. Man in his natural state will not bow to God, not in his natural state.
So, in order for God to have a kingdom of holiness and subjects obedient to His will, in order for God to be “just and justifier,” in order for men to love and to bow to God, there has to be a work of redemption performed by a perfect redeemer and that is why He came.
This is why Christ came to the earth as a man, “born of a woman, made of a woman, made under the law.” He came as a covenant head. Just as Adam was the head of a fallen race, Christ is the head of a restored race.
Just as by Adam’s disobedience, sin, evil and unrighteousness and darkness were imputed and imparted to us, even so, Christ is the head of a new people, a covenant people, and a new race. We are redeemed by Him, declared righteous by His obedience and clean through His perfect sacrifice. He came as our representative.
You see, the law was given to men and it has to be obeyed by men. The justice of God must be satisfied on the man who transgressed it, the man who sinned against it. Man sins so man must die.
In order to redeem us, Christ became a man. Do you understand what I am saying? That’s the reason Isaiah starts out with this. This is what is not being preached today. Preachers are continually saying, “Believe, believe, believe,” but don’t tell us what to believe or whom to believe, who He is, what did He do, why did He do it, and where is He now?
That’s the reason that Isaiah starts out by saying, “who believes this record; who believes this report; who believes this message, to whom is it revealed?”
The reason is that they didn’t look for Christ to come as He came; they looked for Him to come riding on a white horse, triumphantly and with everyone out in front of Him. They looked for Him to restore Israel, the kingdom of Israel and all of its glories and power, and to rule on this earth with a sword. Christ came to redeem a people for a holy kingdom. “He was wounded for our transgressions.”
Now, all the way through the Bible, through the Old Testament, we have this picture of the lamb set forth. We have this picture of the redeemer. We have it in Abel’s offering after Adam and Eve sinned and Cain and Abel were born to them, Abel brought the offering, he brought a sin-offering. He brought a blood offering. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission.”
You have it all the way through the Old Testament, nowhere clearer, than the Passover in Egypt. That is when our Lord said to the people of Israel; “I am going to deliver you out of Egypt. I am going to deliver you out of bondage. I am going to deliver you out of slavery and you are going to be delivered by the blood. Take a lamb, the firstling of the flock. Put it up so many days. Slay that lamb. Eat of the flesh. Put the blood on the side posts and the upper door post. When I see the blood I will pass over you.”
And the Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians that “Christ is our Passover.” The Jews kept that Passover feast every year from the first time that blood was shed until Christ our Lord came.
Our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the Lord’s Table. We don’t slay a lamb; the Lamb of God has been slain. We don’t put the blood of animals on an altar because the blood of God’s Son has been shed.
We do take the bread as He said; “take eat, this is my body; broken for you. This wine is my blood shed for you. You eat this bread and drink this wine; you show my death till I come.”
That is substitution. If you want to learn the Gospel, you learn two words, substitution and satisfaction.
One word is substitution; Christ literally, the God-man came down here to earth, was born of a woman, made under the law, fulfilled the law for us in our place and stead. He went to the cross of Calvary and there the wrath of God was poured upon Him.
The judgment of God was satisfied upon Christ. He died and He was taken down from that cross. He was buried and rose again as our justifier. And God said, “It is done; it is finished;” the debts paid; the ransom is found. “Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom.”
God’s justice is satisfied. God’s Law is honored. No man can do it, but Christ did it. This is the only way that we can be saved and God be just, you see. That’s the Gospel! God looks on Christ as being us.
If we believe on Christ and receive Him and trust in Christ, His obedience becomes our obedience. His death becomes our death. His perfect righteousness becomes ours. “He who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
“Of God are you in Christ who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” You see, all of it is fulfilled in Christ.
The other word is satisfaction (substitution and satisfaction). Christ took my place and He literally, perfectly, satisfied everything God required of me. That’s the Gospel.
It’s not something that I do for God but it is something that Christ did for me. It is something that Christ did for me outwardly and something that Christ does for me inwardly. He reveals that grace to me and puts His Spirit within me.
“He was wounded for our transgressions.” He came as a “tender plant.” He came as a “root out of dry ground.” He became a man in the flesh. He lived on this earth. He earned His bread by the sweat of His brow.
He was subject to every trial, test, and temptation, and completely fulfilled all that God required of men, perfectly. He went to the cross and was under the judgment of God. You see; “the soul that sinneth has to die.” That is what God says.
“God will by no means clear the guilty and the soul that sinneth shall die;” Christ died in our stead. So, I am saying this; the law has no requirement that I haven’t fulfilled in Christ. The judgment of God has no demand that hasn’t been met in Christ.
So, we are free. He that is dead is free from sin, from its curse, from its covenant, from its condemnation, and from His penalty. That is the reason Paul said, “Who can lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? With His stripes we are healed.”
“We like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way. God hath laid on him our iniquities. He can’t lay it on Him and then lay it on me. “God’s justice cannot twice demand, first at my bleeding Surety’s hand and then again at mine.”
If Christ paid the debt it is paid. If He satisfied justice it is satisfied. If He worked out a perfect righteousness, we have it. Paul said, “Who can lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Who is He that condemneth? Christ died, yea rather, is risen again who is even at the right hand of God who intercedeth for us.” He always ever lives for us.
Now; look at verses 7 and 8: “He was oppressed; He was afflicted, yet He didn’t open His mouth.”
He didn’t open His mouth against His enemies. He didn’t open His mouth against His friends who betrayed Him. He didn’t open His mouth against the Father who deserted Him. He didn’t open His mouth against divine justice.
“As a sheep to the slaughter, He opened not His mouth,” because He knew that He was bearing our sins and they were given to Him in our place and they were deserved. “He was numbered with the transgressors” and He had nothing to say, nothing but guilty.
Because, in verse 8, watch; “for the transgression of my people was He stricken.”
Why was Christ born of a woman, because we are born of a woman? Why did He live on this earth so many years, because we live on this earth? Why was He tempted and tested, because we are tempted and tested?
Why did He die on a cross, because the judgment and justice of God said we must die? Why was He buried in a tomb, because we must be buried in a tomb? Why did He arise from the tomb, “in order that we might live?”
Why did He ascend to glory as a man, because that is what we are going to do? He did all of this for us. It is substitution. We find our hope in Him, in Christ. That’s the Gospel.
It is not walking down an aisle, shaking a preacher’s hand. It is not following a bunch of ceremonies and rituals and turning over a new leaf and these things. It is looking to a substitute, to a sacrifice, to a Saviour, to a sin-offering.
Look at verse 10: “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him.”
Who did? The Father did. “Salvation is of the Lord.” God determined to have a people. God chose those people out of Adam’s race. God made Christ the Surety. “In the fullness of the time God sent His Son into the world.”
Men crucified Him but “they did what God determined before to be done.” They did what God decreed from all eternity. “It pleased God to bruise Him. God put Him to grief, when the Lord shall make His soul an offering for sin.” It wasn’t just His physical sufferings that redeemed us; He made His soul an offering for sin.
You see, God is able to cast body and soul into hell. When Christ died, He just didn’t suffer the bruising of His hands but He bore sin and made His soul an offering for sin. “He shall see his seed.” His seed are His people. “He shall prolong his days and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.”
What is the pleasure of the Lord? It is to have a people like Christ, as the stars of the heavens and the sands of the seashore. “He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. By His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.”
Now watch this last line; here is your Gospel: “For He shall bear their iniquities.”
Do you see it? By His knowledge, by His faithfulness, by His obedience, by His sacrifice, by His death, “shall my righteous servant justify many.” He is the righteous servant and we are the unrighteous one. He is the righteous servant. By His faithfulness, “My righteous servant shall justify.”
Do you know what justify means? It means, just as I had never sinned, holy, and perfectly holy in God’s sight. We are justified not in your sight or my sight, but in God’s sight.
“By His knowledge shall my righteous, (holy servant), justify many for He shall bear their iniquities.” Where? In His body on the tree and He will pay for them!