Easter Communion – ‘The Suffering Servant’

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As we gather tonight to observe the Lord’s Supper, we do so with grateful hearts. We often call this a Communion Service because it symbolizes our communion with Christ as our Savior and with each other as God’s children. The Lord has put upon my heart a very special portion of scripture for tonight. It is Isaiah 53 and it is sometimes entitled – ‘The Suffering Servant.’

Isaiah 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty  that we should desire him. 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. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried  our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten  of God, and afflicted.

I. The Servanthood of Jesus

A. What Did Men See When They Saw Jesus?   ‘Nothing That Attracted Them’

What did Jesus look like? No one today knows for sure. Yet Isaiah does tell us some important things about His appearance. We read in vs. 2 – “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty  that we should desire him.I studied those words and it means that there was no physical beauty, no show of splendor, no manifestation of majesty that revealed who He was or that would naturally draw men to Him. Physically speaking, Jesus appeared to be just an average man. He was born in a stable to a poor couple who lived in a despised region called Nazareth. His earthly father was a carpenter and there were some who talked behind His back and questioned whether or not he was an illegitimate child. We know from our study last Wednesday night in Philippians 2, Jesus willfully ‘made Himself of no reputation.‘ Much like when the Lord laid aside His garments in order to become a servant and wash His disciples’ feet, Christ laid aside His heavenly garments to become a servant of mankind. He did not come to draw attention to Himself or even the praise of men. He often told those He healed to tell no one and whenever someone questioned whether or not He was the Messiah, it seems that Jesus intentionally avoided answering them. The great humility and simplicity of Jesus caused many in His day to not only to ignore Him, but to reject Him and even to despise Him. “How dare someone so common as You claim to be the Son of God!”

B. How Did God See Jesus?  His Power to Save the World

Isaiah refers to Christ as the ‘arm of the Lord.’ That does not mean that God has a physical arm like men. Scripture teaches us that God is Spirit and that He is invisible. What then does this mean when Scripture speaks of His arm?

In ancient times, the arm was a symbol of strength and power. We sometimes refer to the ‘hand of God’ as a symbol of God’s activity and blessings in our lives. At the end of the story of Job, God asked Job – “Hast thou an arm like God?” (Job 40:9) In other words – “Is your power anything in comparison to the power of God?”

Most often references in Scripture to God’s arm is an indication of His ability to redeem and to save. There is a wonderful explanation of God’s arm found in Isaiah 59.

Isaiah 59:16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. 17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.

C. Even Today – Men Still Do Not See Who Jesus Really Is

Isaiah 53:3 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. (valued Him as nothing) 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

The New Living Translation says – “we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins!”

II. The Sacrifice of Jesus

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

A. Our Sins

First let’s take a look at our sins. Isaiah uses two powerful words to help describe how God views sin:

1. Transgression

The word ‘transgression’ refers to rebellion. This same word is often translated in scripture as trespass. Living out in the country, we’re all familiar with No Trespassing signs. A No Trespassing sign indicates that there is a boundary that no one should cross. For someone to trespass on a piece of property that has been clearly identified is a deliberate act of rebellion. That’s how God views our sin; as deliberate acts of rebellion against His holiness.

2. Iniquities

Isaiah also uses the word ‘iniquities’. This word refers to that which is perverted and twisted. We normally reserve the word ‘perverted’ for only certain kinds of terrible sins, yet the Bible teaches us that God views all of our sins as a perversion of what is pure. Even a little white lie is a perversion of the truth.

B. Christ’s Suffering

It is against that backdrop that Isaiah teaches us about Christ’s suffering.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah uses many descriptive and important words to teach us about the suffering of Jesus.

1.Wounded – which means to be afflicted, but also to be violated and dishonored. Christ suffered for our sins, but He was also shamed in His suffering. The Bible teaches us that it was a shameful thing for the Lord to be exposed publicly before those who mocked Him. Perhaps the shame of the cross was as devastating for the Lord as the suffering. The Bible teaches us that Christ was made a curse for us in order to redeem us from the cruse of breaking God’s holy law. Literally that means that Christ bore the shame that we deserved to bear for the shameful things we have done.

2. Bruised – which means to be crushed and broken.

3. Chastisement for our peace – punishment needed for for correction.

4. By His stripes we are healed

a. By His stripes…

Isaiah tells us at the end of chapter 52 the extent of Christ’s physical suffering. Isaiah 52:14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred (disfigurement of the face) more than any man, and his form (outward appearance) more than the sons of men:

b. … we are healed

i. Many refer to this as physical healing,

ii. Yet, it is a reference to spiritual healing

(I). Isaiah is referring to Christ’s suffering for the salvation of our souls; our spiritual healing

(II). Peter quotes Isaiah in 1 Peter 2 –

1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

We praise God for when He gives to us physical healing, but we need to understand that the kind of healing God is most concerned with is spiritual healing. A restoration to righteousness. A submission to His shepherding of our souls.

5. Oppression and Affliction

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought  as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

a. Oppression refers to the demand for payment of a debt. Jesus illustrated this in a parable found in Matthew 18.

Matthew 18:28 But the same servant went out , and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat , saying , Pay me that thou owest . 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying , Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

b. Afflicted refers to the way Christ was humbled before men.

6. Prison and the Grave

Isaiah 53:8 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. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Christ was crucified between two common thieves and He was buried in the borrowed tomb of a rich man named Joseph of Arimathaea. It was proper for the Lord to borrow a grave because He was only going to be there for three days.

III. The Splendor of Jesus

The old Easter song says – “Up from the grave he arose; with a mighty triumph o’er his foes; he arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever, with his saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!” (Robert Lowry, 1826-1899)

A. The Satisfaction of the Father

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him …

1. The suffering inflicted upon Jesus brought His Father no pleasure

2. The sacrifice satisfied God’s holiness

Isaiah 53:10 …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. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

B. Seated Forever at the Right Hand of God

Ps 110:1  The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Isaiah 53:12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Up Calvary’s mountain one dreadful morn
Walked Christ my Savior, weary and worn
Facing for sinners death on the cross
That He might save them from endless loss

Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading
Blind and unheeding, dying for me

“Father, forgive them,” my Savior prayed
Even while His lifeblood flowed fast away
Praying for sinners while in such woe

No one but Jesus ever loved so
Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading
Blind and unheeding, dying for me

Oh how I love Him, Savior and friend
How can my praises ever find end
Through years unnumbered on Heaven’s shore
My songs shall praise Him forevermore

Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading
Blind and unheeding, dying for me

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