“A Wounded Savior”
Hello and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. When thinking about Jesus and His death on the cross, what images come to your mind? Perhaps there was something about the Roman soldiers who actually put Him there. Maybe you envision the crowd's reaction or a lack of a reaction. You might even think about it from God's point of view, and the effect His Son's death had on Him. Well, there are many things to consider and lots of emotions that run through us as we read, listen to and dwell upon Jesus’ great sacrifice. Most of the things we know about the actual details of the event are recorded in the New Testament, especially the four Gospels. However, there are some things we can learn from the Old Testament. In the lesson today, we will go to one of those Old Testament books called Isaiah. The prophet looks to a time when the Messiah would come to bring hope and salvation to everyone. He envisions One who will be despised and rejected. He will be beaten and abused, then put on a cross to die. Oh, Isaiah prophesies about a Wounded Savior or a Suffering Servant. As we consider this prophecy, we will think how it did come true and what that means for us today. By dying on the cross, Jesus paved the way for our sin to be forgiven and for us to receive His free gift of eternal life. I hope you will open your Bible to Isaiah's prophecy, as we study about the most important person and the most important event in all of history.
This book, called the Bible, records many references to Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and most of those references are found in the New Testament. In the Gospel that bears his name, the apostle John records many of the things Jesus said and did throughout His public ministry. The apostle Peter proclaimed the Good News and gospel message of Jesus Christ to both the Jews and the Gentiles. And the apostle Paul wrote extensively how Jesus is to be the focus of our life, if we indeed have given our lives to Him. Even Jesus, Himself, referred to His role as the Son of Man, who came to give His life as a ransom for all, in Mark chapter 10 verse 45. Well, a few references are made to Jesus in the Old Testament as well. In particular, the book of Isaiah portrays Jesus as the One who will suffer and die to take away the sin of this world. Some 700 years before Jesus was even born, Isaiah wrote about Him. He graphically described what would take place in the future, as Jesus would become our Wounded Savior. Oftentimes, we don't go to the Old Testament to look for an understanding of Jesus. We don't go there to find more information about Him and His ministry here upon this earth. However, for the next few minutes today, I want us to consider, from Isaiah chapter 52 and 53, Isaiah's prophecy about Him. Isaiah prophesied for some 40 years from the city of Jerusalem. He spoke to the nation of Israel about their evil ways. He warned the people that if they do not turn back to the Lord then the dreaded Assyrians will come in and carry them off into captivity. Oh, in the midst of all of these warnings, however, Isaiah had some good news for those who did turn to the Lord. More than any other Old Testament prophet, Isaiah foretold of a time when the Messiah would come and bring salvation. He recorded 28 specific prophecies about the Anointed One of God. And these two chapters, Isaiah 52 and 53, include part of what is called the “Servant Songs.” They are songs relating to the suffering servant, Jesus Christ, Himself. These two passages are referred to more often in the New Testament than any other Old Testament passage; and in fact, some have even said that Isaiah 52 and 53 is basically the “Gospel of the Old Testament.” Well, with those things in mind, I want us to spend some time looking at various verses and passages of Scripture in these two chapters. I want us to consider what Isaiah prophesied about the coming of Jesus and specifically what happened with Him, at the end of His life. We're going to focus on Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, according to Isaiah's prophecy. And as we do that, I hope that we will be reminded from this great prophet of what Jesus did for us, the sacrifice He made on our behalf; and then, I want us to think about how that has made a difference in our life and how we have received that gift of salvation, which leads us to an eternal home with our Father. We begin in chapter 52, verse 14. The author described Jesus' physical condition as He was beaten. Isaiah writes, <His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness.> Isaiah began by summarizing the painful beating Jesus would endure. Some of those details are recorded for us in the Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Evidently, Jesus was beaten to the point He could barely stand up. He was beaten to the point that He could not even carry His own part of the cross to that place of crucifixion. And then, as we notice here in Isaiah, He was beaten to the point people could not even recognize Him as a human being. He was disfigured. Pieces of rock and metal were tied onto leather straps, and those leather straps were used to beat Jesus on His back. And we can just envision how when that rock and the metal struck His flesh, it opened up and began to bleed. And then we know that people spit on Jesus. They hit Him in His face. Blood streamed down His head as that crown of thorns was placed on His head and no doubt pressed deeply into His skull. Yes, Jesus was beaten and abused long before He was nailed to the cross. Here's another statement from Isaiah 53, in verse 2: <He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.> Jesus was the son of a carpenter, here upon this earth; and oftentimes He and His Father would walk from the place where they lived to another village, where they did their work. Later on, Jesus was a very poor man. He even said He did not have a place to call home, but He lived in this little, out-of-the-way place, a place of insignificance, or a lack of importance, in a village called Nazareth. Oh, Jesus was not as many pictures portray Him today. His work as a carpenter kept Him outside most of the time, and His flesh probably was rather dark and probably exposed to the elements of the sun. Maybe there were splinters in His hand as He worked as a carpenter day by day. But He was not, as what we might say today, handsome or attractive. And as Isaiah points out here, He had no beauty or majesty about Him that would attract us to Him. Isaiah continues with this in verse 3: <He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.> Jesus was rejected by people long before He was abused and beaten and went to the cross. Early on in His ministry, people ran Him out of the synagogue because they did not like what He was teaching. Some of His own family members turned their back on Him, not believing that He had come from God. Some even tried to throw Jesus off a cliff, where He would no doubt meet with His certain death. Throughout His ministry people rejected Him as God's Son. They did not believe that. They turned away from His teaching and from His miracles, not wanting to have any part of Jesus or His work here upon this earth. But all of that prepared Him to experience the pain and the abuse that was dished out on Him by those authorities as they prepared Him to die upon that cross. I want us to notice now the next passage, beginning with verse 4, in chapter 53, and read all the way down through verse 8. Isaiah wrote: <Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away. And who of His generation protested? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people He was stricken.> Oh, those five versus tell us so much about what happened to Jesus, as Isaiah prophesied that indeed it would happen. I want us to go back to those five verses and consider those specific verbs that Isaiah used to describe what Jesus endured. He carried our sins, or our sorrows. He was crushed. He was afflicted. He was pierced. Jesus was punished and oppressed. He was cut off, and He was stricken. Oh, it might be hard for us to imagine how Jesus experienced and endured all of those things. It just doesn't make much sense to us, today. If anyone would be that persecuted or abused, certainly the authorities would come to their rescue. Obviously there are some places in this world where that type of persecution goes on, on certain occasions, especially among those who do believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But Jesus endured all of that for your sake and for mine. Let's continue on, now, here with verse 9. Isaiah wrote: <He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death, though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.> Jesus was crucified between two criminals, two thieves. Each of them had their own cross; Jesus was there in the middle. And as the people came by and saw those three people being crucified, they simply shook their head at Jesus, thinking He was no better than the other two; that He also was a criminal or a thief, just like them. But yet, as Isaiah prophesied, there was no deceit found in His mouth. There was nothing that He had done that deserved a crucifixion. But then we also notice, in the text, His association with the rich. The tomb in which He was buried was provided by a wealthy man named Joseph of Arimathea. He had a tomb, which had never before been used, and he opened that up and provided it as a burial place for the Son of God. And so Joseph, a believer, along with Nicodemus, another believer in Jesus, took down the body of Christ and they put it in that tomb, so that He would have a proper burial. We go on now to verse 10 of Isaiah 53. <And yet it was the Lord's will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer. And though the Lord makes His life a guilt offering, He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand.> On the third day, after His death, Jesus rose victoriously from the tomb. He came forth alive. Now we do know that the stone to the entrance of the tomb was rolled away and He could have used that, but perhaps He did not. He did not need to because, from the power of God, He simply came out of the tomb. And after that, He appeared to many of those who were His followers, for several weeks. And then, He ascended into heaven, where He continues to reside at His Father's right hand, ruling over all the universe. But all of these things were a part of Isaiah's prophecy. And all of these things, as Isaiah wrote, we're a part of God's original plan. And then we go now to verse 11: <After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life and be satisfied; by His knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many.> As the suffering servant, Jesus became the perfect sacrifice. Jesus satisfied His Heavenly Father. He provided the only way through which we can come into that right relationship with God. And all of that took place just as Isaiah prophesied; that Jesus went onto the cross and He died and then He rose again so that we can have that eternal home with God in heaven. You know, what happened to Jesus on the cross cost Him His life, and yet through His death we can live. And now He stands before sinful people and a Holy God, and He is our mediator, through which we can come to the Father and receive that free gift of eternal life. Oh, Isaiah chapter 52 and chapter 53 is an amazing passage of Scripture, regarding what Jesus would experience. I don't know what happened when Isaiah wrote those words, but perhaps as he wrote down that “Servants Song,” he had to pause on several occasions and wipe away the tears from his eyes, as he thought about the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. Perhaps he thought all of this would take place in his own lifetime and he would be able to see for himself the One who had come from God in heaven. Well, certainly Jesus knew this passage. He knew it applied to Him, and He was not ashamed to refer to it throughout His ministry. For indeed, Jesus saw Himself as the suffering servant of which Isaiah wrote. In places like Luke 22 verse 37 Jesus said, “I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in Me. He was numbered with the transgressors.” Well, that statement is found in Isaiah 53 verse 12. And then, Matthew refers to Jesus, in Matthew 8, verse 17. He writes, “He took up our infirmities and carried our disease;” and that phrase is found in Isaiah 53 and verse 4. In every book and every letter of the New Testament, except for two, the authors mention the suffering Jesus experienced, and the death He died upon the cross of Calvary. They wrote about Jesus being that suffering servant, and the One who sacrificially gave His life, so that we do not have to die spiritually. Paul wrote these words about Christ in 2nd Corinthians 5, verses 14 and 15: <For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all; and therefore all died. And He died for all: that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.> Yes, Jesus died for all of us and then He was victoriously risen out of that tomb to live forever. Peter wrote, in 1st Peter 1, 18 and 19: <For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold, that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.> The precious blood which Jesus shed upon the cross redeems, sets us free and rescues us from eternal separation from God. Oh, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the thread that runs through the entire Bible. It is the focus of the Bible's message. And what Jesus did by becoming our Wounded Savior has never been done since, and it will never be done by anyone else in the future. Yes, Jesus died and He suffered for the sake of all mankind. He gave His life as a ransom for many. He paid the price for our sin. And Jesus did what only He could do, as God's representative and as His one and only Son. Many years ago I had an accident. While riding a horse, I fell off onto a wire that was filled with sharp barbs; and some of those barbs went into my neck and I hung there on the fence until my father came out and rescued me and took me off of that fence. We went to the hospital, where several stitches were used to close up that wound. And obviously the blood has stopped and the wound has healed, but the scar still remains. And from time to time I look at that scar and I am reminded of what put it there. Well, on a regular basis, we need to be reminded of what put Jesus on the cross. We need to consider the wounds He bore in His body when He was nailed to the cross and died for our sin. Oh, it was not a pretty sight, but it had to be done so that our sin could be forgiven. And now, through Jesus Christ, we can experience eternal salvation. He did His part by dying for us; and now we received that free gift from Him and respond to it. Yes, we believe in Jesus as God's one and only Son. We turn away from any sin in our life that might affect our relationship with Him, and we say no to Satan. We then acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Savior of this world, and acknowledge what He has done for us. And then we are immersed into Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of that sin, as we become a part of Christ and He becomes a part of us. Oh, I would pray today and I would encourage us to consider the writings of that great prophet Isaiah; and that we are reminded once again that Jesus indeed is our Wounded Savior, and He has purchased for us that free gift of eternal salvation.
**BONUS VIDEO CLIP
I'm standing here by this open field on the outskirts of town. There's not much to see around here. It's kind of desolate. The grass isn't growing yet and there's some old mesquites and bushes out there in the field. But if you'll notice there is a rise out there in the distance, kind of a small hill. And when I see that hill, I'm reminded of a song that I sang when I was younger, and in fact still sing it from time to time today. The first words of the song are these: “On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame.” That song reminds us of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross on a hill called Mount Calvary, on the outskirts of the city of Jerusalem. And there Jesus suffered a very painful and humiliating death. The Son of God was crucified. It was a painful situation. There was blood, there was weeping. It was a sad occasion; but yet, Jesus died on that cross for your sake and for mine. When I think about that, I'm reminded of this hill, I'm reminded of other songs that we sing about Jesus’ sacrifice. And sometimes we pass those moments by and overlook them. Maybe there are some songs or some places in your life, where you go on a regular basis, or songs you sing, on a regular basis, that remind you of who Jesus is and what He did for you. I would encourage you to not pass those moments by, but take just a moment to reflect upon Jesus and His great sacrifice for you.
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