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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator

Isaiah 53

 

 

Verses 1-12

Isaiah 53:1-12

Who hath believed our report?
--

The Messiah referred to in Isaiah 53:1-12

By some it has been supposed, in ancient times and in modern, that the prophet was referring to the sufferings of the nation of Israel--either of Israel as a whole or of the righteous section of the nation--and to the benefits that would accrue from those sufferings to the surrounding peoples, some of whom were contemptuous of Israel, all of whom may be described as ignorant of God. But to defend that opinion it is necessary to paraphrase and interpret some of the statements in a way that no sound rules of exposition will allow. Even Jewish historians are wont to represent the sufferings of their people as the consequence of sin, whereas these verses speak repeatedly of sufferings that are vicarious. St. Paul says in one place that the fall of the Jews “is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles;” but he is so far from meaning that the Jews suffered in the stead of the Gentiles, that he proceeds at once to argue by implication: If the world has been blessed notwithstanding the unfaithfulness of the Jew, how much more would it have been blessed if Israel had been true? It is quite possible that the great figure of the Servant of Jehovah, standing in the front of all these verses, was designed to have more than a single interpretation, to be reverently approached from many sides, to be full of appeals to the patriotism and to the piety of the Israelite; but at the same time it is no mere abstract conception, but the figure of a living and separated Person, “more perfect than human believer ever was, uniting in himself more richly than any other messenger, of God everything that was necessary for the salvation of man, and finally accomplishing what no mere prophet” ever attempted. And some of the authorities of the synagogue even might be quoted in favour of the almost universal Christian opinion, that the Man of Sorrows of this chapter despised, and yet triumphant, is no other than the Messiah of Israel and the Saviour of the world, who over-trod the lowest levels of human pain and misery, and who hereafter will sit enthroned, on His head many crowns, and in His heart the satisfaction of assured and unlimited victory. (R.W. Moss, D.D.)

The Jewish nation a vicarious sufferer

Isaiah 53:1-12 has been supposed by many to refer to the Jewish nation as a whole, and not to Christ or any other individual. And, in truth, it is in many ways singularly applicable to Israel as a nation. As a nation Israel was “despised and rejected,” and “bore the sins of many.” This people was the chief medium through which the Eternal was made manifest on earth. Hence came the peculiarities and deficiencies of the Hebrew nature. The Jews were haunted by the Infinite and Eternal; and therefore they knew not the free and careless joyousness of Greece. The mountains are scarred and rent by storms and tempests almost unknown in the valleys. The deepest religion necessarily involves prolonged suffering. The near presence of the Infinite pierces and wounds the soul. To Greeks or Romans Israel was a sort of Moses, veiling even while revealing the terrific lineaments of Jehovah. The face of Israel did indeed shine with an unearthly glory after communing with God on the mountain; but it was a glory utterly uncongenial to the gaiety of joyous Athens. Most truly might Greeks and Romans say of the devout Jew, “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.” Yet was Israel a mighty benefactor to the human race. “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Salvation came by the Jews. They had more genuine moral inspiration than any others of the sons of men. To them alone was clearly disclosed the true Jacob’s ladder connecting earth with heaven. To the Greeks the Infinite was a mere notion, a thing for the intellect to play with, or a kind of irreducible surd left after the keenest philosophical analysis. To the Hebrews, on the other hand, the Infinite was an appalling and soul-abasing reality, an ever-menacing guide, as the fiery flaming sword of the cherubims “which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” “It pleased the Lord to bruise” Israel for the sake of the whole world. By being “numbered with the transgressors,” Israel found out the real righteousness. (A. Crawford, M.A.)

The Jewish nation was a type of Christ

The Jewish nation was a type of Christ, and of all natures at once spiritual and sympathetic throughout the ages. All real prophets in every age have in them much of the true Hebrew nature, with its depths and its limitations. (A. Crawford, M.A.)

The servant and Israel

“Who believed what we heard, and to whom did the arm of the Lord reveal itself?” Who believed the revelation given to us in regard to the Servant, and who perceived the operation of the Lord in His history! The speakers are Israel now believing, and confessing their former unbelief. (A. B. Davidson, D.D.)

Christ in Isaiah

As an artisan, laying a mosaic of complicated pattern and diverse colours, has before him a working drawing, and carefully fits the minute pieces of precious stone and enamel according to it, till the perfection of the design is revealed to all, so do the evangelists and apostles, with the working-drawing of Old Testament prophecy, and Old Testament types and shadows in the tabernacle services and ceremonies, in their hands, fit together the details of Christ’s life on earth, His atoning death and His resurrection, and say, “Behold, this can be none other than the long looked-for Messiah.” The central knop, or flower pattern, of the mosaic, from which all other details of the design radiated, was the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. (F. Sessions.)

The suffering Saviour

I. We are led to THE ANTICIPATED LOWLINESS OF GOD’S RIGHTEOUS SERVANT, the Messiah. He would be low in the esteem of men, even of those He comes to serve.

The Jews and Messianic prophecy

From the Jews wresting this text, observe--

1. That there is an evil disposition in men to turn off upon others that which nearly concerns themselves.

2. That it is no new thing in persons to vouch that for themselves which makes most against them. Thus the Jews do this chapter against the Gentiles.

3. When God, for the wickedness of a people, hardeneth their hearts, they are apt to mistake in that which is most plain.

4. From the prophet’s great admiration, observe, that when we can do no good upon a people, the most effectual way is to complain of it to God.

5. Those that profess the name of God may be much prejudiced against the entertainment of those truths and counsels that He makes known to them for their good.

6. It is a wonder they should not believe so plain a discovery of Christ, though by the just judgment of God they did not.

7. The first believing of Christ is a believing the report of Him; but afterwards there are experiences to confirm our belief (1 Peter 2:3; John 4:42). (T. Manton, D.D.)

Christ preached, but rejected

I. JESUS CHRIST MAY BE CLEARLY REPRESENTED TO A PEOPLE, AND YET BUT FEW WON TO BELIEVE IN HIM.

II. THE GOSPEL IS THE ARM AND POWER OF GOD.

III. SO FEW BELIEVE, BECAUSE GOD’S ARM IS NOT REVEALED TO THEM the power of the Word is not manifested by the Spirit. (T. Manton, D. D. )

Jewish prejudice against Christ

At the time of Christ’s being in the flesh there were divers prejudices against Him in the Jews.

1. An erroneous opinion of the Messiah.

2. A fond reverence of Moses and the prophets, as if it were derogatory to them to close with Christ (John 9:29).

3. Offence at His outward meanness (that is the scope of this chapter), and the persecution He met with. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Gentile prejudice against Christ

1. Pride in the understanding (1 Corinthians 1:23).

2. The meanness of the reporters--poor fishermen.

3. The hard conditions upon which they were to entertain Christ. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Christ rejected in our time

The hindrances to believing in Him are these:

1. Ignorance. Men hear of Christ, but are not acquainted with Him.

2. An easy slightness; men do not labour after faith.

3. A careless security. They think themselves well enough without Him.

4. A light esteem of Christ. As we do not see our own needs, so not His worth.

5. A presumptuous conceit that we have entertained Christ already. Many think every slight wish, every trivial hope, will serve the turn.

6. Hardness of heart.

7. Self-confidence.

8. Carnal fears. These hinder the soul from closing with that, mercy that is reported to be in Christ. They are of divers sorts.

9. Carnal reasonings from our sins.

10. Carnal apprehensions of Christ. (T. Manton, D. D.)

The credibility and importance of the Gospel report

I. WE WILL CONTEMPLATE THIS REPORT, AND INQUIRE WHETHER IT IS NOT WORTHY OF OUR ATTENTION AND BELIEF.

1. The report which we hear, is a most instructive report. It brings us information of many things which were before unknown, and which, without this information, never could have been known to the sons of men. “That which had not been told us, we see.” The Gospel for this reason is called a message, good tidings, and tidings of great joy. The leading truths of natural religion are agreeable to the dictates of reason; and perhaps might be, in some measure, discovered without revelation. At least they were known among those who had never enjoyed a written revelation, though, indeed, we cannot say how far these might be indebted to traditional information. But certainly those truths, which immediately relate to the recovery and salvation of sinners, human reason could never investigate.

2. The Gospel is a report from heaven. It was, in some degree, made known to the patriarchs, and afterwards more fully to the prophets But “God has in these last days, spoken to us by His Son.”

3. the Gospel is a credible report. Many reports come to us without evidence: we only hear them, but know not what is their foundation, or whether they have any. And yet even these reports pass not wholly unregarded. But, if any important intelligence is brought to us which is both rational in itself, and at the same time supported by a competent number of reputable witnesses, we may much rather judge it worthy of our attention and belief. With this evidence the Gospel comes. It is credible in its own nature. The doctrines of the Gospel, though beyond the discovery and above the comprehension of reason, are in no instance contrary to its dictates. They are all adapted to promote real virtue and righteousness. Besides this internal evidence, God has been pleased to give it the sanction of His own testimony. Errors have sometimes been introduced and propagated by the artful reasoning of interested men. But Christianity rests not on the basis of human reasoning, or a subtle intricate train of argumentation: it stands on the ground of plain facts, of which every man is able to judge. The life, miracles, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth are the facts which support it. If these did really take place, the Gospel is true. Whether they did or not, men of common abilities were as competent to judge, as men of the profoundest learning. We, who live in the present age, have not, in every respect, the same evidence of the truth of the Gospel as they had, who were eye-witnesses of those facts. But we have their testimony, in the most authentic manner, conveyed to us. Some advantages we have, which they had not. We have the examination of preceding ages. We see Christianity still supporting itself against all the opposition of the world. We see the unwearied attempts of its enemies to subvert it, rendered fruitless and vain. We see many of the predictions contained in these records, already verified; and others, to all appearance, hastening on towards an accomplishment.

4. It is an interesting report. From the Gospel we learn that the human race have, by transgression, fallen under the Divine displeasure. This report corresponds with our own experience and observation. The Gospel brings us a joyful message.

5. This is a public report. It is what we have all heard, and heard often.

II. WE WILL CONSIDER THE COMPLAINT. “Who hath believed our report?” (J. Lathrop, D..D.)

Do the prophets believe?

“Who hath believed our report?” This inquiry has been read in various ways. Each of the ways has had its own accent and good lesson.

1. For example, the figure might be that of the prophets gathered together in conference and bemoaning in each other’s hearing that their sermons or prophecies had come to nothing. We have preached all this while, and nobody has believed; why preach any more? If this thing were of God it would result in great harvests: it results in barrenness, and we are disappointed prophets. That is one way. Many excellent remarks have been made under that construction of the inquiry.

2. But that is not the meaning of the prophecy. The Revised Version helps us to see it more clearly, by reading the word thus:--“Who hath believed that which we have heard?” The idea is that the prophets are not rebuking other people; the tremendous idea is that the prophets are interrogating themselves and saying, in effect at least, Have we believed our own prophecy? is there a believer in all the Church? is not the Church a nest of unbelievers? That puts a very different face upon the interrogation. We shall now come to great Gospels; when the prophets flagellate themselves we shall have some good preaching. We might put the inquiry, if not literally, yet spiritually and experimentally, thus:--Which of us, even the prophets, have believed? We have said the right thing; people might listen with entranced attention to such eloquence as ours: but is it red with the blood of trust, has it gone forth from us taking our souls with it? If not, we are as the voice of the charmer; men are saying of each of us, He hath a pleasant voice, what he says is said most tunefully, but the man himself is not behind it and in it and above it: it is a recitation, not a prophecy.

3. Who can find fault with the prophets? Not one of us, least of all myself. They had some hard things to, believe; men do not willingly believe in wildernesses and barren rocks, and declarations that have in them no poetry and on them no lustre from heaven, hard and perilous sayings. Who can believe this, that when the Anointed of the Lord shall come, the Chosen One, He shall be “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?” It is incredible; if He is God’s own Son He will be more beautiful than the dawn of summer. But God will not flatter His servants; He says to each of them, even the loftiest in stature of soul, Go out and proclaim a Cross. It is always so with this Christ; He is all Cross at the first: but what a summer there is hidden in the clouds! and it will come as it were suddenly. The prophets worked their own way under the guidance of the Holy Spirit out of this darkness. Having: dwelt more largely upon the tragical aspect of the life of this great One, they say towards the close, “He shall see His seed.” That is a new tone; “He shall prolong his days,” that is a new tone; “and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” Why, they have turned the corner; they are getting up into the sunshine, they are unfurling the flag on the mountain-top. “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: His blood shall buy the universe. This is the other end; this the other aspect of the Gospel. You will never profitably read the Scriptures until you take the darkness with the light.

4. What is the application of this? Why are you wondering that other people do not believe? The voice says, Friend! didst thou believe thine own sermon? Was it alive with thine heart? (J. Parker, D.D.)

A heavy complaint and lamentation

I. TO WHOM IT WAS MADE. We find from parallel Scriptures that it is made to the Lord Himself (John 12:38; Romans 10:16).

II. WHOM IT RESPECTS. It respects the hearers of the Gospel in the prophet’s time, and in after times too.

III. THE MAKER OF THIS HEAVY LAMENTATION.

1. The unsucessfulness of the Gospel, and prevailing unbelief among them that heard it. Consider--

2. The great withdrawing of the power of God from ordinances. “To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” This implies

The little success of the Gospel matter of lamentation

I. WHAT IS THAT SUCCESS WHICH THE GOSPEL SOMETIMES HATH? It is successful--

1. When sinners are thereby brought to faith in Christ (Romans 1:17).

2. When they are thereby brought to holiness of life (2 Corinthians 3:18).

II. WHAT IS THAT DIVINE POWER WHICH SOMETIMES COMES ALONG WITH GOSPEL-ORDINANCES?

1. A heart and life discovering power (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). The word comes, and the Lord’s arm comes with it, and opens the volume of a man’s heart and the life, and it is as if the preacher were reading the secret history of a man’s thoughts and actions (Hebrews 4:12).

2. A sharp, convincing power, whereby the sinner does not only see his sin, but sees the ill and danger of it, and is touched to the heart with it (Acts 24:25).

3. A drawing and converting power (John 12:32; Psalms 19:7).

4. A quickening power (Psalms 119:50).

5. A clearing power, resolving doubts, removing mistakes and darkness in certain particulars, whereby one is retarded in their spiritual course Psalms 19:7-8).

6. A comforting power (Psalms 119:49-50).

7. A strengthening power. The Spirit, with the Word blowing on the dry bones, makes them stand on their feet like s great army.

8. A soul-elevating and heart-ravishing power (Luke 24:32).

III. THE REASONS OF THE DOCTRINE.

I. It must be a matter of lamentation to the godly in general. For--

2. Particularly to godly ministers.

Evidences of non-success

1. The slighting of Gospel ordinances that so much prevails.

2. Little reformation of life under the dispensation of the Gospel.

3. Much formality in attendance on ordinances.

4. Little of the work of conversion or soul-exercise. (T. Boston, M. A.)

The Gospel-report

I. CONSIDER THE GOSPEL AS IT IS A REPORT. View it--

1. In the nature of a report in general.

2. In the nature of a report to be trusted to, for some valuable end. And so it is--

II. CONSIDER FAITH AS IT IS A TRUSTING TO THIS REPORT. Faith is--

1. A trusting of the Gospel-report as true.

2. A trusting to the Gospel-report as good. It implies--

III. CONSIDER THE REPORT OF THE GOSPEL, AND THE TRUSTING TO IT, CONJUNCTLY. The Gospel is a report from heaven--

1. Of salvation for poor sinners, from sin (Matthew 1:21), and from the wrath of God (John 3:16), freely made over to you in the Word of promise. Faith trusts it as a true report, believing that God has said it; and trusts to it as good, laying our own salvation upon it.

2. Of a crucified Christ made over to sinners, as the device of Heaven for their salvation. The soul concludes, the Saviour is mine; and leans on Him for all the purchase of His death, for life and salvation to itself in particular 1 Corinthians 2:2).

3. Of a righteousness wherein we guilty ones may stand before a holy God Romans 1:17). And by faith one believes there is such a righteousness, that it is sufficient to cover him, and that it is held out to him to be trusted on for righteousness; and so the believer trusts it as his righteousness in the sight of God, disclaiming all other, and betaking himself to it alone Galatians 2:16).

4. Of a pardon under the great seal of Heaven, in Christ, to all who will take it in Him (Acts 13:38-39). The soul by faith believes this to be true, and applies it to itself, saying, This pardon is for me.

5. Of a Physician that cures infallibly all the diseases of the soul. The soul believes it, and applies it to its own case.

6. Of a feast for hungry souls, to which all are bid welcome, Christ Himself being the Maker and matter of it too. The soul weary of the husks of created things, and believing this report, accordingly falls a-feeding on Christ.

7. Of a victory won by Jesus Christ over sin, Satan, and death, and the world. The soul trusts to it for its victory over all these, as already foiled enemies (1 John 5:4).

8. Of a peace purchased by the blood of Christ for poor sinners, and offered to them. Faith believes it; and the soul comes before God as a reconciled Father in Christ, brings in its supplications for supply before the throne. (T. Boston, M. A.)

The rarity of believing the Gospel-report

I. CONFIRM THIS POINT.

1. Take a view of the Church in all ages, and the entertainment the Gospel has met with among them to whom it came. It has been a despised and disbelieved Gospel.

2. Take a view of the Church, setting aside those whom the Scripture determines to be unbelievers; and we will soon see that but few do remain. Set aside--

II. THE REASONS WHY SO FEW BELIEVE THE REPORT OF THE GOSPEL.

1. There is a natural impotency in all (John 6:44). Believing the report of the Gospel is beyond the power of nature, Yea, everything in nature is against it, till the Spirit of the Lord overcome them into belief of the report of the Gospel.

2. The predominant power of lusts, to which the Gospel is an enemy. There our Lord lodges it (John 3:19).

3. There is a judicial blindness on many (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). (T. Boston, M. A.)

Divine power necessary for believing the Gospel report

There is no true believing or trusting to the report of the Gospel, but what is the effect of the working of a Divine power on the soul for that end.

I. EVINCE THE TRUTH OF THE DOCTRINE. Consider for it--

1. Express Scripture testimony (John 6:44).

2. The state that by nature we are in, “dead in sin” (Ephesians 2:1). Faith is the first vital act of the soul, quickened by the Spirit of life from Jesus Christ.

3. There can be no faith without knowledge: and the knowledge of spiritual things man is by nature incapable of (1 Corinthians 2:14).

4. Man is naturally under the power of Satan, a captive of the devil, who with his utmost efforts will hinder the work of faith (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Such a case the Gospel finds men in; and it is the design of the Gospel to bring them out of it (Acts 26:17-18).

5. Man’s trust is by nature firmly preoccupied by those things which the Gospel calls them to renounce. He is wedded to other confidences naturally, which therefore he will hold by, till a power above nature carry him off from them--self-confidence, creature-confidence, law-confidence.

6. Man has a strong bias and bent against believing or trusting to the Gospel (John 5:40; Romans 10:3).

7. It is the product of the Holy Spirit, wherever it is.

II. WHAT IS THAT WORKING OF DIVINE POWER WHEREBY THE SOUL IS BROUGHT TO TRUST TO THE GOSPEL REPORT? There is a twofold work of Divine power on the soul for that end.

1. A mediate work, which is preparatory to it; whereof the Spirit is the author, and the instrument is the law.

2. An immediate work, whereby faith is produced in the soul; whereof the Spirit is the author, and the Gospel the instrument. It is--

The Monarch in disguise

There are four distinctive features predicted--

1. The lowliness, obscurity and sorrow of the coming Servant of God.

2. The putting forth of “the arm of the Lord” in Him and in His work.

3. The setting forth of this in a message or “report.”

4. The concealing, as it were, of the “arm of the Lord,” owing to the lowly appearance of this Servant. (C. Clemance, D.D.)

Preaching and hearing

I. THE GREAT SUBJECT OF PREACHING, and the preacher’s great errand, is to report concerning Jesus Christ--to bring good tidings concerning Him.

II. THE GREAT DUTY OF HEARERS is, to believe this report and, by virtue of it, to be brought to rest on Jesus Christ.

III. THE GREAT, THOUGH THE ORDINARY, SIN OF THE GENERALITY OF THE HEARERS OF THE GOSPEL is unbelief.

IV. THE GREAT COMPLAINT, WEIGHT AND GRIEF OF AN HONEST MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL is this--that his message is not taken off his hand; that Christ is not received, believed in and rested on. (J. Durham.)

The offer of Christ in the Gospel

I. The offering of Christ in the Gospel is WARRANT enough to believe in Him. Otherwise there had been no just ground of expostulation and complaint for not believing. The complaint is for the neglect of the duty they were called to.

II. They to whom Christ is offered in the Gospel are CALLED to believe. It is their duty to do it.

III. Saving faith is THE WAY AND MEANS by which those who have Christ offered to them in the Gospel come to get a right to Him, and to obtain the benefits that are reported of to be had from Him. (J. Durham.)

The necessity of faith

1. Look to all the promises, whether of pardon of sin, peace with God, joy in the Holy Ghost, holiness and conformity to God--there is no access to these, or to any of them, but by faith.

2. Look to the performance of any duty, or mortification of any lust or idol, and faith is necessary to that.

3. Whenever any duty is done, there is no acceptation of it without faith Hebrews 4:2; Hebrews 11:6). (J. Durham.)

A faithful minister’s sorrow

It is most sad to a tender minister to see unbelief and unfruitfulness among the people he hath preached the Gospel to. There is a fourfold reason of this--

1. Respect to Christ Jesus his Master, in whose stead he comes to woo souls to Christ.

2. The respect he hath to people’s souls.

3. The respect he hath to the duty in hand.

4. Concern for his own joy and comfort (Philippians 2:16). (J. Durham.)

The prevalence of unbelief

I. THE CHARACTER HERE GIVEN OF THE GOSPEL. A “report.” Let us see--

1. In what respects it resembles a report. A report is the statement of things or facts done or occurring at some distance of time or place; of things which we ourselves have not seen, but of which an account has been brought to us by others, and to which our belief is demanded in proportion to the degree of credibility which attaches to those who bring us the account. Such is the Gospel.

2. In what respects this report differs from all other reports. This difference may be traced in the importance of the truths which it professes to communicate, no less than in the evidence by which it is confirmed.

II. THE QUESTION WHICH THE PROPHET ASKS IN REFERENCE TO IT, “Who hath believed our report?” This question is evidently the language of complaint, of surprise, and of grief. And has there not been always occasion for such language as this? (E. Cooper.)

Ministerial solicitude

Every minister of Jesus Christ, imbued with the spirit of his office, is anxious--

I. THE REPORT WHICH THE MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL MAKE. The “report” of Isaiah is the “saying” of Paul (1 Timothy 1:15).

1. It demands and deserves your attention, for we bring it from heaven.

2. It is a report of universal interest, for it is to be made to all the world.

3. Our report is of the very highest importance, for it refers to the state of the soul.

4. It is a report of the strictest veracity, being confirmed by many credible witnesses.

II. The ANXIETY WHICH THE MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL FEEL.

1. This report is very generally neglected.

2. This neglect is the result of unbelief.

3. This neglect is, to those who make it, a subject of devout solicitude and of deep regret.

4. When this report is believed, it operates with Divine efficiency. What think you of our report? (Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)

And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?--

The arm of the Lord revealed

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY “THE ARM OF THE LORD.”

II. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE REVEALING OF THE ARM OF THE LORD.

III. THE SCOPE AND DEPENDENCE OF THESE WORDS ON THE FORMER. (J. Durham.)

The arm of the Lord

“To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” It has been made bare these many centuries, and how few have seen it, or recognized it, or called it by its proper name! We have had continuity, and succession, and evolution, and development, and progress, and laws of nature; but not “the arm of the Lord. (J. Parker, D.D.)

The might of the saving arm, and how to obtain it

(with John 11:40):--A lawyer whom I know took me to see the fire-proof strong-room inwhich he keeps valuable deeds and securities. It is excavated under the street, and a passage leads far into the interior, lined on either side with receptacles for the precious documents. On entering, he took up what appeared to be a candle, with a cord attached to it; the other end he deftly fastened to a switch at the entrance, by means of which the electricity which was waiting there poured up the wire hidden in the cord, glowed at the wick of the china candle, and we were able to pass to the end of the passage, uncoiling cord and wire as we went. That unlighted candle resembles the Christian worker apart from the power of the Holy Ghost. Faith may be compared to the switch by means of which the saving might of God pours into our life and ministry. It cannot be too strongly insisted on, that our faith is the absolute condition and measure of the exertion of God’s saving might. No faith, no blessing; little faith, little blessing; great faith, great blessing. The saving might of God’s glorious arm may be waiting close against us; but it is inoperative unless we are united to it by faith. The negative and positive sides of this great and important truth are presented in the texts before us: one of which complains that the arm of God is not revealed, because men have not believed the inspired report; the other affirms from the lips of the Master, that those who believe shall see the glory of God. (F. B. Meyer, B.A.)

The arm of God and human faith

(with John 11:40):--

I. THE ARM OF GOD. This expression is often used in the older Scriptures, and everywhere signifies the active, saving energy of the Most High. We first meet with it in His own address to Moses: “I will redeem them with a stretched-out arm.” Then, in the triumphant shout that broke from two million glad voices beside the Red Sea--and frequently in the book of Deuteronomy--we read of the stretched-out arm of Jehovah. It is a favourite phrase with the poets and prophets of Israel--the arm that redeems; the holy arm; the glorious arm; the bared arm of God. The conception is that, owing to the unbelief of Israel, it lies inoperative, hidden under the heavy folds of Oriental drapery; whereas it might be revealed, raising itself aloft in vigorous and effective effort. All that concerns us now is the relation between faith and the forth-putting of God’s saving might.

II. THE LIFE OF THE SON OF MAN. AS this chapter suggests, it seemed, from many points of view, a failure. The arm of the Lord was in Him, though hidden from all save the handful who believed.

III. A SPECIMEN CASE. Even though our Lord went to Bethany with the assurance that the arm of the Lord would certainly be made bare, yet He must of necessity have the co-operation and sympathy of some one’s faith.

1. Such faith He discovered in Martha. Her admissions showed that faith was already within her soul, as a grain of mustard-seed, awaiting the summertide of God’s presence, the education of His grace. There are many earnest Christians whose energies are taxed to the uttermost by their ministry to others. They have no time to sit quietly at the feet of Christ, or mature great schemes of loving sympathy with His plans, as Mary did when she prepared her anointing-oil for her Lord s burial. And yet they are capable of a great faith. Christ will one day discover, reveal and educate that faith to great exploits.

2. He put a promise before her--“Thy brother shall rise again.” Faith feeds on promises.

3. He showed that its fulfilment might be expected and now. Jesus said, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life.” Here and now is the power which, on that day of which you speak, shall awaken the dead; do but believe, and you shall see that resurrection anticipated. Ponder the force of this I AM. It is the present tense of the Eternal.

4. He aroused her expectancy. For what other reason did He ask that the stone might be rolled away? She believed, and she beheld the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The one aim for each of us should be to bring Christ and the dead Lazarus together. Let us ask Christ, our Saviour, to work such faith in us; to develop it by every method of education and discipline; to mature it by his nurturing Spirit, until the arm of God is revealed in us and through us, and the glory of God is manifested before the gaze of men. At the same time, it is not well to concentrate our thought too much on faith, lest we hinder its growth. Look away from faith to the Object of faith, and faith will spring of itself. (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)


Verses 1-12

Isaiah 53:1-12

Who hath believed our report?
--

The Messiah referred to in Isaiah 53:1-12

By some it has been supposed, in ancient times and in modern, that the prophet was referring to the sufferings of the nation of Israel--either of Israel as a whole or of the righteous section of the nation--and to the benefits that would accrue from those sufferings to the surrounding peoples, some of whom were contemptuous of Israel, all of whom may be described as ignorant of God. But to defend that opinion it is necessary to paraphrase and interpret some of the statements in a way that no sound rules of exposition will allow. Even Jewish historians are wont to represent the sufferings of their people as the consequence of sin, whereas these verses speak repeatedly of sufferings that are vicarious. St. Paul says in one place that the fall of the Jews “is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles;” but he is so far from meaning that the Jews suffered in the stead of the Gentiles, that he proceeds at once to argue by implication: If the world has been blessed notwithstanding the unfaithfulness of the Jew, how much more would it have been blessed if Israel had been true? It is quite possible that the great figure of the Servant of Jehovah, standing in the front of all these verses, was designed to have more than a single interpretation, to be reverently approached from many sides, to be full of appeals to the patriotism and to the piety of the Israelite; but at the same time it is no mere abstract conception, but the figure of a living and separated Person, “more perfect than human believer ever was, uniting in himself more richly than any other messenger, of God everything that was necessary for the salvation of man, and finally accomplishing what no mere prophet” ever attempted. And some of the authorities of the synagogue even might be quoted in favour of the almost universal Christian opinion, that the Man of Sorrows of this chapter despised, and yet triumphant, is no other than the Messiah of Israel and the Saviour of the world, who over-trod the lowest levels of human pain and misery, and who hereafter will sit enthroned, on His head many crowns, and in His heart the satisfaction of assured and unlimited victory. (R.W. Moss, D.D.)

The Jewish nation a vicarious sufferer

Isaiah 53:1-12 has been supposed by many to refer to the Jewish nation as a whole, and not to Christ or any other individual. And, in truth, it is in many ways singularly applicable to Israel as a nation. As a nation Israel was “despised and rejected,” and “bore the sins of many.” This people was the chief medium through which the Eternal was made manifest on earth. Hence came the peculiarities and deficiencies of the Hebrew nature. The Jews were haunted by the Infinite and Eternal; and therefore they knew not the free and careless joyousness of Greece. The mountains are scarred and rent by storms and tempests almost unknown in the valleys. The deepest religion necessarily involves prolonged suffering. The near presence of the Infinite pierces and wounds the soul. To Greeks or Romans Israel was a sort of Moses, veiling even while revealing the terrific lineaments of Jehovah. The face of Israel did indeed shine with an unearthly glory after communing with God on the mountain; but it was a glory utterly uncongenial to the gaiety of joyous Athens. Most truly might Greeks and Romans say of the devout Jew, “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.” Yet was Israel a mighty benefactor to the human race. “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Salvation came by the Jews. They had more genuine moral inspiration than any others of the sons of men. To them alone was clearly disclosed the true Jacob’s ladder connecting earth with heaven. To the Greeks the Infinite was a mere notion, a thing for the intellect to play with, or a kind of irreducible surd left after the keenest philosophical analysis. To the Hebrews, on the other hand, the Infinite was an appalling and soul-abasing reality, an ever-menacing guide, as the fiery flaming sword of the cherubims “which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” “It pleased the Lord to bruise” Israel for the sake of the whole world. By being “numbered with the transgressors,” Israel found out the real righteousness. (A. Crawford, M.A.)

The Jewish nation was a type of Christ

The Jewish nation was a type of Christ, and of all natures at once spiritual and sympathetic throughout the ages. All real prophets in every age have in them much of the true Hebrew nature, with its depths and its limitations. (A. Crawford, M.A.)

The servant and Israel

“Who believed what we heard, and to whom did the arm of the Lord reveal itself?” Who believed the revelation given to us in regard to the Servant, and who perceived the operation of the Lord in His history! The speakers are Israel now believing, and confessing their former unbelief. (A. B. Davidson, D.D.)

Christ in Isaiah

As an artisan, laying a mosaic of complicated pattern and diverse colours, has before him a working drawing, and carefully fits the minute pieces of precious stone and enamel according to it, till the perfection of the design is revealed to all, so do the evangelists and apostles, with the working-drawing of Old Testament prophecy, and Old Testament types and shadows in the tabernacle services and ceremonies, in their hands, fit together the details of Christ’s life on earth, His atoning death and His resurrection, and say, “Behold, this can be none other than the long looked-for Messiah.” The central knop, or flower pattern, of the mosaic, from which all other details of the design radiated, was the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. (F. Sessions.)

The suffering Saviour

I. We are led to THE ANTICIPATED LOWLINESS OF GOD’S RIGHTEOUS SERVANT, the Messiah. He would be low in the esteem of men, even of those He comes to serve.

The Jews and Messianic prophecy

From the Jews wresting this text, observe--

1. That there is an evil disposition in men to turn off upon others that which nearly concerns themselves.

2. That it is no new thing in persons to vouch that for themselves which makes most against them. Thus the Jews do this chapter against the Gentiles.

3. When God, for the wickedness of a people, hardeneth their hearts, they are apt to mistake in that which is most plain.

4. From the prophet’s great admiration, observe, that when we can do no good upon a people, the most effectual way is to complain of it to God.

5. Those that profess the name of God may be much prejudiced against the entertainment of those truths and counsels that He makes known to them for their good.

6. It is a wonder they should not believe so plain a discovery of Christ, though by the just judgment of God they did not.

7. The first believing of Christ is a believing the report of Him; but afterwards there are experiences to confirm our belief (1 Peter 2:3; John 4:42). (T. Manton, D.D.)

Christ preached, but rejected

I. JESUS CHRIST MAY BE CLEARLY REPRESENTED TO A PEOPLE, AND YET BUT FEW WON TO BELIEVE IN HIM.

II. THE GOSPEL IS THE ARM AND POWER OF GOD.

III. SO FEW BELIEVE, BECAUSE GOD’S ARM IS NOT REVEALED TO THEM the power of the Word is not manifested by the Spirit. (T. Manton, D. D. )

Jewish prejudice against Christ

At the time of Christ’s being in the flesh there were divers prejudices against Him in the Jews.

1. An erroneous opinion of the Messiah.

2. A fond reverence of Moses and the prophets, as if it were derogatory to them to close with Christ (John 9:29).

3. Offence at His outward meanness (that is the scope of this chapter), and the persecution He met with. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Gentile prejudice against Christ

1. Pride in the understanding (1 Corinthians 1:23).

2. The meanness of the reporters--poor fishermen.

3. The hard conditions upon which they were to entertain Christ. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Christ rejected in our time

The hindrances to believing in Him are these:

1. Ignorance. Men hear of Christ, but are not acquainted with Him.

2. An easy slightness; men do not labour after faith.

3. A careless security. They think themselves well enough without Him.

4. A light esteem of Christ. As we do not see our own needs, so not His worth.

5. A presumptuous conceit that we have entertained Christ already. Many think every slight wish, every trivial hope, will serve the turn.

6. Hardness of heart.

7. Self-confidence.

8. Carnal fears. These hinder the soul from closing with that, mercy that is reported to be in Christ. They are of divers sorts.

9. Carnal reasonings from our sins.

10. Carnal apprehensions of Christ. (T. Manton, D. D.)

The credibility and importance of the Gospel report

I. WE WILL CONTEMPLATE THIS REPORT, AND INQUIRE WHETHER IT IS NOT WORTHY OF OUR ATTENTION AND BELIEF.

1. The report which we hear, is a most instructive report. It brings us information of many things which were before unknown, and which, without this information, never could have been known to the sons of men. “That which had not been told us, we see.” The Gospel for this reason is called a message, good tidings, and tidings of great joy. The leading truths of natural religion are agreeable to the dictates of reason; and perhaps might be, in some measure, discovered without revelation. At least they were known among those who had never enjoyed a written revelation, though, indeed, we cannot say how far these might be indebted to traditional information. But certainly those truths, which immediately relate to the recovery and salvation of sinners, human reason could never investigate.

2. The Gospel is a report from heaven. It was, in some degree, made known to the patriarchs, and afterwards more fully to the prophets But “God has in these last days, spoken to us by His Son.”

3. the Gospel is a credible report. Many reports come to us without evidence: we only hear them, but know not what is their foundation, or whether they have any. And yet even these reports pass not wholly unregarded. But, if any important intelligence is brought to us which is both rational in itself, and at the same time supported by a competent number of reputable witnesses, we may much rather judge it worthy of our attention and belief. With this evidence the Gospel comes. It is credible in its own nature. The doctrines of the Gospel, though beyond the discovery and above the comprehension of reason, are in no instance contrary to its dictates. They are all adapted to promote real virtue and righteousness. Besides this internal evidence, God has been pleased to give it the sanction of His own testimony. Errors have sometimes been introduced and propagated by the artful reasoning of interested men. But Christianity rests not on the basis of human reasoning, or a subtle intricate train of argumentation: it stands on the ground of plain facts, of which every man is able to judge. The life, miracles, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth are the facts which support it. If these did really take place, the Gospel is true. Whether they did or not, men of common abilities were as competent to judge, as men of the profoundest learning. We, who live in the present age, have not, in every respect, the same evidence of the truth of the Gospel as they had, who were eye-witnesses of those facts. But we have their testimony, in the most authentic manner, conveyed to us. Some advantages we have, which they had not. We have the examination of preceding ages. We see Christianity still supporting itself against all the opposition of the world. We see the unwearied attempts of its enemies to subvert it, rendered fruitless and vain. We see many of the predictions contained in these records, already verified; and others, to all appearance, hastening on towards an accomplishment.

4. It is an interesting report. From the Gospel we learn that the human race have, by transgression, fallen under the Divine displeasure. This report corresponds with our own experience and observation. The Gospel brings us a joyful message.

5. This is a public report. It is what we have all heard, and heard often.

II. WE WILL CONSIDER THE COMPLAINT. “Who hath believed our report?” (J. Lathrop, D..D.)

Do the prophets believe?

“Who hath believed our report?” This inquiry has been read in various ways. Each of the ways has had its own accent and good lesson.

1. For example, the figure might be that of the prophets gathered together in conference and bemoaning in each other’s hearing that their sermons or prophecies had come to nothing. We have preached all this while, and nobody has believed; why preach any more? If this thing were of God it would result in great harvests: it results in barrenness, and we are disappointed prophets. That is one way. Many excellent remarks have been made under that construction of the inquiry.

2. But that is not the meaning of the prophecy. The Revised Version helps us to see it more clearly, by reading the word thus:--“Who hath believed that which we have heard?” The idea is that the prophets are not rebuking other people; the tremendous idea is that the prophets are interrogating themselves and saying, in effect at least, Have we believed our own prophecy? is there a believer in all the Church? is not the Church a nest of unbelievers? That puts a very different face upon the interrogation. We shall now come to great Gospels; when the prophets flagellate themselves we shall have some good preaching. We might put the inquiry, if not literally, yet spiritually and experimentally, thus:--Which of us, even the prophets, have believed? We have said the right thing; people might listen with entranced attention to such eloquence as ours: but is it red with the blood of trust, has it gone forth from us taking our souls with it? If not, we are as the voice of the charmer; men are saying of each of us, He hath a pleasant voice, what he says is said most tunefully, but the man himself is not behind it and in it and above it: it is a recitation, not a prophecy.

3. Who can find fault with the prophets? Not one of us, least of all myself. They had some hard things to, believe; men do not willingly believe in wildernesses and barren rocks, and declarations that have in them no poetry and on them no lustre from heaven, hard and perilous sayings. Who can believe this, that when the Anointed of the Lord shall come, the Chosen One, He shall be “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?” It is incredible; if He is God’s own Son He will be more beautiful than the dawn of summer. But God will not flatter His servants; He says to each of them, even the loftiest in stature of soul, Go out and proclaim a Cross. It is always so with this Christ; He is all Cross at the first: but what a summer there is hidden in the clouds! and it will come as it were suddenly. The prophets worked their own way under the guidance of the Holy Spirit out of this darkness. Having: dwelt more largely upon the tragical aspect of the life of this great One, they say towards the close, “He shall see His seed.” That is a new tone; “He shall prolong his days,” that is a new tone; “and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” Why, they have turned the corner; they are getting up into the sunshine, they are unfurling the flag on the mountain-top. “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: His blood shall buy the universe. This is the other end; this the other aspect of the Gospel. You will never profitably read the Scriptures until you take the darkness with the light.

4. What is the application of this? Why are you wondering that other people do not believe? The voice says, Friend! didst thou believe thine own sermon? Was it alive with thine heart? (J. Parker, D.D.)

A heavy complaint and lamentation

I. TO WHOM IT WAS MADE. We find from parallel Scriptures that it is made to the Lord Himself (John 12:38; Romans 10:16).

II. WHOM IT RESPECTS. It respects the hearers of the Gospel in the prophet’s time, and in after times too.

III. THE MAKER OF THIS HEAVY LAMENTATION.

1. The unsucessfulness of the Gospel, and prevailing unbelief among them that heard it. Consider--

2. The great withdrawing of the power of God from ordinances. “To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” This implies

The little success of the Gospel matter of lamentation

I. WHAT IS THAT SUCCESS WHICH THE GOSPEL SOMETIMES HATH? It is successful--

1. When sinners are thereby brought to faith in Christ (Romans 1:17).

2. When they are thereby brought to holiness of life (2 Corinthians 3:18).

II. WHAT IS THAT DIVINE POWER WHICH SOMETIMES COMES ALONG WITH GOSPEL-ORDINANCES?

1. A heart and life discovering power (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). The word comes, and the Lord’s arm comes with it, and opens the volume of a man’s heart and the life, and it is as if the preacher were reading the secret history of a man’s thoughts and actions (Hebrews 4:12).

2. A sharp, convincing power, whereby the sinner does not only see his sin, but sees the ill and danger of it, and is touched to the heart with it (Acts 24:25).

3. A drawing and converting power (John 12:32; Psalms 19:7).

4. A quickening power (Psalms 119:50).

5. A clearing power, resolving doubts, removing mistakes and darkness in certain particulars, whereby one is retarded in their spiritual course Psalms 19:7-8).

6. A comforting power (Psalms 119:49-50).

7. A strengthening power. The Spirit, with the Word blowing on the dry bones, makes them stand on their feet like s great army.

8. A soul-elevating and heart-ravishing power (Luke 24:32).

III. THE REASONS OF THE DOCTRINE.

I. It must be a matter of lamentation to the godly in general. For--

2. Particularly to godly ministers.

Evidences of non-success

1. The slighting of Gospel ordinances that so much prevails.

2. Little reformation of life under the dispensation of the Gospel.

3. Much formality in attendance on ordinances.

4. Little of the work of conversion or soul-exercise. (T. Boston, M. A.)

The Gospel-report

I. CONSIDER THE GOSPEL AS IT IS A REPORT. View it--

1. In the nature of a report in general.

2. In the nature of a report to be trusted to, for some valuable end. And so it is--

II. CONSIDER FAITH AS IT IS A TRUSTING TO THIS REPORT. Faith is--

1. A trusting of the Gospel-report as true.

2. A trusting to the Gospel-report as good. It implies--

III. CONSIDER THE REPORT OF THE GOSPEL, AND THE TRUSTING TO IT, CONJUNCTLY. The Gospel is a report from heaven--

1. Of salvation for poor sinners, from sin (Matthew 1:21), and from the wrath of God (John 3:16), freely made over to you in the Word of promise. Faith trusts it as a true report, believing that God has said it; and trusts to it as good, laying our own salvation upon it.

2. Of a crucified Christ made over to sinners, as the device of Heaven for their salvation. The soul concludes, the Saviour is mine; and leans on Him for all the purchase of His death, for life and salvation to itself in particular 1 Corinthians 2:2).

3. Of a righteousness wherein we guilty ones may stand before a holy God Romans 1:17). And by faith one believes there is such a righteousness, that it is sufficient to cover him, and that it is held out to him to be trusted on for righteousness; and so the believer trusts it as his righteousness in the sight of God, disclaiming all other, and betaking himself to it alone Galatians 2:16).

4. Of a pardon under the great seal of Heaven, in Christ, to all who will take it in Him (Acts 13:38-39). The soul by faith believes this to be true, and applies it to itself, saying, This pardon is for me.

5. Of a Physician that cures infallibly all the diseases of the soul. The soul believes it, and applies it to its own case.

6. Of a feast for hungry souls, to which all are bid welcome, Christ Himself being the Maker and matter of it too. The soul weary of the husks of created things, and believing this report, accordingly falls a-feeding on Christ.

7. Of a victory won by Jesus Christ over sin, Satan, and death, and the world. The soul trusts to it for its victory over all these, as already foiled enemies (1 John 5:4).

8. Of a peace purchased by the blood of Christ for poor sinners, and offered to them. Faith believes it; and the soul comes before God as a reconciled Father in Christ, brings in its supplications for supply before the throne. (T. Boston, M. A.)

The rarity of believing the Gospel-report

I. CONFIRM THIS POINT.

1. Take a view of the Church in all ages, and the entertainment the Gospel has met with among them to whom it came. It has been a despised and disbelieved Gospel.

2. Take a view of the Church, setting aside those whom the Scripture determines to be unbelievers; and we will soon see that but few do remain. Set aside--

II. THE REASONS WHY SO FEW BELIEVE THE REPORT OF THE GOSPEL.

1. There is a natural impotency in all (John 6:44). Believing the report of the Gospel is beyond the power of nature, Yea, everything in nature is against it, till the Spirit of the Lord overcome them into belief of the report of the Gospel.

2. The predominant power of lusts, to which the Gospel is an enemy. There our Lord lodges it (John 3:19).

3. There is a judicial blindness on many (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). (T. Boston, M. A.)

Divine power necessary for believing the Gospel report

There is no true believing or trusting to the report of the Gospel, but what is the effect of the working of a Divine power on the soul for that end.

I. EVINCE THE TRUTH OF THE DOCTRINE. Consider for it--

1. Express Scripture testimony (John 6:44).

2. The state that by nature we are in, “dead in sin” (Ephesians 2:1). Faith is the first vital act of the soul, quickened by the Spirit of life from Jesus Christ.

3. There can be no faith without knowledge: and the knowledge of spiritual things man is by nature incapable of (1 Corinthians 2:14).

4. Man is naturally under the power of Satan, a captive of the devil, who with his utmost efforts will hinder the work of faith (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Such a case the Gospel finds men in; and it is the design of the Gospel to bring them out of it (Acts 26:17-18).

5. Man’s trust is by nature firmly preoccupied by those things which the Gospel calls them to renounce. He is wedded to other confidences naturally, which therefore he will hold by, till a power above nature carry him off from them--self-confidence, creature-confidence, law-confidence.

6. Man has a strong bias and bent against believing or trusting to the Gospel (John 5:40; Romans 10:3).

7. It is the product of the Holy Spirit, wherever it is.

II. WHAT IS THAT WORKING OF DIVINE POWER WHEREBY THE SOUL IS BROUGHT TO TRUST TO THE GOSPEL REPORT? There is a twofold work of Divine power on the soul for that end.

1. A mediate work, which is preparatory to it; whereof the Spirit is the author, and the instrument is the law.

2. An immediate work, whereby faith is produced in the soul; whereof the Spirit is the author, and the Gospel the instrument. It is--

The Monarch in disguise

There are four distinctive features predicted--

1. The lowliness, obscurity and sorrow of the coming Servant of God.

2. The putting forth of “the arm of the Lord” in Him and in His work.

3. The setting forth of this in a message or “report.”

4. The concealing, as it were, of the “arm of the Lord,” owing to the lowly appearance of this Servant. (C. Clemance, D.D.)

Preaching and hearing

I. THE GREAT SUBJECT OF PREACHING, and the preacher’s great errand, is to report concerning Jesus Christ--to bring good tidings concerning Him.

II. THE GREAT DUTY OF HEARERS is, to believe this report and, by virtue of it, to be brought to rest on Jesus Christ.

III. THE GREAT, THOUGH THE ORDINARY, SIN OF THE GENERALITY OF THE HEARERS OF THE GOSPEL is unbelief.

IV. THE GREAT COMPLAINT, WEIGHT AND GRIEF OF AN HONEST MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL is this--that his message is not taken off his hand; that Christ is not received, believed in and rested on. (J. Durham.)

The offer of Christ in the Gospel

I. The offering of Christ in the Gospel is WARRANT enough to believe in Him. Otherwise there had been no just ground of expostulation and complaint for not believing. The complaint is for the neglect of the duty they were called to.

II. They to whom Christ is offered in the Gospel are CALLED to believe. It is their duty to do it.

III. Saving faith is THE WAY AND MEANS by which those who have Christ offered to them in the Gospel come to get a right to Him, and to obtain the benefits that are reported of to be had from Him. (J. Durham.)

The necessity of faith

1. Look to all the promises, whether of pardon of sin, peace with God, joy in the Holy Ghost, holiness and conformity to God--there is no access to these, or to any of them, but by faith.

2. Look to the performance of any duty, or mortification of any lust or idol, and faith is necessary to that.

3. Whenever any duty is done, there is no acceptation of it without faith Hebrews 4:2; Hebrews 11:6). (J. Durham.)

A faithful minister’s sorrow

It is most sad to a tender minister to see unbelief and unfruitfulness among the people he hath preached the Gospel to. There is a fourfold reason of this--

1. Respect to Christ Jesus his Master, in whose stead he comes to woo souls to Christ.

2. The respect he hath to people’s souls.

3. The respect he hath to the duty in hand.

4. Concern for his own joy and comfort (Philippians 2:16). (J. Durham.)

The prevalence of unbelief

I. THE CHARACTER HERE GIVEN OF THE GOSPEL. A “report.” Let us see--

1. In what respects it resembles a report. A report is the statement of things or facts done or occurring at some distance of time or place; of things which we ourselves have not seen, but of which an account has been brought to us by others, and to which our belief is demanded in proportion to the degree of credibility which attaches to those who bring us the account. Such is the Gospel.

2. In what respects this report differs from all other reports. This difference may be traced in the importance of the truths which it professes to communicate, no less than in the evidence by which it is confirmed.

II. THE QUESTION WHICH THE PROPHET ASKS IN REFERENCE TO IT, “Who hath believed our report?” This question is evidently the language of complaint, of surprise, and of grief. And has there not been always occasion for such language as this? (E. Cooper.)

Ministerial solicitude

Every minister of Jesus Christ, imbued with the spirit of his office, is anxious--

I. THE REPORT WHICH THE MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL MAKE. The “report” of Isaiah is the “saying” of Paul (1 Timothy 1:15).

1. It demands and deserves your attention, for we bring it from heaven.

2. It is a report of universal interest, for it is to be made to all the world.

3. Our report is of the very highest importance, for it refers to the state of the soul.

4. It is a report of the strictest veracity, being confirmed by many credible witnesses.

II. The ANXIETY WHICH THE MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL FEEL.

1. This report is very generally neglected.

2. This neglect is the result of unbelief.

3. This neglect is, to those who make it, a subject of devout solicitude and of deep regret.

4. When this report is believed, it operates with Divine efficiency. What think you of our report? (Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)

And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?--

The arm of the Lord revealed

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY “THE ARM OF THE LORD.”

II. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE REVEALING OF THE ARM OF THE LORD.

III. THE SCOPE AND DEPENDENCE OF THESE WORDS ON THE FORMER. (J. Durham.)

The arm of the Lord

“To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” It has been made bare these many centuries, and how few have seen it, or recognized it, or called it by its proper name! We have had continuity, and succession, and evolution, and development, and progress, and laws of nature; but not “the arm of the Lord. (J. Parker, D.D.)

The might of the saving arm, and how to obtain it

(with John 11:40):--A lawyer whom I know took me to see the fire-proof strong-room inwhich he keeps valuable deeds and securities. It is excavated under the street, and a passage leads far into the interior, lined on either side with receptacles for the precious documents. On entering, he took up what appeared to be a candle, with a cord attached to it; the other end he deftly fastened to a switch at the entrance, by means of which the electricity which was waiting there poured up the wire hidden in the cord, glowed at the wick of the china candle, and we were able to pass to the end of the passage, uncoiling cord and wire as we went. That unlighted candle resembles the Christian worker apart from the power of the Holy Ghost. Faith may be compared to the switch by means of which the saving might of God pours into our life and ministry. It cannot be too strongly insisted on, that our faith is the absolute condition and measure of the exertion of God’s saving might. No faith, no blessing; little faith, little blessing; great faith, great blessing. The saving might of God’s glorious arm may be waiting close against us; but it is inoperative unless we are united to it by faith. The negative and positive sides of this great and important truth are presented in the texts before us: one of which complains that the arm of God is not revealed, because men have not believed the inspired report; the other affirms from the lips of the Master, that those who believe shall see the glory of God. (F. B. Meyer, B.A.)

The arm of God and human faith

(with John 11:40):--

I. THE ARM OF GOD. This expression is often used in the older Scriptures, and everywhere signifies the active, saving energy of the Most High. We first meet with it in His own address to Moses: “I will redeem them with a stretched-out arm.” Then, in the triumphant shout that broke from two million glad voices beside the Red Sea--and frequently in the book of Deuteronomy--we read of the stretched-out arm of Jehovah. It is a favourite phrase with the poets and prophets of Israel--the arm that redeems; the holy arm; the glorious arm; the bared arm of God. The conception is that, owing to the unbelief of Israel, it lies inoperative, hidden under the heavy folds of Oriental drapery; whereas it might be revealed, raising itself aloft in vigorous and effective effort. All that concerns us now is the relation between faith and the forth-putting of God’s saving might.

II. THE LIFE OF THE SON OF MAN. AS this chapter suggests, it seemed, from many points of view, a failure. The arm of the Lord was in Him, though hidden from all save the handful who believed.

III. A SPECIMEN CASE. Even though our Lord went to Bethany with the assurance that the arm of the Lord would certainly be made bare, yet He must of necessity have the co-operation and sympathy of some one’s faith.

1. Such faith He discovered in Martha. Her admissions showed that faith was already within her soul, as a grain of mustard-seed, awaiting the summertide of God’s presence, the education of His grace. There are many earnest Christians whose energies are taxed to the uttermost by their ministry to others. They have no time to sit quietly at the feet of Christ, or mature great schemes of loving sympathy with His plans, as Mary did when she prepared her anointing-oil for her Lord s burial. And yet they are capable of a great faith. Christ will one day discover, reveal and educate that faith to great exploits.

2. He put a promise before her--“Thy brother shall rise again.” Faith feeds on promises.

3. He showed that its fulfilment might be expected and now. Jesus said, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life.” Here and now is the power which, on that day of which you speak, shall awaken the dead; do but believe, and you shall see that resurrection anticipated. Ponder the force of this I AM. It is the present tense of the Eternal.

4. He aroused her expectancy. For what other reason did He ask that the stone might be rolled away? She believed, and she beheld the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The one aim for each of us should be to bring Christ and the dead Lazarus together. Let us ask Christ, our Saviour, to work such faith in us; to develop it by every method of education and discipline; to mature it by his nurturing Spirit, until the arm of God is revealed in us and through us, and the glory of God is manifested before the gaze of men. At the same time, it is not well to concentrate our thought too much on faith, lest we hinder its growth. Look away from faith to the Object of faith, and faith will spring of itself. (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)


Verse 2

Isaiah 53:2

For He shall grow up before wire as a tender plant

God accomplishes great things by unlikely means

1.
God prosecuteth and accomplisheth His greatest designs by the most unlikely and despised means. Jesus Christ, the great Saviour of the world, was but a tender plant, which a man would be more apt to tread upon and crush, than to cherish.

2. God cometh in for the deliverance of His people in times of greatest despair and unlikelihood. For when the branches of Jesse were dried up, and had no verdure, even then sprung up the greatest ornament of that stock, although a root out of a dry ground.

3. Mean beginnings may grow up to great matters and glorious successes. Christ, the tender plant, was to be a tall tree. (T. Manton, D. D.)

God to be trusted

You have no cause to distrust God; though He doth not find means, He can create them. The root of Jesse, though there be no branches, it can bear a sprig. God, that could make the world out of nothing, can preserve the Church by nothing. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Christ a tender plant

1. Christ in His humiliation appeared in great feebleness; born a helpless babe, He was in His infancy in great danger from the hand of Herod, and though preserved, it was not by a powerful army, but by flight into another land. His early days were not spent amid the martial music of camps, or in the grandeur of courts, but in the retirement of a carpenter’s shop--fit place for “a tender plant.” His life was gentleness, He was harmless as a lamb. At any time it seemed easy to destroy both Him and His system. When He was nailed to the Cross to die, did it not appear as if His whole work had utterly collapsed and His religion would be for ever stamped out? The Cross threatened to be the death of Christianity as well as of Christ; but it was not so, for in a few days the power of the Divine Spirit came upon the Church.

2. At its first setting up, how feeble was the kingdom of our Lord! When Herod stretched out His hand to vex certain of the Church, unbelief might have said, “There will he an utter end ere long.” When, in after years, the Roman emperors turned the whole imperial power against the Gospel, stretching forth an arm long enough to encompass the entire globe, and uplifting a hand more heavy than an iron hammer, how could it be supposed that the Christian Church would still live on? It bowed before the storm like a tender shoot, but it was not uprooted by the tempest; it survives to this day; and although we do not rejoice at this moment in all the success which we could desire, yet still that tender shoot is full of vitality, we perceive the blossoms of hope upon it, and expect soon to gather goodly clusters of success.

3. Christianity in our own hearts--the Christ within us--is also a “tender plant.” In its upspringing it is as the green blade of corn, which any beast that goeth by may tread upon or devour. Oftentimes, to our apprehension, it has seemed that our spiritual life would soon die: it was no better than a lily, with a stalk bruised and all but snapped in twain. The mower a scythe of temptation has cut down the outgrowth of our spiritual life, but He who cometh down like rain upon the mown grass has restored our verdure and maintained our vigour to this day. Tender as our religion is, it is beyond the power of Satan to destroy it. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Growth before God

There is one word which marks the difference between the work of God and the work of man. It is the word “growth.” No human work can grow. For though we speak of a picture growing under the brush of the painter, or of a statue growing under the chisel of the sculptor, this is only a figure of speech.

1. But there is no work of God that cannot grow. This world itself grew into being. It grew up before God as the wild flower does--grew out of chaos, into order and beauty, and we can read on the rocks the story of its growth. There is a greater world than this--the world of Divine truth. And this also has been a growth from the beginning.

2. No wonder, then, that the Son of God grew up before the Lord--that the Lord of nature conformed to the law of nature. The sacred historian is not to be found tripping here, like the medieval romancist. He does not outrage the order of nature by a single story of monstrous precocity. There is not a part of the being of Jesus which he excludes from the order of growth. In body, mind and spirit he declares the child grew up before the Lord.

3. What hope is there here for man! The Son of God had to grow, and the meanest child of man can grow. If we had no power of growth but that which we possess in common with the animal and the tree, then were we of all creatures the most miserable. Because we have in us the power of an endless growth in all that is great and good, we are creatures of the Most Blessed. And we must grow. That is our destiny. Our Christianity is not a piece of mechanism that was finished off at the date of conversion. It is a life that has been born within the soul. We are growing, either upwards or downwards, either better or worse, either to honour or to shame.

4. But how may a noble and Divine growth be ensured? It is a question that is not left unanswered in my text. For we are told that the plant of which it speaks grew up before the Lord. It was the fondest desire of the Hebrew mother’s heart that her son should grow up before the Lord. She would rather have him grow up before the Lord in the temple than before the king in the palace. There can be no higher position or nobler prospect for a man than to grow up before his God. The child Samuel and the child Jesus grew up before the same God, but how differently. The former under the very shadow of the altar, under the wing of the old, blind priest, utterly secluded from the common ways of men; but Jesus, at His mother s knee in the village home, in the midst of His little relatives and playmates, among the workmen at the bench, and the old familiar faces in street and synagogue. And so it has become a Christian commonplace that you can grow up before the Lord anywhere.

5. But we are further informed of the special fashion in which Jesus grew up before the Lord. “As a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground,” we read. But the Hebrew contains a more explicit meaning. It is this: “He grew up before God like a fresh sucker from a root springing out of a dry ground” The old plant is the house of David, once so glorious in flower and fruitage, at last cut down and withered. The dry soil is the barren religious life of Israel. The fresh young sucker is the Son of Man. That it did grow to what we see is the supreme miracle of Christianity. Its principal evidence is in its own marvellous growth. This is the dilemma in which Christianity still keeps its foes, and to which all additional thought and investigation can only add strength. From such a root, in such a soil, how did Jesus grow to be the Christ of history? It must either be acknowledged to be the supreme miracle or the supreme mystery of time. And this is the one Christian miracle which keeps repeating itself century after century. From the withered plant, and out of the desert soft, God is evermore producing His plants of renown. How was it, for example, that Luther grew to be the man he was, and to wield the power he did? Was it from the withered root of the mediaeval Church or the desert soil of the monastery that he derived his power? Or was he right when he declared the conviction of his heart that it was all by the grace of God through faith? History discloses to us nothing so glorious as these Divine developments of the soul of man. The grace that has achieved these things is in the world as much as ever.

6. Why is it, then, that so many young men are excluding from their ambition in life that of growth in Christ? Why is it that so many of them murmur that the old creeds are dry, and the old Bible and the old familiar Church service, and that even the fountain of private devotion has ceased to water the wilderness? It is because they are not rooted in God and His truth, but are, many of them, like plants thrown out of a country nursery, which lie bleaching in the sun or are blown about by the wind. No wonder that religion seems dry to those who are not rooted in it. Young men! see to it that you go down into the truth which you profess to stand by, whether of creed, of catechism, or Bible, and you will find as much good in it as your fathers did. Thus settled and grounded, seek to grow in everything; put on nothing. All pretence is worse than waste of time and strength. And abjure all forced and unnatural growth, all ambition to fill rapidly a large space. Be content to occupy the ground that God has allotted to you, according to the nature that God has given. (P. J. Rollo.)

As a root out of a dry ground

The root out of a dry ground

Owing to their geographical position, the central and western regions of South Africa are almost constantly deprived of rain. They contain no flowing streams, and very little water in the wells. The soil is a soft and light-coloured sand, which reflects the sunlight with a glaring intensity. No fresh breeze cools the air; no passing cloud veils the scorching sky. We should naturally have supposed that regions so scantily supplied with one of the first necessaries of life, could be nothing else than waste and lifeless deserts: and yet, strange to say, they are distinguished for their comparatively abundant vegetation, and their immense development of animal life. The evil produced by want of rain has been counteracted by the admirable foresight of the Creator, in providing these arid lands with plants suited to their trying circumstances. The vegetation is eminently local and special. Nothing like it is seen elsewhere on the face of the earth. Nearly all the plants have tuberous roots, buried far beneath the ground, beyond the scorching effects of the sun, and are composed of succulent tissue, filled with a deliciously cool and refreshing fluid. They have also thick, fleshy leaves, with pores capable of imbibing and retaining moisture from a very dry atmosphere and soil; so that if a leaf be broken during the greatest drought, it shows abundant circulating sap. Nothing can look more unlike the situations in which they are found than these succulent roots, full of fluid when the surrounding soil is dry as dust, and the enveloping air seems utterly destitute of moisture; replete with nourishment and life when all within the horizon is desolation and death. They seem to have a special vitality in themselves; and, unlike all other plants, to be independent of circumstances. Such roots are also found in the deserts of Arabia; and it was doubtless one of them that suggested to the prophet the beautiful and expressive emblem of the text, “He shall grow up before him as a root out of a dry ground.” (H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

Christ’s growth before God

Commentators usually connect these words with the next clause of the verse, and regard them as implying that the promised Messiah would have no form or comeliness in the estimation of men, no outward beauty, that they should desire Him. This, I think, is a wrong interpretation. The words of the text are complete and separate. They speak not of the appearance of Christ to men, but of His growth in the sight of God. They refer not to His attractiveness, but to His functions; and the point that seems to be most insisted upon is, that His relation to the circumstances in which He should be placed would be one of perfect independence and self-sufficiency. (H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

The root out of a dry ground

In the light of this explanation let us look at the three ideas which the subject suggests to us--

1. The living root.

2. The dry ground.

3. The effect of the living root upon the dry ground. (H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

Christ the living root

1. This emblem is peculiarly appropriate when applied to Christ. He is called the “Branch,” to show that He is a member of the great organism of human life, in all things made like unto His brethren, yet without sin. He is a branch of the tree of humanity, nourished by its sap, pervaded by its life, blossoming with its affections, and yielding its fruits of usefulness. But He is more than the Branch. “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots,” is the spiritual language of prophecy relative to the coming of the Messiah; but the figure is speedily changed, and the Branch is also called “the Root of Jesse.” This language is most strange and paradoxical. It reveals the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh. Jesus is at one and the same time the Branch and the Root, the root of Jesse and the offspring of Jesse, David’s Lord and David’s son, because He is Emmanuel, God with us, God and man in two distinct natures and one person for ever; deriving His human life by natural descent from man, and possessing Divine life in Himself, and the author of spiritual life to others. The root of plants growing in a dry ground is the most important part of their structure. It lies at the basis of, and involves the whole plant. The whole growth of a lily, for instance, lies folded up within its bulb. And so Christ lies at the basis of, and involves the whole spiritual life.

2. It is assuredly the most precious, as it is the most distinguishing, feature of the Christian religion, that it places the foundation of eternal life in living relations with a living Person, rather than in the profession of a creed or the practice of a duty.

The unfoldings of the Root of Jesse

All the individual life of the Christian, with its blossoms of holiness and its fruits of righteousness; all the Christian life of society, with its things that are pure, and honest, and lovely, and of good report, is but a development and a manifestation of the life of Christ in the heart and in the world; a growth and unfolding of the power, the beauty, and the sweetness that are hid in the Root of Jesse. (H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

The dry ground

There is usually a very intimate connection between a plant and the circumstances in which it grows. Modifications of specific character are produced by varieties of soil; and the wide difference between a wild flower or fruit, and a garden flower or fruit, is entirely owing to the difference between rich cultivated soil and the poor untilled soil of nature. The plants of a dry ground, however, are less dependent upon the nature of their soil than others; they receive from it, in most cases, mere mechanical support and room to expand in, while their means of growth are derived entirely from the atmosphere. Looking at the emblem of the text in this light, we may suppose the “dry ground” here to mean--

I. THAT HUMANITY OUT OF WHICH CHRIST SPRANG. There are many who regard Jesus as the natural product of humanity--the highest development of human nature, the blossom, so to speak, of mankind. But we look upon Him as a Divine germ planted in this wilderness, a Divine Being attaching Himself to men, wearing their nature, dwelling in their world, but still not of them--as distinct from humanity as the living root is distinct from the dry ground in which it grows. The soil of humanity is indeed dry ground. Sin has dried up its life, its fertility, turned its moisture into summer’s drought, and reduced it to perpetual barrenness. By the law of natural development, mankind could never have given birth to a character in every way so exceptional as that of Christ. It is true indeed that a few individuals have ever and anon emerged from the dark chaos of fallen humanity, and exhibited a high type of intellectual and moral worth; but such individuals have been completely identified with the human race, and have shared in its sins and infirmities. In Jesus, on the contrary, there was a remarkable remoteness and separateness from men his life ran parallel with man’s, but it was never on the same low level. He was independent of worldly circumstances, and superior to worldly conventionalities. He had no joys on earth save those He brought with Him from heaven. He was alone, without sympathy, for no one could understand Him; without help, for no mortal aid could reach the necessities of His case. Like a desert well, He was for ever imparting what no one could give Him back.

II. THE EXPECTATIONS OF THE JEWS REGARDING THE MESSIAH. There are scientific men who believe in the doctrine of spontaneous or equivocal generation. And so there are theologians who assert that Christ was merely the natural product of the age and the circumstances in which He lived; the mere incarnation, so to speak, of the popular expectation of the time. In all their attempts to account for His life, without admitting Him to be a Divine person, they bring prominently into view whatever there was in Jewish history, belief, and literature, to prepare for and produce such a personality and character as those of Jesus; they endeavour to show that the condition of the Jewish world, when Christ appeared, was exactly that into which His appearing would fit; and that all these preparatory and formative conditions did of themselves, by a kind of natural spontaneous generation, produce Christ. In reply to these views, it may be admitted as an unquestionable historical fact, that the expectation of a Messiah ran like a golden thread throughout the whole complicated web of the Hebrew religion and polity. The expectations of the Jews did no more of themselves produce the Saviour, than the soil and climate produce, of their own accord, any particular plant. There was nothing in the age, nothing in the people, nothing in the influences by which he was surrounded, which could by any possibility have produced or developed such a remarkable character as He exhibited. There was no more relation between Him and His moral surroundings, than there is between a succulent life-full root and the arid sandy waste in which it grows. The counterfeit Messiahs were not roots out of a dry ground, but, on the contrary, mushrooms developed from the decaying life of the nation. There was a complete harmony between them and their moral surroundings. They were really and truly the products of the popular longing of the time; they agreed in every respect with their circumstances. The prevailing notions concerning the Messiah were worldly and carnal.

III. THE CHARACTER OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE. Nothing can be more marked and striking than the contrast between the character of Christ and the general character of the Jewish nation--between the excellences which He displayed and those which they held in most esteem. It is said that a man represents the spirit and character of the age and the race to which he belongs. He seldom rises above their general level. But here we have a man who not only rose high above the level of his age and nation, but stands out, in all that constitutes true moral manhood, in marked and decided contrast to them. He was descended from the Jewish people, but He was not of them. He was rooted in Jewish soil, but His life was a self-derived and heavenly life. This is a great and precious truth. Something has come into this world which is not of it. A supernatural power has descended into nature. A man has lived on our earth who cannot be ranked with mankind. A Divine Being has come from God, to be incarnate with us, and to lift us up to God. (H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

Christ binds humanity into a brotherhood

The roots of the desert, by their extensive ramifications, fix the constantly shifting sands, and prevent them from being drifted about in blinding clouds by every wind that blows. So the Root of Jesse binds the dry ground of humanity by its endless fibres of benevolence and love. The despised and apparently feeble Jesus of Nazareth was lifted up on the Cross, and then followed--according to His own prophecy--the drawing of all men to Him and to one another. Sin is selfishness and isolation; the love of Christ is benevolence and attraction. Jesus unites us to the Father, and therefore to one another. The love of Christians is not to be confined to their own society and fraternity. In Christ they have received expansion, not limitation--universal benevolence, not mere party spirit. (H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

A root out of a dry ground

I. THE HISTORICAL MEANING OF THIS METAPHOR. It applies to the person of the Lord, and also to His cause and Kingdom: to Himself personally and to Himself mystically. A root which springs up in a fat and fertile field owes very much to the soil in which it grows. Our Saviour is a root that derives nothing from the soil in which it grows, but puts everything into the soil.

1. It is quite certain that our Lord derived nothing whatever from His natural descent. He was the Son of David, the lawful heir to the royal dignities of the tribe of Judah; but His family had fallen into obscurity, had lost position, wealth, and repute.

2. Nor did our Lord derive assistance from His nationality; it was no general recommendation to His teaching that He was of the seed of Abraham. To this day, to many minds, it is almost shameful to mention that our Saviour was a Jew. The Romans were peculiarly tolerant of religions and customs; by conquest their empire had absorbed men of all languages and creeds, and they usually left them undisturbed; but the Jewish faith was too peculiar and intolerant to escape derision and hatred. After the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, the Jews were hunted down, and the connection of Christianity with Judaism so far from being an advantage to it became a serious hindrance to its growth.

3. Nor did the Saviour owe anything to His followers. Shall a world-subduing religion be disseminated by peasants and mariners? So did He ordain it.

4. Our Saviour is “a root out of a dry ground” as to the means He chose for the propagation of His faith.

5. Neither did the Saviour owe anything to times in which He lived. Christianity was born at a period of history when the world by wisdom knew not God, and men were most effectually alienated from Him. The more thinking part of the world’s inhabitants were atheistic, and made ridicule of the gods, while the masses blindly worshipped whatever was set before them. The whole set and current of thought was in direct opposition to such a religion as He came to inculcate. It was an age of luxury.

6. Neither did the religion of Jesus owe anything to human nature. It is sometimes said that it commends itself to human nature. It is false: the religion of Jesus opposes unrenewed human nature.

II. OUR KNOWLEDGE OF ITS TRUTH EXPERIMENTALLY. You remember your own conversion. When Jesus Christ came to you to save you, did He find any fertile soil in your heart for the growth of His grace?

III. This whole subject affords much ENCOURAGEMENT to many.

1. Let me speak a word to those who are seeking the Saviour, but are very conscious of your own sinfulness. Christ is all--does that not cheer you?

2. The same thought ought also to encourage any Christian who has been making discoveries of his own barrenness. When at any time you are cast down by a sense of your nothingness, remember that your Lord is “a root out of a dry ground.”

3. The same comfort avails for every Christian worker. When you feel you are barren, do not fret or despair about it, but rather say, “Lord, here is a dry tree, come and make it bear fruit, and then I shall joyfully confess, from Thee is my fruit found.”

4. Ought not this to comfort us with regard to the times in which we live? Bad times are famous times for Christ.

5. And thus we may be encouraged concerning any particularly wicked place. Do not say, “It is useless to preach down there, or to send missionaries to that uncivilized country.” How do you know? Is it very dry ground? Well, that is hopeful soil; Christ is a “root out a dry ground,” and the more there is to discourage the more you should be encouraged.

6. The same is true of individual men; you should never say, “Well, such a man as that will never be converted.

IV. THE GLORY WHICH ALL THIS DISPLAYS. Christ’s laurels at this day are none of them borrowed. When He shall come in His glory there will be none among its friends who will say, “O King, Thou owest that jewel in Thy crown to me.” Every one will own that He was the author and the finisher of the whole work, and therefore He must have all the glory of it, since we who were with Him were dry ground, and He gave life to us but borrowed nothing from us. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christ not the product of Palestine

According to Renan, the excellence of Jesus was due to the climate and soil of Palestine! But he forgets to ask how it is that the climate and soil of Palestine have never produced such another! (C. Clemance, D.D.)

He hath no form nor comeliness

Christ’s humble appearance

While we see no necessity for the Saviour of the world appearing in pomp and splendour, we can point out many important ends that may be answered by His having been made humble and of no reputation.

1. In this state His all-perfect example was of the most extensive benefit. He could exhibit virtues more in number, more difficult to practise, and more generally necessary, than there could have been room for in a higher rank and in less trying circumstances. And the virtues which such a state required from Him, as they are the most difficult to practise, so are they those which are universally useful. The virtues which belong to sovereign power and regal dignity a few only have occasion to exercise. The virtues of that station which He assumed are useful for all to acquire.

2. By His appearing in the humble, suffering state He teaches us how very insignificant in the sight of God, and in the eyes of true wisdom, are all the possessions of this world and all the flattering distinctions of a present state.

3. By appearing in a humble, suffering state He shows us that earthly distress is no proof of a bad character; that suffering is no sure intimation of God s displeasure at the sufferer.

4. By appearing in this state He shows us that it was only the force of truth that engaged and influenced His followers. So strongly are men impressed by the circumstances of high birth, of eminent rank, of great power, the splendid acts of a monarch or a conqueror, that wherever these are found they are eager to show deference and respect. But Jesus had none of these worldly attractions. (R. Bogg, D.D.)

The real character of the Messiah

I. AS TO THE OBJECTION, that Jesus was not the true Messiah, because He did not answer the universal expectation which the Jews had of His being a mighty temporal prince. Considering the natural temper of mankind, and how strongly addicted they are to their worldly interests, and how jealous of everything that thwarts and opposes them, we must allow it to be a prejudice not easy to overcome. It requires a greater zeal for the honour of God and religion than most men are possessed of, to adhere to truth when we are likely to be losers by it. Few there are that have resolution enough to abide by a religion in which they have been educated, when once it comes to be opposed by the secular powers, and the profession of it to be attended with nothing but poverty and affliction: how much more courage then, and firmness of mind, is necessary to make men enter into a religion newly set up, and that is attended with the like disadvantages? But can any one seriously think this excuse of any force? Let him urge it in its true light, and thus must he plead when arraigned at the tribunal of God for unbelief: “I would willingly have embraced the religion of Jesus Christ had it been made more suitable to my carnal inclinations and interests; had the rewards it promises been temporal instead of eternal, none should have more industriously and cheerfully sought after them; but when He told me that His ‘kingdom was not of this world,’ and that I could not follow Him without ‘taking up the cross;’ without losing, or being in danger of losing, everything that was valuable in life, nay, life itself, for His sake--my flesh trembled at the thought, and human nature, directed me to take care of myself, and to run no hazards for the sake of religion.” What sentence can such an one expect but this: “Thou hast preferred thy temporal to thy eternal interest, thou hast had thy reward on earth, and canst therefore expect no other in heaven”? But the Jew perhaps thinks he has somewhat further to say in behalf of his unbelief--that he was persuaded, from the predictions of the prophets, that the Messiah would really be, what the Gentiles might only wish Him to be, a temporal prince; and, finding Jesus not to be so, they thought it a good reason for rejecting Him. But was this (supposing it true) the only mark by which the Messiah was to be known? How often do we read of His sufferings and ill-usage in the world? Did anybody appear that answered the character of the Messiah, in any one instance, so exactly as Jesus did? The Jews made another objection against Him of much the same kind: that He was brought up, and, as they supposed, born at Nazareth, in Galilee; a country much despised by the Jews, as if there was anything in the nature of the soil or air of the country that rendered the inhabitants of it less acceptable to God than they might otherwise be, and He could not, if He would, produce eminent and bright spirits out of the most obscure parts of the world. The Chaldees were an idolatrous people, and yet God made choice of Abraham, a man of that country, with whom to establish an everlasting covenant, and in whose seed to bless all the nations of the earth. The prophet Jonah, a type of Christ, was born at a place called Gath-hepher, a town of the tribe of Zebulon, in Galilee itself, though no prophet is said by the Jews to come from thence: and Isaiah moreover plainly declares to us, in the description he is giving of the universal joy and comfort that will be occasioned by the birth and kingdom of Christ, that “in Galilee of the nations” this shall be seen. “The people (says he) that walked in darkness, have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” So that this objection is as groundless as it is weak and foolish.

II. APPLICATION to ourselves.

1. It greatly behoves us to take care that worldly interest and advantage be not the principal motive that engages us to perform our duty; lest, after the example of the Jews, we fall away from it, when that motive fails; lest, being disappointed of the hopes we had conceived from our attachment to religion and religious men, we become enemies instead of friends.

2. How hard it is for truth to prevail over the prejudices and settled notions of men. (C. Moore, M. A.)

Religion a weariness to the natural man

Putting aside for an instant the thought of the ingratitude and the sin which indifference to Christianity implies, let us, as far as we dare, view it merely as a matter of fact, after the manner of the text, and form a judgment on the probable consequences of it.

1. “Religion is a weariness;” alas! so feel even children before they can well express their meaning. Exceptions, of course, now and then occur. I am not forgetful of the peculiar character of children’s minds: sensible objects first meet their observation; it is not wonderful that they should at first be inclined to limit their thoughts to things of sense. A distinct profession of faith, and a conscious maintenance of principle, may imply a strength and consistency of thought to which they are as yet unequal. Again, childhood is capricious, ardent, light-hearted; it cannot think deeply or long on any subject. Yet all this is not enough to account for the fact in question--why they should feel this distaste for the very subject of religion.

2. “Religion is a weariness” I will next take the case of young persons when they first enter into life. Is not religion associated in their minds with gloom and weariness? This is the point that the feelings of our hearts on the subject of religion are different from the declared judgment of God; that we have a natural distaste for that which He has said is our chief good.

3. Let us pass to the more active occupations of life. The transactions of worldly business, speculations in trade, ambitious hopes, the pursuit of knowledge, the public occurrences of the day, these find a way directly to the heart; they rouse, they influence. The name of religion, on the other hand, is weak and impotent.

4. But this natural contrariety between man and his Maker is still more strikingly shown by the confessions of men of the world who have given some thought to the subject, and have viewed society with somewhat of a philosophical spirit. Such men treat the demands of religion with disrespect and negligence, on the ground of their being unnatural. The same remark may be made upon the notions which secretly prevail in certain quarters at the present day, concerning the unsuitableness of Christianity to an enlightened age. The literature of the day is weary of revealed religion.

5. That religion is in itself a weariness is seen even in the conduct of the better sort of persons, who really on the whole are under the influence of its spirit. So dull and uninviting is calm and practical religion, that religious persons are ever exposed to the temptation of looking out for excitements of one sort or other, to make it pleasurable to them.

6. Even the confirmed servants of Christ witness to the opposition which exists between their own nature and the demands of religion. Can we doubt that man’s will runs contrary to God’s will--that the view which the inspired Word takes of our present life, and of our destiny, does not satisfy us, as it rightly ought to do? That Christ hath no form nor comeliness in our eyes; and though we see Him, we see no desirable beauty in Him? “Light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light.” If our hearts are by nature set on the world for its own sake, and the world is one day to pass away, what are they to be set on, what to delight in then? What are to be the pleasures of the soul in another life? Can they be the same as they are here? They cannot; Scripture tells us they cannot; the world passeth away--now what is there left to love and enjoy through a long eternity? It is then plain enough, though Scripture said not a word on the subject, that if we would be happy in the world to come, we must make us new hearts, and begin to love the things we naturally do not love. “He hath no form nor comeliness,” etc. It is not His loss that we love Him not, it is our loss. (J.H. Newman, B.D.)

The love of beauty (in art)

Let us fix our thoughts on one example of that contrast which inspired prophecy and the life of Christ have agreed to reconcile. It is decisively expressed in the contradictory words of Zechariah and Isaiah: the former heralding the King of Sion as one whose beauty should surpass the utmost praise of human words or thoughts Zechariah 9:7); the latter declaring that those who should see that self-same Christ should find in Him no beauty that they should desire Him. I would try to suggest something in regard to the actual fulfilment of both prophecies in the claims addressed to our sense of beauty, by the revelation of Christianity; believing that there is a deep meaning in that strange and blended force of stern restraint and irresistible charm which this sense has so often owned in the presence of the Crucified; and hoping to show that this too is an instinct of our human nature, which, if we suffer it to act in sincerity and truth, will find its rest for ever in the Person of its Redeemer. Let us, then, notice first that the prophecy of Isaiah is, if we take it alone and superficially, in accord with much that has been written or implied about the influence of Christianity upon the genius of Art. For we are sometimes told, and more often made to feel, that there is something irksome and hindering to the free appreciation and enjoyment of beauty, in those dogmas about the conditions and issues of human life, which are inseparable from the work of our Lord. In various ways it is suggested or proclaimed that Christianity has unduly and too long presumed to thrust its doctrines between the human soul and the beauty which is about it, and disturbed that free entrance into the pleasures of sight and sound, through which every energy might go out to find its satisfaction and its rapture. And so some have already returned feed and foster their sense of beauty by the works and thoughts of those who lived before this tyrannous restraint was preached; others are looking forward to a time when Art may avail itself of the triumph of scepticism, and renounce all hindering allegiance and regard to the discredited formulae of religion; while many more are conscious of a vague expectation that the life of passion henceforward will and should be fleer and fuller than it has been: that hitherto we have been unnecessarily cautious and sober in our pleasures, and timidly patient of undue restrictions; but that now all is going to be much more passionate and unfettered and absorbing, and that, by the pursuit of Art for Art’s sake, we enter into an earthly paradise, which has at length been relieved from certain gloomy and old-fashioned regulations, and in which it may now be hoped that our sense of beauty will be a law unto itself. And in this temper very many who little know the consistent significance of their choice are falling in with a course of life and thought which has, as a whole, turned away from the Cross of Jesus Christ: turned away to seek elsewhere the full desire of their eyes, because He hath, as He dies for us, no form nor comeliness, and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. For in truth there is a challenge and a law with which Christianity must ever meet the lover of beauty as he goes out to seek by whatever way the gratification of this sense. The Church of Christ cannot, while she remembers His message, her Master, and her trust, consent to be dismissed from the sphere of taste, or let it be thought that she has no counsel for her sons, as they turn to those high and thrilling pleasures, no means or right of judging the tone and the ideals of contemporary Art. (J. H.Newman, B. D.)

Christianity and the sensuous

We were going to throw ourselves without reserve into this or that enthusiasm of beauty, to steep our souls in the excitement of music, or poetry, or art, to forget all else in the engrossing delight of their eager sympathy, to lay aside every hindering thought, to trust the strong desire of our heart, and measure our interests by their intensity: and Christianity recalls us to ourselves. It sets before us, in the compass of a single life, the full expression of that deep and marring discord which has broken up the harmony of this world, and it urges us to seek within ourselves for the secret of the disturbance and misery. It shows us the Perfect Love rejected, Perfect Purity reviled, Perfect Holiness blasphemed, Perfect Mercy scorned; God coming to His own and His own receiving Him not; the righteous Judge condemned; the Lord of Life obedient unto death; and it says that the cause of this anomaly, the condition which made this the earthly life of the Incarnate Son of God, is to be found within our own souls; and we know that them is something them which seems at times as though it would crucify the Son of God afresh: something which would distort our choice from the high and spiritual to the bestial and mean: something which has often made us cruel and unjust to other men, and contemptible to ourselves. And as before the Cross which mankind awarded to its Redeemer we feel the havoc and tumult which sin has brought upon the order and truthfulness of our inner life, we must surely hesitate before we say that no restraint shall rest upon our sense of beauty, that there is no need, whatever adversaries may be moving about us, to be sober and vigilant in the world of Art. But for those who humbly take the yoke upon them, who, as they turn to the manifold wealth of beauty, do not thrust away the knowledge of their own hearts and the thought of Him whose death alone has saved them, and whose strong grace alone sustains and shelters them--for those the best delights of Art and Nature appear in a new radiance of light and hope, and speak of such things as pass man’s understanding. The moments of quickened and exalted life which music and painting stir within them, the controlling splendour of the sunset, the tender glory of the distant hills, the wonder of a pure and noble face--these no longer come as passing pleasures, flashing out of a dark background, which is only the gloomier when they are gone, half realized and little understood: for now all are linked and held together as consistent tokens of the same redeeming, sanctifying Love; they see the Hand, the pierced Hand, which holds the gift; they know the Love which fashioned and adorned it; they have read elsewhere the thought which is embodied in the outward beauty; for it is He who spared not His own Son who with Him freely gives them all things. And all that He gives them prophesy of Him. (J. H. Newman, B. D.)

Christ’s beauty

It was not a beauty of form, it was the beauty of expression. It was not the beauty of statuary, it was the beauty of life. It is the purpose of God to disappoint the senses. He has victimized the eyes, and the ears, and the hands of men. (J. Parker, D. D.)

No beauty in Christ

Look not on the pitcher, but on the liquor that is contained within. (J. Trapp.)

Christ’s meanness on earth no objection against, but confirmation of, Christianity

I. Show against unbelievers, that THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE PROPHECIES WHICH CONCERNED THE MESSIAH ARE A CONVINCING ARGUMENT OF THE TRUTH OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION. It is agreed on all hands that there can be no human or natural reason assigned for such future and remote events as have no visible or natural cause to produce them; but are of a contingent nature, and many times depend on the free choice and will of man; and therefore the prediction of such events must be supposed to proceed from some supernatural revelation. It is the argument whereby God proves Himself to be the Lord, and that there is no other Saviour beside (Isaiah 43:11-12). By the same reason, he proves the gods of the nations to be idols, and no gods (Isaiah 41:21-22; Isaiah 41:29). The prophecies of Scripture, which referred to the Messiah, were of things at such a distance, and of such a nature, that there could not be any probable reason assigned, or tolerable conjecture made of them. And yet there was not one tittle of all the prophecies which relate to the manner or design of Christ’s appearance in the world that fell to the ground.

II. Show against the Jews, that THE MEAN APPEARANCE OF CHRIST IN THE WORLD IS NO GOOD ARGUMENT AGAINST THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, OR OF ANY FORCE TO PROVE THAT JESUS OF NAZARETH WAS NOT THE CHRIST and that upon the two following accounts--

1. As the grounds upon which the Jews expected a temporal Messiah, were false and impracticable; false with respect to the spirituality of His kingdom; impracticable with respect to the extent and universality of its blessings and privileges.

2. As the state and condition of life which our Saviour chose in the world was most agreeable to the great ends and design of His coming into it.

III. PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENT.

1. If the accomplishment of the prophecies concerning our Saviour be an evident proof of His being the great Prophet that was to come into the world, then whatever doctrines He taught are, certainly true and Divinely revealed.

2. From the circumstances of our Saviour s appearance in the world let us learn the duties of patience, charity and humility.

3. In order to humble the pride of our hearts, when we are tempted to bear ourselves high upon any worldly advantages, which give us a superiority above our brethren, let us consider how Jesus Christ, the best and wisest, judged of these things. (R. Fiddes)

Christ uncomely and yet beautiful

How can it be said of Christ that He had neither comeliness nor beauty, since it is said (Psalms 45:2), that “He is fairer than the children of men,” or “than the sons of Adam”? And in Song of Solomon 5:10-16 He is described by the spouse to be well-coloured, and likewise well-featured, and she goeth on from part to part, from head to feet; and then concludeth, “He is altogether lovely.” To this I answer--

1. It is one thing what, Christ is to the spouse, another what He is to the unbelieving Jews Christ’s beauties are reward, seen of none but those that are inwardly acquainted with Him. The spouse speaketh of Him in a spiritual sense.

2. We must distinguish between Christ’s humiliation and exaltation, His Godhead and His manhood. In His Godhead He is “the brightness of His Father’s glory, and the express image of His person,” and consequently full of beauty. In His humiliation He is not only a man, but a mean man Philippians 2:9).

3. In Christ’s humiliation we must distinguish as to what He is in Himself and as to what He is in the eye of the world. (T. Manton, D.D.)

The mean not necessarily despicable

Do not despise things, for their meanness, for so thou mayest condemn the ways of God. (T. Manton, D.D.)

God’s use of the mean

As there was meanness in the outward habitude of Christ’s person, so there is now in the administration of His kingdom; as appears by considering--

1. That the ordinances are weak to appearance; there is nothing but plain words, plain bread and wine, in one ordinance, and only water in another. The simple plainness of the ordinances is an obstacle to men’s believing; they would fain bring in pomp, but that will mar all.

2. These ordinances are administered by weak men. Our Saviour sent fishermen to conquer the world, and made use of a goose-quill to wound Antichrist. Moses, the stammering shepherd, was commissioned to deliver Israel; God makes use of Amos, who was a herdsman, to declare His will. So Elisha the great prophet was taken from the plough. And many times God made use of young men, such as Paul, whose very person causeth prejudice; young Samuel, young Timothy, men of mean descent, low parentage, and of no great appearance in the world.

3. The manner how it is by them managed, which is not in such a politic, insinuating way as to beguile and deceive, and as if they were to serve their own ends (2 Corinthians 1:12).,

4. The persons by whom it is entertained, the poor (James 2:5). Usually God s true people are the meanest, not being so noted for outward excellency as others. This has been always a great prejudice against Christ’s doctrine (John 7:48).

5. The general drift of it is to make men deny their pleasures, to overlook their concernments, to despise the world, to hinder unjust gain, to walk contrary to the ordinary customs and fashions of the world. (T. Manton, D.D.)

Christ assumed an appearance of meanness

This meanness of Christ was willingly taken up by Him.

1. In His birth.

2. In His life and manner of appearance in the world. He was altogether found in fashion as a man; to outward appearance just as other men, for His growth was as other, men’s, by degrees: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” His life was spent in much toil and labour, etc. (T. Manton, D.D.)

Poverty

1. Poverty and meanness are not disgraceful. Christ Himself was a carpenter, Paul a tent-maker, and the apostles fishermen. Christ, you see, scorned that glory, pomp and greatness which the world doteth upon.

2. Poverty should not he irksome to us. Christ underwent it before you; His apostles were base in the world’s eye (1 Corinthians 4:13). Poverty is a great burden, and layeth a man open to many a disadvantage--scorn, contempt and refusal. But consider, Christ hath honoured it in His own person, and He honoureth it to this very day. (T. Manton, D.D.)

Missing Christ’s beauty

There have been two traditions respecting Christ’s person. Some of the Fathers of the Church have declared that He was, Divinely beautiful, “the fairest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely.” Others have spoken of Him in the words of Isaiah, “He hath no form nor comeliness.” For my own part I like to think of Him as Divinely beautiful. If in all things He is to have the pre-eminence, why not here as well as there? Certain it is that there must have shone through Him some transfiguring splendour, that awed and fascinated. Men were conquered as much by His look as by His word. If, however, these descriptions of Isaiah refer to His person, and are to be taken literally, then they are very far from being attractive. “As a root out of a dry ground.” “He hath no form nor comeliness.” “There is no beauty that we should desire Him.” “We esteemed Him not,” or, as Luther translates, “We thought Him nothing.” The picture seems to be that of a mean and miserable life, tragic, unsettled, menaced, lined with grief, disfigured with wounds. I say “seems.” For, after all, the fault may not be so much in Him as in us. Beauty may be all about men, yet they may never perceive it, because their foolish hearts are darkened; because they are short-sighted, blind, impure. Ruskin’s dictum is that joy, affection, veneration are necessary to the beholding of beauty. If that be so, and men know nothing of “the joy that rises in one like a summer s morn;” if they have never experienced the “love that greatens and glorifies all things;” if they know nothing of that reverence which recognizes and bows before the highest, it is no wonder that they miss the spirit of the beautiful. Men may have missed Christ’s beauty from many causes, as men are missing it to-day. Let us seek to discover what these things are that blind us to the holiest, the highest, the loveliest.

I. THE SPIRIT OF CONTEMPT BLINDS TO BEAUTY. Jesus came into this world a Galilean peasant, poor, obscure, straitened in every way. And judging Him by the measure of the scale on which He appeared, men treated Him with disdain, contempt, scorn, remarking, “Is not this the carpenter.?” How many there are who live continually in the spirit of contempt. They continually look down. They seem to forget that some,of the choicest spirits of earth have dined on “homely fare” and worn “hodden grey,” and that the millionaires of ideas have frequently been bankrupts in pocket. How contemptuously the great spirits of the world have been treated by those who were not worthy to unloose their shoe-latchets! Think of Mozart being sent by an archbishop in whose retinue he was to dine with the servants in the kitchen. Think of that same Mozart occupying a nameless grave, for “no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.” “Odd world, is it not, that will send its Bunyans to prison and give its jockeys ten thousand a year?” Aristotle paints his magnanimous man as “not apt to admire, for to him there is nothing great.” What number of these magnanimous men there must be; men so held in the grip of contempt that, standing in a world crammed full of the rich glories of creation, they see nothing to admire. Now contempt springs from two things: lack of understanding and lack of love. The wise man never despises. “God is great, yet He despiseth not any,” and those who are great after the greatness of God have ever felt their smallness beside the humblest and poorest of men. They see that behind the dullest life there may be angelic light. Where true wisdom is there contempt is not. Charles V was truly great when, picking up the brush of Titian which the painter had dropped, he remarked that he was “proud to wait on so supreme a genius.” Men see no beauty in Christ because they have been too ready to despise Him. Contempt springs from lack of love. “They thought Him nothing” because they never looked at Him with the heart. If you want to discover all that is brightest and best in men you must look at them with the look of love; then will God become “aglow to the loving heart in what was mere earth before.” Love is wonderful always. There is a magic power about it which can make plain faces shine as the faces of angels. It can fill with light and radiance a cottage home as no gold can do. It can convert worthless trifles into precious heirlooms. So if men would only look at Christ with the supreme look of the soul they would discover that He who seems to have no form nor comeliness will then be crowned with glory and honour.

II. MEN MISS THE BEAUTY, TOO, BY THE CRITICAL TEMPER. Some men there are who start out always with a disposition to criticize rather than to admire. When a young lady once expressed the wish to Hogarth that she might be able to draw caricature, the great satirist replied, “It is not a faculty to be envied; take my advice and never draw caricature. By the long practice of it I have lost the enjoyment of beauty. I never see a face but distorted, and have never the satisfaction to behold the human face divine.” The great caricaturist had so accustomed himself to look for faults that he could see nothing else. Criticism blinds to beauty. Was not that true with regard to Christ? Look for the beauty in Him and you will discover a loveliness that cannot be chiselled in marble or expressed in colour, but a beauty which, when the soul sees it is ravished for ever, and rapt into an ecstasy of admiration and love.

III. WE MAY MISS THE BEAUTY THROUGH ENVY. Did not men miss His beauty in that way in the days of His flesh? Pilate was keen enough to perceive that behind the seeming air of justice assumed by His traducers the fires of envy burned. “He knew that for envy they had delivered Him.” The artist who portrayed Envy as a man of mean and misshapen figure, with crouching shoulder, craning neck, distended ears, and serpent tongue, was endowed with a more than ordinary gift of insight. Where envy exists there can be no vision of the beautiful. For it blinds the mind and poisons the heart, and lifts not to a throne, but to a cross. How it blinded the eyes of those Scribes and Pharisees! They saw the beautiful deeds of the Man, how He succoured the weak, the suffering, the sad; they heard His words, flagrant, uplifting, strengthening; they beheld a life spent in doing good; yet so blinded were they by the spirit of envy that this supreme vision of loveliness did not dawn upon them. The penalty of envy is blindness, and until those scales fall from the eyes, all things true and beautiful and of good report, everything of worth in the character and conduct of our fellow-men, all the charm and sweetness of the Son of Man, will remain undiscovered by us.

IV. PREOCCUPATION MAY BLIND TO BEAUTY. Men are so feverishly busy in these days, they live at such express speed, that they often miss the angel at the door. When men are busy here and there they miss the charms of the Eternal. A little more quiet, a little abiding in one’s own room, and it would be discovered that Christ is lovelier than painter’s sublimest dream, and that finding Him one finds a joy for ever. (Cecil H. Wright.)


Verses 3-7

Isaiah 53:3-7

He is despised and rejected of men

The mean appearance of the Redeemer foretold

I.
THE WISDOM AND GOODNESS OF GOD IN DETERMINING TO SEND HIS SON INTO THE WORLD IN A STATE OF POVERTY AND AFFLICTION.

1. With regard to His being a teacher, His sufferings set Him above the reach of suspicions. What ends could He have to serve by His doctrine, who met with nothing but misery and affliction, as the reward of His labour?

2. With regard to our Lord’s being an example of holiness and obedience set before us for our instruction and imitation. His sufferings render the pattern perfect, and show His virtues in their truest lustre, and at the same time silence the pleas which laziness or self-love would otherwise have suggested.

3. With regard to His Divine mission. His sufferings were an evident token that the hand of God was with Him. He only can produce strength out of weakness, and knows how to confound the mighty things of the world by things which are of no account. Add to this the evidence of prophecy, which is so much the stronger by how much the weaker Christ was: so admirably has the wisdom of God displayed itself in this mystery of faith.

II. THE EVIDENCE OF PROPHECY CONCERNING THE MEAN APPEARANCE OUR LORD WAS TO MAKE.

III. THE HISTORICAL EVIDENCE WE HAVE FOR THE COMPLETION OF THESE PROPHECIES. (T. Sherlock, D.D.)

Christ despised and rejected of men

I. IN WHAT RESPECTS IT MAY STILL BE SAID THAT CHRIST IS DESPISED AND REJECTED OF MEN.

1. Men may be said to despise Christ when they do not receive Him as their alone Saviour, the true and only way to the Father.

2. When they practically deny His authority by breaking His Commandments.

3. When they do not give Him the chief room in their hearts, nor prefer Him in their choice to everything else.

4. When they do not publicly, confess Him before men.

II. THE CAUSES OF THIS CONTEMPT.

1. The main cause is a secret unbelief.

2. Love of this would.

3. Ignorance of their own condition.

4. An opinion that they may obtain His aid at what time soever they shall choose to ask it.

III. THE MALIGNITY OF THIS SIN.

1. To despise and reject such a Saviour, is the blackest ingratitude that can possibly be imagined.

2. Your ingratitude is heightened by the most insolent contempt both of the wisdom and goodness of God.

3. By despising and rejecting Christ, you openly proclaim war against the Most High, and bid Him defiance. (R. Walker.)

Designed and rejected

I. CHRIST WAS AN OBJECT OF SCORN AND CONTEMPT.

1. He was despised as an impostor.

2. Despised in His teachings.

3. In his work.

4. In His claims to a righteous judgment at the national tribunal.

II. NOT ONLY WAS JESUS AN OBJECT OF CONTEMPT AND SCORN BUT OF ABSOLUTE REJECTION. If the word had read “neglected,”--deserted, coldly passed by--this would have revealed an indifference that would have covered His nation and age with reproach, and would have stood out a lasting monument of their base ingratitude. But here is a word conveying the idea of the most inveterate and active hatred. But why this active hostility to Christ? (J. Higgins.)

Despised and rejected of men

In the Gospel we see this rejection in actual occurrence.

I. HE WAS DESPISED AND REJECTED BY THE WORLDLY-MINDED (John 6:1-71). Following Christ for the sake of bread may lead to much enthusiastic and self-denying exertion. Here, the very meanest view of Christ is preferred to those lofty and spiritual truths by which He tried to allure and save their souls. In his presence, before His face, while listening to His voice, and with the splendour of the miracle before them--all are passed by for the bread. Is not this the essence of worldly-mindedness? Christianity is the religion of many, not for the sake of the Lord Himself, nor His gracious words, nor even His miracles, but for the bread, for reputation’s sake, and social character and respectability.

II. HE WAS DESPISED AND REJECTED BY THE RATIONALIST (Matthew 13:54-57). It was in “His own country.” There men thought they knew Him; His family had long dwelt there. Parents, brothers, sisters were all familiarly known--all, down to their very trade: “Is not this the carpenter?” The facts of the case, as the rationalist is so fond of saying, were all clearly apprehended, and stood forth in their true dimensions. “Whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works?” Is it real? is it not on the face of it absurd, this mere carpenter’s son? This is the inmost spirit of rationalism. It rejects everything above the level of visible and tangible fact, everything that cannot be weighed and measured, everything spiritual in Scripture doctrine and supernatural in Scripture history.

III. HE IS DESPISED AND REJECTED BY THE ECCLESIASTIC (Matthew 21:15-23). The ecclesiastical temper is not found solely or chiefly amongst those who are ecclesiastics by profession. The religious spirit may be crushed--indeed, has often been; rigid and severe forms may take the place of the easy and graceful motions of vital Christianity. “This” is “the rejection of Christ in the freedom by which His Holy Spirit “distributes to every man severally as He will.”

IV. HE IS DESPISED AND REJECTED BY MEN OF BRUTE FORCE (Luke 23:11). To some the tenderness of the Gospel religion is an offence. Humanity is a peculiarly Christian virtue, and meekness and resignation. The calm tranquillity of meditation, the tearful eye of compassion, the sublime courage of patience, the dating heroism of forgiveness, excite no sympathy or admiration in some breasts. Theirs is the rejection of Christ; through a false manliness.

V. CHRIST IS DESPISED AND REJECTED BY HIS OWN (John 1:11). Some, from a natural sweetness and amiability of disposition, seem in a certain degree adapted to be Christians. The restraining effects of home discipline and generous education have restrained them from open transgression. Yet their rejection of Christ as a Saviour from sin is often most decided and even disdainful. They think the charge of sin inappropriate, for they have no consciousness of it, and no felt need of a Saviour. The sinfulness of rejecting Christ is seen in its being a rejection of the Father (Luke 10:16). It is not possible to reject Christ, and be right with God. (S. H. Tindall.)

Failure

In a life that is lived with the thoughts of eternity, in one aspect failure is inevitable: in another aspect failure is impossible.

1. Failure is inevitable. If I accept for myself an ideal which is beyond the limits of here and now, then manifestly it is impossible that I can here and now realize it. There must be always with me, so long as I am faithful to that ideal, a sense of incompleteness, a ceaseless aspiration, an effort that only the grave can close. He knows if he is faithful that he has before him an eternal career, that the end to which he is moving is likeness to Jesus Christ; that he has to pass into the unveiled presence of God and hold communion with Him. If that be the end, can it be otherwise than that, in the meanwhile, there should be failure, humiliation, penitence, and ceaseless and unwearied discipline of self?

2. Failure, in another aspect, is impossible. Only be sure that deep down at the root of life there is loyalty to God, and then begin where we are placed--in the effort to find Him He will fulfil the search. The miracle of the failure of Calvary is our assurance of that truth. It is this living for the Eternal, as a venture of faith, which has always appealed to the eternal God, which His own nature is pledged to meet. Do we stumble? It is only that we may realize His readiness to help. Are we bewildered? It is only in order that we may find how sure He guides. Are we humiliated by our confessions? It is only that we may realize the readiness of His pardon. Are we conscious and stricken with the sense of our weakness? It is only that we may find His strength perfected within us. If we have only taken sides with Him in the great issues of human life, then He will justify our choice. (C. G. Lang.)

Failure may be welcomed

Our failure in the light of the Cross, our spiritual failures, are things to be welcomed; they prevent the torpor of dull assurance creeping over us like a poison; they prevent our falling under imperfect standards of life, they prove, so long as their are constant with us, that the energy of the Spirit of God has not left us to ourselves; they witness to us that we recognize the truth that our souls can find their rest and satisfaction only in God. (C. G. Lang.)

The despised Saviour

To all God grants some dim vision of what He intends man to be. The holiest men have had the clearest glimpses of that character. One nation was separated to keep the ideal before the world. The majority corrupted the representation, but some prophets saw it clearly.

I. GOD’S IDEAL FOR MAN, AND ITS REALIZATION IN CHRIST. The majority thought He would be another Solomon, David’s greater son. The prophet saw that He would be a Sinless Sufferer; what it had been intended that the nation should be, that the Suffering Servant would be. The voice of God, which set forth the ideal by the lips of prophets, now speaks through our own highest desires.

II. THE WORLD’S RECEPTION OF THE REVEALED IDEAL. Pilate has brought Him forth that His suffering may excite their pity, but His pure and loving life has made them relentless in their hate. There is no beauty that they should desire Him. Barabbas, the bold and reckless, is the people’s choice. While boon companions crowd round him, cold looks and scornful smiles are reserved for Christ. Christ had headed no revolt against the powers that be, and therefore He was not popular. Political emancipation is more popular than spiritual. The path of righteousness ends on Calvary; its crown is one of thorns, its throne a cross.

III. THE MEANING OF THE REVELATION OF THIS IDEAL. The world says, Blessed are the wealthy, the powerful, the great, and the wise. Christ says, Blessed are the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, the meek, the mourners, the persecuted. At first we pity Christ, and reserve our indignation for His persecutors. But He was the least pitiable of all that group. Pilate was a pitiable victim, the people were pitiable because carried away by passion, and the priests by desire for revenge. The greatness of apparent weakness is here revealed. Yet we despise weakness. Here is a dramatic representation of weighty decisions made every day in human hearts. When we choose ease and worldly glory in preference to holiness and self-denial, we despise and reject Christ. Here our choice is seen worked out to the bitter end. This is a revelation of the meaning of sin.

IV. THE EFFECT OF THIS REVELATION. The world can never forget that spiracle. In the dark ages, when the Bible was a hidden book, a representation of this scene was to be found in every church. Though obscured by superstition, the ideal was still held up, and was still moulding the minds and stimulating the holy endeavours of men. In an open Bible we have the ideal more truthfully set forth. The love there revealed has been the constraining motive which moved apostles to preach, martyrs to suffer, missionaries to forgo the joys of home, and humble men and women to labour in countless ways to advance the interests of Christ. His patience shames our murmuring: His burning love to us kindles our love to Him. (R. C. Ford, M.A.)

The world’s regard for the outward

The great cause assigned by the prophet for the astonishment of men at the Messiah and for their rejection of Him is, that His real glory is hidden beneath humiliation and sorrow. The world, that is, which always looks at the outward appearance of things, judges them according to their material splendours; having a carnal eye, it can but dimly discern moral beauty. It renders homage to thrones and crowns, and wealth and power, and does not care to see the moral iniquity and the spiritual repulsiveness there may be behind them; it feels pity and contempt for suffering and poverty and obloquy, and does not care to see the moral grandeur that these may cover or indicate. There are few of us so reverent to a poor, godly man, as to a rich godless one. We may not refuse to utter words commending the one and condemning the other, but we utter them very tenderly; the goodness of a rich man causes us to exhaust our expletives, and almost ourselves, in admiring praise; the wickedness of a poor man is denounced by us without mercy; but when the conditions are reversed we have a great deal more reserve. Our praise is a concession that we cannot withhold. We blame “with bated breath, and whispering humbleness.” The ragged garments of poverty have a wonderful transparency when vice lies behind them; while riches usurp the powers of charity, and “hide the multitude of sins.” (H. Allen, D.D.)

The art of seeing the spiritual

The Jews did not look for spiritual meaning in their dispensation, but simply at material and mechanical ordinances, and they became Pharisees--regarding religion as a thing of phylacteries and tithes and street prayers: they did not look for spiritual glory in their expected Messiah, or for spiritual blessings in His coming, and they became absorbed in the conception of a temporal prince, and were incapable of seeing anything else in Him; and, because He was not this, in their astonishment and anger, they rejected and crucified Him. The lesson is a universal one; it affects the spiritual education of every soul, our own daily habits of interpreting things. We may look at God’s world until we see nothing of God’s presence in it; nothing but mechanical forces. A scientific or philosophical eye may soon educate itself to see nothing but science and philosophy; a material eye, to see nothing but materialism. We may look upon creation, and see no Creator; upon providence, and see no Benefactor. So we may read the Bible, and see nothing but sacred history, or scientific philosophy--the letter and not the spirit. So we may look at Christian things on their material rather than their spiritual side. We may speculate upon a millennium coming of Christ, until we forget His spiritual presence--even upon heaven itself, until we forget the inward grace, and holiness and Divine communion that chiefly make it heaven. Let us carefully cultivate the Divine art of seeing spiritual aspects and meanings in all things, of judging of all things by their spiritual importance, of valuing them for their spiritual influence, of applying them to spiritual uses. “The pure in heart see God;” spiritual things are spiritually discerned.” (H. Allon, D.D.)

Christ rejected

I. The first reason assigned for the rejection of the Messiah by the Jews was THE GRADUAL AND UNOSTENTATIOUS MANNER OF HIS MANIFESTATION. “He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground,” etc. The general reference is, no doubt, to His parentage, and His manner of entering the world--so contrasted with the probable expectations of the Jews. Not like a cedar of Lebanon did the world s Messiah appear; not as a scion of a noble and wealthy house; not as the son of a Herod or a Caiaphas--but “as a “tender plant,” as “a root, out of a dry ground.” It is a repetition of the figure in the eleventh chapter, “There shall come forth a Shoot out of the stem of Jesse; and a Scion shall spring forth from his roots.” Just as the descendants of the Plantagenets are to be found amongst our English peasantry, the glory of the family had departed. Nothing could be farther from the thought of the carnal Jews than that Messiah the Prince should be a scion of such a forgotten house. How wonderful in its obscurity and helplessness was His childhood; not hastening towards His manifestation, not hastening even towards His ministry to the perishing, but waiting until “the fulness of time was come;” growing into the child, the youth, the man; for more than thirty years giving scarcely a sign that He was other than an ordinary son of humanity; at first helplessly dependent upon His parents for support and direction, then obediently “subject to them,” fulfilling all the conditions and duties of childhood, a child with children as well as a man with men; then a youth labouring as an artisan, fulfilling His great mission to the world in a carpenter’s shop. And then fulfilling His ministry, not amongst the rich, but amongst the poor; not in acts of rule and conquest, but in deeds of beneficence and words of spiritual life; and consummating it by a death on a cross.

II. The second reason for the rejection of the Messiah by the Jews, which the prophet assigns, is HIS UNATTRACTIVE APPEARANCE WHEN MANIFESTED. This he puts both negatively and positively.

1. Negatively, He was destitute of all attractions; He had “no form nor comeliness;” He was without “beauty” to make men “desire Him”.

2. But there were positive repulsions; everything to offend men who had such prepossessions as they had. A Messiah in the guise of a peasant babe--the Divine in the form of a servant and a sufferer. Chiefly, however, weare arrested by the phrase, which, because of its touching beauty, has almost become one of the personal designations of the Messiah--“A Man of sorrows”--literally, a Man of sufferings, or of many sufferings--One who possesses sufferings as other men possess intelligence, or physical faculty--One who was “acquainted with grief,” not in the casual, transient way in which most men are, but with an intimacy as of companionship; the utmost bodily and mental sorrow was endured by Him. The emphasis of the description lies not in the fact that one who came to be a Prophet and Reformer was subjected to martyr treatment, for such men have ever been rejected and persecuted by the ignorance, envy and madness of their generation. It is that He who was the Creator and Lord of all things should have submitted to this condition, borne this obloquy, endured this suffering; that the Lord of life and blessedness should appear in our world, not only as a Man, but as so suffering a Man, as that He should be known amongst other suffering men as pre-eminently “a Man of sorrows”--a Man whose sorrows were greater than other men’s sorrows. Now, we cannot think that this designation is given to Him merely because of the bodily sufferings, or social provocations, that were inflicted upon Him. We shall touch but very distantly the true heart of the Redeemer’s sorrows, if we limit the cause of them to the mere stubbornness of His generation, or to the mere physical agonies of His death. It is doing no wrong to the pre-eminence of the Saviour’s agonies to say, that many teachers of truth have been opposed and persecuted more than He was, and that many martyrs have endured deaths of more terrible physical agony. If this were all, we should be compelled, I think, to admit that the prophetic description is somewhat exaggerated. How, then, is it to be accounted for? Only by the fact of His having also endured transcendent inward sorrow; sorrow of mind, sorrow of heart, of which ordinary men have no experience; only by His own strange expression in His agony, when no human hand touched Him--“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.” Then comes the mystery of such a pure and perfect soul experiencing such a sorrow. If He were only a prophet and martyr for the truth of God, why, as distinguished from all other prophets and martyrs, should He have endured so much inward anguish? Here we touch the great mystery of atonement, and we are bold to say that this alone interprets Christ’s peculiar sorrow. (H. Allon, D.D.)

Lessons from the manner of Christ’s appearing

1. Great things may be found in very lowly forms. We judge of things by material magnitudes; the spiritual God judges them by moral qualities. The great forces that have ruled the world have mostly been born in lowly places; they have been moulded to greatness in the school of necessity; trained to greatness in the school of endurance. He who has not to endure can never be great. Let us cultivate the spiritual eye, that can recognize spiritual qualities, everywhere, and neither in others nor in “ourselves disparage” the day of small things, the germs of virtue and strength; for we know not what they may achieve. The acorn becomes an oak; the “solitary monk shakes the world;” the Babe of Bethlehem becomes the Christ of Christianity. Your solitary scholar may be the nucleus of a great system of education; your solitary convert may evangelize a nation (Matthew 13:31-32).

2. The power of Divine patience. God waits, even in His great redeeming purpose, until “the fulness of time is come,” and then until the “tender plant grows up before Him.” We, in our impatience, wish to do all things at once, to convert the world in a day. Our zeal becomes fanaticism the more difficult to check because it takes so holy a form. (H. Allon, D.D.)

Aversion to Christ

The reason for this aversion to Christ may probably be found in the fact of--

1. His sorrowful face.

2. His serious manner.

3. His spiritual teaching.

4. His consecration to His Father’s business.

5. His single walk with God, His habits of retirement and prayer.

Men hate and reject Christ for these characteristics. The world’s spirit and all worldly religion resent these aspects of spiritual life. (G. F, Pentecost, D. D.)

Handel’s Messiah

Of Handel, it is said, that when composing his “Messiah,” and he came to these words, he was affected to tears; and well might he weep, for history furnishes no parallel to this case. (J. Higgins.)

A man of sorrows

The causes of Christ’s sorrows

I. THE DAILY CONTACT OF HIS PURE AND PIOUS SOUL WITH SINFUL AND SINNING MEN. And who may conceive the constancy and intensity of the anguish that would spring from this? There would be the sense of human relationship to a race that had sinned and fallen; they were men, and He was a Man too: “He likewise took part of the same;” they were His proper brothers; He was allied in blood to men so guilty and degraded. It was as if a vicious brother, a prodigal son, were guilty of nameless and constant crime. The sense of men’s guilt, degradation, misery, ingratitude, would bow down His pure soul with unspeakable sorrow and shame. Then there was His daily practical contact with acts and hearts of sin; the touch on every side, and wherever He felt humanity, of what was unloving and unholy; the sight of their hate to His loving Father; of their rebelliousness against His holy law; a sinfulness and unspiritualness that led them to reject and hate Him; to turn away with dislike and determination from His holy words and deeds. His great human love, His perfect human holiness, would wonderfully combine to wring His soul with anguish. The apostle intimates how great this sorrow was, when he says that “He endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself;” that He “resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” And we can understand the mysterious agony of His soul in Gethsemane only by supposing that it was the sense of the world’s guilt that lay upon it: that made His soul so exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. We have only to think of His pure nature; that He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners;” and to remember the men that He came into contact with; the world in which He lived; the treatment which His message of holiness and mercy received: to understand how sore the sorrow of His soul would be.

II. THE TEMPTATIONS OF THE DEVIL. He, the pure and perfect Son of the Father, was doomed to listen to polluting and hateful thoughts of distrust and sin: He who so loathed evil was plied with evil.

III. THE GREAT BUT INEXPLICABLE SORROW OF WHATEVER CONSTITUTED HIS ATONEMENT--of whatever is meant by its “pleasing the Father to bruise Him”--to “put Him to grief”--to “make His soul an offering for sin’--to “lay upon Him the iniquity of us all”--to “forsake Him” on His cross. These were the chief elements of His sorrow--a sorrow that has had no equal, and that, in many of its ingredients, has had no likeness. (H. Allon, D. D.)

Christ a Man of sorrows

I. IT IS HERE PREDICTED THAT CHRIST SHOULD BE A MAN OF SORROWS, and acquainted with grief. This prediction was literally fulfilled. It has been supposed that His sufferings were rather apparent than real; or, at least, that His abundant consolations, and His knowledge of the happy consequences which would result from His death, rendered His sorrows comparatively light, and almost converted them to joys. But never was supposition more erroneous. His sufferings were incomparably greater than they appeared to be. No finite mind can conceive of their extent. His sufferings began with his birth, and ended but with His life.

1. It must have been exceedingly painful to such a person as Christ to live in a world like this.

2. Another circumstance which contributed to render our Saviour a Man of sorrows was the reception He met with from those He came to save.

3. Another circumstance that threw a shade of gloom over our Saviour s life was His clear view and constant anticipation of the dreadful agonies in which it was to terminate. He was not ignorant, as we happily are, of the miseries which were before Him. How deeply the prospect affected Him is evident from His own language: “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!”

II. We have in this prophetic passage AN ACCOUNT OF OUR SAVIOUR’S CONDUCT UNDER THE PRESSURE OF THESE SORROWS. “He was oppressed,” etc. “He was brought as a Lamb,” etc. Never was language more descriptive of the most perfect meekness and patience; never was prediction more fully justified by the event than in the case before us. If His lips were opened, it was but to express the most perfect submission to His Father’s will, and to breathe out prayers for His murderers. Christian, look at your Master, and learn how to suffer. Sinner, look at your Saviour, and learn to admire, to imitate, and to forgive. But why is this patient, innocent Sufferer thus afflicted? “He was wounded for our transgressions,” etc.

III. Our text describes THE MANNER IN WHICH CHRIST WAS TREATED when He thus came as a Man of sorrows to atone for our sins. “Despised and rejected of men.” “We hid, as it were, our faces,” etc. He has long since ascended to heaven, and therefore cannot be the immediate object of men’s attacks. But His Gospel and His servants are still in the world; and the manner in which they are treated is sufficient evidence that the feelings of the natural heart toward Christ are not materially different from those of the Jews. His servants are hated, ridiculed and despised, His Gospel is rejected, and His institutions slighted. Every man who voluntarily neglects to confess Christ before men, and to commemorate His dying love, must say, either that He does not choose to do it, or that he is not prepared to do it. If a man says, I do not choose to confess Christ, he certainly rejects Him. (E. Payson, D. D.)

The human race typified by the Man of sorrows

I. THE LOT OF HUMANITY IN THIS WORLD. This is the portrait of the species--“A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”

II. THE TREATMENT WHICH DEPRESSED HUMANITY COMMONLY EXPERIENCE: “We hid, as it were, our faces from Him.” (F. W. Robertson, M.A.)

The Man of sorrows

I. “A MAN.” He who was God, and was in the beginning with God, was made flesh, and dwelt among us. Remembering that Jesus Christ is God, it behoves us to recollect that His manhood was none the less real and substantial It differed from our own humanity in the absence of sin, but in no other respect. This condescending participation in our nature brings the Lord Jesus very near to us in relationship. Inasmuch as He was man, though also God, He was, according to Hebrew law, our goel--our kinsman, next of kin. Now it was according to the law that if an inheritance had been lost, it was the right of the next kin to redeem it. Our Lord Jesus exercised His legal right, and seeing us sold into bondage and our inheritance taken from us, came forward to redeem both us and all our lost estate. Be thankful that you have not to go to God at the first, and as you are, but you are invited to come to Jesus Christ, and through Him to the Father. Then let me add, that every child of God ought also to be comforted by the fact that our Redeemer is one of our own race, seeing that He was made like unto His brethren that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest; and He was tempted in all points, like as we are, that He might be able to succour them that are tempted. The sympathy of Jesus is the next most precious thing to His sacrifice.

II. “A MAN OF SORROWS.” The expression is intended to be very emphatic; it is not “a sorrowful man,” but “a Man of sorrows,” as if He were made up of sorrows, and they were constituent elements of His being. Some are men of pleasure, others men of wealth, but He was “a Man of sorrows.” He and sorrow might have changed names. He who saw Him, saw sorrow, and he who would see sorrow, must look on Him. “Behold, and see,” saith He, “if there was ever sorrow like unto My sorrow which was clone unto Me.”

1. Our Lord is called the Man of sorrows for peculiarity, for this was His peculiar token and special mark. We might well call Him “a man of holiness;” for there was no fault in Him: or a man, of labours, for He did His Father’s business earnestly; or “a man of eloquence,” for never man spake like this man. We might right fittingly call Him “The man of love,” for never was there greater love than glowed in His heart. Still, conspicuous as all these and many other excellencies were, yet had we gazed upon Christ and been asked afterwards what was the most striking peculiarity in Him, we should have said His sorrow. Tears were His insignia, and the Cross His escutcheon.

2. Is not the title of “Man of sorrows” given to our Lord by way of eminence? He was not only sorrowful, but pre-eminent among the sorrowful. All men have a burden to bear, but His was heaviest of all. The reason for this superior sorrow may be found in the fact that with His sorrow there was no admixture of sin. Side by side with His painful sensitiveness of the evil of sin, was His gracious tenderness towards the sorrows of others. Besides this our Saviour had a peculiar relationship to sin. He was not merely afflicted with the sight of it, and saddened by perceiving its effects on others, but sin was actually laid upon Him, and He was himself numbered with the transgressors.

3. The title of “Man of sorrows,” was also given to our Lord to indicate the constancy of His afflictions. He changed His place of abode, but He always lodged with sorrow. Sorrow wove His swaddling bands, and sorrow spun His winding sheet.

4. He was also “a Man of sorrows,” for the variety of His woes; He was a man not of sorrow only, but of “sorrows.” As to His poverty. He knew the heart-rendings of bereavement. Perhaps the bitterest of His sorrows were those which were connected with His gracious work. He came as the Messiah sent of God, on an embassage of love, and men rejected His claims. Nor did they stay at cold rejection; they then proceeded to derision and ridicule. They charged Him with every crime which their malice could suggest. And all the while He was doing nothing but seeking their advantage in all ways, As He proceeded in His life His sorrows multiplied. He preached, and when men’s hearts were hard, and they would not believe what He said, “He was grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” His sorrow was not that men injured Him, but that they destroyed themselves; this it was, that pulled up the sluices of His soul, and made His eyes o’erflow with tears: “O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! how often would I have gathered thy children together,” etc. But surely He found some solace with the few companions whom He had gathered around Him? He did; but for all that He must have found as much sorrow as solace in their company. They were dull scholars; they were miserable comforters for the Man of sorrows. The Saviour, from the very dignity of His nature, must suffer alone. The mountain-side, with Christ upon it, seems to me a suggestive symbol of His earthly life. His soul lived in vast solitudes, sublime and terrible, and there, amid a midnight of trouble, His spirit communed with the Father, no one being able to accompany Him into the dark glens and gloomy ravines of His unique experience. In the last, crowning sorrows of

His life, there came upon Him the penal inflictions from God, the chastisement of our peace which was upon Him.

III. “ACQUAINTED WITH GRIEF.”

1. With grief he had an intimate acquaintance. He did not know merely what it was in others, but it came home to Himself. We have read of grief, we have sympathized with grief, we have sometimes felt grief: but the.Lord felt it more intensely than other men in His innermost soul. He and grief were bosom friends.

2. It was a continuous acquaintance. He did not call at grief’s house sometimes to take a tonic by the way, neither did He sip now and then of the wormwood and the gall, but the quassia cup was always His, and ashes were always mingled with His bread. Not only forty days in the wilderness did Jesus fast; the world was ever a wilderness to Him, and His life was one long Lent. I do not say that He was not, after all, a happy man, for down deep in His soul benevolence always supplied a living spring of joy to Him. There was a joy into which we are one day to enter--the “joy of our Lord”--the “joy set before Him” for which “He endured the Cross, despising the shame;” but that does not at all take away from the fact that His acquaintance with grief was continuous and intimate beyond that of any man who ever lived. It was indeed a growing acquaintance with grief, for each step took Him deeper down into the grim shades of sorrow.

3. It was a voluntary acquaintance for our sakes. He need never have known a grief at all, and at any moment He might have said to grief, farewell. But He remained to the end, out of love to us, griefs acquaintance. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christ as a Sufferer

1. Jesus suffered from what may be called the ordinary privations of humanity. Born in a stable, etc. We may not be able to assert that none ever suffered so much physical agony as He, but this is at least probable; for the exquisiteness of His physical organism in all likelihood made Him much more sensitive than others to pain.

2. He suffered keenly from the pain of anticipating coming evil.

3. He suffered from the sense of being the cause of suffering to others. To persons of an unselfish disposition the keenest pang inflicted by their own weakness or misfortunes may sometimes be to see those whom they would like to make happy rendered miserable through connection with themselves. To the child Jesus how gruesome must have been the story of the babes of Bethlehem, whom the sword of Herod smote when it was seeking for Him! Or, if His mother spared Him this recital, He must at least have learned how she and Joseph had to flee with Him to Egypt to escape the jealousy of Herod. As His life drew near its close, this sense that connection with Himself might be fatal to His friends forced itself more and more upon His notice.

4. The element of shame was, all through, a large ingredient in His cup of suffering. To a sensitive mind there is nothing more intolerable; it is far harder to bear than bodily pain. But it assailed Jesus in nearly every form, pursuing Him all through His life. He was railed at for the humbleness of His birth. The high-born priests and the educated rabbis sneered at the carpenter’s son who had never learned, and the wealthy Pharisees derided Him. He was again and again called a madman. Evidently this was what Pilate took Him for. The Roman soldiers adopted an attitude of savage banter towards Him all through His trial and crucifixion, treating Him as boys torment one who is weak in the mind. He heard Barabbas preferred to Himself by the voice of His fellow-countrymen, and He was crucified between thieves, as if He were the worst of the worst. A hail of mockery kept falling on Him in His dying hours. Thus had He who was conscious of irresistible strength to submit to be treated as the weakest of weaklings, and He who was the Wisdom of the Highest to submit to be used as if He were less than a man.

5. But to Jesus it was more painful still, being the Holy One of God, to be regarded and treated as the chief of sinners. To one who loves God and goodness there can be nothing so odious as to be suspected of hypocrisy and to know that he is believed to be perpetrating crimes at the opposite extreme from his public profession. Yet this was what Jesus was accused of. Possibly there was not a single human being, when He died, who believed that He was what He claimed to be.

6. If to the holy soul of Jesus it was painful to be believed to be guilty of sins which He had not committed, it must have been still more painful to feel that He was being thrust into sin itself. This attempt was olden made. Satan tried it in the wilderness, and although only this one temptation of his is detailed, he no doubt often returned to the attack. Wicked men tried it; they resorted to every device to cause Him to lose His temper (Luke 11:53-54). Even friends, who did not understand the plan of His life, endeavoured to direct Him from the course prescribed to Him by the will of God--so much so that He had once to turn on one of them, as if he were temptation personified, with “Get thee behind Me, Satan.”

7. While the proximity of sin awoke such loathing in His holy soul, and the touch of it was to Him like the touch of fire on delicate flesh, He was brought into the closest contact with it, and hence arose His deepest suffering. It pressed its loathsome presence on Him from a hundred quarters. He who could not bear to look on it saw it in its worst forms close to His very eyes. His own presence in the world brought it out; for goodness stirs up the evil lying at the bottom of wicked hearts. It was as if all the sin of the race were rushing upon Him, and Jesus felt it as if it were all His own. (J. Stalker, D.D.)

The Man of sorrows

I. THE LANGUAGE DOES NOT DESCRIBE THE CASE OF ONE WHO ENCOUNTERED ONLY THE ORDINARY OR THE AVERAGE AMOUNT OF THE TRIALS WHICH BELONG TO HUMAN LIFE. There is implied in it a pre-eminence in sorrow, a peculiarly deep experience of grief.

II. OF ALL THE MANY GRIEFS OF THE DIVINE REDEEMER IN HIS HUMAN LIFE, THERE WAS NOT ONE WHICH HE HIMSELF EITHER NEEDED OR DESERVED TO BEAR. When the apostle tells us that He was made perfect through suffering, the meaning is that He was by this means made officially perfect as a Saviour, as the Captain of salvation, and the High-Priest of His redeemed, and not that He lacked any moral excellence, to acquire which suffering was needful. So again, when it is said that He learned obedience by the things which He suffered, the meaning obviously is, that by putting Himself in a state of humiliation, and in the condition of a servant under law, He came to know by experience what it was to render obedience to the law, and not at all that He was ever defective in the least, as to the spirit of obedience to the Father’s will. As He had no need of any improvement of His virtues, He had no faults, no sins, which called for chastisement.

III. ALL THE SUFFERINGS OF THE LORD JESUS WERE ENDURED WITH UNWAVERING FORTITUDE.

IV. IN ALL THE GRIEFS AND SORROWS WHICH THE BLESSED SAVIOUR SUFFERED, HIS MIND WAS CHIEFLY OCCUPIED WITH THE GOOD RESULTS IN WHICH HIS SUFFERINGS WERE TO ISSUE. He deliberately entered on His singular career of humiliation and self-sacrifice for the good of man and the glory of God. Practical lessons:

1. If even the Son of God, when on earth, was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, we certainly should not think it strange that days of trial are appointed unto us.

2. If our blessed Lord felt keenly what He suffered, and was even moved to tears, we need not reproach ourselves because we deeply feel our trials, and cannot but weep in the fulness of our grief.

3. If Christ was a willing sufferer, deliberately choosing to suffer for the good of others, we surely should consent to suffer for our own advantage.

4. If our blessed Lord and Saviour made less account of what He suffered than of the good results that were to follow, it is wise at least in us to do the same. (Ray Palmer, D.D.)

Christ the Man of sorrows

While on earth He was surrounded by many sources of pleasure. The earth teemed with every form of life, and the air was melodious with music. The sceneries of His native country suggested the sublimest imagery, and inspired poetry of the highest kind: and had He possessed none of these, He would have been perfectly happy; for He was the Infinite; His sorrows arose from--

I. THE FELT RELATION OF A LOVING BEING TO A RUINED RACE.

II. THE CRUSHING PRESSURE OF HIS MEDIATORIAL WORK.

III. HIS CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE THAT THE RESULT OF HIS MISSION WOULD NOT BE EQUAL TO THE BENEVOLENCE OF HIS WILL. (Evan Lewis, B.A.)

The mystery of sorrow

I. CONSIDER ITS RELATION TO MAN. There are facts which know no frontiers. In the inner life of thought and feeling such is sorrow. It is a universal language, it obliterates space, it annihilates time; it is the great leveller, it ignores rank, it stands head and shoulders above any dignity. Think again, it is too sacred to be only universal. It is also an intimate fact. None can comfort. There may be sweet help, deep and real sympathy, not comfort, no, for none can undo the tragic truth. Yes, there is One. One can come nearest to the feeling, mad, in our eternal life, in a sense He can undo. One, only One, has gathered up the representative experiences of all.

II. The thought gains precision when we remember that IT BEARS A WITNESS FOR GOD. Let Love meet death or trouble, and the result is sorrow. This noblest human sorrow so begotten is a witness to the Source of its being. Love, the love of the creature, is his highest endowment from the Love of God.

III. SORROW GAINS A CLEARER OUTLINE TO ITS FRAIL AND MISTY FORM AS SEEN IN ITS RELATION TO WHAT IS CALLED THE “SCHEME OF REDEMPTION” seen, that is, in its place in the awakening and restoring of the human spirit, great though fallen. Sorrow here is a power. It takes varying tints.

1. At the darkest, it is a power of warning, of prophecy. It warns of a stern reality in this world--the dreadfulness of sin.

2. Better, it is a power to transfigure. Repentance is the one path to pardon, and it is a certain path. Whence comes true repentance? It comes from God’s love seen in fairest, saddest image in “the Man of sorrows “

3. It is a power to purify. Sorrow sends you in on self. Godless sorrow would make self more selfish, working death; not so sorrow from the Cross of Christ. A life searched out, repented of, is a spirit purified. (W. J. KnoxLittle, M.A.)

The suffering Christ

I. THE MATTER, what He suffered.

II. THE MANNER, how He came to suffer.

III. THE REASONS and ends why, for our good. Here are three chief lessons for a Christian to learn:--

1. Patience and comfort.

2. Humility.

3. In the end, love. All this was for you. What will you do for God again? (T. Manton, D..D.)

Sir Noel Paton’s “Man of Sorrows”

To the painter ere he sat down to produce this work of art many questions would suggest themselves. Among them, doubtless, would be these:--

1. What shall be the scene? Of course, the artist would naturally think of many scenes in our Lord’s life more or less appropriate for such a representation. The painter seems to have recognized the great truth which we all must have proved to some extent, that man tastes deepest of sorrow in loneliness, that the cross which weighs heaviest on any shoulder is not the cross which the world can see, but which is borne out of sight, when the heart, and no one else save God, knoweth its own bitterness. Thus Sir Noel Paton has represented “The Man of Sorrows” as isolated from His fellows, far away from the habitations of men and shut out of the world. The whole picture is one of desolation. In its centre and foreground is represented “The Man of Sorrows sitting upon a jagged rock. And, oh, what sorrow is depicted there! Those large, full, liquid eyes brim over with tears; every expression of the countenance is charged with grief; the lips are wan, and a deep furrow crosses that young, manly brow. The swollen veins in the neck and temple, the powerful muscular action in the right hand, as with open fingers it rests heavily upon the rocks and in the left clenched tightly as it presses upon the thigh, and in the feet as they press the earth convulsively underneath--for the Man of Sorrows is represented with head uncovered and feet unsandalled--all these tell the story of an awful tension of a withering sorrow.

2. Closely and inseparably connected with the question of scene is that of the period in our Lord s life in which He can most appropriately be represented as the Man of sorrows. The artist chooses the eve of the Temptation, and thus selects the greatest transitional period of our Saviour’s life--that beginning with the Baptism and closing with the Temptation. The time of day chosen is the twilight of morning. There is something in the twilight that is consistent not only with solemn, but also with sad thoughts and feelings.

3. What can account for the sorrow! You look to the picture in vain for the solution. The painting is a problem, an enigma. It is purposely so. The painter presents to us the great fact, not its explanation. He goes to Inspired Writ for that, and thus refers the perplexed spectator to the words of Isaiah as supplying the key to the whole painting: “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows,” etc. (verses 4-6). These are the words which Sir Noel Paton adopts, and practically says, “There! that is what I mean.” “We did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.” How shall this false estimate of Him be corrected? Look at the picture; that Man of sorrows looks up and holds communion with the skies; see the half-open mouth expressive of expectation, and those eyes so full of tears and yet so full of vision. Verily He is not alone--the Father is with Him; for from the heavens and from a source other than the sun there descends through a rift of the clouds a shaft of light that looks like the light of the Father’s countenance, and rests upon the face of this Sorrowing One. This human countenance thus lit up by the light of the Divine countenance is the painter’s sublime answer to the old-world estimate of the Man of sorrows. What need of any more! (D. Davies.)

Christ’s life a model for His people

The more deeply we enter into the meaning of Christ considered as the Divine Man, the more distinctly revealed it becomes to us that what His life was our life is intended to be. There are instincts and there are impulses and ambitions that shrink from coming under the sovereignty of a commitment so cordial and entire. That accounts for the disproportionate emphasis so customarily laid upon the commercial feature of the atonement. It is easier and it is lazier to believe in a Christ that is going to pay my debts for me, than it is to grow up in Christ into a Divine endowment, that shall be itself the cure for insolvency and the material of wealth Divine and inexhaustible. You have really done nothing for a poor man by paying his debts for him, unless in addition to squaring his old accounts you have in such manner dealt with him as to guarantee him against being similarly involved in the time to come. Emphasize as we may the merely ransoming work of Christ, we are not made free men by having our fetters broken off, and we are not made wealthy men by having our debts paid. It is not what Christ delivers us from, but what He translates us into that makes us saved men in Christ. (C. H.Parkhurst, D. D.)

Our Lord’s life lived in shadow

No fair reading of the narrative of Christ’s life will leave the impression that sorrow of heart was a grace that Christ cultivated. The pathetic was not a temper of spirit which He encouraged in Himself or in others. Heaviness of mind was not a thing to be sought in and for itself. There is no gain saying the fact that one great object of His mission was to make the world glad. Still for all that He was a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. It needs also to be said that for us to be heavy-hearted merely because Christ was, to be sorrowful by a sheer act of imitation, is distinctly repugnant to everything like Christian sense, and at the farthest possible remove from all that deserves to be called Christian sincerity. Neither can we leave out of the account all those passages, especially in the New Testament, where particular praise is accorded to gladness of heart.

The problems of life involve sorrow

Nevertheless, when all these caveats have been entered and gladness of heart eulogized to the fullest extent, authorized by multitudinous expressions occurring throughout the entire Scriptures, it still remains beyond dispute that our Lord’s life was lived in shadow, and that He died at last less because of the nails and the spear-wounds, than He did of a broken heart. (C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

The sorrow of strained powers

He came to interfere with the natural current of event. And it made Him tired. And a man, even a Divine man, is less apt to laugh when He is tired. A good deal of what we call our gladness of heart, if we will care to scrutinize it, is simply the congenial luxury of drifting down the current of event. If you are pulling your boat up-stream you will be sober while you are about it. Strained powers are serious. It is the farthest from our thought to disparage exuberance or even hilarity; nevertheless, it remains a fact that hilarity is feeling out at pasture and not feeling under the yoke. It is steam escaping at the throttle because it is not pushing at the piston. I venture to say that Christ could not shake His purpose off. He was here to stay the downward drift of event; the purpose was too vast to be easily flung aside, and His muscles were too solidly knotted to it to be easily unknotted and relaxed. And we shall have to go on and say that it was an inherent part of Christ to have a purpose and to be mightily bent to its achievement; and not only that, it was an inherent part of Christ as the Saviour of this world to seize upon the current of event and of history and to under take to reverse it. Exactly that was the genius of the Christ-mission. (C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

The Christ-life in the Christian

You cannot drift down the tide of event and be a Christ man or a Christ woman. The world is to be saved; the tide is to be reversed. Man inspired of God is to do it; and you cannot buckle yourself down to that problem in Christian whole-heartedness and not grow sober under it. Now you see the philosophy of the sober Christ. He flung Himself against forty centuries of bad event, and the Divine Man got bruised by the impact. He stood up and let forty centuries jump on Him; He held His own, but blood broke through His pores in perspiration, and about that there is nothing humorous. The edge of this truth is not broken by the fact that Christ took hold of the work of the world’s saving in a larger way than it is possible for us to do, and that therefore the burden of His undertaking came upon Him in a heavier, wider, and more crushing way than it can come upon us; and that therefore while it overwhelmed Him in sorrow, our smaller mission and lighter task can with entire propriety leave us buoyant and gladsome. All of that conception of the case lacks dignity and reach You can’t take hold of a great matter in a small way. (C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

The sorrow of love

It is but a step now to go on and speak of the saddening effect necessarily flowing from the circumstances under which in this world Christian work has to be done. It was the love which Christ had for the world that made Him sad while doing His work in the world; and the infinitude of His love is what explains the unutterableness of His pain; for the world in which Christ fulfilled His mission was a suffering world. Now a man who is without love can be in the midst of suffering and, not suffer. A loveless spirit grieves over his own pain, but has no sense of another’s pain, and no feeling of being burdened by another’s pain. Love has this peculiar property, that it makes the person whom we love one with us, so that his experience becomes a part of our own life, his pain becomes painful to us, his burdens make us tired. The mother feels her child’s pain as keenly as though it were her own pain, perhaps more so. In its Divine relations this is all expressed in those familiar words of Scripture, “In all their affliction He was afflicted.” Sympathy is the form which love takes in a suffering world. Love is the finest type of communism. (C. H.Parkhurst, D. D.)

Christ’s great capacity for suffering

The measure of our being is our capacity for sorrow or joy. Captain Conder speaks of the shadow cast by Mount Hermon being as much as seventy miles long at some periods. Was it not the very greatness of Christ that made His joys and His griefs equally unique? (H. O. Mackey.)

We hid as it were our faces from Him

A sad confession

In the margin of your Bibles this passage is rendered, “He hid as it were His face from us.” The literal translation of the Hebrew would be, “He was as a hiding of faces from Him,” or “from us.” Some critical readers think these words were intended to describe our Lord as having so humbled Himself, and brought Himself to such a deep degradation, that He was comparable to the leper who covered his face and cried, “Unclean, unclean,” hiding himself from the gaze of men. Abhorred and despised by men, He was like one put aside because of His disease and shunned by all mankind. Others suppose the meaning to be that on account of our Lord s terrible and protracted sorrow His face wore an expression so painful and grievous that men could scarcely bear to look upon Him. They hid as it were their faces from Him--amazed at that brow all carved with lines of anxious thought, those cheeks all ploughed with furrows of deep care, those eyes all sunk in shades of sadness, that soul bowed down, exceeding sorrowful, even unto death! It may be so; we cannot tell. I have a plain, practical purpose to pursue. Here is an indictment to which we must all plead guilty.

I. Sometimes men hide their faces from Jesus IN COOL CONTEMPT OF HIM. How astounding! how revolting! He ought surely to be esteemed by all mankind.

1. Some show their opposition by attempting to ignore or to tarnish the dignity of His person.

2. Are there not others who affect great admiration for Jesus of Nazareth as an example of virtue and benevolence, who nevertheless reject His mediatorial work as our Redeemer? As a substitutionary sacrifice they do not and cannot esteem Him.

3. Then they will pour contempt upon, the various doctrines of His Gospel.

4. And with what pitiful disdain the Lord s people are slighted! Do I address anybody who has despised the Lord Jesus Christ? Your wantonness can offer no excuse but your ignorance. And as for your ignorance, it is without excuse.

II. A far more common way in which men hide their faces from Christ is BY THEIR HEEDLESSNESS, THEIR INDIFFERENCE, THEIR NEGLECT.

III. We hid as it were our faces from Him BY PREFERRING ANY OTHER MODE OF SALVATION TO SALVATION BY FAITH IN CHRIST.

IV. After we were quite sure that we could not be saved other than by the one Mediator, do you remember how we continued to hide our face from Jesus BY PERSISTENT UNBELIEF IN HIM.

V. But there are some of us who must plead guilty to another charge; we have hidden as it were our faces from Him since He has saved us, and since we have known His love, BY OUR SILLY SHAME AND OUR BASE COWARDICE.

VI. Many, if not all, of us who are believers will penitently confess that we have sometimes hidden our faces from Christ BY NOT WALKING IN CONSTANT FELLOWSHIP WITH HIM. (C. H. Spurgeon.) “We hid as it were our faces from Him.” Literally, “as one from whom there is hiding of face,” as if shrinking from a horrible sight. (Canon Cook.) The impersonal form refers to the men just named, or all those of note and influence. Their faces were averted from Him, as a lunatic, beside Himself, or one possessed, as a deceiver and a blasphemer. (T.R. Birks.)


Verses 4-6

Isaiah 53:4-6

Surely He hath borne our griefs

Christ’s love and man’s unthankfulness

I.
CHRIST’S LOVE.

1. The certainty of what is averred of Christ: “Surely.”

2. The acts of Christ’s obedience, set forth in two words: He hath “borne,” He hath “carried.”

3. The objects. They are “griefs,” “sorrows.”

II. MAN’S UNTHANKFULNESS, in censuring Christ and despising Him; and there consider--

1. The persons: “We.”

2. The guilt. Esteeming Christ stricken and smitten of God. (T. Manton, D.D.)

The pressure of the burden on God

My positions are these--

1. The Lord--electing to perpetuate the sinful race, to endure all the sorrow which Heaven would look upon, and the question which would fall upon His government through the existence of a world so full of wrong and wretchedness, in a universe whose order was his charge--stooped at once, in infinite, tender pity, to lift the burden, and to become a fellow-wayfarer in the sorrowful pilgrimage to which man had doomed himself by his sin. Suffering sin to live on and reproduce itself, with all its bitter fruits, in the universe which He made to be so blest, He needs must become its sacrifice; making the atonement for the sin which He did not on the moment crush, and bearing the burden of the sorrow which He did not at once destroy. And this is Divine love. It must share the sorrow which it allows to live on, though the fountain of the sorrow be a sin which he hates; it must lift and bear the burden which most righteous necessities lay heavily upon erring souls. We none of us know, even dimly, what is meant by “Emmanuel,” “God with us. God always with us, incarnate from the hour when He announced Himself as the woman’s seed, and the destroyer of her foe. God with us, our fellow in all the dread experience into which our sharing in the sin of Adam has driven us; knowing Himself the full pressure of its burdens, and infinitely more nearly touched than we are by everything that concerns the dark, sad history of mankind.

2. The fellowship of God with the race in the very hour of the transgression infused at once a tincture of hope into the experience of the sinner, and made it, from the first, a discipline unto life instead of a judgment unto death.

3. This first promise to man, this fellowship of God with the sinning, suffering race, whose existence He perpetuated, pledged Him to the sacrifice of Calvary, the baptism of Pentecost, and the abiding of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, with the world. (J. B. Brown, B. A.)

Christ the Burden-bearer

There are two questions which here suggest themselves--

I. WHAT BURDENS PRESSED ON CHRIST, WHICH COULD NOT HAVE BEEN HIS, UNLESS HE HAD TAKEN THEM UP?

1. By His incarnation He inserted Himself into our race, and by assuming our own nature, He felt whatever sorrows press on man as man

2. By His position He represented our race. As the Son of God, He is Heaven’s representative on earth. As the Son of Man, He is our Great High Priest, to intercede with Heaven. Thus all earth’s spiritual concerns rested on Him. Could such a work be entrusted to man, and He-be otherwise than “a man of sorrows”?

3. By His own personal sympathy He so felt for man, that He made the sorrows of others His own. His was no heartless officialism.

4. By suffering and sorrow, Christ not only discloses His own human sympathy, but by reason of the two-foldness of His nature, that human sympathy was an incarnation of the Divine!

5. But we have to take one more step, in accounting for the burden which lay upon Christ. He came, “not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life, a ransom for many.”

II. WHAT BURDENS DO NOT REST UPON US, THAT MUST HAVE BEEN OURS IF CHRIST HAD NOT BORNE THEM AWAY?

1. The burden of unatoned guilt rests on none! “Behold the Lamb of God that beareth away the sin of the world!”

2. The burden of hopeless corruption of nature need rest on none. When the Son of God came to be a sacrifice for us, He came to be also a Living

Root in us. He allied Himself with human weakness, and joined it to His almightiness, that in Him that weakness might be lost, and be substituted by “everlasting strength.”

3. The burden of unshared sorrows rests on none. Does our sorrow arise from the sin without us? That pressed more heavily on Christ than ever it can do on us. Does it come from personal trial? Christ’s were far heavier than ours. Does it come from the temptations of Satan? He was in all points tempted like as we are. But perhaps it may be said, “By reason of the infirmities of the flesh, I am betrayed into impatience, murmuring and fretfulness and I cannot feel that Christ has lifted off that burden, for I am sure Christ never felt any fretfulness or impatience, and so He cannot sympathize with mine.” But, strange as it may seem at first sight, it is just here that the perfection of Christ’s sympathy is seen. In this last-named course of sorrow there is a mixture of what is frail with what is wrong. But since Christ’s nature was untainted by sin, He can draw exactly the line between infirmity and sin, which sinful natures cannot do. Now, we do not want, and we ought not to wish for sympathy with the wrong, but only with weakness and frailty. How does Christ, then, meet this complex case! Distinguishing most clearly between the two, He looks on the infirmity, and has for it a fulness of pity; He discerns the sin, and has for that fulness of power to forgive it, and fulness of grace to remove it! “In that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.”

4. The burden of dreaded death need rest on none. Christ passed through death that He might deliver them who through fear of death are all their lifetime subject to bondage.

5. The great burden of the destiny of the human race rests not on us. Christ has taken that up. (C. Clemance, D. D.)

The death of Christ a propitiation for sin

Two things are asserted--

I. THAT THE MESSIAH SHOULD SUFFER NOT FOR HIS OWN SINS, BUT FOR OURS (Isaiah 53:4-5). This indeed is what His enemies would deny, esteeming Him “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted,” for His own sins, His imposture, usurpation and blasphemy. But if we peruse the history of His life we shall find that the sum of all they had to lay to His charge was His presuming to act in a character which really did (but which they would not believe did) belong to him: that the whole course of His behaviour exemplified the most perfect integrity of heart and life, and showed Him to be the spotless Lamb of God, in whom there was no sin. Hence it follows that He must have suffered for the sins of others.

1. Some have put this gloss upon the words, “He was wounded for”--i.e., (they say) “by our transgressions,” and “bruised by our iniquities.” Or, that it was owing to the sins of the Jews that He suffered so much as He did. It was their malice, unrighteousness and envy that was the cause of all His suffering. But this construction is not only apparently forced, but is confuted by the whole scope and tenor of the prophecy. For He is not said to be smitten by the Jews, but for them; nay, that He was smitten of God for them, for it was “the Lord that laid on Him the punishment of their iniquities.

2. Others say that He bore our sins by imputation, and was wounded for our transgressions, because our transgressions were imputed to Him, or reckoned as His. But you will say, perhaps, “Were not our sins then imputed to Christ?” I answer, I find no fault with the word, provided it be rightly understood and explained. If by “imputation” be meant, that our sins were actually made over or transferred to Him, so as to become His, I do not see how this can be conceived possible. “But might they not be reckoned His?” No, for that would be to reckon them what they were not, and what it was impossible they should be. But if by our sins being “imputed” to Christ be understood no more than that the punishment thereof was actually laid upon Him, this is easily conceived, and readily granted: that is what the sacred Scriptures everywhere say. If anything further be necessary to illustrate this affair, we may explain it by the case of the propitiatory sacrifices under the law, all which pointed at or prefigured the great Christian sacrifice under the Gospel. Those piacular victims were of Divine appointment. The sin-offerings, over the heads of which the priest was to confess the sins of the people, were substituted in the room of the offenders, and died instead of those sinners for whom they were offered. The sins of the people were not transferred over to the victim, but the victim was slain for the sins of the people. Leviticus 16:21-22 must of necessity be taken in a figurative construction: because the sins of a man can in no other sense be transferred to, or laid upon a beast, than by transferring upon it the punishment of them.

3. Others there are who acknowledge that Christ died for us, meaning thereby that He died for our sakes or for our good, and to set us a perfect example of patience and submission under sufferings; but not for our sins, or in our room and stead. But if Christ died for us as our Sacrifice, or as the sacrifices under the law died for the offenders (as He certainly did if they were proper types of Him), then He must have died in our room, and as substituted in our place.

4. Others think, that all those places of Scripture which speak of Christ’s death as a “propitiation are to be explained in a figurative sense: that the apostles borrowed those sacrifical terms from the Jewish law, and applied them to the death of Christ, only by way of accommodation or analogy, not that the blood of Christ did really and properly expiate or atone for sin, any more than that of the Jewish sacrifices; but that He only died for us as a pledge to assure us that God would pardon and accept us upon our repentance. To which it may suffice to say, that the apostle does not speak of the death of Christ merely by way of analogy to the Jewish sacrifices, but as typified, represented and prefigured by them (Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 9:13-14; Hebrews 10:4).

II. THAT THE GREAT END AND DESIGN OF CHRIST’S SUFFERING FOR OUR SINS, WAS TO MAKE OUR PEACE WITH GOD. “The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,” etc. These words plainly intimate to us the way whereby our peace is made with God, viz by our justification and sanctification. (J. Mason, M.A.)

Vicarious Sacrifice of Christ

In these words Isaiah declares the end of Christ’s sufferings. The Jews, who put Him to death, did “esteem Him smitten of God,” that is, crucified according to the will of God, for attempting to turn away men from the law of Moses. And, to this day, they speak of Jesus as one who suffered according to the law of God, for seducing the Israelites from the faith of their forefathers. The prophet gives a different view of Christ’s death. Instead of dying for His own sins, He was wounded for our transgressions.

1. There is no passage of Scripture in which the substitution of Christ’s sufferings, in place of those of the sinner, is more clearly revealed than in our text.

2. All agree that men are sinners, and that sin deserves punishment. But when we come to ask how it may be forgiven, and for what consideration God forgives it, we begin to differ. The Trinitarian doctrine is, that the eternal Son of God, the uncreated, and equal with the Father, became incarnate, and suffered the punishment of our sins, as our Substitute; and that for the sake of what He has done, we may be forgiven. They who are opposed to us, on the other hand, believe that Christ, a created being, but still so very exalted that He may be called a God--yet not the supreme God--took our nature upon Him, that He might teach men a purer religion than was ever before known, and set before them a perfect example, and thus draw them away from their sins; so that He saves us from our sins, not by atoning for them, but just as any merely good man does, who so teaches and practises as to lead men from sin to holiness. While engaged in this work, they assert further, that the Jews seized upon the Saviour and put Him to death; and Jesus, to show that He was persuaded of the truth of what He had taught, gave Himself up to die, just as Latimer and Ridley sealed their testimony with their blood; and that thus Christ may be said to have died for us, because He met His death in seeking to do us good. Some go a little further, and believe that God was so pleased with the holy life, and the martyr-death of His Son, that for His sake He is graciously inclined to forgive sin, just as the good conduct of one child may procure favours for an erring brother, for whom he pleads. They expect to be saved through their repentance, by the mercy of God; we expect salvation through the alone merits of the suffering Son of God.

3. Now let us go on to see how this great doctrine of our Church is sustained by Scripture.

4. But again, we ask attention to the fact, that Christ’s sufferings were not so much from man as from God, not bodily so much as of the soul. How do we account for this? If He was seized upon by the Jews, and died merely as a martyr, would God have withdrawn His presence from Him in His last agonies Would He not then have had, as other good men have had, the brightest views of the Divine presence and comfort? But it was just the reverse. “The Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.” “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him.” It is said God made Christ’s soul, not His body alone, an offering for sin; it was foretold that it should be mental, not merely corporal suffering, that He should endure. And such, in fact, was the case.

5. How can these facts be explained on the Unitarian system? (W. H. Lewis, D.D.)

Redemption

I. THE NEED (Isaiah 53:6). Sheep, but astray; through following their own inclinations. Divine pity is on the selfish and the lost.

II. THE MEANS.

1. The reality of the redemption seen in the fact that Christ died. He did not die for His own sin; “I am innocent of the blood of this just man,” said His judge. He did not die through His own feebleness; “I have power to lay down My life,” etc., said Christ. He did not die by accident; “the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all:” it was the will of the Father, and foretold, and a fact.

2. The form of the redemption.

III. THE EFFECT (Isaiah 53:5).

1. Sin atoned for, iniquity borne away.

2. Peace. “The chastisement of our peace was upon Him.” “Being justified by faith we have peace.”

3. Healing. We are free from sin to be the servants of God. The depth of His love the measure of our obligation. As that cannot be fathomed our obligation can never be fully realized. (R. V. Pryce, M.A., LL.B.)

Vicarious suffering

Great is the power of vicarious suffering in its endless varieties. By the struggles and the obstinate questionings of deep souls the world of ordinary men is redeemed and elevated. It is by His suffering prophets that God most truly saves the world. By the untold miseries of Job, by the deep grief of Isaiah, by the piercing sorrows of Paul, by the weary restlessness of Augustine, by the fiery agonies of Luther, by the sore trials of John Bunyan, by the spiritual travail of Wesley and Whitfield, by the brave endurance of Theodore Parker, by the torn heart of Robertson of Brighton, by the manifold diquietudes and internal gloom of the great army of bewildered doubters and baffled pioneers--by all these we have been led from the house of bondage and the city of destruction, from the valley of the shadow of death, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (A. Crauford, M.A.)

Luther and Bunyan

By their “agony and bloody sweat.” it is given to sympathetic souls in every age to deliver the world to some extent. Thus by the stripes of Luther John Bunyan was healed. From Luther’s commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians Bunyan received peace and victory. (A. Crauford, M.A.)

Vicarious suffering

Vicarious suffering, with its far-reaching influence, pervades the whole world. Assuredly this is not due to any after-thought of God. It is an essential part of the original arrangement. “No man liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. (A. Crauford, M.A.)

Society an organism

The English Deists certainly erred in rejecting the true inner meaning of the doctrine of salvation by vicarious suffering. The Deists did not realize the truth that society is an organism. And our perception of this fact in the present day enables us to appreciate the real meaning of the doctrine of vicarious suffering. This truth shines all the more clearly, owing to the light of modern science, which has discredited the old Deism even more effectually than Bishop Butler did. (A. Crauford, M.A.)

Sadder and mysterious aspects of vicarious suffering

Some of these aspects are so unspeakably sad that it is only in the light of a future life that I can bear to gaze upon them. We do but skim over the surface of the deep mystery of vicarious suffering, unless we recognize the fact that the spiritual world is full of wasted lives, of marvellous abortions, of grand and heroic failures, of illustrious scapegoats dying in the bleak wilderness of ignominy and defeat, bearing away the sins of the many, and yet by them misunderstood, condemned, and anathematized. In many respects these outcast scapegoats of the spiritual world are the truest saviours of our race, though by commonplace religionists they “are numbered with the transgressors,” and die unhealed and unredeemed, and “make their graves with the wicked.” (A. Crauford, M.A.)

The world’s majestic failures

The world’s majestic failures are a sorrowful hint of God’s inexhaustible resources. (A. Crauford, M.A.)

The failure of one the gain of another

I suppose that no thoughtful person would think of denying the fact that predestined failure is the lot of many noble natures here on earth. They are stepping-stones on which others “rise to higher things.” Of each of them we might truly, affirm that he is thus addressed by others, “Bow down, that we may go over. And, in meek obedience, he complies; so that we write concerning him, “And thou hast laid thy body on the ground, and as the street to them that went over.” Such souls are scapegoats of the race, bearing away the deficiencies and the sins of many into the wilderness of isolation, despondency, and disaster. They drink to the very dregs the cup of ancestral sinfulness, and their brethren thereby escape that fatal heritage of the soul. It seems as if it were necessary that they should be lost, in order that others may be saved. Consciously or unconsciously, they suck out the poison from the wounds of the human race. (A. Crauford, M.A.)

Vicarious sacrifice in the intellectual world

I In the intellectual world it is often expedient that one man should be sacrificed for the race. For instance, David Hume’s total want of spirituality, though extremely injurious to him individually, was probably highly beneficial to the race in one way, viz by showing to what monstrous conclusions intellect by itself was likely to lead. And the very infirmities and aberrations of the intellect, in some men, are full of instruction for the race at large. Unrestrained imagination often mars or destroys the life of its possessor, as did that of Rousseau, but adds much to the world’s abiding mental wealth. (A. Crauford, M.A.)

Poisons as tonics

The spiritual poisons of individuals are often turned into tonics for the race. (A. Crauford, M.A.)

Stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted

Jesus, smitten of God

Smitten as with a loathsome leprosy--the curse-mark of judicial vengeance upon Him, for so it is rendered by St. Jerome, We thought Him to be a leper. (Jr. R Macduff, D.D.)

Stricken

Stricken is the expression used when God visits a man with severe and sudden sickness (Genesis 12:17; 1 Samuel 6:9), especially leprosy, which was regarded as pre-eminently the “stroke” of God’s hand (Job 2 Kings 15:5; Leviticus 13:3; Leviticus 13:9; Leviticus 13:20), and the direct consequence of sin. (Prof. J. Skinner, D.D.)

The Servant of the Lard pictured as a leper

That the Servant is pictured as a leper is suggested by several particulars in the description, such as His marred and disfigured form, and His isolation from human society, as well as the universal conviction of His contemporaries that He was a special object of the Divine wrath; and the impression is confirmed by the parallel case of Job, the typical righteous sufferer, whose disease was elephantiasis, the most hideous form of leprosy. It has to be borne in mind, of course, that the figure of the Servant is, in some sense, an ideal creation of the prophet s mind, so that the leprosy is only a strong image for such sufferings as are the evidence of God’s wrath against sin. (Prof. J. Skinner, D.D.)

The mystery of our Lord’s sufferings

I. THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS--MAN’S EXPLANATION OF IT. “We did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.” And it is impossible to say that this is other than a fair view to take from man’s position and with man’s knowledge.

1. Let us try and realize the process of mind in a man who was told of Christ’s sufferings and death, but had no knowledge of His personal innocence; no conception of Him as the “spotless One,” separate from sinners. Such a man would only decide that He was “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” To such a man it would be plain enough that God has established an immediate connection between sin and suffering. And yet we know, we feel, that this explanation of the mystery of our Lord’s sufferings is insufficient and incorrect. It does not lift the veil. It is altogether too commonplace. Good enough if Christ were a fellow-man. Worthless--nay, wholly wrong--if He be the spotless Lamb of God; if He be the Son of God with power.

2. Then let us try to realize the process of mind in a man who has some knowledge of Christ’s life, and especially of His personal innocence, as one who “did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.” Such a man might say, Christ’s sufferings were a specially and extraordinary Divine judgment. “He was smitten of God.” Such a knowledge of Christ’s life would convince the man that Jesus must have been a most amiable and excellent person, an obedient Son, a loving Friend, a gentle-hearted Brother; one who could claim to be a firm and wise moral Teacher. The man would feel sure that the influence of such an one as Jesus must have been very great upon His age. The fast departing moral life of Judaism ought to have had its flickering flame fanned afresh by the presence and teachings of such a Master-Spirit. And then, as he saw Him despised, persecuted, and at last put to the ignominious slave’s death of the cross, what could he think about it all But this? It was a sad calamity, one of those mysterious Divine judgments that seem to come in every age, and puzzle sorely the sons of men. Man can only say of the sufferer--“Smitten of God.” In this way a man might fairly regard the innocent Jesus. Nay; this, too, is insufficient; it is but the beginning of an explanation. A calamity! Yes, but only a seeming calamity, seeing that by dying He conquered death, “led captivity captive,” and “opened the kingdom of heaven you to all-believers.” “Man cannot of himself explain the mystery of Christ’s sufferings. But he can be humble, and learn so much of the mystery as God may be pleased to reveal.

II. THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS--GOD’S EXPLANATION OF IT. “He was wounded for our transgressions,” etc.

1. We may first notice that God sustains man’s view, that the sufferings of Christ were His appointment; but He further declares that they were an unusual and altogether singular appointment.

2. Then God’s explanation declares that the sufferings of Christ bore no relation whatever to His own guilt.

3. God affirms, further, that Christ suffered as the Representative or Substitute, for others. Is it any wonder that an absorbing love should grow in our souls toward this vicariously-suffering Saviour? In the restoration of man to the Divine favour; in the great and gracious work of “reconciliation,” we can recognize three stages--


Verse 5

Isaiah 53:5

But He was wounded for our transgressions

The sufferings of Christ

Three things suggest themselves as requiring explanation to one who seriously contemplates the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ.

1. An innocent man suffers.

2. The death of Jesus is the apparent defeat and destruction of one who possessed extraordinary and supernatural powers.

3. This apparent defeat and ruin, instead of hindering the progress of His work, became at once, and in all the history of the progress of His doctrine has been emphatically, the instrument whereby a world is conquered. The death of Jesus has not been mourned by His followers, has never been concealed, but rather exulted in and prominently set forth as that to which all men must chiefly look if they would regard Christ and His mission right. The shame and the failure issue in glory and completest success. What is the philosophy of this? Has any ever been given which approaches the Divinely revealed meaning supplied by our text? “He was wounded for our transgressions,” etc. We learn here--

I. THE SUFFERINGS OF JESUS CHRIST RESULTED FROM OUR SINS.

II. THE SUFFERINGS OF JESUS WHERE RELATED TO THE DIVINE LAW.

III. THE SUFFERINGS OF JESUS BECAME REMEDIAL OF HUMAN SINFULNESS. (L. D.Bevan, D. D.)

A short catechism

1. What is man’s condition by nature?

2. How are folks freed from this sinful and miserable condition?

3. Who maketh this satisfaction? The text says, “He” and “Him.” The Messiah.

4. How does He satisfy justice?

5. What are the benefits that come by these sufferings?

6. To whom hath Christ procured all these good things?

7. How are these benefits derived from Christ to the sinner?

Sin

Verses 5 and 6 are remarkable for the numerous and diversified references to sin which they make. Within the short compass of two verses that sad fact is referred to no less than six times, and on each occasion a different figure is used to describe it. It is transgression--the crossing of a boundary and trespassing upon forbidden land. It is iniquity--the want of equity: the absence of just dealing. It is the opposite of Peace--the root of discord and enmity between us and God. It is a disease of the spirit--difficult to heal. It is a foolish and wilful wandering, like that of a stray sheep. And it is a heavy burden, which crushes him on whom it lies. So many and serious are the aspects of sin. (B. J. Gibbon.)

The sufferings of Christ

I. ATTEND TO THE SUFFERINGS OF THE SON OF GOD, as described in the text. The sufferings of the Saviour are described in the Scriptures with simplicity and grandeur combined. Nothing can add to the solemnity and force of the exhibition.

1. The prophet tells us that the Son of God was “wounded.” The Hebrew word here translated “wounded,” signifies to run through with a sword or some sharp weapon, and, as here used, seems to refer to those painful wounds which our Lord received at the time of His crucifixion.

2. The prophet tells us that the Son of God was “bruised.” This expression seems to have a reference to the labours, afflictions, and sorrows which our blessed Lord sustained, especially in the last scenes of His life.

3. The prophet tells us that the Son of God bore chastisements and stripes.

II. CONSIDER THE PROCURING CAUSE OF THE SUFFERINGS OF THE SON OF GOD. “Our transgressions.” “Our iniquities.”

III. ATTEND TO THE GRACIOUS DESIGN AND HAPPY EFFECTS OF THE SUFFERINGS OF THE SON OF GOD. “The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.”

1. One gracious design and blessed effect of the sufferings of the Son of God was to procure for us reconciliation with God.

2. The renovating of our nature. (D. Dickson, D.D.)

Substitution

There is no more remarkable language than this in the whole of the Word of God. It is so clear a statement of the doctrine of the substitution of the innocent for the guilty, that we do not hesitate to say, no words could teach it if it be not taught here. We are distinctly told--

I. THAT THERE BELONGS TO US A SAD AND GRIEVOUS WEIGHT OF SIN. There are three terms expressive of what belong to us: “our transgressions,” “our iniquities,” “gone astray.” These three phrases have indeed a common feature; they all indicate what is wrong--even sin, though they represent the wrong in different aspects.

1. “Transgressions.” The word thus translated indicates sin in one or other of three forms--either that of missing the mark through aimlessness, or carelessness, or a wrong aim; or of coming short, when, though the work may be right in its direction, it does not come up to the standard; or of crossing a boundary and going over to the wrong side of a line altogether. In all these forms our sins have violated the holy law of God.

2. “Iniquities.” This word also has reference to moral law as the standard of duty. The Hebrew word is from a root which signifies “to bend,” “to twist,” and refers to the tortuous, crooked, winding ways of men when they conform to no standard at all save that suggested by their own fancies or conceits, and so walk “according to the course of this world.”

3. The third phrase has reference rather to the God of Law, than to the law of God, and to Him in His relation to us of Lord, Leader, Shepherd, and Guide. There is not only the infringement of the great law of right, but also universal neglect and abandonment of Divine leadership and love; and as the result of this, grievous mischief is sure to follow. “Like the sheep,” they find their way out easily enough; they go wandering over “the dark mountains,” each one to “his own way,” but of themselves they can never find the way home again. And so far does this wandering propensity increase in force, that men come to think there is no home for them; the loving concern of God for the wanderers is disbelieved, and the Supreme Being is regarded in the light of a terrible Judge eager to inflict retribution. And all this is a pressure on God. He misses the wanderers. And through the prophet, the Spirit of God would let men know that the wanderings of earth are the care of Heaven. Nor let us fail to note that in these verses there is an entirely different aspect of human nature and action from that presented in the verse preceding. There, the expressions were “our griefs,” “our sorrows.” Here, they are “our transgressions,” etc. Griefs and sorrows are not in themselves violations of moral law, though they may be the results of them, and though every violation of moral law may lead to sorrow. Still they must not be confounded, though inseparably connected. Grief may solicit pity: wrong incurs penalty. And the sin is ours. The evil is wide as the race. Each one’s sin is a personal one: “Every one to his own way.” Sin is thus at once collective and individual. No one can charge the guilt of his own sin on any one else. On whom or on what will he cast the blame? On influences? But it was for him to resist and not to yield. On temptation? But temptation cannot force. In the judgment of God each one’s sin is his own.

II. THIS SERVANT OF GOD BEING LADEN WITH OUR SINS, SHARES OUR HERITAGE OF WOE. How remarkable is the antithesis here--Transgressions; iniquities; wanderings, are ours. Wounds; bruises; chastisements; stripes, are His. There is also a word indicating the connection between the two sides of the antithesis, “wounded for our transgressions”--on account of them; but if this were all the explanation given, it might mean no more than that the Messiah would feel so grieved at them that they would bruise or wound Him. But there is a far fuller and clearer expression: “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” This expression fixes the sense in which the Messiah was wounded and bruised on our account. In pondering over this, let us work our way step by step.

1. The inflexibility of the moral law and the absolute righteousness and equity of the Lawgiver in dealing with sin are thoughts underlying the whole of this chapter. The most high God is indeed higher than law; and though He never violates law, He may, out of the exuberance of His own love, do more than law requires, and may even cease to make law the rule of His action. But even when that is the ease, and He acts χωρὶς νόμου … (“apart from law,” Romans 3:21), while He manifests the infinite freedom of a God to do whatsoever he pleaseth, He will also show to the world that His law must be honoured in the penalties inflicted for its violation. This is indicated in the words, “The Lord hath laid on Him,” etc. Nor ought any one for a moment to think of this as “exaction.” Exactness is not exactingness; it would not be called so, nor would the expression be tolerated if applied to a judge who forbade the dishonouring of a national law, or to a father who would not suffer the rules of his house to be broken with impunity.

2. It is revealed to us that in the mission of this servant of Jehovah, the Most High would act on the principle of substitution. When a devout Hebrew read the words we are now expounding, the image of the scapegoat would at once present itself to him.

3. The Messiah was altogether spotless; He fulfilled the ideal typified by the precept that the sacrificial lamb was to be without blemish. Being the absolutely sinless One, He was fitted to stand in a relation to sin and sinners which no being who was tainted with sin could possibly have occupied.

4. The twofold nature of the Messiah--He being at once the Son of God and Son of man, qualified Him to stand in a double relation;--as the Son of God, to be Heaven’s representative on earth--as the Son of man, to be earth’s representative to Heaven. Thus, His offering of Himself was God’s own sacrifice (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10; Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:19), and yet, in another sense, it was man’s own sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:14; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13).

5. By His incarnation, Christ came and stood in such alliance with our race, that what belonged to the race belonged to Him, as inserted into it, and representative of it. We need not use any such expression as this--“Christ was punished for our sin.” That would be wrong. But sin was condemned in and through Christ, through His taking on Himself the liabilities of a world, as their one representative Man who would stand in their stead; and by the self-abandonment of an unparalleled love, would let the anguish of sin’s burden fall on His devoted head. Paul, in his Epistle to Philemon pleads for Onesimus thus, “If he hath wronged thee or oweth thee ought, put that to my account.” So the Son of God has accepted our liabilities. Only thus can we explain either the strong language of the prophecy, or the mysterious sorrow of Christ depicted in the Gospel history. On whatever grounds sin’s punishment was necessary had there been no atonement, on precisely those grounds was an atonement necessary to free the sinner from deserved punishment. This gracious work was in accord with the appointment of the Father and with the will of the Son.

6. Though the law is honoured in this substitution of another for us, yet the substitution itself does not belong to law, but to love! Grace reigns; law is not trifled with; it is not infringed on: nay, it is “established.”

III. CHRIST HAVING ACCEPTED OUR HERITAGE OF WOE, WE RECEIVE THROUGH HIM A HERITAGE OF PEACE. (C. Clemance, D. D.)

Vicarious suffering

In a large family of evil-doers, where the father and mother are drunkards, the sons jail-birds and the daughters steeped in shame, there may be one, a daughter, pure, sensible, sensitive, living in the home of sin like a lily among thorns. And she makes all the sin of the family her own. The others do not mind it; the shame of their sin is nothing to them; it is the talk of the town, but they do not care. Only in her heart their crimes and disgrace meet like a sheaf of spears, piercing and mangling. The one innocent member of the family bears the guilt of all the rest. Even their cruelty to herself she hides, as if all the shame of it were her own. Such a position did Christ hold in the human family. He entered it voluntarily, becoming bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh; He identified Himself with it; He was the sensitive centre of the whole. He gathered into His heart the shame and guilt of all the sin He saw. The perpetrators did not feel it, but He felt it. It crushed Him; it broke His heart. (J. Stalker, D.D.)

With His stripes we are healed

The disease of sin

I. IT IS A WASTING DISEASE it bringeth the soul into a languishing condition, and wasteth the strength of it (Romans 5:6). Sin hath weakened the soul in all the faculties of it, which all may discern and observe in themselves.

II. IT IS A PAINFUL DISEASE, it woundeth the spirit (Proverbs 18:14). Greatness of mind may support us under a wounded body, but when there is a breach made upon the conscience, what can relieve us then? But you will say, They that are most infected with sin feel little of this; how is it then so painful a disease?

1. If they feel it not, the greater is their danger; for stupid diseases are the worst, and usually most mortal.

2. The soul of a sinner never sits so easy but that he has his qualms and pangs of conscience, and that sometimes in the midst of jollity; as was the case of Belshazzar, while carousing in the cups of the temple.

3. Though they feel not the diseases now, they shall hereafter.

III. IT IS A LOATHSOME DISEASE.

IV. IT IS AN INFECTIOUS DISEASE. Sin cometh into the world by propagation rather than imitation: yet imitation and example hath a great force upon the soul.

V. IT IS A MORTAL DISEASE, if we continue in it without repentance. (T. Manton, D.D.)

Recovery by Christ’s stripes

1. None but Christ can cure us, for He is the Physician of souls.

2. Christ cureth us not by doctrine and example only, but by merit and suffering. We are healed by “His stripes.”

3. Christ’s merit and sufferings do effect our cure, as they purchased the Spirit for us, who reneweth and healeth our sick souls (Titus 3:5-6). (T. Manton, D.D.)

Healed by Christ’s stripes

“With His stripes we are healed.” We are healed--of our inattention and unconcern about Divine things. Of our ignorance and unbelief respecting these things. Of the disease of self-righteousness and self-confidence. Of our love to sin, and commission of it. Of our love to the riches, honours and pleasures of this world. Of our self-indulgence and self-seeking. Of our lukewarmness and sloth. Of our cowardice and fear of suffering (1 Peter 4:1). Of our diffidence and distrust, with respect to the mercy of God, and His pardoning and accepting the penitent. Of an accusing conscience, and slavish fear of God, and of death and hell. Of our general depravity and corruption of nature. Of our weakness and inability; His sufferings having purchased for us “the Spirit of might.” Of our distresses and misery, both present and future. (J. Benson, D.D.)

His stripes

This chapter is not mainly an indictment. It is a Gospel. It declares in glad while solemn language that, terrible as sin is, it has been dealt with. The prophet dwells purposely upon the varied manifestations of the evil in order to emphasize the varied forms and absolute completeness of its conquest. He prolongs the agony that he may prolong the rapture.

I. OUR NEED OF HEALING. There is no figure which more aptly represents the serious nature and terrible consequences of sin than this one of bodily sickness. We know how it prostrates us, takes the brightness out of life, and, unless attended to, cuts life short. Sickness in its acutest form is a type in the body of sin in the soul. Sin is a mortal disease of the spirit. A common Scriptural emblem for it, found in both Old and New Testaments, is leprosy--the most frightful disease imaginable, loathsome to the observer and intolerably painful to the sufferer, attacking successively and rotting every limb of the body, and issuing slowly but certainly in death.

1. It is complicated. It affects every part of the moral being. It is blindness to holiness, and deafness to the appeals of God. There is a malady known as ossification of the heart, by which the living and beating heart is slowly turned to a substance like bone. It is a type of the complaint of the sinner. His heart is hard and impenitent. He suffers, too, from the fever of unhallowed desire. The lethargy of spiritual indifference is one of his symptoms; a depraved appetite, by which he tries to feed his immortal soul on husks, is another; while his whole condition is one of extreme debility--absence of strength to do right. In another part of the book our prophetdiagnoses more thoroughly the disease of which he here speaks (Isaiah 1:5-6). No hospital contains a spectacle so sickening and saddening as the unregenerate human heart.

2. The disease is universal. “There is none righteous; no, not one.” What the Bible declares, experience confirms. The ancient world, speaking through a noble literature that has come down to us, confesses many times the condition expressed by Ovid, “I see and approve the better things, while I follow those which are worse.” Christendom finds its mouthpiece in the apostle Paul, who, speaking of himself apart from the help of Christ, mournfully says, “When I would do good, evil is present with me.” And modem culture reveals its deepest consciousness in the words of Lowell, the ambassador-poet, “In my own heart I find the worst man’s mate.” It is a feature of the malady that the patient is often insensible to it. But from every lip there is at least occasional confession of some of its symptoms. There is discomfort in the conscience; there is dissatisfaction at the heart; and there is dread in the face of death and the unknown beyond. The Scriptures are the Rontgen rays of God, and their searching light reveals behind an uneasy conscience, behind a dissatisfied heart, behind the fear of death, behind all the sorrows and evils of life, that which is their rimary cause--the malady of sin.

3. This disease is incurable--that is, apart from the healing described in the text. “The end of these things is death”--spiritual death; insensibility to God, and absence of the life of fellowship with Him which is life indeed--physical death, in so far as that natural process is more than mere bodilydissolution, and is a fearful and hopeless leap into the dark; for “the sting of death is sin”--and eternal death. Men are great at quack remedies, and the world is equally flooded with nostrums for the disease of sin. And what is the result of these loudly-hawked specifics? They are as useless as the charms which our grandmothers used to scare away diseases. The Physician is He who gave His back to the smiters; the balm is the blood which flowed from “His stripes.”

II. OUR MEANS OF HEALING. “With His stripes.” “Stripes” does not mean the lashes that fell on His back, but the weals which they left. We remember how He “suffered under Pontius Pilate” before He “was crucified, dead and buried.” His back was bared, His hands were tied to a low post, and a coarse, muscular giant flourished a whip above Him. It was a diabolical instrument, that Roman whip--made of leather with many thongs, and in the end of each of them a piece of iron, or bone, or stone. Every stroke fetched blood and ripped open the quivering flesh. The Jewish law forbade more than forty stripes being given, but Christ was scourged by Romans, who recognized no such merciful limit. But as we know that Pilate intended the scourging to be a substitute for crucifixion, and hoped that its severity would so melt the Jews to pity that they would not press for the worse punishment--which end, however, was not reached--we may infer that He was scourged until He could bear no more, until He could not stand, until He fell mangled and fainting at His torturer’s feet. Nearly two thousand years have passed since that awful affliction, but its significance is eternal. But how can the sufferings of one alleviate the sufferings of another?

1. Because the sight of them moves us to sorrow. There are certain maladies of the mind and heart for which there is hope if the emotions can be stirred and the patient made to laugh or cry. There is hope for the sinner when the thought of his sin melts his heart to sorrow and his eyes to tears. Sorrow for sin--repentance of wrong-doing--is the first stage in recovery. And there is nothing that will cause penitence like a sight of the Saviour’s wounds.

2. The sight of them relieves our consciences. For as we look at those livid weals we know He did not deserve them. We know that we did merit punishment direr far. And we know that He endured them, and more mysterious agonies of which they were the outward sign, in our stead. Then, gradually, we draw the inference. If He suffered for us, we are free. If our load was laid on Him, it is no longer upon us. Conscience accepts that logic.

3. The sight of them prevents further outbreaks. This cure is radical. It not only heals, it also strengthens. It gradually raises the system above its tendency to sin. For the more we gaze upon those livid stripes, the more intolerable and hateful sin, which caused them, appears, and the more difficult it becomes for us to indulge in it. Our medicine is also a strong tonic, which invigorates the spiritual nature and fortifies its weaknesses. Stanley, in one of his books on African travel, tells of the crime of Uledi, his native coxswain, and what came of it. Ulodi was deservedly popular for his ability and courage, but having robbed his master, a jury of his fellows condemned him to receive “a terrible flogging.” Then uprose his brother, Shumari, who said, “Uledi has done very wrong; but no one can accuse me of wrong-doing. Now, mates, let me take half the whipping. I will cheerfully endure it for the sake of my brother.” Scarcely had he finished when another arose, and said, “Uledi has been the father of the boat boys. He has many times risked his life to save others; and he is my cousin; and yet he ought to be punished. Shumari says he will take half the punishment; and now let me take the other half, and let Uledi go free.” Surely the heart of the guilty man must have been touched, and the willing submission by others to the punishment he had merited must have restrained him from further outbreaks as the strict infliction of the original penalty never could. By those stripes he would be healed. Even so, the stripes of our Lord deliver us from the very tendency to sin. For the disease to be healed the medicine must be taken. Our very words “recipe” and “receipt” remind, us of this. They are related, and signify “to take.” The selfsame word describes the means of cure, and commands that it be used. Look upon His wounds! And let those of us who have looked for our cure, still look for our strengthening. We should not have so many touches of the old complaint if we thought oftener of the stripes by which we are healed. Look all through life, and you will grow stronger and holier. (B. J. Gibbon.)

The universal remedy

Not merely His bleeding wounds, but even those blue bruises of His flesh help to heal us. There are none quite free from spiritual diseases. One may be saying, “Mine is a weak faith;” another may confess, “Mine is distracted thoughts;” another may exclaim, “Mine is coldness of love;” and a fourth may have to lament his powerlessness in prayer. One remedy in natural things will not suffice for all diseases; but there is a catholicon, a universal remedy, provided in the Word of God for all spiritual sicknesses, and that is contained in the few words--“With His stripes we are healed.”

I. THE MEDICINE ITSELF WHICH IS HERE PRESCRIBED--the stripes of Our Saviour. By the term “stripes,” no doubt the prophet understood here, first, literally, those stripes which fell upon our Lord’s shoulders when He was beaten of the Jews, and afterwards scourged of the Roman soldiery. But the words intend far more than this. No doubt with his prophetic eye Isaiah saw the stripes from that unseen scourge held in the Father’s hand which fell upon his nobler inner nature when His soul was scourged for sin. It is by these that our souls are healed. “But why?” First, then, because our Lord, as a sufferer, was not a private person, but suffered as a public individual and an appointed representative. Our Lord was not merely man, or else his sufferings could not have availed for the multitude who now are healed thereby. He was God as well as man. Our Saviour’s sufferings heal us of the curse by being presented before God as a substitute for what we owe to His Divine law. But healing is a work that is carried on within, and the text rather leads me to speak of the effect of the stripes of Christ upon our characters and natures than upon the result produced in our position before God.

II. THE MATCHLESS CURES WROUGHT BY THIS REMARKABLE MEDICINE. Look at two pictures. Look at man without the stricken Saviour; and then behold man with the Saviour, healed by His stripes.

III. THE MALADIES WHICH THIS WONDROUS MEDICINE REMOVES.

1. The mania of despair.

2. The stony heart.

3. The paralysis of doubt.

4. A stiffness of the knee-joint of prayer.

5. Numbness of soul.

6. The fever of pride.

7. The leprosy of selfishness.

8. Anger.

9. The fretting consumption of worldliness.

10. The cancer of covetousness.

IV. THE CURATIVE PROPERTIES OF THE MEDICINE.

1. It arrests spiritual disorder.

2. It quickens all the powers of the spiritual man to resist the disease.

3. It restores to the man that which he lost in strength by sin.

4. It soothes the agony of conviction.

5. It has an eradicating power as to sin.

V. THE MODES OF THE WORKING OF THIS MEDICINE. The sinner hearing of the death of the incarnate God is led by the force of truth and the power of the Holy Spirit to believe in the incarnate God. The cure is already begun. After faith come gratitude, love, obedience.

VI. ITS REMARKABLY EASY APPLICATION.

VII. Since the medicine is so efficacious, since it is already prepared and freely presented, I do beseech you TAKE IT. Take it, you who have known its power in years gone by. Let not backslidings continue, but come to His stripes afresh. Take it, ye doubters, lest ye sink into despair; come to His stripes anew. Take it, ye who are beginning to be self-confident and proud. And, O ye who have never believed in Him, come and trust in Him, and you shall live. (C.H. Spurgeon.)

A simple remedy

I. THESE ARE SAD WORDS. They are part of a mournful piece of music, which might be called “the requiem of the Messiah.”

1. These are sad words because they imply disease.

2. There is a second sorrow in the verse, and that is sorrow for the suffering by which we are healed. There was a cruel process in the English navy, in which-men were made to run the gauntlet all along the ship, with sailors on each side, each man being bound to give a stroke to the poor victim as he ran along. Our Saviour’s life was a running of the gauntlet between His enemies and His friends, who all struck Him, one here and another there. Satan, too, struck at him.

II. THESE ARE GLAD WORDS.

1. Because they speak of healing.

2. There is another joy in the text--joy in the honour which it brings to Christ.

III. THESE ARE SUGGESTIVE WORDS. Whenever a man is healed through the stripes of Jesus, the instincts of his nature should make him say, “I will spend the strength I have, as a healed man, for Him who healed me.” (C.H. Spurgeon.)

Christopathy

I. GOD HERE TREATS SIN AS A DISEASE. Sin is a disease--

1. Because it is not an essential part of man as he was created. It is something abnormal.

2. Because it puts all the faculties out of gear.

3. Because it weakens the moral energy, just as many diseases weaken the sick person’s body.

4. Because it either causes great pain, or deadens all sensibility, as the case may be.

5. Because it frequently produces a manifest pollution.

6. Because it tends to increase in the man, and will one day prove fatal to him.

II. GOD HERE DECLARES THE REMEDY WHICH HE HAS PROVIDED.

1. Behold the heavenly medicine.

2. Remember that the sufferings of Christ were vicarious.

2. Accept this atonement and you are saved by it.

4. Let nothing of your own interfere with the Divine remedy. Prayer does not heal, but it asks for the remedy. It is not trust that heals; that is man s application of the remedy. Repentance is not what cures, it is a part of the cure, one of the first tokens that the blessed medicine has begun to work in the soul. The healing of a sinner does not lie in himself, nor in what he is, nor in what he feels, nor in what he does, nor in what he vows, nor in what he promises. It is in His stripes that the healing lies.

III. THE REMEDY IS IMMEDIATELY EFFECTIVE. How are we healed?

1. Our conscience is healed of every smart.

2. Our heart is healed of its love of sin.

3. Our life is healed of its rebellion.

4. Our consciousness assures us that we are healed. If you are healed by His stripes you should go and live like healthy men. (C.H. Spurgeon.)

Healed by Christ’s stripes

Mr. Mackay, of Hull, told of a person who was under very deep concern of soul. Taking the Bible into his hand, he said to himself, “Eternal life is to be found somewhere in this Word of God; and, if it be here, I will find it, for I will read the Book right through, praying to God over every page of it, if perchance it may contain some saving message for me.” The earnest seeker read on through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and so on; and though Christ is there very evidently, he could not find Him in the types and symbols. Neither did the holy histories yield him comfort, nor the Book of Job. He passed through the Psalms, but did not find his Saviour there; and the same was the case with the other books till he reached Isaiah. In this prophet he read on till near the end, and then in the fifty-third chapter, these words arrested his delighted attention, “With His stripes we are healed.” Now I have found it, says he. Here is the healing that I need for my sin-sick soul, and I see how it comes to me through the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be His name, I am healed!” (C.H. Spurgeon.)

Self-sufficiency prevents healing

I saw a pedlar one day, as I was walking out; he was selling walkingsticks. He followed me, and offered me one of the sticks. I showed him mine--a far better one than any he had to sell--and he withdrew at once. He could see that I was not likely to be a purchaser. I have often thought of that when I have been preaching: I show men the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, but they show me their own, and all hope of dealing with them is gone. Unless I can prove that their righteousness is worthless, they will not seek the righteousness which is of God by faith. Oh, that the Lord would show you your disease, and then you would desire the remedy! (C.H. Spurgeon.)

Sin deadens sensibility

It frequently happens that, the more sinful a man is, the less he is conscious of it. It was remarked of a certain notorious criminal that many thought him innocent because, when he was charged with murder, he did not betray the least emotion. In that wretched self-possession there was to my mind presumptive proof of his great familiarity with trims; if an innocent person is charged with a great offence, the mere charge horrifies him. (C.H. Spurgeon.)


Verse 6

Isaiah 53:6

All we like sheep have gone astray

Astray from the fold

I.
The first part of my text is AN INDICTMENT. “All we like sheep have gone astray.” Says some one, “Can’t you drop the first word?” And some one rises and looks off and says, “There is a man who is a blasphemer, he is astray. Yonder is a man who is impure, he is astray. Yonder is a man who is fraudulent, he is astray.” Look at home, for the first word of the text takes you and me as well as the rest.

1. I have studied the habits of sheep, and I know they lose their way sometimes by trying to get other pasture. There are many of you who have been looking for better pasture. You have wandered on and on. You tried business successes, you tried worldly associations, you tried the club-house. You said that the Church was a short commons, and you wanted to find the rank grass on the bank of distant streams, and to lie down under great oaks on the other side of the hills. Have you found the anticipated pasture that was to be so superior?

2. I have noticed also that the sheep get astray by being frightened with dogs. Oh, man, that is the way you got astray. You said, “Where is God, that He allows an honest man to go down, and thieves to prosper?” You were dogged by creditors; and some of you went into misanthropy, and some of you took to strong drink, and some of you fled from all Christian associations; and in that way the sheep got astray.

II. But the last part of my text OPENS A DOOR WIDE ENOUGH TO LET US ALL OUT, and wide enough to let all heaven in. “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Says some one, “That is not generous. Let every one bear his own burden.” And there is something in that. If I owe a debt, and I have money to pay it, and I come to you and ask you, to cancel my obligations, you will be right in saying to me, “Pay your own debts.” If I am walking along the street with you, and we are both hale and hearty, and I want you to carry me, you are right in saying, “Walk on your own feet.” But suppose you and I were in a regiment together, and I was fearfully wounded in the battle, and I fell unconscious at your feet with gunshot fractures and dislocations, five bullets having struck me at once--you would say to your comrades, “Here, this man is helpless. Let us carry him to the ambulance; let us take him out to the hospital. Would It have been mean to let you carry me then. You certainly would not have been so unkind as not to carry me. Now, that is Christ to the soul If we could pay our spiritual obligations we might go up to God and say, “Lord, there is so much debt, and here I have the menus with which to cancel it. Now cross it all out.” But the fact is we are pierced through and through with the sabres of sin. We have gone down under the hot fire, and we are helpless and undone. We will die on the field unless some help comes to us. God sends His ambulance, yea, He dispatches His only Son to carry us out, and bind up our gashes, and take us home. Is there any man who is under the delusion that he can carry his own sins? You cannot. You might as well try to transport a boulder of the sea, or carry on one shoulder the Alleghanies, and on the other shoulder Mount Washington. Then let us shift the burden. (T. de W. Talmage, D.D.)

Salvation for the straying sheep

I. LOOK AT THE SHEEP THAT HAVE GONE ASTRAY. The text implies they were once in the fold. You cannot go astray except you have been in the right place first.

II. EACH SHEEP WALKS ITS OWN PATH. There is almost an infinite variety in sinning. Some go along a path of licentiousness; others the money-making road; others the gamester’s path; others take the Christless morality road.

III. WHAT IS GOD’S WAY OF SALVATION? “The Lord laid on Him,” etc. Who is that “Him”? The One described in the previous verses. Let Christ be the object of your trust, and you shall be saved. (A. G. Brown.)

Our misery and its remedy

I. OUR MISERY BY SIN.

1. Our sin is charged upon us collectively in common: we have all gone astray.

2. Distributively. “Every one to his own way.” We all agree in turning aside from the right way of pleasing and enjoying of God; and we disagree, as each one hath a by-path of his own, some running after this lust, some after that, and so are not only divided from God, but divided from one another, while every one maketh his will his law.

II. OUR REMEDY BY CHRIST. “The Lord hath laid,” etc. (T. Manton, D.D.)

Departing from God

This departing from God and His ways is fitly represented by the straying of sheep. In the general it implieth--

1. That we are brutish in our sin and defection from God: it could not be expressed but by a comparison fetched from the beasts.

2. Proneness to err. No creature is more prone to wander and lose his way than a sheep without a shepherd.

3. Our inability to return, or to bring ourselves into the right way again.

4. Our readiness to follow evil example. Sheep run one after another, and one straggler draweth away the whole flock. Austin saith, “I could wander by myself, and could not return by myself.” And God saith as much Hosea 13:9).

5. The danger of straying sheep, which when out of the pasture are often in harm’s way, and exposed to a thousand dangers (Jeremiah 50:6-7). (T. Manton, D.D.)

We have turned every one to his own way

Every man to his own way

Though there be one path to heaven, yet there are several ways of sinning and going to hell. The reasons how this cometh to pass are--

1. Because of the activeness of man’s spirit. It is always a-devising wickedness.

2. It happeneth through diversity of constitution.

3. It happeneth from their business and occasions in the world. Many men are engaged to ways of sin because they suit best with their employments, the sin of their calling, as vainglory in a minister.

4. Custom and education.

5. Company example. (T. Manton, D.D.)

His own way

This is the sin of men in their natural condition, that they turn to their own way. The phrase implieth these two things--

1. A defect or want of Divine guidance.

2. A rejection of the ways of God when made known to us. (T. Manton, D.D.)

Caiaphas: Cephas: Jesus

The forms of human sinfulness are as numerous and varied as are men’s natural inclinations: but near the cross may be found a representative of every one of these. Three figures will demand our attention--Caiaphas, the high priest, with his surroundings; and then, amidst the obscurity of the twilight scene, and the crowd of spectators, we must single out the figure of Simon, then at the moment of his deepest shame. And then, turning our eyes away from these subordinates, we must fix them lastly on Jesus of Nazareth Himself.

I. CAIAPHAS is the president of the High Ecclesiastical Court then assembled, and no judge ever could produce higher credentials than he. The Gospels all acknowledge him, without the slightest apparent doubt, as the legitimate successor of Aaron. He is descendant of a priestly dynasty some 1,500 years old, whose origin was confessedly Divine. Besides, the highest power of all had owned his legitimate position, by giving to him the spirit of unconscious prophecy. Now the priesthood of Aaron, which he bore, had never been a bloodthirsty one. There are, I think, only two examples of that priesthood shedding blood. One of these was the stroke of the spear of Phinehas--an act of wild justice, suited to the times, which received praise and blessing from above; and the other, the just punishment by Jehoiada of Athaliah, who had murdered all the royal family but one. Whatever other faults they may have had, the priests, the sons of Aaron, had never erred before on the side of intolerance and cruelty. And Caiaphas himself was no fanatic. Like all the family to which he belonged, he was a Sadducee. He had the views of a politician rather than of an ecclesiatic; and, having coolly judged, several weeks before, that the proceedings of Jesus of Nazareth were politically dangerous, he had determined that it would be well to put Him out of the way. But, in the council that surrounded him, there were many, and perhaps a majority, of strong religious belief and feelings. So, for their sakes, he affected a horror which he could hardly have felt himself. The high priest asked Him, “Art Thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”And Jesus said, “I am; and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest rent his clothes--the original word in St. Mark seems to imply that one of these was the seamless tunic of the high priest--in sign of a horror, which can hardly have been otherwise than hypocritical in a cool man of the world like him, and said, “What need we any further witnesses. Ye have heard the blasphemy. What think ye?” And then the question being thus put, they all--the whole council, all the scribes, all the elders, all the chief priests, the whole representative body of the universal Church of God--condemned Him to be guilty of death. What a lesson for us arises out of this fact, that our Lord’s death was wholly a sin of the religious world under the guidance of their Divinely-appointed leaders. And in that religious world we may distinguish all the chief tendencies both of that time and of all times--the Sadducees and the Pharisees, the liberal and the orthodox, the men with the minimum of belief in the supernatural, and those with the maximum of that belief, the traditionists and the anti-traditionists--in fact, the High Church, and the Broad Church, and the Low. The lesson is for our times. In those days authority and tradition utterly failed those who relied upon them, while the light within the heart lighted those who possessed it to the cross and to the glory of the Lord of Truth.

II. Let us turn our eyes away now from Caiaphas and the splendid array around him to the lower end of the courtyard near the door, where the lower classes are collected. All these are within sight of the proceedings at the upper end of the hall, which no doubt is well lighted. Perhaps they are also near enough to hear. Amongst them is one whose speech betrays him to be a Galilean. We know his name (though those around him do not) to be SIMON, SON OF JONAS, who has also the surname Cephas. He is thrice recognized as a follower of the accused, and thrice denies the charge. Then the cock crows at early morning, and the Master turns on him with a glance which he feels to single him out, even in the darkness and the crowd; and he goes out at the door, weeping bitterly. This strange character, so made up of contradictions as to have been pronounced by that Being who knew him best, at one moment a “rock,” and at the next a Satan, full of boldness and full of cowardice, the first to confess and the first to deny; this picture of the weakness of all human strength, of the frailty of all earthly goodness, is now at the very depths of his weakness and shame. He stands there a sinner who has just committed a sin--a very mean and cowardly sin. Yet there is an eye upon him, searching for him, busied with him. We who have betrayed Him and denied Him, the Lord hath turned and looked on. He is seeking, let Him find.

III. We see JESUS in the midst of all this crowd of representative sinners, amongst whom a little honest search will soon enable each of us to detect himself. Betrayed by covetous Judas, forsaken by unwatchful, unprayerful, and therefore easily tempted disciples, denied by self-confident, self-willed Simon, condemned by worldly-minded, unscrupulous Caiaphas, condemned again by timid time-serving Pilate, persecuted to the death by sanctimonious, theologically-hating Scribes and Pharisees, shouted at by a rude, ignorant multitude, tortured in cruel sport by barbarous soldiers--what species of human sin is absent there? Let us consider the exceeding beauty of the figure presented to us, and also how that figure is produced. Compare for one moment any character in a work of fiction. These, too, are beautiful, but how is their beauty produced? By word-painting of the most exquisite kind. But in the narratives of the Gospels there is no word-painting at all, except perhaps a little in St. John. It is not the narratives that are sublime, but the Being who becomes known to us through their simple inartificial language. And now the end of this should be, that every one of us should bring the matter as closely as possible home. It was all done for me; it was I that created the necessity. Let Him, in each of us, see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. (W.E.Rawstorne, M.A.)

The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all

Sin laid on Jesus

1. The verse opens with a confession of sin common to all the persons intended in the verse.

2. The confession is also special and particular.

3. This confession is very unreserved. There is not a single syllable by way of excuse; there is not a word to detract from the force of the confession.

4. It is, moreover, singularly thoughtful, for thoughtless persons do not use a metaphor so appropriate as the text: “All we like sheep have gone astray.” I hear no dolorous wailings attending this confession of sin; for the next sentence makes it almost a song. “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” It is the most grievous sentence of the three; but it is the most charming and the most full of comfort. Strange is it that where misery was concentrated mercy reigned, and where sorrow reached her climax there it is that a weary soul finds sweetest rest. The Saviour bruised is the healing of bruised hearts.

I. EXPOSITION.

1. It may be well to give the marginal translation of the text, “Jehovah hath made to meet on Him the iniquity of us all.” The first thought that demands notice is the meeting of sin. Sin I may compare to the rays of some evil sun. Sin was scattered throughout this world as abundantly as light, and

Christ is made to suffer the full effect of the baleful rays which stream from the sun of sin. God as it were holds up a burning-glass, and concentrates all the scattered rays in a focus upon Christ. Take the text in our own version, “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all;” put upon Him as a burden is laid upon a man’s back all the burdens of all His people; put upon His head as the high priest of old laid upon the scapegoat all the sin of the beloved ones that he might bear them in his own person. The two translations are perfectly consistent; all sins are made to meet, and then having met together and been tied up in one crushing load the whole burden is laid upon Him.

2. The second thought is that sin was made to meet upon the suffering person of the innocent Substitute.

3. It has been asked, Was it just that sin should thus be laid upon Christ? We believe it was rightly so.

4. Lying upon Christ brought, upon Him all the consequences connected with it. God cannot look where there is sin with any pleasure, and though as far as Jesus is personally concerned, He is the Father’s beloved Son in whom He is well pleased; yet when He saw sin laid upon His Son, He made that Son cry, “My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?’

5. Think of the result of all this. Sin meets on Christ and Christ is punished with sin, and what then? Sin is put away.

6. The “us” here intended.

II. APPLICATION. There is a countless company whose sins the Lord Jesus bore; did He bear yours? Do you wish to have an answer? Let me read this verse to you and see if you can join in it. If there be in you a penitential confession which leads you to acknowledge that you have erred and strayed like a lost sheep; if there be in you a personal sense of sin which makes you feel that you have turned to your own way, and if now you can trust in Jesus, then a second question is not wanted; the Lord hath laid on Him your iniquity.

III. CONTEMPLATION. I will give you four things to think of.

1. The astounding mass of sin that must have been laid on Christ.

2. The amazing love of Jesus which brought Him to do all this.

3. The matchless security which this plan of salvation offers.

4. What, then, are she claims of Jesus Christ upon you and me? (C. H.Spurgeon.)

Going astray as sheep

1. The sheep is a creature exceedingly quick-witted upon the one matter of going astray.

2. The sheep goes astray, it is said, all the more frequently when it is most dangerous for it to do so; propensities to stray seem to be developed in the very proportion in which they ought to be subdued. Whereas in our own land a sheep? might wander with some safety, it wanders less than it will do in the Oriental plains, where for it to go astray is to run risks from leopards and wolves.

3. The sheep goes astray ungratefully. It owes everything to the shepherd, and yet forsakes the hand that feeds it and heals its diseases.

4. The sheep goes astray repeatedly. If restored to-day it may not stray to-day if it cannot, but it will to-morrow if it can.

5. The sheep wanders further and further, from bad to worse. It is not content with the distance it has reached, it will go yet greater lengths; there is To limit to its wandering except its weakness. See ye not your own selves as in a mirror! (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Sin meeting on Jesus

I. THE MEETING-PLACE OF SIN IS THE CROSS OF CHRIST. In the margin these words are rendered, “The Lord hath made to meet on Him the iniquity of us all.” The Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Persian, and Egyptian tongues were spoken about that cross. The inscription was in different languages that all might read. This is the representation of the world now looking upon the Crucified. His embrace encircled the race of man.

1. The cross was the focus of sins.

2. The burdens of sin here meet.

3. Here the responsibilities of the sinner are assumed by one competent to discharge them.

4. The sufferings of the sinner are gathered in the agonies of the cross.

II. THE MEETING-PLACE OF SIN IS THE MERCY-SEAT OF SINNERS. Conclusion:

1. The imperative claim Christ has upon the soul.

2. If you will not consent that your iniquities shall meet on Christ, bear them you must yourself. (S. H. Tyng, D.D.)

The nature and power of the atonement

1. It has been suggested that there was injustice in the sacrifice of One who had never sinned in the place of sinners, and that it involved the idea that God liked suffering for its own sake. This statement is one-sided: it forgets mercy, it shuts its eyes to the truth that the power of any sacrifice is in its voluntary and representative character. Facts must be respected, and what is the fact which is before us all? Pain and sorrow!

2. The vicarious sacrifice of Calvary is the work of the Three Persons of the Trinity. Men speak as if the Son devised the plan of His own death to save man from the Father’s wrath. It was the work of the whole Three Persons in the Godhead. If the justice of the Divine life demanded the atonement, the mercy of the Divine love devised the means of pardon and the sacrifice on Calvary.

3. There is yet another thought which illuminates the gloom. We know the power of sin which, like some mysterious shape, some wild and wandering shadow in a forest, stands or flits about the portals of the opening life of man. Nature brings us within its reach, our own will places us in its iron grasp, it paralyzes the spiritual power, it chills our desires for better things; we cannot rise up as once we could when we are lying under the weight of unforgiven sin. This sense of the awfulness of sin illuminates the power of the atonement, for the sacrifice of the Son of God must at least be commensurate in its awfulness with what we know of human sin.

4. If the awfulness of sin and the majesty of God bring home the sense of what vicarious sacrifice is, and we are able in its power to raise our hearts to God and to feel renewed life and holier aspirations, how about the past? Florence rose and wept over the grave of Dante, but Florence could not then undo the edict which banished the man, and Dante’s ashes rest beside the pinewoods and the Adrian Sea, and Florence is undone. And for each of you there was a day when you told your first lie, a day when you acted your first pretence, a day when you did your first act of dishonesty, when you first degraded yourself with some burning vice and destroyed the innocency which God had given you. In your better moments you look back to such a day, and you feel as if you were standing by an open grave, as you remember the hard words, the unkind looks, the want of sympathy, to him or her who lies beneath. The past is gone beyond recall. How will you meet it? With scorn? Will you turn away and drown its memories in pleasure? You cannot. You have a spirit born for eternity. But there is one other way. Christ on the Cross bore man’s sin in all its intensity, gave Himself as a sacrifice, and purchased for the race complete forgiveness. No sorrow is so deep but He can assuage it, no memory so black but He can cleanse it. (W. J. Knox-Little, M.A.)

The universal burden and its bearer

It is of prime importance to mark that the only office which the prophet describes the Servant as filling is the function of suffering. He is neither Teacher nor Conqueror nor Lawgiver nor, here, King; he is only a Sufferer. That is what the Saviour of the world has to be, first of all. The rabbis have a legend, far wiser than most of their follies, which tells how Messias is to be found sitting amongst the lepers at the gate of the city. The fable has in it the deep truth that He who saves the world must suffer with, and for, the world He saves.

I. CONSIDER THE UNIVERSAL BURDEN. Of course the speakers in my text are primarily the penitent Jewish nation, who at last have learned how much at first they had misunderstood the Servant of the Lord. But the “we” and the “all” may very fairly be widened out so as to include the whole world, and every individual of the race, and iniquity is the universal burden of us all. I believe that almost all of the mistaken and unworthy conceptions of Christianity which have afflicted and do afflict the world are directly traceable to this--the failure to apprehend the radical fact affecting men’s condition that they are all sinful, and therefore separated from God. The evil that we do, going forth from us as deed, comes back upon us as guilt. And so, we are all staggering under this burden. The creatures that live at the bottom of the doleful sea, fathoms deeper than plummet has ever sounded, have to bear a pressure upon their frames all inconceivable by the men that walk upon the surface of the earth. And the deeper a man goes in the dark ocean of wrongdoing and wrongbeing, the heavier the weight of the compressed atmosphere above him, crushing him in. And, yet, like those creatures that crawl on the slime, miles down in the dreary sea, where no light has come, they know not the weight that rests upon them, and never have dreamed of how blessed it is to walk in the lighter air with the sun shining above them. There are some of you, grovelling down at the bottom of the ocean, to whom the liberty and illumination, the lightness and ligntsomeness of the pure life which is possible, would seem miraculous. If these things be at all true, then it seems to me that the fact of universal sinfulness, with all its necessary, natural, and inevitable consequences, must be the all-important fact about a man. What we think about sin will settle all our religious ideas.

II. LOOK AT THE ONE BEARER OF THE BURDEN. “The Lord has made to light upon Him the iniquity ,of us all.”

III. MARK THE MEN THAT ARE FREED FROM THE BURDEN. “Us all. And yet it is possible for a man included in the “all” to have to stagger along through life under his burden, and to carry it with him when he goes hence. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked,” says the foremost preacher of the doctrine that Christ’s death takes away sin. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Every man shall bear his own burden.” So your sins, taken away as they are by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, may yet cling to you and crush you. There is only one way by which the possibilities open to all men by the death of Jesus Christ may become the actual experience of every man, or of any man--and that is, the simple laying your burden, by your own act of quiet trust, upon the shoulders of Him that is mighty to save. (A. Maclaren, D.D.)

God’s fofgiving love in Christ

Rev. G. Barber, assistant to Dr. Dale of Birmingham says: I remember going to him on one occasion in great distress; I wanted to preach on “Christ died for our sins,’ and I thought that if I could only show how, through the death of Christ, it was made possible for God to forgive sin, many whom I knew might be led to believe. He replied: Give up troubling, my friend, about how it was possible for God to forgive sin, and go straight and tell the people that God does forgive sin, and tell them straight that Christ died for their sins. It is the fact the people want most to know, and not your theory, nor mine, as to how it was or is possible.” (Life of R. W. Dale.)

Peace in the true knowledge of Jesus

I was sent for to see a lady--a stranger--who was dying in Brighton. I found her to be a person of means and education, but quite ignorant of the salient facts of the Christian faith. To her, Jesus was simply a great moral teacher, standing in line with other religious masters. Of Christianity, as the religion of redemption, she had no knowledge. Her life story had been a sad one, stained deeply by both sorrow and sin. “Oh,” she sighed, “that it were possible for some great, strong friend to take my conscience as though it were his own, that I might have a little peace!” I learned more from that sentence concerning the mystery of redemption than up to that moment I had ever thought of. Here was a soul who knew and stated the need of just such a salvation as we are bidden to proclaim. She asked, without knowing that there was any answer, for the Saviour who was made sin for us, who could take man’s conscience as though it were His own and leave in its place His peace. The sense of guilt had awakened with power in this poor dying woman. To have told her that the Most High could forgive her sins would have carried no comfort to her heart. The only possible relief for her was to hear of Him on whom the Lord hath laid the iniquity of us all (R. J. Campbell, M.A.)


Verse 7-8

Isaiah 53:7-8

He was oppressed

Christ’s sufferings and His deportment under them

I.
THE NATURE OF THE SUFFERINGS. “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted.”

II. THE CARRIAGE OF CHRIST UNDER THEM. “He opened not His mouth,” which is amplified and illustrated by two similitudes, of a lamb going, to the slaughter, and a sheep before her shearers.

1. “He opened not His mouth.” This shows two things.

2. The particular resemblance.

Christ’s patience in suffering

Christ upon the Cross is as a doctor in his chair, where He readeth unto us all a lecture of patience. (J. Trapp.)

The monarch surrenders Himself

In Isaiah 53:7-8 there are five specific predictions:--

1. The oppression to which Christ was subjected was of no ordinary kind. The first three Gospels indicate to some extent the spirit of hostility which animated the people, though in the fourth Gospel the advancing stages of that hostility are most clearly marked. At the last we find Jesus hurried off to trial. There were two trials: first, the Jewish, and then the Roman one. In the first, so far was the mind of the accusers set against Christ, that neither the fairness nor even the form of proper judicial procedure was observed. In the facts of

2. Amid this oppression there was no defence of Himself. Once He called attention to His rights as a Hebrew; once and again He reaffirmed His claims when challenged on oath. But “when He was reviled, He reviled not again.” Why this silence? He knew His hour was come, and He yielded Himself to the stroke. He knew that His words would not tell rightly on His accusers in the state of mind which they cherished. With the far-distant future before Him, He saw that the sequel would vindicate His honour, and He could wait. He loved, too, to show patience rather than to display power; and He would show us the Divine grandeur of keeping power in reserve.

3. Underlying all this there was a Divine purpose being wrought out, of which the men of that generation had no conception. Man meant one thing, God was intending another.

4. This great work, of which the men of that generation never dreamt, was that the Messiah was cut off, “a stroke for them,” for the people who sought His life and crucified Him. Let us, then,

Yet He opened not His mouth

The silence of Christ

(with Matthew 26:63; Matthew 27:14):--What can be said of the silence of Christ? Much has been said of the words He spake, and too much can never be said of them, for He spake as never man spake. Much has been said of the sacrifice He made. Much has been said of His miracles, etc., but how little of His silence, and yet how full of meaning to every thoughtful and inquiring-mind.

I. IT WAS WONDERFUL. Wonderful that Christ should remain silent, especially under false accusations--false witnesses giving testimony against Him, and a wicked judge about to deliver the charge. He who could with one word have made the world tremble, witnesses, judge and jury fall dead before Him, testifying to His innocence as well as His Divinity by their lifeless bodies. The silent years of Christ--how wonderful! He who knew so well how to speak and what to say. But, we can understand something of this--it was a time of restraint, of growth, of preparation. But the preparation is over and Christ Jesus has asserted Himself. He has declared Himself by His life and by miracles to be the Son of God. He is falsely and basely accused, declared an impostor, sentenced and condemned to die, scourged mocked spit upon, arrayed in a gorgeous robe and finally crucified, but silent amid it all. Do you ask why? The wonder is only increased. It was for our sake.

II. HIS SILENCE WAS FULL OF SUFFERING, suffering that was vicarious and expiatory. We are not to attribute the justification of sinners to the death of Christ alone. It was the sinless purity of perfect obedience of His whole life.

III. IT WAS OMINOUS that is full of foreboding, portentous, inauspicious, foreshowing ills. It told of the utter degradation of the men before whom He stood. He had already said and done everything that was necessary to establish His claims to the Messiahship. His silence said, what more can I do unto My vineyard than I have already done unto it, and having done all He could do, He answered now to never a word. It is an appalling sign when Christ ceases to plead with any of us. It shows that we have seared our hearts--that we are bent on ruin.

IV. CHRIST’S SILENCE WAS INSPIRED, and therefore full of instruction as well as the words He spake. I refer now to the general silence of Christ. If His words were inspired must not His silence have been also? It is absolutely inconceivable that He who is Himself the Truth could have connived at heresy in any of the great doctrines He taught, or desired that should be taught even through silence.

1. Take the great doctrine of our Lord’s Deity, and was it not the very question under dispute and for which He had been accused “of making Himself equal with God”? Now this fundamental doctrine is established by a vast and varied mass of evidence, but no stronger proof of it is anywhere to be found, as it seems to me, than that to be drawn from the silence of

Christ. We know how Peter checked the homage of Cornelius, and how the angel shrank in alarm from the worship which John offered him. But Christ never acted so; He held His peace; He spake not a word. He never so much as hinted that this devotion should not be paid Him, and when His enemies accused Him of making Himself equal with God, He did not repel the charge with horror. Meek and lowly as He was He accepted all the worship that men offered Him; He welcomed it, and by His silent approval seemed to claim it.

2. Apply it to the authenticity of the Old Testament Scriptures, and what an argument we find! He held His peace in regard to all these criticisms that are being made. He condemned the unscriptural traditions of the Jews, but He at no time questioned the purity or integrity of the Old Testament Canon.

3. Apply His silence to the perpetuity of the Sabbath law and with what force it speaks. There are those amongst us who maintain that the Sabbath was only an institution for the Jews, and that its observance is not binding now under the Christian dispensation, but Christ nowhere says so. He often spoke in reference to Sabbath observance. He found the Sabbath a standing ordinance of God, and He left it such, only freshened by the dew of His blessing.

V. CHRIST’S SILENCE WAS BEAUTIFUL, especially during His dread trial. It is difficult to speak aright amid enemies and detractors, but it is even more difficult to be silent right before them. The lip is ever ready to curl unbidden, the light of malice hurries to the eye, in a moment the crimson of anger mounts to the cheek before we are aware, but not so with Christ.

VI. CHRIST’S SILENCE IS EXEMPLARY TO US ALL. Self-imposed silence often becomes a duty. There are calumnies good men cannot refute. There are accusations which they must leave unanswered.

1. Because of the perils of speech. In self-justification we are liable to self-glorification, to irritability, to extravagance.

2. Because of the blessings of the discipline of silence. If we spend our time in self-vindication, then farewell labour for Christ, for we will have no time for anything else. (J. I. Blackburn.)

Silent suffering

Is it not always true with those that are called to suffer that they suffer most at times when one hears no sound from their lips? It is considered a relief to cry out in the midst of pain. So long as one can plead his case the excitement of pleading enables him to forget the painfulness of his position. When the tongue is silent then it is that the brain is busy. What must have been the thoughts of Christ when He held His peace? Must they not have been of the most painful nature? The silence of Christ was full of the most awful suffering and that suffering was expiatory and vicarious. Because He was wounded, we are healed; and because He kept silent before this earthly tribunal, we shall hereafter speak. (J. I. Blackburn.)

Christ’s speechlessness

Why this speechlessness? In part it was due to the Saviour’s clear apprehension of the futility of arguing with those who were bent on crucifying Him. It was also due to the quiet rest of His soul on God, as He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously, and anticipated the hour when the Father would arise to give Him a complete vindication. But it was due also to His consciousness of carrying in His breast a golden secret, another explanation of His sufferings than men were aware of, a Divine solution of the mystery of human guilt. (F. B. Meyer, B.A.)

He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter

The sufferings of Christ

St. Peter makes it almost a description of a Christian, that he loves Him whom he has not seen. Unless we have a true love of Christ, we are not His true disciples; and we cannot love Him unless we have heartfelt gratitude to Him; and we cannot duly feel gratitude, unless we feel keenly what He suffered for us. No one who will but solemnly think over the history of those sufferings, as drawn out for us in the Gospels, but will gradually gain, through God’s grace, a sense of them.

1. As to these sufferings, our Lord is called a lamb in the text; He was as defenceless, and as innocent as a lamb is. Since then Scripture compares Him to this inoffensive and unprotected animal, we may, without presumption or irreverence, take the image as a means of conveying to our minds those feelings which our Lord s sufferings should excite within us. Consider how very horrible it is to read the accounts which sometimes meet us of cruelties exercised on brute animals. What is it moves our very hearts, and sickens us so much at cruelty shown to poor brutes? First, that they have done no harm; next, that they have no power whatever of resistance; it is the cowardice and tyranny of which they are the victims which makes their sufferings so especially touching. He who is higher than the angels, deigned to humble Himself even to the state of the brute creation.

2. Take another example, and you will see the same thing still more strikingly. How overpowered should we be, nay not at the sight only, but at the very hearing of cruelties shown to a little child, and why so? for the same two reasons, because it was so innocent, and because it was so unable to defend itself. You feel the horror of this, and yet you can bear to read of Christ’s sufferings without horror. Our Lord was not only guiltless and defenceless, but He had come among His persecutors in love.

3. And now, let us suppose that some venerable person whom we have known as long as we could recollect any thing, and loved and reverenced, suppose such a one, who had often done us kindnesses, rudely seized by fierce men, made a laughing-stock, struck, spit on, severely scourged and at last exposed with all his wounds to the gaze of a rude multitude who came and jeered him, what would be our feelings? But what is all this to the suffering of the holy Jesus, which we bear to read of as a matter of course! A spirit of grief and lamentation is expressly mentioned in Scripture as a characteristic of those who turn to Christ. If then we do not sorrow, have we turned to Him (J. H. Newman, B. D.)

Christ the victim and the example

1. There is only One in whom are fulfilled all the prophecies of this wonderful Lesson (Acts 8:34-35).

2. It may be noticed how animals are chosen in Holy Scripture as symbols of Divine Persons and mysteries; and Christian art has perpetuated the association. The dove has been the symbol of the Holy Ghost from earliest times. The man, the calf, the lion, and the eagle represent the four Evangelists, and are types of the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ. Christ is represented by a lamb, for this was the symbol of our Lord both in the Old Testament and the New. Indeed, it was such a popular symbol in the early ages of the Church, that authority was invoked to check it as a substitute for His human body.

3. Throughout Holy Scripture, by hints and prophecies, by types and fulfilment, Christ is depicted by the lamb (Genesis 22:8; the Paschal lamb; the, daily sacrifice in the temple; St. John s exclamation, “Behold the Lamb of God!” John 19:36; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 5:6; Revelation 5:12; Revelation 6:1; Revelation 7:14, etc.). The symbol has two aspects--that of the victim, and that of the example. Let us look at it in both lights.

I. THE VICTIM.

1. The text expresses the willingness of the Sufferer. “He was ill-treated whilst He bowed Himself, “ i.e. “suffered voluntarily,” as the simile of the unresisting animal explains. It is a prophecy of the self-oblation of Christ John 10:15; John 10:18). The oblation was the result of love. He was led to the slaughter with the full knowledge of all that was before Him. The voluntariness of Christ’s sufferings is a ground of merit and a secret of attractiveness. Sacrifice must “be the blood of the soul,” the offered will, to have value before God; and it must be spontaneous, to touch and win the hearts of men.

2. “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” reminds us of the greatness of Christ’s sufferings. He was “obedient unto death,” a sacrificial death--different from a mere martyr s death, as the words just before the text show. The Lord had laid on Him the punishment of Israel’s guilt--nay, “the iniquity of us all.” There can be no getting rid of “the poena vicaria here” (Delitzsch)
. This is a great mystery. But it is not one man suffering for another, for “no man can deliver his brother;” but God Himself in man’s nature suffering. Those who think such a mode of redemption unjust, it will be found, have not grasped the dogma of the Incarnation, or the oneness of will in the Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity. It was an act of love. Death is the test of love, and the worst kind of death, that of the cross, the most convincing test. “He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter” is a sentence which at once would bring up before the mind of the Jew the sacrificial worship in which he had often taken part. In the language of St. Paul, Christ “became sin for us”--a Sin Offering--“who knew no sin.” In the language of St. Peter, we were redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish.”

II. THE EXAMPLE.

1. One of the purposes for which Christ came was to be an Example. The truth is sometimes obscured by dwelling too exclusively upon the mystery of redemption; as, on the other hand, there have not been wanting those who have been too much absorbed in that view of our Lord as the True Light which meets the cravings of the human intellect. To keep the proportion of faith is not always easy, especially as personal needs and experiences are apt to exaggerate some one aspect of a mystery.

2. Christ’s life throughout has this twofold view--sacrificial and exemplary. We might have expected that the latter view would be associated chiefly with His public ministry, and the former with His Passion. But it is not so. Both culminate on the cross. “Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example” (1 Peter 2:21); and, as the context shows, the final sufferings are before the apostle’s gaze. A suffering world needs a suffering Example. The Passion brought out to view the virtues which man is ever requiring to exercise, and in a manner which exercises a spell upon all who look upon “that sight.” Even those who are blind to the atoning efficacy of the mystery are touched by its moral loveliness.

3. “Brought as a lamb to the slaughter;” “dumb before her shearers.” This is a difficult virtue which the words unveil--patience, or meekness. What we read in the prophecy we see in the Passion (Matthew 27:12; Matthew 27:14; John 19:9) and upon the cross. “All three hours His silence cried.” “When He was reviled, He reviled not again.” The lamb, innocent and silent, aptly represents the Lamb of God, meek and patient in the midst of His slaughterers.

III. LESSONS.

1. Let us seek through the sufferings of Christ to realize the enormity and malice of sin. Pardon without any revelation of Divine justice and holiness might have demoralized mankind. We know not “how that satisfaction operated towards God,” and the Church has not attempted to define this. That Christ died “for us men and for our salvation” is all that we are required to believe and that is the kernel of the doctrine.

2. Seek to imitate the patience of Jesus--to be silent when “reviled,” and to still within the movements of anger and pride.

3. To be able to do this we must meditate upon Christ’s sufferings, and see in all things, as they reach us, the will of God, though our sufferings may arise from the faults and sins of others. We must “commit our cause to Him that judgeth righteously,” accepting calmly all that we may have to bear.

4. We must pray for the help of the Holy Ghost, without which we cannot grow in patience and meekness, which are “fruits” of the Spirit. (The Thinker.)

And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb

The sheep before the shearers

I. OUR SAVIOUR’S PATIENCE. Our Lord was brought to the shearers that He might be shorn of His comfort, and of His honour, shorn even of His good name, and shorn at last of life itself; but when under the shearers He was as silent as a sheep. How patient He was before Pilate, and Herod, and Caiaphas, and on the cross.

1. Our lord was dumb and opened not His mouth against His adversaries, and did not accuse one of them of cruelty or injustice.

2. As He did not utter a word against His adversaries, so He did not say a word against any one of us. Zipporah said to Moses, “Surely a bloody husband art thou to me,” as she saw her child bleeding; and surely Jesus might have said to His Church, “Thou art a costly spouse to Me, to bring Me all this shame and bloodshedding.” But He giveth liberally, He openeth the very fountain of His heart, and upbraideth not.

3. There was not a word against His Father, nor a syllable of repining at the severity of the chastisement laid upon Him for our sakes. You and I have murmured when under a comparatively light grief, thinking ourselves hardly done by. But not so the Saviour. Many are the Lamentations of Jeremiah, but few are the lamentations of Jesus. Jesus wept, and Jesus sweat great drops of blood, but He never murmured nor felt rebellion in, His heart. I see in this our Lord’s complete submission. There was complete self-conquest too. There was complete absorption in His work.

II. VIEW OUR OWN CASE UNDER THE SAME METAPHOR AS THAT WHICH IS USED IN REFERENCE TO OUR LORD. As He is so are we also in this world. Just as a sheep is taken by the shearer, and its wool is cut off, so doth the Lord take His people and shear them, taking away all their earthly comforts, and leaving them bare.

1. A sheep rewards its owner for all his care and trouble by being shorn. Some of God s people can give to Christ a tribute of gratitude by active service, and they should do so gladly every day of their lives; but many others cannot do much in active service, and about the only reward they can give to their Lord is to render up their fleece by suffering when He calls upon them to suffer, submissively yielding to be shorn of their personal comfort when the time comes for patient endurance. The husband, or perhaps the wife, is removed, little children are taken away, property is shorn off, and health is gone. Sometimes the shears cut off the man’s good name; slander follows; comforts vanish. Well, it may be that you are not able to glorify God to any very large extent except by undergoing this process.

2. The sheep is itself benefited by the operation of shearing. Before they begin to shear the sheep the wool is long and old, and every bush and briar tears off a bit of the wool, until the sheep looks ragged and forlorn. If the wool were left, when the heat of summer came the sheep would not be able to bear itself. So when the Lord shears us, we do not like the operation any more than the sheep do; but first, it is for His glory; and secondly, it is for our benefit, and therefore we are bound most willingly to submit. There are many things which we should like to have kept which, if we had kept them, would not have proved blessings but curses. A stale blessing is a curse.

3. Before sheep are shorn they are always washed. If the Good Shepherd is going to clip your wool, ask Him to wash it before He takes it off; ask to be cleansed in spirit, soul and body.

4. After the washing, when the sheep has been dried, it actually loses what was its comfort. You also will have to part with your comforts. The next time you receive a fresh blessing call it a loan. A loan, they say, should go laughing home, and so should we rejoice when the Lord takes back that which He had lent us.

5. The shearers take care not to hurt the sheep: they clip as close as they can, but they do not cut the skin. When they do make a gash, it is because the sheep does not lie still: but a careful shearer has bloodless shears. The Lord may clip wonderfully close: I have known Him clip some so close that they did not seem to have a bit of wool left, for they were stripped entirely.

6. The shearers always shear at a suitable time. It would be a very wicked, cruel, and unwise thing to begin sheep-shearing in winter time. Have you ever noticed that whenever the Lord afflicts us He selects the best possible time?

7. It is with us as with the sheep, there is new wool coming. Whenever the Lord takes away our earthly comforts with one hand, one, two, three, He restores with the other hand, six, a score, a hundred; we are crying and whining about the little loss, and yet it is necessary in order that we may be able to receive the great gain. If the Lord takes away the manna, as He did from His people Israel, it is because they have the old corn of the land of Canaan to live upon. If the water of the rock did not follow the tribes any longer, it was because they drank of the Jordan, and of the brooks.

III. LET US ENDEAVOUR TO IMITATE THE EXAMPLE OF OUR BLESSED LORD WHEN OUR TURN COMES TO BE SHORN. (C H. Spurgeon.)

Eastern sheep-shearing

Those who have seen the noise and roughness of many of our washings and shearings will hardly believe the testimony of that ancient writer Philo-Judaeus when he affirms that the sheep came voluntarily to be shorn He says: “Woolly rams laden with thick fleeces put themselves into the shepherd’s hands to have their wool shorn, being thus accustomed to pay their yearly tribute to man, their king by nature. The sheep stands in a silent inclining posture, unconstrained under the hand of the shearer. These things may appear strange to those who do not know the docility of the sheep, but they are true.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Lying still under the Divine hand

I went to see a friend, the other day, who has had a great number of sore affliction, yet I found her singularly cheerful and content; and when I was speaking with her about the matter, she said, “I have for years enjoyed perfect submission to the Divine will, and it was through what I heard you say.” So I asked her, “What did I say?” She replied, “Why, you told us that you had seen a sheep that was in the hands of the shearers, and that, although all the wool was clipped off its back, the shears never cut into its flesh; and you said that the reason was because the sheep was lying Perfectly still. You said, ‘Lie still, and the shears will not cut you; but if you kick and struggle, you will not only be shorn, for God has resolved to do that, but you will be wounded into the bargain.’” (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Verse 8-9

Isaiah 53:8-9

He was taken from prison and from judgment

“He was taken from prison and from judgment:”

Every word here is ambiguous.
The principal interpretations are as follows--

1. “Without hindrance and without right He was taken away, i.e. He was put to death without opposition from any quarter, and in defiance of justice.

2. “Through oppression and through judgment He was taken away” (so virtually R.V.). “Judgment” here means judicial procedure, and the rendering “oppression” is guaranteed by Psalms 107:39.

3. “From oppression and from judgment He was taken away,” i.e released by death, or taken by God to Himself (2 Kings 2:10). Of the three interpretations, the last seems the most natural. (Prof. J. Skinner, D.D.)

Christ’s impisonment

(with John 18:12-13):--The word “prison” should not, perhaps, be taken to designate a particular place of incarceration; for there is no evidence to show that Christ was ever confined in any such penal cell. He was, however, a prisoner. His limbs were bound, and He was held in the custody of the iron-hearted officers of the Roman government. We shall look upon Christ’s imprisonment in three aspects.

I. AS THE MOST THRILLING CHAPTER IN THE HISTORY OF CHRIST.

1. He was first taken a prisoner from Gethsemane.

2. He was then taken as a prisoner from Annas to Caiaphas (John 18:19-24; Matthew 26:59-68).

3. He was next taken a prisoner from the palace of Caiaphas to the hall of the Sanhedrim.

4. He was next taken as a prisoner from the hall of the Sanhedrim to Pilate John 18:28-38; Luke 23:1-7; Mark 15:1-5; Matthew 27:11-14).

5. He was then taken as a prisoner from Pilate to Herod (Luke 23:8-12).

6. He was then taken as a prisoner back from Herod to Pilate (Luke 23:13-25; Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15).

7. He was finally taken as a prisoner from Pilate to Calvary (Matthew 27:27-50). The cross is the culmination of the whole.

II. As THE GREATEST ENORMITY IN THE ANNALS OF CRIME.

1. His imprisonment combined all the chief elements of crime.

2. His Imprisonment was effected in the name of law and religion.

III. AS THE MOST WONDERFUL ENIGMA IN THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. I know of nothing more wonderful in the universe than the sight of Jesus in bonds.

1. Why does Eternal Justice allow unsullied holiness thus to suffer?

2. Why does Almighty God give men the power to perpetrate such enormities?

3. Why does All-powerful Emanuel Himself submit to these enormities? Does not the vicarious principle stand out in sunny prominence? (D. Thomas, D.D.)

Christ’s ignominious death and glorious resurrection

I. THE SCANDAL ITSELF, laid down in the most aggravating terms--“prison,” “judgment,” “cutting off from the land of the living,” and a “stroke upon Him for transgression” as if the prophet had said, Grant all that you will charge upon Him, prison, judgment, strokes, cutting off--express it the worst way you can, all this will not impeach the glory of His excellency.

II. THE DEFENCE in other terms. “He was taken” from those things, and “who shall declare His generation?” If you think it is not enough to say that He died for others, and that He was stricken for the transgression of My people, yet He did not as every man that dieth for others; He perished not in this expression of His love, as others do: He was taken from prison, and from judgment, and now liveth gloriously. There are two things in the defence--

1. His resurrection. “He was taken from prison and from judgment;” He got out from under it.

2. His life and duration in that state. “Who shall declare His generation?” The sense is, who shall declare His age or duration? who can tell those endless ages that Christ shall live? (T. Manton, D.D.)

Who shall declare His generation?--

“Who shall declare His generation?”

The Hebrew word for “generation” is translated “age” in Isaiah 38:12, but it more properly means “lifetime.” The Septuagint translators have, however, hit the true idea of this passage in making the Greek word word γενεάν, instead of βίον or αἰῶνα, for the thought regards the apparent brevity of Messiah career. “He comes, and He goes, and there is an end of Him. Who will take the trouble to think about a life that is cut off so soon, and leaves, apparently, no trace? He has no successor, no family, no descendants to preserve His name.” The Septuagint reading, therefore, while not a literal translation of the Hebrew, follows its thought. The Hebrew literally is, “Who shall think upon His career?” The Septuagint is, “Who shall describe or recount His race or generation?” The one refers directly to His lifetime, but indirectly to His posterity; the other confines itself to the posterity. Now, both questions are answered in Isaiah 38:10” “He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days.” The Messiah will have a spiritual seed on the earth, and in them He will continue His own earthly life. (Howard Crosby, LL.D.)

“Who shall declare His generation?”

Meyer, Alford, and others understand this as equivalent to, “Who can describe the wickedness of the men of this time?” Hengstenberg interprets it, “Who shall declare His posterity?” i.e. His spiritual children, born of the travail of His soul. Delitzsch translates, “Of His contemporaries, who considered this: ‘ He was snatched out of the land of the living, seeing that, on account of the transgression of My people, vengeance fell on Him?’” “Who shall declare His generation?” A difficult clause. The Hebrew word for “generation” (dor) may mean--

For the transgression of My people was He stricken

Christ “smitten unto death:”

There is reason to believe that the original text has, in this instance, undergone some alteration, and that it anciently stood thus, “He was smitten unto death.” It was thus written by Origen, who assures us that a certain Jew, with whom he disputed, seemed to feel himself more pressed by this expression than by any other part of the chapter. It is thus rendered by the Septuagint in our present copies; and if, in this instance, it had not concurred with the original, neither could Origen have urged it with good faith, nor the Jew have felt himself embarrassed by the argument which is suggested. (R. Hall, M.A.)

The Person stricken

The Jews pretend that no single person is designed in this portion of prophecy; but that the people of Israel collectively are denoted under the figure of one man, and that the purport of the chapter is a delineation of the calamities and sufferings which that nation should undergo, with a view to its correction and amendment. The absurdity of this evasion will be obvious to him who considers that the person who is represented as “stricken” is carefully distinguished by the prophet from the people for whoso benefit He suffered. “For the transgression of My people was He stricken:” in addition to which, He is affirmed to be stricken “even to death,” which, as Origen very properly urged, agrees well with the fate of an individual, but not with that of a people. (R. Hall, M. A.)

The substitution of the innocent for the guilty

Let us consider what circumstance met in this case, and must be supposed to concur on any occasion of this kind, to render fit and proper the substitution of an innocent person in the place of the guilty; and what is peculiar in the character of our Saviour, which renders it worthy of God to set Him apart as “a propitiation the sins of the world,” and annex the blessings of eternal life to such as believe in the doctrine of the Cross, and repent, and turn to God.

I. It is obvious that such a procedure as we are now contemplating, in order to give it validity and effect, MUST BE SANCTIONED BY THE SUPREME AUTHORITY. For a private person, whatever might be his station in society, to pretend to introduce such a commutation of punishment as is implied in such a transaction, would be a presumptuous invasion of legislative rights, which no well-regulated society would tolerate. This condition was most unequivocally satisfied in the mystery of Christ’s substitution.

II. Another indispensable circumstance in such a proceeding, is, that IT SHOULD BE PERFECTLY VOLUNTARY ON THE PART OF THE SUFFERER. Otherwise, it would be an act of the highest injustice; it would be the addition of one offence to another, and give a greater shock to all rightly-disposed minds than the acquittal of the guilty without any atonement. Here there appears, at first sight, an insuperable difficulty in the way of human salvation. How could that be rendered which was, at once, due to sin and mankind at large? Where could one be found that would endure the penalty freely, which was incurred by a sinful world? This our Saviour did. No sacrifice should go unwillingly to the altar. It was, indeed, reckoned a bad omen when any one did so. None ever went so willingly as He.

III. It is farther necessary that the substitute not only undertake voluntarily, but that HE BE PERFECTLY FREE FROM THE OFFENCE WHICH RENDERS PUNISHMENT NECESSARY. Accordingly, in the case of man Divine justice cannot be willing to acquiesce in a substitute who is a sharer in guilt; for the law has a previous hold upon him; there is a debt due on his own account. But Jesus Christ, though a man, was, by reason of His miraculous conception, free from the taint of original sin.

IV. There would be a great propriety in this also, that THE INNOCENT PERSON SUBSTITUTED FOR THE GUILTY, SHOULD STAND IN SOME RELATION TO HIM. Now, our Lord Jesus Christ was related to mankind; one like them whom He came to redeem. This was shadowed forth in the law of a Redeemer of a lost estate. The person who was to redeem must be related: hence a redeemer and a relation were expressed by one term, and the nearest relation was to redeem. Hence, then, the incarnation of our Lord was necessary.

V. If the substitution of the innocent in the room of the guilty is at all permitted, it seems requisite that NO ADVANTAGE SHOULD BE TAKEN OF A MOMENTARY ENTHUSIASM, a sudden impulse of heroic feeling, which might prompt a generous mind to make a sacrifice, of which, on cool deliberation, be repented. In the ease we are now contemplating, nothing could reconcile the mind to such a procedure but such a settled purpose on the part of the substitute as precludes the possibility of a vacillation or change. But this condition is found in the highest perfection on the part of the blessed Redeemer. His oblation of Himself was not the execution of a sudden purpose, the fruit of a momentary movement of pity; it was the result of deliberate counsel, the accomplishment of an ancient purpose, formed in the remotest recesses of a past eternity.

VI. In the case of the substitution of the innocent for the guilty, it seems highly requisite that HE WHO OFFERS HIMSELF AS THE SUBSTITUTE SHOULD JUSTIFY THE LAW BY WHICH HE SUFFERS. In the substitution of the Redeemer of mankind were conjoined the most prompt and voluntary endurance of the penalty, with the most avowed and cordial approbation of the justice of its sanctions. It was a great part of the business of His life to assert and vindicate by His doctrine that law which He magnified and made illustrious by His passion. Never had the law such an expounder as in the person of Him who came into the world to exhaust its penalties, and endure its curse.

VII. That the voluntary substitution of an innocent person, in the stead of the guilty, may be capable of answering the ends of justice, nothing seems more necessary than that THE SUBSTITUTE SHOULD BE OF EQUAL CONSIDERATION, AT LEAST, TO THE PARTY IN WHOSE BEHALF HE INTERPOSES. The interests sacrificed by the suffering party should not be of less cost and value than those which are secured by such a procedure. But the aggregate value of those interests must be supposed to be in some proportion to the rank and dignity of the party to which they belong. As a sacrifice to justice, the life of a peasant must, on this principle, be deemed a most inadequate substitute for that of a personage of the highest order. We should consider the requisitions of justice eluded, rather than satisfied, by such a commutation. It is on this ground that St. Paul declares it to be “impossible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take away sins.” In this view the redemption of the human race seemed to be hopeless; for where could an adequate substitute be found? The mystery hid from ages and generations, the mystery of Christ crucified, dispels the obscurity, and presents, in the person of the Redeemer, all the qualifications which human conception can embody as contributing to the perfect character of a substitute.

VIII. However much we might be convinced of the competence of vicarious suffering to accomplish the ends of justice, and whatever the benefits we may derive from it, A BENEVOLENT MIND COULD NEVER BE RECONCILED TO THE SIGHT OF VIRTUE OF THE HIGHEST ORDER FINALLY OPPRESSED AND CONSUMED BY ITS OWN ENERGIES and the more intense the admiration excited, the more eager would be the desire of same compensatory arrangement, some expedient by which an ample retribution might be assigned to such heroic sacrifices. If the suffering of the substitute involved his destruction, what satisfaction could a generous and feeling mind derive from impunity procured at such a cost! While we rejoice in the cross of Christ as the source of pardon, our satisfaction is heightened by beholding it succeeded by the crown.

IX. If the principle of substitution be at all admitted in the operations of criminal law, it is tog obvious to require proof that IT SHOULD BE INTRODUCED VERY SPARINGLY, only on very rare occasions, and never be allowed to subside into a settled course. It requires some great crisis to justify its introduction, some extraordinary combination of difficulties, obstructing the natural course of justice; it requires, that while the letter of the law is dispensed with, its spirit be fully adhered to; so that, instead of tending to weaken the motives to obedience, it shall present a salutary monition, a moral and edifying spectacle. The substitution of Christ in the room of a guilty race receives all the advantage as an impressive spectacle which it is possible to derive from this circumstance. It stands amidst the lapse of ages, and the waste of worlds, a single and solitary monument.

X. Whenever the expedient of vicarious suffering is adopted, A PUBLICATION OF THE DESIGN OF THAT TRANSACTION BECOMES AS INDISPENSABLY NECESSARY AS OF THE TRANSACTION ITSELF since none of the effects which it is intended to produce can be realized but in proportion as that is understood. Hence we see the infinite importance, in the doctrine of the Cross, that not merely the fact of our Lord’s death and sufferings should be announced, but that their object and purpose, as a great moral expedient, should be published to all nations. The doctrine of remission of sins, through the blood of that Victim which was once offered for the sins of the world, forms the grand peculiarity of the Gospel, and was the principal theme of the apostolic ministry, and is still pre-eminently “the power of God to salvation.” (R. Hall, M. A.)

The crucifixion

I. THE SUFFERING ITSELF. “He was stricken.” The greatness of this suffering will be made out to us upon these three accounts.

1. Of the latitude and extent of it.

2. Of the intenseness and sharpness of it.

3. Of the person inflicting it.

II. THE NATURE OF THE SUFFERING, which was penal, and expiatory, “He was stricken for transgression.”

III. THE GROUND AND CAUSE OF THIS SUFFERING, which was God’s propriety in, and relation to, the persons for whom Christ was stricken, implied in this word, “My people.” Conclusion: Christianity is a suffering religion, and there are two sorts of suffering to which it will certainly expose every genuine professor of it.

1. A suffering from himself; even that grand suffering of self-denial and mortification, the sharpest and most indispensable of all others, in which every Christian is not only to be the sufferer, but himself also the executioner. “He who is Christ’s,” says the apostle, “has crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.”

2. From the world. (R. South, D.D.)

The stricken Christ

I. WHO WAS STRICKEN?

II. REFER TO HIS SUFFERINGS. How was He stricken?

1. With reproach. “As for this fellow, we know not whence He is.”

2. With ingratitude. His very “disciples forsook Him, and fled.”

3. With poverty.

4. Chiefly by the rod of His heavenly Father.

III. THE OBJECT OF THESE SUFFERINGS. “For the transgression of My people was He stricken.”

1. Justice is satisfied.

2. Conscience is at peace.

IV. THE FRUITS OF HIS SUFFERINGS, in connection with our own feelings and experience.

1. The devil is now destroyed. However formidable an enemy, the power of his arm is foiled.

2. The soul is saved.

3. All possible consolation is secured. (J. Parsons.)


Verse 9

Isaiah 53:9

And He made his grave with the wicked

“With the rich in His death:”

“Rich” must mean “wicked,” just as “poor” often means godly.
(
A. B. Davidson, D.D.)

The suffering Servant given a convict’s grave

Having conceived Him to have been lawfully put to death, they consistently gave Him a convict’s grave; “they made His grave with the wicked, and He was with the felon in His death,” though He was an innocent man--“He had done no harm; neither was guile in His mouth.” (Prof. G. A. Smith, D.D.)

“With the rich in His death:”

The meaning is, “His grave was assigned to Him with criminals, and with a rich man after He had actually died a painful death,” i.e. He was to have been laid where the bodies of dead criminals lie, but He came after His death to lie in a grave that had been intended for the corpse of a rich man. (F. Delitzsch, D.D.)

A prophecy of Messiah

I. SOMETHING FORETOLD CONCERNING THE MESSIAH, that is, that He shall make His grave, etc.

II. A REASON SUBJOINED, taken from His innocency. (J. Durham.)

Christ laid in the grave

In all the Evangelists it is clear that after death He was laid in the grave, and very particular notice is taken of it. Take here some reasons of this necessity.

1. That the unstaindeness and purity of Divine justice may appear, and that, therefore, the perfection of His satisfaction may be confirmed.

2. It is much for the manifestation of the great love of God, and of the rich condescending grace of the Mediator, who is not only content to die, but to be laid in the grave, and to suffer death to have a kind of dominion over Him for a time.

3. It is for the consolation of the believer and serves mightily to strengthen him against the fear of death and the grave. He may lie down quietly in the grave, because it was Christ’s bed, warmed, to say so, by Him.

4. It serves to confirm the truth of the resurrection of Christ. (J. Durham.)


Verse 10-11

Isaiah 53:10-11

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him

“It pleased the Lord to bruise Him:”

The Lord’s hand was supreme in the business--

1.
In respect of His appointing Christ’s sufferings. It was concluded in the counsel of God that He should, suffer.

2. In respect of the ordering and overruling of His sufferings. He, who governs all the counsels, thoughts and actions of men, did, in a special manner, govern and overrule the sufferings of the Mediator; though wicked men were following their own design, and were stirred and acted by the devil, who is said to have put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ--yet God had the ordering of all who should betray Him, what death He should die, how He should be pierced, and yet not a bone of Him be broken.

3. In respect of His having had a hand actively in them (John 19:11; Matthew 27:46; Romans 8:32; Zechariah 13:7). (J. Durham.)

The good pleasure of God in redemption

The good pleasure of God. Which the prophet marks to show--

1. That all the good that comes by Christ to sinners is bred in the Lord’s own bosom.

2. The concurrence of all the Persons of the Trinity in promoting the work of the redemption of sinners. (J. Durham.)

The Divine complacency in the sorrows of Christ

There are many expressions in Scripture, which, without explanation, are repugnant to human instincts of justice, and shocking to our intuitions of love. This is a case in point. He had done nothing overtly or morally to deserve severity, “yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.” It revolts our first feeling of equity and compassion; and when the statement is applied to Him of whom we are taught that God is love, we shrink at the sternness of the words. Had it been said the Lord found it necessary to put Him to grief, it would, have been mysterious enough, and we should have found ourselves asking “Why?” and catechizing our speculative ideals of Divine equity and of moral necessity. But to read that it pleased the Lord to inflict this bruise and to impose this grief is a riddle which seems as harsh as it is contradictory. (A. Mursell.)

The unity of the Father and the Son in atonement

All this confusion and injustice arises from sustaining too literally in our minds the figure of duality which excludes the Father from participation in the sacrifice, and the Son from the acquiescent willinghood of its executive. It is not the punishment of an innocent Son by an angry Father that we have to consider, but rather the co-operation of the entire Godhead in the tragedy of sorrow out of which the redemption of mortality was born. Under the figure of Father and Son, the Deity devoted the full strength and tenderness of the Divine character and resource to the salvation of our race. And, in this respect, there was, and ever will be, a Divine complacency in the sorrow and suffering from which that redemption sprang. (A. Mursell.)

Christ’s complacency in the Divine sorrows

Our topic is the Divine complacency in the sorrows of Christ. It will bear transposition; and we can speak of Christ’s complacency in the Divine sorrows. Here is a blending of pleasure and pain, of joy and sorrow, as full of mystery as of love, but the key to whose mystery is carried in the bosom of its love. The sorrows of Christ were endured in pursuance of the settled and ancient purpose of God. Not of the purpose of a Father to afflict His Son, but of the purpose of the Divine Creator to redeem His universe. There was a compact of pity and of power in the heart and arm of God as soon as man had lapsed, that his lapse should be atoned and his fall restored. The Creator was not to be baffled in His plan. His life was bound up in that of His Maker; and because He lived man must live also. Not only because He loved us, but because He would not be defeated, did the mind of Deity set itself to untie the knot which the serpent had encoiled around the creature of God’s image. (A. Mursell.)

Divine love and Divine suffering

1. The sorrows which atonement involved became a source of complacency to the Divine mind, inasmuch as the Lord foresaw their certain issues.

2. Nor could this complacency in sorrow fail to be augmented by the thought of the universal interest those sorrows would awaken. Earth, for whose sake they were endured, was the last to show that interest.

3. This complacency was made complete because the sorrows it confronted removed the barrier from the exercise of infinite beneficence and love. What is more tantalizing to a soul aflame than love restrained? (A. Mursell.)

The bruising of the Son of God the pleasure of His Father

I. WHOM DID JEHOVAH BRUISE?

II. HOW DID HE BRUISE HIM?

III. WHY DID HE TAKE PLEASURE IN BRUISING HIM?

1. That He might execute His pleasant decrees.

2. That He might fulfil His pleasant promises.

3. That He might redeem the chosen objects of His love.

4. That He might promote His Son to the highest honours.

5. That He might exalt His own glory to the uttermost. (W. Taylor.)

The bruising of Jesus

The Father was “pleased” to bruise Emmanuel.

I. BECAUSE OF THE HOLY SUFFERER’S PERFECT SYMPATHY WITH HIS PURPOSE, as being the vindication of the Divine holiness, “the magnifying of the Divine law,” and the upholding of the Divine government.

II. BECAUSE UNDER THIS “BRUISING” JESUS WAS MANIFESTING THE DIVINE LOVE AND SYMPATHY FOR AND WITH US--perfect as it was God’s, and yet true brotherly, as it was man’s.

III. BECAUSE OF WHAT HE DESIRED TO SEE IN US. (J. Wylie, D.D.)

God’s purpose in the awful tragedy of the Cross

It is so utter a perversion of justice, so signal a triumph of wrong over right, so final a disappearance into oblivion of the fairest life that ever lived, that men might be tempted to say, God has forsaken His own. On the contrary. God’s own will and pleasure have been in this tragedy. “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.” The line as it thus stands in our English Version has a grim, repulsive sound. But the Hebrew word has no necessary meaning of pleasure or enjoyment. All it says is, God so willed it. His purpose was in this tragedy. (Prof. G. A. Smith, D.D.)

Christ’s sufferings; their cause, nature and fruits

The prophet is still dealing with the Jews scandals. Whilst you look only to the outward meanness and sufferings of Christ, you overlook the design of God in Him.

I. THE WILL OF GOD. “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him,” etc., that is the cause of His sufferings.

II. THE NATURE OF HIS SUFFERINGS. “When Thou shall make His soul an offering for sin.”

III. THE FRUITS OF HIS SUFFERING. (T. Manton, D.D.)

Christ’s sufferings Divinely ordained

All the sufferings of Jesus Christ were laid on Him by the ordination and appointment of, God the Father. This appears by Scripture, which asserts--

1. The choice of Christ’s person, and the designation and deputation of Him to the office of Mediator (Isaiah 42:1; John 6:27; Ro 1 Peter 1:20).

2. The bestowing the person of Christ upon us, so that He was made ours John 3:16).

3. The determining of all the sufferings of Christ; not a sorrow, but God had it in His thoughts before all worlds (Acts 2:23; Luke 22:22; Acts 4:27-28).

4. There are some expressions which seem to imply as if there were more than a bare knowledge and permission in this great affair, as if there were some kind of action in Christ’s sufferings. It will be worthy the inquiring, then, what acts of God, what efficiency there was from Him towards the sufferings of Christ?

The reasons of this point are--

1. Because all things fall under His decrees and the care of His providence, and therefore certainly this matter of Christ does.

2. Because this was the special design and contrivance of Heaven to bring forth Christ into the world; all other dispensations looked this way. (T. Manton, D. D.)

God’s eternal pleasure revealed in Christ

The plot of the Gospel was long since drawn in heaven, and lay hid in God’s breast, till He was pleased to copy out His eternal thoughts, and give the world a draught of them. (T. Manton, D. D.)

God working His own counsel through human agency

How is the creature to blame, then, for smiting and bruising of Christ? Or if to blame, how is God clear?

1. For the creatures’ blame. They are faulty--

2. For the justifying of God when He judgeth. His justice cannot be impeached, because He infuseth no evil, enforceth to no evil, only ordaineth what shall be. His goodness cannot be impeached for suffering things which He can turn to such advantage for His own glory and the creature s good. God s decrees are immanent in Himself, working nothing that is evil in the creatures. (T. Manton, D. D.)

When Thou shalt make His Soul an offering for sin

Christ an offering for sin

1. It is here supposed that there is sin on the person, and that wrath due for sin is to be removed.

2. That there is an inability in the person to remove the sin, and yet a necessity to have it removed, or else he must suffer.

3. The intervening, or coming of something in the place of that person who is guilty of sin, and liable to wrath.

4. The acceptance of that which interveneth by God, the party offended, and so a covenant whereby the Lord hath condescended to accept that offering. (J. Durham.)

Christ a guilt-offering

(R.V., marg.):--Hebrews asham (Leviticus 5:14; Leviticus 6:7), to be carefully distinguished from the sin-offering (Hebrews chattah, Leviticus 4:1; Leviticus 5:13). Sin is viewed as a sacrilege, an invasion of God s honour: the asham is the satisfaction paid for it, viz the innocent life of the Righteous Servant. (Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)

The guilt-offering

There is a historical passage which, though the term “guilt-offering” is not used in it, admirably illustrates the idea. A famine in David’s time was revealed to be due to the murder of certain Gibeonites by the house of Saul. David asked the Gibeonites what reparation he could make. They said it was not a matter of damages. But both parties felt that before the law of God could be satisfied and the land relieved of its curse, some atonement, some guilt-offering, must be made to the, Divine law. It was a wild kind of satisfaction that was paid. Seven men of Saul’s house were hung up before the Lord in Gibeon. But the instinct, though satisfied in so murderous a fashion, was a true and a grand instinct--the conscience of a law above all human laws and rights, to which homage must be paid before the sinner could come into true relations with God, or the Divine curse be lifted off. (Prof. G. A. Smith, D.D.)

The Monarch self-surrender, a trespass-offering and a sin-offering

What this suffering meant, the prophet indicates in several phrases which we will link together. “His soul shall make a guilt-offering” (Isaiah 53:10). “He shall bear their iniquities “(Isaiah 53:11). “He bare the sin of many” (Isaiah 53:12). These three expressions are derived from the Mosaic ritual; the first, from the trespass-offering, the second, from the law concerning the scapegoat, the third from the sin-offering. Inasmuch, however, as the sending away of the scapegoat was a part of the ceremonial connected with the sin-offering on the great day of atonement, we may let the second and third expressions blend into one. And then we get the thought that this suffering Servant would at once fill up the varied meanings of the sin-offering and of the guilt-offering. (C. Clemance, D.D.)

In Messiah’s offering, the meanings of the trespass-offerings and the sin-offerings were all included

1. That there was a distinction between the significance of the trespass-offerings and that of the sin-offerings is seen in the fact that each kind of offerings had its own specific ritual and set of laws (Leviticus 11:25; Leviticus 7:1). But it is not so easy to point out wherein that distinction lay. They had some points in common. Both recognized sin in some form or other. Though every sin might not be a trespass, yet every trespass was a sin, hence (at least in one case) the trespass was to be atoned for by a sin-offering (Leviticus 5:6). Both of them were for sins of omission and for sins of commission. Both were for inadvertent and for known sins. Both were for sins against conscience and against God. Both were for some sins against property. Both were for open and for secret sins. So that it is not surprising that the two frequently seem to overlap. Still a careful study will help us to draw out some distinctions between them--

.

.

.

(9) In the sin-offering the priest is always the representative of the offerer; in the trespass-offering he is generally the representative of God. “Thus the trespass-offering was a restitution or compensation made to God, in being paid to the priest, a payment or penance which made amends for the wrong done--a satisfactio in a disciplinary sense.”

2. The prophet in the chapter before us declares that the trespass-offering and the sin-offering will be fulfilled in this Servant of God; that His work for man, towards God in reference to sin, will take into account all the aspects of sin, will honour all the claims of God, and will meet all the need of man. And so, in fact, we find it when we come to examine the representations of the work of our Lord Jesus, as given us in the New Testament.

3. Let us learn, then--of the unity there is between the law and the Gospel. We have this prophecy standing seven hundred years after the giving of the one, seven hundred years before the announcement of the other: yet we find the very phrases of the prophet are adopted from the Mosaic ritual, pointing to its fulfilment in the Messiah; while the New Testament teachings as to the work of Christ are based on both ritual and prophecy, carrying them both on to their fulness of meaning, and revealing their wealth of glory.

Expiation

Both Jews and Gentiles knew pretty well what an offering for sin meant. The Gentiles had been in the habit of offering sacrifices. The Jews, however, had by far the clearer idea of it.

I. SIN DESERVES AND DEMANDS PUNISHMENT.

II. THE PROVISION AND ACCEPTANCE OF A SUBSTITUTE FOR SINNERS IS AN ACT OF GRACE.

III. JESUS IS THE MOST FITTING PERSON TO BE A SUBSTITUTE, AND HIS WORK IS THE MOST FITTING WORK TO BE A SATISFACTION.

IV. CHRIST’S WORK, AND THE EFFECTS OF THAT WORK ARE NOW COMPLETE. (C. H, Spurgeon.)

Christ’s death and the law of God

By His death the Servant did homage to the law of God. By dying to it He made men feel that the supreme end of man was to own that law and be in a right relation to it, and that the supreme service was to help others to a right relation. As it is said a little farther down, “My Servant, righteous Himself, wins righteousness for many, and makes their iniquities His load. (Prof. G.A. Smith, D.D.)

The guilt-offering

It is strange but true, that the saddest, darkest day that ever broke upon our world is destined to cure the sadness and dissipate the darkness for evermore. It is to the passion of the Redeemer that loving hearts turn in their saddest, darkest, most sin-conscious hours to find solace, light, and help.. As though to obviate the possibility of mistaking its meaning, we are reminded again, and yet again, that the death of the Divine Servant was no ordinary episode; but distinguished from all other deaths, from all martyrdoms and sacrifices, in its unique and lonely grandeur--the one perfect and sufficient sacrifice and oblation for the sins of the whole world. The prophet s thought will become apparent, if we notice--I THE COMMON LOT OF MAN. It may be summed up in three words--suffering, sin, death.

II. THE NOTABLE EXCEPTION OF THIS CHAPTER. The Divine Servant presents a notable exception to the lot of man; not in His sufferings, for He was “a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief;” nor in His death, for He died many deaths in one (Isaiah 53:9, R.V., marg.); but in His perfect innocence and goodness. He had done no violence, neither was any deceit m His mouth. The Divine Servant has passed through every painful experience; has drunk to its dregs every cup; has studied deeply every black-lettered volume in the library of pain. In His case, at least, man’s hastily-formed conclusions are falsified. Generally we pass from singular suffering to discover its cause in some hidden or remote transgression. In the case of Jesus Christ, however, this explanation of His unique sufferings was altogether at fault. Another explanation must, therefore, be forthcoming to account for the sufferings of the innocent Saviour. The explanation lay hid as a secret concealed in a hieroglyph, in the vast system of Levitical sacrifice which foreshadowed the “offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” So, under the Divine guidance, men were led from the conclusions of Isaiah 53:4 to those of Isaiah 53:5. These conclusions expressed here as the verdict of the human conscience, after scanning the facts in the light of history, are confirmed and clenched by the unanimous voice of the New Testament. This is the great exception which has cast a new light on the mystery of pain and sorrow. It may be that there is other suffering, which, in a lower sense and in a smaller measure, is also redemptive, fulfilling Divine purposes in the lives of others; though no sufferer is free from sin as Christ was, and none has ever been able to expiate sin as He.

III. THE PERSONAL APPLICATION OF THESE TRUTHS. “Thou must make his soul a guilt-offering” (R.V., marg.) This term, “guilt-offering,” occurs in the Book of Leviticus. If a man committed a trespass in the holy things of the Lord, he was directed to select and bring from his flock a ram without blemish. This was his “guilt-offering”--the word used here. He was to make a money restitution for his offence; but the atonement was made through the ram (Leviticus 5:1-16). Similarly, if a man sinned against his neighbor, either in oppressing him or withholding his dues, or neglecting to restore property which had been entrusted to him, he was not only to make restitution, but to bring his guilt-offering to the Lord--a ram without blemish out of the flock--and the priest made an atonement before the Lord, and he was forgiven concerning whatsoever he had done to be made guilty thereby (Leviticus 6:1-7). Is there one of us who has not committed a trespass and sinned in the holy things of the Lord? Is there one of us who has not failed in his obligations to neighbour and friend? How certainly we need to present the guilt-offering! There is no mention made of the necessity of summoning priestly aid. This is the more remarkable, when we consider the strict Levitical system in which Israel was cradled. It would seem that in the great crisis of its need, the soul of man reverts to an earlier cult, and goes back beyond the elaborate system of the temple to the practice of the patriarchal tent, where each man acted as his own priest, and offered the guilt-offering with his own hand. No third person is needed in thy transactions with God. Jesus is Priest as well as Sacrifice. (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

The atonement and its results

I. THE THING DONE. “When thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin.” “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” This sentence, written by the finger of God on the page of Scripture, is also written as a received truth on every page of the history of heathenism. However we may recoil from the fearful superstitions of Paganism, and weep over that sad ignorance which can suppose God delighted even with human sacrifice, never let it be forgotten that in the bloodiest rites of idolatry there are the vestiges of a truth which is the very sum and substance of Christianity. We can turn our gaze to the evidence of what is called natural religion, accompanied, it may be, and loaded with what is abominable; and there we find monuments in every age that God, at some time or another, hath broken the silences of eternity, and spoken to His apostate creatures, and taught them that unless there could be found a sufficient sin-offering, the sinful must bear for ever the burden of His displeasure. Thus from the first God gave notices of the plan of redemption, and gradually prepared the way for that oblation which could alone take away sin. In the deep recesses of Christ’s undefiled spirit was paid down the debt which man owed to God.

II. ITS CONSEQUENCES. (H. Melvill, B.D.)

He shall see His seed

Notable effects following Christ’s sufferings

1. “He shall see His seed.” Men by the suffering of death are incapacitated to increase their offspring, but this is a quickening suffering and death that hath a numerous offspring.

2. “He shall prolong His days,” which seems to be another paradox; for men’s days are shortened by their sufferings and death; but though He be dead and buried yet He shall rise again and ascend, and sit down at the right hand of the Father and live for ever, to make intercession for His people.

3. A third effect, which is the upshot of all, is, “the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” God hath designed Him for a work--the great work of redemption--even the bringing of many sons to glory. He shall pull many captives from the devil, and set many prisoners free; He shall, by His sufferings, overcome the devil, death and the grave, and all enemies; shall gather the sons of God together from the four corners of the earth. (J. Durham.)

Christ seeing His seed

1. A relation implied betwixt Christ and believers. They are “His seed,” such as in the next verse are said to be “justified” by Him.

2. A prophecy of the event that should follow Christ’s sufferings. Our Lord Jesus should not only have a seed, but a numerous seed.

3. Considering the words as a promise they hold out this--that though our Lord Jesus suffer and die He shall not only have a seed, but shall “see His seed.” He shall outlive His sufferings and death and shall be delighted in seeing them who shall get the good of His sufferings. (J. Durham.)

Believers Christ’s seed

1. They have their being of Him.

2. In respect of the likeness that is betwixt Him and them.

3. In respect of the care that He hath of them.

4. In respect of the portion which they get from Him.

5. Because of the manner of their coming to the possession of that, which through Him they have a claim to. They have a claim to nothing, but by being heirs to and with Him. (J. Durham.)

Christ seeing His seed

In “shall see His seed and have long life,” the figure of a patriarch blessed with longevity and numerous descendants Genesis 1:22, etc.) is in the prophet s thoughts. (Prof. S. R. Driver, D.D.)

The Atonement indicates the dignity of man

Men do not launch lifeboats to pick up corks, and we may rest assured that in the atonement there is a just proportion between means and ends. (James Duckworth.)

Messiah contemplating His spiritual offspring

I. HE SHALL SEE THEM ALL BORN AND BROUGHT IN.

II. HE SHALL SEE THEM ALL EDUCATED AND BROUGHT UP.

III. HE SHALL SEE THEM ALL SUPPORTED AND BROUGHT THROUGH.

IV. HE SHALL SEE THEM ALL PERFECTED AND BROUGHT HOME. (R. Muter, D. D.)

Christ’s spiritual Offspring

I. MESSIAH’S GLORY IS INSEPARABLY CONNECTED WITH THE HAPPINESS OF HIS OFFSPRING.

II. THE APPLICATION IS NOT LESS CERTAIN THAN THE PURCHASE OF REDEMPTION.

III. A SEASONABLE AND POWERFUL ANTIDOTE AGAINST UNDUE DEPRESSION OR ALARM ABOUT THE LOW STATE OF RELIGION IN THE CHURCH.

IV. IT IS OUR DUTY AND HONOUR TO CONCUR IN CARRYING THIS SCRIPTURE INTO EFFECT. (R. Muter, D. D.)

Seeing His seed

(with John 17:2, and Ephesians 5:25-27):--“His Seed.” This clearly implies that the Messiah should be the living Head of a new spiritual race. As Adam was the head of the human family, and Abraham the header the Hebrew people, so the Lord Jesus was to be the head of a spiritual seed. The Psalmist in the second Psalm, plainly a Messianic one, declares: “Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.” Our Lord Jesus Himself spoke of those who would be saved by Him as given to Him by the Father. And apostles speak of the Church as composed of men gathered to the Lord, and belonging to Him. Precisely this thought is expanded in Ephesians 5:25-27.

I. CHRIST’S SURRENDER OF HIMSELF WAS THE EXPRESSION OF HIS LOVE.

II. A LIVING CHURCH, THE CREATION OF HIS LOVE. Just as the sculptor, before he begins to chip the marble into shape, sees with his mind’s eye the figure which is first conceived by his genius and then fashioned by his skill--so with our Divine Redeemer. He from eternity, before man wascreated, beheld him coming into being, placed on His own footing, falling, redeemed, saved. And, as the result of His atoning work, there rises up, through His Spirit, the fufilment of His own ideal, a new creation, a living Church, distinguished the marks of forgiveness, justification, renewal and eternal life.

III. CLEANSING THE CHURCH, THE CONTINUOUS ACTION OF HIS LOVE. “That He might sanctify and cleanse it.” Then He does not love the Church because it is clean, but He first loves it that He may make it clean.

IV. PERFECTING THE CHURCH, THE FAR-OFF VISION OF HIS LOVE. “A glorious Church, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.”

V. PRESENTING THE CHURCH TO HIMSELF, THE REALIZATION OF THE IDEAL OF HIS LOVE. (C. Clemance, D.D.)

The posterity of Christ

Jesus is still alive, for to see anything is the act of a living person. Do not be afraid that Christ’s work will break down because He is dead. He lives to carry it on.

I. THE DEATH OF CHRIST HAS PRODUCED A POSTERITY. We do not read that the Lord Jesus has followers. That would be true; but the text prefers to say He has a seed.

1. All who truly follow Christ and are saved by Him have His life in them.

2. Believers in Christ are said to be His seed because they are like Him.

3. They prosecute the same ends, and expect to receive the same reward. We are towards Christ His seed, and thus heirs to all that He has--heirs to His business on earth, heirs to His estate in heaven. They speak of the seed royal. What shall I say of the seed of Christ? You may be a poor person, but you are of the imperial house. You are ignorant and unlettered, it may be, and your name will never shine on the roll of science, but He who is the Divine Wisdom owns you as one of His seed. It may be that you are sick; by and by you will die. But you are of His seed, who died, and rose, and is gone into glory. You are of the seed of Him, “who only hath immortality.” It follows if we are thus of a seed, that we ought to be united, and love each other more and more. Christian people, you ought to have a clannish feeling l

II. THAT POSTERITY OF HIS REMAINS. If it had been possible to destroy the Church of God on earth, it would have been destroyed long ago.

1. Only read the story of the persecutions under Nero, etc. As to our own country, read the story of persecutions here.

2. There have been laborious attempts to destroy the Church of Christ by error.

3. Worldliness has gone a long way to destroy the Church of God.

III. THIS POSTERITY IS ALWAYS UNDER THE IMMEDIATE EYE OF CHRIST. “He shall see His seed.” He sees them when they are first born anew. Wherever His seed may wander, He still sees them. This look of Christ is one of intense delight. He will see all His seed to the last. What a seed He will have to see in the morning. It will be a part of His heaven for Him to look upon His redeemed. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

He shall prolong His days (with Hebrews 7:15-16; Hebrews 7:25)

The enduring life of Christ after His sufferings

In these passages we have given to us, first in Hebrew prophecy, and then in Christian teaching, the doctrine of the enduring life of the Christ after His sufferings are over.

The Old Testament prophet sees from afar the new life of the Messiah, in a blaze of glory. The New Testament prophet declares the life already begun, and indicates the purposes for which that life is being spent as well as the glory with which it is crowned. The words quoted from the Epistle to the Hebrews are a goal rather than a starting-point. They teach the following truths--

1. Jesus Christ is now exalted: He is a Priest upon His throne.

2. In Him there is the power of an indissoluble life.

3. Because of an indissoluble life, there is an intransmissible priesthood.

4. This life and this priesthood are in action for the purpose of saving.

5. Since the life is indissoluble, and the priesthood intransmissible, there is an infinitude of saving power. (C. Clemance, D.D.)

The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand

The “pleasure of Jehovah”

The “pleasure of Jehovah” is the Servant’s religious mission (Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 42:4; Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 49:8). (Prof. S. R. Driver, D.D.)

The success of Christ in His work

I. WHAT ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND BY THE PLEASURE OF THE LORD, the work which is here said to prosper?

1. What is the work to which the declaration refers? The term “pleasure of the Lord,” as here used, must he considered as expressive of His gracious design to save a number of the human race from sin and all its fatal consequences; to render them perfect in holiness; and put them in full possession of happiness in the heavenly state. It includes in it, therefore, what has been termed the work of grace in the soul while here, and the full fruition of glory hereafter. In this work there are two things to be considered--

2. Why is this work called “the pleasure of the Lord”?

II. WHAT PART HAS THE REDEEMER IN THIS WORK? The management of it is wholly committed to His care. It is “in His hand.”

1. Reconciling sinners unto God is a principal part of the work of salvation committed to the care of the Redeemer.

2. It belongs to the Redeemer, as their Saviour, to preserve His people from every thing that is evil in death.

3. The Redeemer has it in charge to perfect the salvation of His people, by putting them in full possession of glory, honour and immortality, in the heavenly state.

III. WHAT ASSURANCE WE HAVE, THAT THIS WORK SHALL PROSPER IN THE HAND OF THE REDEEMER, so as to be fully and finally accomplished. The language of the text. What is here asserted is supported by many other passages of the Word of God. Consider--

1. The character of Him to whom the work is entrusted.

2. The merit of His obedience, and the perfection of His atonement.

3. The progress He has already in the work. (G. Campbell.)

The salvation of sinners the pleasure of God

This will appear if we glance at the means which He has graciously provided for its accomplishment.

I. HE HAS GIVEN HIS ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON.

II. HE HAS HAS GIVEN US HIS WORD.

III. HE HAS ESTABLISHED A GOSPEL MINISTRY. The salvation of sinners is the pleasure of the Lord, and this shall prosper in the hands of Christ.

1. Omnipotence has promised it, as the reward of His obedience and death.

2. He is gone to carry it on before the throne of God.

3. He will descend to complete it when He shall come to judge the world in righteousness. Have we entrusted our souls into His hands? (Essex Remembrancer.)

Human redemption a pleasure to the Almighty

I. HUMAN REDEMPTION IS A PLEASURE TO THE ALMIGHTY, It is not a mere work of intellect, it is a work of the heart. It is “His good pleasure.” It is the highest qualification of His benevolence. It is benevolence restoring the rebellious to order, the sinful to holiness, the miserable to blessedness. What is most pleasing to a being always--

1. Engages most of his thoughts.

2. Enlists most of his energies.

II. HUMAN REDEMPTION IS ENTRUSTED TO CHRIST. It shall “prosper in His hands.” He has undertaken the work. Four things are necessary to qualify a being to succeed in any undertaking.

1. He should enter on it from a deep sympathy with it. We persevere most in the work we most love.

2. He should foresee all me difficulties that are destined to occur. When difficulties arise which we never anticipated, we often get baffled and disheartened.

3. He should have power equal to all the emergencies of the case.

4. He should have sufficient time for its accomplishment. Death often prevents us from finishing our work. Christ has all these qualifications.

III. HUMAN REDEMPTION IS DESTINED TO SUCCEED. It “shall prosper.” An argument for the certainty of its accomplishment.

1. Therefore do not be perplexed by the dispensations of Providence. The result of all the outcome of the chaos will be glorious.

2. Therefore do not be discouraged in your Christian labours. (Homilist.)

The Divine purpose fufilled

I. GOD HAS FORMED A PURPOSE OF MERCY TOWARD MANKIND. This is intended by the expression “the pleasure of the Lord.” Notwithstanding the state to which mankind had been reduced by sin, a state in which God, with justice, might have abandoned them to hopeless punishment, that God has adopted towards them a far different mode of procedure. In these mysterious depths of eternity there was a Divine determination that a way of recovery should be opened for the guilty. This is styled “the eternal purpose of grace,” “the good pleasure which the Father had purposed in Himself,” “the good pleasure of His will,” “the good pleasure of His goodness.” The manifestation of this pleasure of the Lord began on earth as soon as the need of mercy existed. The new-economy, established at an ever-memorable era, has explained what might be ambiguous, has illuminated what might be dark, has supplied what might be deficient under preceding dispensations, and it lays open before us in substance the whole counsel of the Eternal. We now discern that the entire fabric of creation, and the entire system of Providence, are subordinated to the stupendous achievements of redemption, those achievements the attributes of the Divine nature being united in harmony to conduct and to perform.

II. THE FULFILMENT OF THIS PURPOSE OF MERCY IS COMMITTED TO THE LORD JESUS. “The pleasure of the Lord is in His hand,” the hand of the Messiah, the Son of God, committed to Him to be by Him accomplished. That the Lord Jesus does sustain this momentous trust is obvious from the entire testimony of revelation. The Lord Jesus performs the purpose of His mercy, we observe more particularly, by His own atonement for sin, and by the communication of the Holy Spirit.

III. UNDER THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE LORD JESUS, THE PURPOSE OF MERCY SHALL BE PERFECTLY AND TRIUMPHANTLY ACCOMPLISHED. “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.”

1. The certainty of the accomplishment must appear from the mere existence of a Divine purpose to that effect. The supreme majesty of the perfections of God itself secures the fulfilment of whatever He has designed.

2. The certainty rests upon the inherent excellency of His own character and work. The proper deity of the Lord Jesus Christ renders failure in His work impossible.

3. We observe the Divine assurances solemnly pledged to that effect. Besides general declarations to which we might easily appeal there are recorded assurances addressed by the Father to the Son in His mediatorial capacity respecting the exaltation He was to receive as a specific recompense of the shame and suffering which on behalf of men He had endured. (J. Parsons.)


Verse 11

Isaiah 53:11

He shall see of the travail of His soul

Christ’s soul-travail and its outcome

1.
The word translated “travail” has not the special force which the English reader might infer from it; it is a word of much more general use, of much less intensity and much greater variety in the notion of sorrow which it conveys. It is used some sixty times in the Old Testament and means trouble of any, kind, as in the following passages: “Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” “God made me forget all my toil.” “If by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow.” In all these cases the same word is used as in the text. It denotes strong effort, attended with pain and grief.

2. Again, the clause is usually supposed to mean that the glorious results which would follow, would be so glorious, that when beheld, the Messiah should look on them and be satisfied. This is a truth; but it is one developed by necessary inference from the text. The clearer and more exact rendering would be, “He shall look out from his sorrow, and be satisfied:” not only satisfied with the results of the sorrow, as if amply rewarded by them; but satisfied in the sufferings, in the fact of having undertaken them, because of the grand reason which was ever present to His view. Even in the midst of the sorrow He could look out above and beyond it. Thus we see in this text a most helpful and gladdening light on those aspects of the atoning work which are set forth in this chapter: we are taught not only that Christ would be satisfied when the outcome of His work was complete, but that He was satisfied with his errand on earth while in the very depths of His sorrow and care. At the same time, this view of the text does not exclude the more usual one. So far from that it intensifies it. For if there was satisfaction even at the very hour of the suffering, much greater must be the joy when the suffering is past and the glory secured. (C. Clemance, D. D.)

The aspect of the Redeemer’s work which afforded Him satisfaction

I. There must have been a sublime satisfaction in KNOWING THAT THE SUFFERING WAS ON BEHALF OF OTHERS and that, however unworthy they might be of such entire devotion, they would through it be relieved of a burden which would have crushed them.

II. There must have been a satisfaction in ASSERTING THE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND LOVE OF THE SUPREME GOVERNOR. In the work of the Lord Jesus Christ “righteousness and peace kissed each other.”

III. The Messiah would experience an intense satisfaction at THE PROSPECT OF THE NEW NAME WHICH HE WOULD ACQUIRE, EVEN THAT OF “SAVIOUR.”

IV. THE MESSIAH BEHELD FROM AFAR MEN WHO ONCE WERE REBELS, STANDING BY HIS SIDE, AS SONS AND HEIRS OF GOD: and this satisfied Him.

V. OUR SAVIOUR FORESAW THE CLOSE UNION BETWEEN THE SAVED AND HIMSELF, and was satisfied. He knew that after He had died for them, He should live in them, and that there would be such an outgoing of life from Him to them, as to form out of the human race men of finer mould and of higher character than, apart from Himself, would ever have been possible.

VI. The Messiah was satisfied in BEHOLDING FROM AFAR THE RELATION OF SAVED MEN TO EACH OTHER. He saw the Church “perfect in One,” its discords hushed, its sounds all attuned to perfect harmony. He beheld the believers sharing His glory, all with Him, seated with Him on His throne. (C. Clemance, D. D.)

Christ’s sufferings fruitful

I. THE ASPECT IN WHICH THAT WORK IS HERE REPRESENTED BY WHICH OUR SAVIOUR ACCOMPLISHED HIS GREAT UNDERTAKING. The sufferings of Christ were--

1. Expiatory and piacular.

2. Voluntary.

3. Most intense and awful.

“The travail of His soul.” He had a spirit unequalled for sensibility and affection, and keenness of feeling. To form a just conception of His sorrow, we must unite the ideas of compassion for the grief of the distressed, and horror at what was cruel and unjust; of indignation at the oppressor, and pity for the oppressed; of a wish to deliver the guilty, and an abhorrence of their sin. We must connect all the iniquity which He witnessed, and all the knowledge He had of the human heart. We must think of all the wickedness, the hardness of heart, the unbelief of man. We know nothing of the nature of this sacrifice; but this we know, that it was an act of amazing energy, of strenuous labour. It was not submission merely; it was a direct and positive consecration of His whole being; as if He would place Himself on the altar, and become Himself the sacrificing Priest.

II. THE SUBLIME AND HEAVENLY SATISFACTION ARISING TO THE REDEEMER IN CONTEMPLATING THE EFFECT OF HIS SUFFERINGS.

1. It is the pleasure arising from the expectation of success.

2. It is the pleasure of the most pure and exalted benevolence.

3. It is such satisfaction as springs from the great importance and difficulty of the event brought to an accomplishment.

4. It is satisfaction arising from the peculiar relation of His character and work, to the event itself, and all its consequences.

III. THE CERTAINTY THAT THIS SALVATION SHALL BE FINALLY REALIZED.

1. The sufferings of Christ are assumed as the basis of this assurance, and lead us to observe the natural and inherent attraction of this doctrine. But this certainty arises--

2. From the tendency of the Gospel to an unlimited and ceaseless diffusion.

3. From its conferring, wherever it is embraced, the greatest temporal advantages in connection with its spiritual benefits.

4. From its amazing progress.

5. From the promises of final success, and the encouraging appearances in the circumstances of the Church in the present day. (R. S. McAll, M. A.)

The connection between Messiahs sufferings and subsequent triumphs

I. THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST FORMED A PART OF THE PREDETERMINATION OF GOD, IN REFERENCE TO THE SALVATION OF MAN. “It became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things,” etc.

1. Contemplate the character of that purpose, in reference to its objects as manifesting the benevolence of God.

2. The wisdom of God.

3. The holiness of God.

II. THE INDISSOLUBLE CONNECTION THAT SUBSISTS BETWEEN THOSE SUFFERINGS AND THE REDEEMER’S SUBSEQUENT TRIUMPHS.

1. The character of the triumphs of Christianity on earth.

2. The certainty of those triumphs.

3. Their extent. (J. W. Etheridge.)

The travail of Christ’s soul

I. WHEREIN THIS SOUL-SUFFERING DID NOT CONSIST.

1. We are not to suppose any actual separation betwixt His Godhead and His manhood.

2. There was no sinful fretting, no impatience, nor carnal anxiety in our Lord.

3. There was not in him any distrust of God’s love, nor any unbelief of His approbation before God, neither the least diffidence as to the result.

4. Neither are we to conceive that there was any inward confusion, challenge or gnawing of conscience in Him, such as is in desperate sinners, cast under the wrath of God, because there was no inward cause of it, nor anything that could breed it.

II. WHEREIN IT DID CONSIST.

1. It consisted in the Godhead s suspending its comfortable influence for a time from the human nature. Though our Lord had no culpable anxiety, yet He had a sinless fear, considering Him as man. The infinite God was angry, and executing angrily the sentence of the law against Him.

2. He had an inexpressible sense of grief, not only from the outward afflictions that He was under, but also from the current of the wrath flowing in on His soul.

3. It consisted in a sort of wonderful horror which the marching up of so many mighty squadrons of the highly provoked wrath of God, making so furious an assault on His innocent human nature, was necessarily attended with. (J. Durham.)

Christ’s soul-travail

I. CHRIST’S TRVAIL OF SOUL IN THE WORK OF OUR REDEMPTION.

II. THE CERTAINTY OF SUCCESS. “He shall see.”

III. HIS CONTENTMENT THEREIN. “He shall be satisfied.” He counts the salvation of lost sinners to be satisfaction enough for all His pains. (T. Manton, D.D.)

Christ’s soul-sufferings

In Christ’s soul-sufferings we may take notice of two things--His desertion and agonies. (T. Manton, D.D.)

Christ’s satisfaction in the salvation of sinners

Jesus Christ taketh an infinite satisfaction in the salvation of sinners.

I. EVIDENCES OF IT.

1. Christ pleased and entertained Himself in the thought of it before the world was (Proverbs 8:31).

2. This was the end and aim of His coming into the world; and it is pleasant when a man hath attained his end, especially if it be greatly desired and much laboured for. For delight is according to the degree of the desire and labour.

3. Now, in heaven it is His rejoicing to see the work thrive.

4. When He shall come from heaven to judge the world, with what triumph and rejoicing will He come, when He shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father!

II. THE REASONS OF IT. His love was the cause of all--His love to the Father, and His love to the saints. (T. Manton, D.D.)

The satisfaction of the Messiah

Satisfied! Very few can say that word on this side of heaven. There is no satisfaction for those who are self-centred; and we say reverently that God Himself could not have known perfect blessedness unless He had been able to pour Himself forth in blessing upon others. We might put the truth into four sentences. There is no satisfaction apart from love. There cannot be love for sinning suffering souls without travail. There cannot be travail without compensating joy. In proportion to the travail, with its pangs and bitterness, will be the resulting blessedness.

I. THE TRAVAIL OF CHRIST’S SOUL. He suffered because of His quick sympathy with the anguish that sin had brought to man. He probably saw, as we cannot, the timid oppressed by the strong; the helpless victim pursued by rapacity and passion. He heard the wall of the world s sorrow, in which cries of little children, the shriek or moan of womanhood, and the deep bass of strong men wrestling with the encircling serpent-folds, mingle in one terrible medley. He sighed over the deaf and dumb, had compassion on the leper, wept at the grave. As the thorn-brake to bare feet, so must this world have been to His compassionate heart. He must also have suffered keenly by the rejection of those whom He would have gathered, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wing, but they would not. But these elements of pain are not to be compared with that more awful sorrow which He experienced as the substitute and sacrifice of human guilt. It could not be otherwise. He could not have loved us perfectly without becoming one with us in the dark heritage of our first parent. Dost thou love Christ? The first duty He will lay on thee will be love to others. And if thou dost truly love, thou too shalt find thy meed of soul-travail.

II. THE CERTAINTY OF INFINITE COMPENSATION. “He shall see.” It is impossible to suffer voluntarily for others, and not in some way benefit them. Thy pain may sometimes seem abortive--the mighty throes that rend thee for the souls of others appear in vain; but it is not really so. Drop by drop thy tears shall presently turn the scale. Patience shall have her perfect work. The laws of the harvest in this sphere are as certain in their operation as in that of nature.

III. THE NATURE OF CHRIST’S COMPENSATION. It will come--

1. In the glory that shall accrue to the Father.

2. In the redemption of untold myriads. Great as the harvest of sin has been, we believe that the saved shall vastly outnumber the lost. Nothing less will satisfy Christ. Remember that in the first age, before mention is made of the latter triumphs of the Gospel, John beheld in heaven a multitude which no man could number.

3. In the character of the redeemed. He shall present them to Himself without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.

4. In the destruction of the devil s work. What is involved in the majestic promise that He should destroy the works of the devil, is not yet made manifest. In due time we shall see it all.

IV. THE GREATNESS OF THOSE RESULTS.

1. They must be proportionate to the glory of His nature. It is not difficult to satisfy, at least temporarily, a little child. But as its nature develops, it becomes increasingly hard to content it. But surely there is more difference between the capacity of an angel and that of a man, than between the capacities of a man and a babe But, great as an angel is, his capacity is limited and finite. What then must be the measure of that blessedness, of that harvest of souls, of that result of His travail, which can content the Divine Redeemer?

2. They must be proportionate to the intensity of His suffering. The results of God’s work are always commensurate to the force He puts forth. You cannot imagine the Divine Being going to an immense expenditure without a sure prescience that He would be recouped. Satisfied! We shall hear His sigh of deep content, and see the triumph on His face. And if Christ is satisfied, we shall be. On this let us rest. (F. B. Meyer, B.A.)

Messiah suffering and Messiah satisfied

I. A few thoughts illustrative of THE MEANING of the text.

II. Two or three PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS to show how we ought to be affected who believe that meaning.

1. The “satisfaction” of Messiah in relation to the present world is yet incomplete. This should promote humility.

2. In spite of all past disappointments, we confidently expect the fulfilment of this prophecy.

3. The subject ought to lead us individually seriously to examine whether we are contributing to the Saviour’s satisfaction, either by what we are or by what we are doing. (T. Binney D.D.)

The reward of the Redeemer’s sufferings

He sees of the travail of His soul and is satisfied.

1. In the free remission of sins which, through His blood and in His name, has been proclaimed to the children of men.

2. In the actual return of sinners to God. (R. Gordon, D.D.)

Christ’s travail and satisfaction

The travail is the agony of one Divine as well as human, and that word leads us to the deepest depths of Gethsemane and Calvary--deeper than any plummets of angels’ sympathetic imagination could ever sound; while on the other hand, the satisfaction spoken of is similarly the satisfaction of one Divine as well as human, and projects before us something higher than the usual serenity of God, something more blissful than the usual gladness of the skies, some harvest home, some exquisite ecstasy that fills and overflows the Father-heart of God.

I. Whatever there may be in this word, there is a lesson of this sort, that WITHOUT SACRED TRAVAIL IN THE SENSE OF LABOUR, SACRIFICE, PATIENCE, THERE IS NEVER ANY ABIDING SATISFACTION. Not even for God. There are, I doubt not, indeed, many things which yield satisfaction to God, which, perhaps, involve no Divine travail of proportionate amount. I dare say it might be the case that creation came easily to Him, to the overflowing energy of Divine omnipotence. That it was easy for His infinite wisdom to adapt every organism to its place, and every creature to its circumstances; and He has satisfaction in that work of His hands. Perhaps providence comes easily to Him. But when He aims at the greater objects that engage His heart, when He would not make but save the world, when He would get back to Him the love of His suspicious and wandering children, when He would fill His house with guests, and when He would make these guests eternally worthy of His fellowship, and capable of communion with Him, then not easily even for Him can that work be done; but between Him and this joy that He sets before Him there is the travail of Bethlehem, with its lowliness, of His lonely pilgrim path of misunderstanding, of the weakness of feeble friends, and the bitterness of hateful foes:--there is Gethsemane, there is Calvary. Do not let us dream of doing anything effective for ourselves, or others cheaply, lightly, easily. “If any one will be My disciple,” says Christ, let him take up the cross--the gibbet--and follow Me”--bidding farewell to dreams of ease, thoughts of self-indulgence, and copying the pattern set upon the Mount of Calvary. There is no sorrow in the world which you and I cannot materially relieve if we will but share it, but there is no sorrow that can be touched till we share it.

II. WHEREVER THERE IS SACRED TRAVAIL THERE IS ALWAYS ABIDING SATISFACTION. There may be travail in other directions without any satisfaction. Travail for wealth often leaves a man in poverty; travail for the sake of honour leaves him still insignificant and unknown. Do not spend your labour for that which will not profit, but aspire to the grand reward, to the noble results of existence, and put forth the sacred travail which, exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think, is rewarded and blessed of heaven.

III. Our text suggests a third lesson which it is desirable for all Christian workers to remember--THE SALVATION OF MAN IS THE SATISFACTION OF GOD.

IV. THE SALVATION OF MEN WILL BE ON SUCH A SCALE, AS TO GIVE COMPLETE AND PERFECT SATISFACTION TO GOD. The word “satisfaction” is a large word. You know it is easy to please a man, but it is hard to satisfy him; and, as some one has said, it is the same with God; He is easily pleased, but hard to satisfy. (R. Glover, D.D.)

Christ’s soul-travail

I. THE TRAVAIL OF HIS SOUL. Think of the travail of our Lord’s soul between Bethlehem and Calvary.

1. The travail of waiting during the long years of the life at Nazareth, during the tedious process of training the disciples that followed (Luke 12:50).

2. The travail of His own personal temptation, in the solitude of the wilderness, the protests of Peter, the impulses and the spiritual aloofness of the multitudes, and the actual hostility of their leaders (John 1:11).

3. Omitting many other particulars, the travail of Gethsemane and the cry upon the cross (Matthew 27:46).

4. The travail with sin. “Upon Him was laid the iniquity of us all” A pure spirit is alway pained, even at the sight of meanness or vice. Christ’s spirit was so pure that Satan could find nothing in Him (John 14:30); and yetin the loneliness of the passion He suffered the penalty of sins not His own, wrestled with them in prolonged, triumphed over them for ever on the Cross. And if the travail of His soul be measured by the distance between His holiness and the guilt with which He consented to be charged, it will be seen to be absolutely without parallel in human history.

II. THIS TRAVAIL, SO IT IS SOMETIMES STATED, HAS PROVED SHEER WASTE, or at least, has not accomplished, and is not likely to accomplish, anything like what Christ in enduring it expected.

1. “Christianity a failure has been the theme of many a critic of our faith; and the failure has been alleged to occur in almost every department of thought and morals and mission. It must be confessed that Christianity has not yet succeeded completely anywhere. Even in places where it has had on its side almost every possible advantage--been supported by governments, illustrated by every kind of genius, in control of the influences of education and public opinion--it has not made society quite pure, or even the average character of its own agents and adherents faultless. And at present there is no part of the earth upon which the Saviour can be imagined to look and to be satisfied with what He sees. The complaint sometimes takes a more personal form. Every Christian is occasionally tempted to think that religion is proving for himself personally something of a failure. After years of sincere trust and service, there are faults of temper, elements of discontent and self-seeking and sin present in the nature, and often apparently even supreme there. And instead of imagining that our Saviour is satisfied with us, the disposition is rather to imagine that we can never satisfy Him, never become “perfect” and matured, but that we shall have to go on stumbling and faulty to the end.

2. There are two obvious modes of dealing with these complaints and suspicions. It would be possible to plead the intractability of the material, and to imitate natural science in her ceaseless demand for time. Or, we may place ourselves with this prophet at the ultimate end of our Lord’s career, and see whether there are not, in society and in the heart of man, processes of progress that are tending to success. The conclusion will probably be that the success of Christianity, in relation to everything that concerns morality and religion, has already been so great as even to guarantee the eventual satisfaction concerning which this verse speaks.

The effects of our Lord’s passion

I. THE SUFFERINGS OF OUR LORD. These sufferings were--

1. Continual.

2. Extreme.

3. Voluntary.

4. Expiatory.

5. Completely effectual.

II. THE SATISFACTION WHICH HE FEELS IN VIEWING THE EFFECTS OF HIS SUFFERINGS.

1. The sight. Our Lord has seen of the travail of His soul

2. The satisfaction. We are not merely to consider the salvation of sinners as satisfying the Saviour, but as satisfying Him after all the preceding anguish of His sufferings.

Conclusion:

1. The light which the subject casts on the value of the soul of man. Both the inconceivable agony of our Lord’s passion, and the satisfaction He derives from its effects, suppose the unspeakable worth of the human soul.

2. The light which this subject reflects on the hope of a penitent’s acceptance with Christ. Surely, if He endured such a travail, such anguish of soul and body, and that for the redemption of sinners, He will never reject any one who sincerely renounces his sins and flies to Him. Surely His atonement can reach the case of the worst offender.

3. The illustration which this subject supplies of the powerful motive, by which the Christian is constrained to obey his Saviour. What can claim and fix our love and obedience, if such sufferings, voluntarily endured for us, cannot?

4. The light this subject throws on the future propagation of the Gospel throughout the world. For, if the engagement of the Covenant of redemption expressly be that our Lord “shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied,” then we may go forth in the cause of missions and of the Bible with a humble confidence. (D. Wilson, M.A.)

The salvation of man, the joy of the Redeemer

I. SOME OF THOSE OBJECTS WHICH IT IS DECLARED THE MESSIAH SHALL BEHOLD, AS THE RESULT OF HIS SUFFERINGS.

1. To remove obstructions out of the way of the sinner’s salvation.

2. The salvation of His own people.

3. To rectify the moral disorders of our nature.

II. THE SATISFACTION WITH WHICH THE SAVIOUR WILL BEHOLD THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF HIS PURPOSES.

1. The completion of any great undertaking is accompanied with satisfaction.

2. Another source of satisfaction to the Saviour must be in the consciousness of having accomplished a work of infinite beneficence. (S. Summers.)

The satisfaction of Christ’s sufferings

I. WHAT WAS THE TRAVAIL OF CHRIST ?

II. WHY HE SUBMITTED TO IT.

III. WHY AND WHEN HE IS SATISFIED THAT HE ENDURED IT.

1. He is satisfied when He sees any penitent transgressor alarmed by His warnings, or touched by His merciful invitations, and turning to the obedience which he owes to God.

2. When He sees those whom He has redeemed walking uprightly before God.

3. The last and fullest recompense of the Redeemer s sufferings is still to come; to come in that great and joyful day, when He shall see the family which He has ransomed with His blood surrounding His throne in glory. (J. B. Sumner, M.A.)

The sympathy and satisfaction of the Redeemer

I. THE DEEP, DIVINE, IMPASSIONED SYMPATHY OF THE REDEEMER.

1. If we analyze the expression, “the travail of His soul,” we shall find that its meaning is not exhausted, if, indeed, it is illustrated at all, by a reference to the physical sufferings of our Lord. In the writings of the Fathers; in the devotional literature of the Middle Ages; in much of the sacred poetry of ancient, and even of more recent, times; and more specially in the highly realistic conception of sacred and legendary art, the physical sufferings of the Redeemer are treated with an emphasis and detail, which is not authorized by the Inspired record, and which imperils the clearness of our insight into the deeper meaning and mystery of His passion. It is not denied that physical suffering, most acute, most varied in form, and far transcending power of description or of imagination, was the Divinely appointed lot of Him whom “it pleased the Lord to bruise.” Yet there is a reticence on the part of the inspired writers in relation to the physical sufferings of our Lord which is profoundly suggestive, not only as implying that a too realistic conception of the Passion is prolific of unhealthy and morbid tendencies, but as indicating that it is not within the range of His bodily anguish that we are to discover the true gauge and meaning of His “travail”

2. If we contemplate the more subjective phases of the Redeemer’s suffering, we see the impossibility of appreciating, from the standpoint of our human experience and intelligence, the travail of a sinless soul, “smitten of God and afflicted.”

3. But “the travail of His soul” involves more than this. It includes that profound and indescribable sympathy, that yearning pity for fallen man, that self-denying and soul-absorbing love of souls, which led the Eternal Son of God to surrender Himself to humiliation and suffering, to empty Himself and become “obedient unto death--the death of the Cross”--that sympathy which perhaps has told more powerfully upon the human heart than the most picturesque and stirring incidents in His life of lowliness and pain. It was in respect of His sorrow for the fallen and the lost that there was “no sorrow like unto His sorrow.” I linger on the study of this “travail of His soul” because of its intimate relation to the success of all truly Christian toil. With many of us the gravest problem of life is the comparative fruitlessness of our work. Does not the secret lie in the feebleness of our sympathy, in the absence of that which has been called a “passion for saving souls”?

II. THE CALM AND TRANQUIL ASSURANCE WITH WHICH THE DIVINE REDEEMER SURVEYS THE COURSE AND DEVELOPMENT OF HIS TOIL. A single word in the original is responsible for this deduction, which, however, is sustained not only by the highly elliptical character of the passage, but by the general tenor of the references of Holy Scripture to the mediatorial function. These passages more particularly which refer to the session of the Redeemer on the right hand of the Majesty on high, and notably the memorable passage in the Hebrews: “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool,” establish the doctrine which the Hebrew original, with characteristic conciseness, enshrines in one word. The same doctrine is reflected in the history of the Christian Church, which, even in its varying cycles and its intermittent fortunes, bears witness to a Divine Headship, calm, patient, and undisturbed. This tranquil survey of the development and fruitage of His past travail in the moral history of the world does not involve the idea of the personal inactivity of the ascended Son. But this ceaseless activity is not fretted by the anxieties which wait upon human toil. Our noblest work is harassed and hampered by conscious weakness, by distrust of our methods, by the precarious conditions under which we labour, by actual failures, or by the dread of prospective defeats. We, too, are baffled by contingencies not calculable by human foresight: and in front of us there looms that inevitable end of all work which comes alike to all. It is not under such conditions that the enthroned Redeemer surveys the fields of His toil. In the calm assurance which these words imply, there lies a tacit rebuke of the recklessness and feverish impatience of the Church in regard to the conversion of the world.

III. THE CERTAINTY OF HIS FINAL AND ETERNAL SATISFACTION. It is obvious that if this passage is to be taken literally, the ultimate issues of redemption will far transcend the loftiest anticipations which the Church has ventured to entertain. For though there be a few passages even in the ministry of our Lord which seem to look towards a less cheering sequel, a study of their surroundings will show that there is no collision between them and the most hopeful interpretation of the words of the text. No conclusions drawn from merely human analogies can be fairly applied in the endeavour to ascertain the limits within which the satisfaction of the Reedemer is to be understood. Human nature is governed by sentiment. Judging of the Divine administration by its own feelings, it has assumed that nothing less than the final restoration of every fallen man can satisfy the travail of the soul of the Redeemer. But the Divine economy is not an economy of sentiment. The infinite love of the Father acts only in harmony with the other attributes of the Divine nature. Law must be satisfied as well as love; and the human will must not be coerced in its acceptance or rejection of the provisions which mercy has devised. But while we decline to indulge even a larger hope, which rests only on sentiment and on the subtle perversion of the Sacred text, no limitations which must necessarily be assigned to its exposition can spoil it of its overpowering significance. No human mind can indicate the sources or measure the depths of that satisfaction. The practical application of this ancient prophecy is furnished by St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:58). (R. N. Young, D.D.)

Christ’s vision the Cross

It was in the crisis of His mental and spiritual horror, and agony and darkness, that a vision broke on the eyes of Jesus which made even His death on the Cross to be even a satisfaction to Him.

I. HE SAW THE COMPLETION OF THE MOST STUPENDOUS UNDERTAKING OF GOD.

II. THE VISION GAVE HIM THE SATISFACTION OF A CONQUEROR.

III. IN THAT VISION WAS A SIGHT OF THE SUCCESS OF THE GOSPEL IN WINNING THE HEARTS OF MEN TO GOD. (C. F. Deems, LL.D.)

He shall be satisfied

The satisfaction of which the prophet speaks is not the joy of a sinner in the Saviour who redeems him, but the joy of the Saviour over sinners whom He has redeemed.

I. THE TRAVAIL OF HIS SOUL. We may take note of some of the ingredients that entered into the cup, although we cannot measure the degree of their bitterness.

1. He who was from all eternity the beloved of His Father put His glory off, and put on our nature.

2. He severed Himself from the company of the holy who loved and worshipped Him, for the company of the unholy who in feeble friendship vexed or in open enmity crucified Him.

3. “He who knew no sin was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

4. He met personally with the person of the wicked one in our quarrel.

5. His heart was often sore vexed by ignorance, selfishness, unfaithfulness, even of His own selected disciples.

6. The people for whose sake He came into the world--the Israel among whom he was born and bred--would none of Him.

7. The office of the priesthood, which He loved and honoured as God s institute to hold up the promise of redemption, was by those who held it prostituted to reject the counsel of God.

8. But alone, and above all, incomprehensible to us, yet awful both for the part that we know and the part that we know not, is the desertion by the Father, and the final descent of wrath, due to sin, on the Redeemer’s soul.

II. THE FRUIT THAT RESULTS FROM THE TRAVAIL OF HIS SOUL. It is not to the sufferings in themselves that the Redeemer looks. Herein appears the greatness of His love. He looks over and past the travail of His soul, and fixes His regards on the results that it secures.

III. THE SATISFACTION WHICH THE SAVIOUR EXPERIENCES IN THE RESULTS OF THE TRAVAIL OF HIS SOUL. How comes it that this new creature is graven more deeply on the heart of the Eternal Son than all His other works? Those other possessions were created by His word, or fashioned by His hand, but this springs from the travail of His soul. (W. Arnot, D. D.)

“The travail of His soul:”

In dealing with the travail of our Redeemer’s soul, we are like a child writing down in figures the national debt of the country. The figures are soon written, and they are all correct; but how much of the mighty meaning has entered the mind of that child. (W. Arnot, D. D.)

The fruit of Christ’s sacrifice

The fruit of Christ’s sacrifice included three things:--

I. THE GLORY THAT SHOULD ACCRUE TO THE FATHER from the new splendours reflected on all the perfections of His character by the work of human redemption.

II. THE REWARD THAT SHOULD ACCRUE TO THE SAVIOUR HIMSELF, His personal exaltation, mediatorial authority, His Father s approbation, and the blessings of countless millions ransomed by His blood.

III. THE BENEFIT THAT SHOULD ACCRUE TO HIS PEOPLE, the blissful change produced upon their condition, character, and prospects--children of wrath snatched from hell, servants of corruption rescued from their debasing servitude, rebels against God subdued by the sweet influence of His grace, cleansed from all moral defilement, arrayed in the beauties of holiness, purified, refined, ennobled, rendered worthy associates of unfallen angels, and made to people heaven, who, but for Christ’s interposition, must have been the tenants of hell. This last is the cause of His satisfaction specially referred to in the text. (J. Roxburgh, M.A.)

The success of the Gospel

How few of us are satisfied! The prophet himself seems far from being satisfied; for in the first verse of the chapter he laments, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” And yet so complete shall be the Gospel at last, so entirely shall it fulfil all that God meant it to accomplish, that Jesus Himself shall be satisfied.

I. WHY THIS SUCCESS OF THE GOSPEL IS CALLED THE TRAVAIL OF JESUS’ SOUL. Because Gospel blessings are given us on account of Christ’s sufferings.

II. If we would see a little more clearly the final success of the Gospel, let us ask, WHEN DID HE SEE THE TRAVAIL OF HIS SOUL, AND WAS SATISFIED? at what time? This chapter, I think, tells us when. “When thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin,” says the tenth verse, “He shall see His seed.”

III. If we would ask IN WHAT RESPECTS JESUS WAS SATISFIED, we may answer at once, in every respect. All the purposes for which He died will be accomplished. We may hence learn--

1. That the number of those finally saved will be exceedingly great.

2. The complete final sanctification of believers.

3. Another reason for which Christ poured out His soul unto death was, to obtain for us the grace and help of His Holy Spirit. (E. Bradley.)

The promised fruit of Christ’s sufferings

I. THE PREDICTION BEFORE US HAS ALREADY BEEN PARTIALLY FULFILLED. Already has our Redeemer seen much of the fruit of His sufferings. Our once barren world, watered by His tears and His blood, has already produced a large harvest of righteousness and salvation.

II. DURING THE PERIOD WHICH MUST ELAPSE BEFORE TIME SHALL END, THIS PREDICTION SHALL RECEIVE A MUCH MORE AMPLE ACCOMPLISHMENT.

III. IT IS TO THE FINAL CONSUMMATION OF ALL THINGS, IT IS TO ETERNITY, THAT WE MUST LOOK FOR THE COMPLETE FULFILMENT OF THIS ANIMATING PREDICTION. Our Redeemer will see that spiritual edifice, the foundation of which was laid in His blood, which has been so long erecting, standing before Him finished, resplendent in glory, and perfect in beauty. (E. Payson, D.D.)

The prophecy of the Cross

In fancy we can see the Son of God standing before the world began upon the heights of heaven, His ancestral home, and there with conflicting emotions at work within His heart, and mirrored on His face, He sees the great drama of Calvary unrolled before His eyes.

I. JESUS SAW THE NECESSITY FOR THE CROSS.

1. He knew that God the Father had plans for man. He was a being of order and intelligence. Man was to be created in the image of God. He was to have happiness within his reach. It was to come by a perfect obedience to the will of God. That was all man needed for happiness.

2. Jesus saw that men would go away from the plan of God.

II. JESUS SAW THE REALITY OF THE CROSS. Jesus knew as He looked with prophetic eye that there must be some satisfaction rendered for the law that had been violated. He saw that He must render that satisfaction.

III. JESUS SAW THE FRUIT OF THE CROSS. (A. W. Bealer, D.D.)

The Saviour’s ultimate joy

May we not safely say that the joy will be as varied as the relationships which our Saviour bears to us? It will be the joy of the Sufferer whose agony is forgotten in the abundance of bliss,--the joy of the Sower in reaping the abundance of the harvest,--the joy of the Shepherd in seeing all the sheep as one flock, safe for ever in the heavenly fold,--the joy of the Friend in seeing all His friends by His side in a union with Him and with each other, that no misapprehension shall ever mar, and no sin shall ever stain,--it will be the joy of the Warrior when the battle is over, when every enemy is still as a stone, and the summons to fight is exchanged for victorious rest,--it will be the joy of the Leader, who has brought all His host into the promised land,--it will be the joy of the Mediator, who has discharged His trust and surrendered it to the Father, saying, “Of those whom Thou gavest Me I have lost none,”--it will be the joy of the King who is to reign for ever over a kingdom in which revolt has been made impossible through the achievements of almighty grace,--it will be the joy of the Redeemer when the redemption is complete, fulfilling His longings and His prayers,--it will be the joy of the First-born Son at seeing every member of the new-born family safe in a happy home, which no sin can disturb and no death invade,--it will be the joy of the Son of man in witnessing the ideal of human perfection,--it will be the joy of the Son of God, as to principalities and powers in heavenly places He reveals through a glorified Church the manifold wisdom of God, showing to worlds on worlds what Infinite Love devised and Infinite Power achieved! (C. Clemance, D.D.)

Travail of soul and satisfaction

I have known an eminent portrait-painter, who, when the crisis of his picture came at which it was to be determined whether or not he had produced a likeness of the features only, or a picture of the soul and character of his subject, used to fall into perfect paroxysms of excitement, weeping, wringing his hands and grovelling on the ground; but when it was over and the true likeness stood embodied the canvas, gave way to equally extravagant exultation. (J. Stalker, D.D.)

Messiah satisfied

Small things will satisfy a small mind. It requires great things to satisfy a great mind. What must be required to satisfy the mind of an angel? above all, what must be required to satisfy the mind of God? The salvation of ruined mankind does so! (J. R. Macduff, D.D.)

The satisfaction of realized purpose

There is intense joy in work when it is done and well done. The humblest mechanic feels this pleasure when he sees the article he has been making passing out of his hands perfect. The poet surely feels it when he writes Finis at the end of the work into which he has poured the full force of his genius. What must it have been to William Wilberforce to hear on his deathbed that the cause to which he had devoted the toil of a lifetime had triumphed, and to know that, when he died, there would not be a single slave breathing in any of the dependencies of Britain! (J. Stalker, D.D.)

By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many

Justification by the knowledge of Christ

I. THE GREAT BENEFIT THAT FLOWS FROM CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS. Justification.

II. THE PARTIES MADE PARTAKERS OF THE BENEFIT. “Many.”

III. THE FOUNTAIN FROM WHICH THIS BENEFIT FLOWS TO MANY. “My righteous Servant.”

IV. THE WAY CHRIST JUSTIFIES. Not simply by forgiving, but by His satisfying for them. “He shall bear their iniquities.”

V. THE MEANS BY WHICH THIS BENEFIT IS DERIVED. “By His knowledge.” (J. Durham.)

“My righteous Servant:”

Consider the title that Christ gets in these words.

I. He is called the Lord’s SERVANT. It looks to Him as Mediator. It imports--

1. A humiliation and inferiority in respect of God (Philippians 2:1-30).

2. His prerogative as being singularly and eminently God’s Servant.

3. The particular task or work that is laid on Him, and the commission that He hath got to prosecute that work.

4. That our Lord Jesus, in performing the work of redemption, cannot but be acceptable to Jehovah, because it is a performing of that with which He hath entrusted Him.

II. He is called the Lord’s RIGHTEOUS SERVANT. He is all excellent Servant; not righteous simply as He is God, nor as He is man, but righteous in the administration of His offices, and in the discharge of the great trust committed to Him. He administrates His offices--

1. Wonderfully wisely.

2. Very tenderly.

3. Most diligently and effectually.

4. With all faithfulness. (J. Durham.)

Justification

There are commonly six causes made necessary to concur in justification.

1. The efficient cause--God, the Party that doth justify.

2. The final cause--His own glory.

3. The meritorious cause--Christ’s merit.

4. The inward instrumental cause--faith.

5. The formal cause, or that wherein justification consists.

6. The external, instrumental cause--the Word of God. (J. Durham.)

Knowledge and faith

Faith, where it is saving, hath always knowledge going along with it.

1. Faith is nothing, but as it lays hold on some object. How can faith lay hold on an object, except it know it?

2. Faith, as justifying, is always holden forth as making use of and giving credit to that which is revealed in the Word.

3. In justification, God would have a sinner proceed as a man doth who defends himself before an earthly tribunal. As it is dangerous in a weighty cause to have an ignorant advocate, who puts in a wrong defence, so is it, in this case, to be ignorant (Romans 10:3).

4. There must be repentance ere a sinner can be justified, which supposeth knowledge. He must needs know his sin, and that his own righteousness will not do his turn.

5. Look forward to the duties of holiness, which are necessary, though not to justify you, yet that ye may live as it becomes justified persons. Now, can any know or do duties, who are ignorant?

6. Consider your own peace, and how, in order to it, there is a necessity of knowledge. (J. Durham.)

Justifying faith

1. The necessity of it.

2. The Object of it.

3. The act of it.

4. The effects that flow from it.

5. The manner of its concurring in the attainment of justification. (J. Durham.)

Justification by the knowledge of Christ

1. It is the privilege of the Gospel to discover a way for the justification of sinners “by His knowledge.”

2. Faith is knowledge, or an apprehension of Christ. “The knowledge of Him.”

3. By faith we are justified. He saith by His knowledge, but He meaneth faith; such apprehensions of Christ as cause answerable dispositions in the spirit. (T. Manton, D.D.)

The knowledge of Christ

I. WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE KNOWLEDGE TO WHICH THE PROPHET ASCRIBES SUCH EFFICACY? It is well to cultivate the understanding, if, perchance, the Spirit of enlightening grace might employ this faculty as an avenue to the heart. And yet we must beware of substituting the means for the end. Others have acquired a more clear view of the Gospel revelation, who know much, but employ their knowledge to no better purpose than to maintain an empty parade of religious profession. What is the knowledge to which we allude--the knowledge which involves privileges so inestimable? The prophet calls it, the knowledge of the righteous Servant of God. This is no other than the holy Jesus, the righteous Messiah.

1. There must be the knowledge of self.

2. The knowledge which the sinner acquires of his own character, though connected with that to which the prophet alludes, is not the thing itself. It is the knowledge of the Saviour, Christ. To know the Lord Jesus Christ is to renounce all virtue in ourselves, and to look to Him alone for salvation. But there is a further particular comprehended in the knowledge which the believer has of Christ. The Lord Jesus is called the “righteous Servant of God.” If we love Him, we must love Him as a righteous Saviour.

II. THE BENEFITS WHICH SUCH A KNOWLEDGE IS MADE INSTRUMENTAL IN PROCURING.

1. The believer enjoys justification from sin by the sufferings and death of Christ.

2. As he is united by faith with the Saviour, he partakes in His righteousness.

3. As he is designed for the heavenly inheritance, he must be made meet for its enjoyment; and therefore he has the promise of the Spirit of Christ to sanctify his heart. (W. North, M.A.)

“By His knowledge:”

That is, either by His own knowledge, or by their knowledge of Him. And, as Dean Plumptre puts it, the prophet may have been directed to an expression which included both. For both are true of Christ. Men are saved by knowing Him; and, on the other hand, it is His knowledge of the Father that enables Him to lead men to the Father. (Expository Times.)

Justifying the many

1. Here is a state supposed with regard to the many--that they would need to be justified. Look at history. Let us look into our own hearts. Let us look at the pure and holy law.

2. The prophet foresees One who would be an exception to the many. While to them iniquities belong, this one would be the “righteous Servant.”

There has been but One in all history to whom this expression could completely and unreservedly apply.

3. Nor did the prophet foresee this One merely as one Righteous One amid a desolate waste of sin, but he foresees Him taking on Himself the liabilities of the race. “He shall bear their iniquities.”

4. The knowledge of this Righteous One should have peculiar value. “By His knowledge;” this and no more will the Hebrew term bear. But we may understand either--by the knowledge He has, or by the knowledge that He imparts, or by the knowledge of Himself that men should gain. Either way a sense is conveyed that is intelligible and true.

5. Where the Righteous One is thus known, He accomplishes a glorious justifying act. By means of the saving acquaintance with Him which believing penitents make, when, confessing their sin, they rely on Him for pardon, He, in the exercise of His own royal rights, absolves them from all their guilt, and releases them from the condemning sentence of the law of God.

6. As the result of this release the penitents are re-set in a position of favour, grace, and love.

7. The ground or reason of His justifying the many, is that He bore their iniquities. The justifying is not only a sequence, but the consequence of His bearing our sins. (C. Clemance, D.D.)


Verse 12

Isaiah 53:12

Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great

Christ’s conflict and conquest

I.
CHRIST’S CONFLICT.

II. CHRIST’S CONQUEST. The conflict is last in the order of the words, but first in order of nature and time. (T. Manton, D.D.)

The greatness of the Sin-bearer

It is the voice of God Himself; and it is befitting that, as He introduced His Servant in the opening verses of this marvellous portraiture, so, in these closing words, He should pronounce His verdict on His career. Two things are clearly predicated of the Sin-bearer.

1. That He should be great.

2. That He should attain His commanding position, not as the founder of a new school of thought, nor as the leader of a social reformation, nor as possessed of exceptional saintliness--but as a Sufferer.

I. THE GREATNESS GIVEN BY THE FATHER AS THE REWARD FOR CHRIST’S OBEDIENCE TO DEATH. It was meet that such a reward should be bestowed, for the sake of those who should afterwards follow in the footsteps of their Divine Master. None could ever deserve more or better than Christ; and if He were without recognition or reward, might it not be thought that Heaven had no prize to give for faithful service? Surely He must have a reward, or the very order of the universe might be deemed at fault? But what reward should He have? What could compensate Him for having laid aside the exercise of His Divine prerogative; for having assumed our nature; for having passed through the ordeal of temptation, sorrow, and pain; for having become obedient to death, even the death of the Cross? All worlds were His by native right; all holy beings owned His sway as Creator and God; all provinces of thought, emotion, power, and might, sent Him their choicest tribute. What reward could He claim, or have? The answer may be suggested by recalling our own pleasure in conferring pleasure, our joy in giving joy. Let the limitations imposed by our mortality or circumstances be removed; let us be able to realize to the full the yearnings and promptings of our noblest hours; lot the wish to help be accompanied by a sympathy that cannot hurt the most sensitive, a wisdom that cannot mistake, a power that cannot be daunted or thwarted; and probably we should at once drink deep draughts of blessedness like God’s. This is the blessedness of Christ, and this is the reward which the Father has given Him. God Himself could not give, nor the Saviour ask for, a greater reward than this. And, in its magnificence, it appeals to all who would tread in His steps. This is Heaven’s supreme reward: that all who pour out their souls to death shall obtain enlarged opportunities and possibilities of service.

II. THE GREATNESS THAT CHRIST’S DEATH HAS SECURED HIM AMONG MEN. He is worthy to take the mysterious scroll of destiny, and break its seals, because of the light Its has cast on the great mysteries by which our lot is shadowed.

1. Pain. When it enwraps us in its fiery baptism, we are apt to accuse ourselves or to doubt God. But Jesus has taught us that there is yet a third way of regarding pain. He had not sinned, yet He suffered as none of woman.born ever did. Evidently, then, pain is not always symptomatic of special sin. He was once so submerged in anguish that for a time He lost the sense of His Father’s love; but He never suggested that there was failure or obliquity in the moral government of the world. The death of Jesus has therefore robbed death of these two implications, and has taught us that it is often sent, and must be borne, with the view of benefiting others. What a priceless service was this--to transform pain; to persuade sufferers that by their travail of soul they were enriching the whole world of men.

2. Death. Men dread it. But He, by His dying, has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light. For this we count Him great, that through death He undid death.

3. Sin When Jesus died on the Cross, He was numbered with transgressors; but He stood over against all transgressors, distinct from them and bearing their sin. This surely constitutes an overmastering claim for us to count Christ great.

III. THE GREATNESS WHICH HIS DEATH WILL WIN FOR CHRIST IN THE ESTIMATION OF OTHER RACES OF BEING. Not to the Mount of Beatitudes, but to the Cross, will distant worlds send their deputations in all coming ages, to learn the manifold lessons which it alone can teach. There they will learn to know the very heart of God, His hatred against sin, His love for the sinner, His fidelity to covenant engagements, His righteousness, His truth. The Cross is the heavenly prism that enables us to distinguish the constituents of the Divine nature. (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

He shall divide the spoil with the strong

“He shall divide the spoil with the strong:”

This is generally interpreted as picturing a conqueror sharing with other fellow-conquerors in the booty of the conquered. But could that figure have any analogy in Christ’s triumph” Who could be His fellow-conquerors? What could be the booty of His conquered ones? Much better is it to consider “the strong,” or the “mighty ones,” to represent the powers of darkness, who have made spoil of the human race, and the division of the spell with them by Messiah to be the rescue of souls from their grasp. The “many” (Isaiah 53:11) whom He saves will then be the spoil He snatches from the great enemy, and we can read the whole passage: “By the knowledge of Him shall My righteous Servant give righteousness to many, and He Himself shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide Him the many as His portion, and he shall divide the spoil with the mighty ones.” This allusion to the powers of evil gives completeness to the prophetic description. The humble birth, unattractive position in society, and unfavoured career through life, are given in Isaiah 53:2,

3. His partnership with distress and His own sufferings are exhibited invers. 4, 5, 6. His meekness is portrayed in Isaiah 53:7. Then comes the apparent failure of His life, followed by its complete triumph in saving souls. We need a word regarding the enemy triumphed over to make the wonderful prophetic sketch complete. (Howard Crosby, LL.D.)

The Lord Jesus a glorious Conqueror

Dividing of the spoil is the effect of a sure and a great conquest. The eminency of it lieth in these four things--

THE ADVERSARIES. They are always expressed by such notions as do imply great strength and power (Colossians 2:15; Ephesians 4:8).

1. There is the devil, who is a powerful adversary. But “the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:11).

2. The law was an enemy, as it condemns us (Colossians 2:14; Ephesians 2:16).

3. Death and hell (1 Corinthians 15:54; 2 Timothy 1:10; Revelation 1:18).

4. The flesh (Romans 8:3).

5. The world (John 16:33).

6. All the adverse powers in the world (Psalms 2:10-12).

II. THE MEANS. The weapons of this warfare are not carnal.

1. As to His death.

2. By the Word of the Cross, called the foolishness of preaching.

3. By His Spirit; a great force, but secret and undiscerned.

4. By His prayers and intercessions.

III. THE MANNER OR NATURE OF THE CONQUEST, how it is achieved.

1. The enemies are overcome and terribly broken: there is a total dissipation of all the powers of darkness.

2. Not barely overcome, but spoiled and rifled (Colossians 2:15).

3. Such a victory as endeth in a solemn triumph; as conquerors in public view carried their spoils and their enemies tied to their chariots, so Christ would expose them to open shame.

IV. WHAT SPECIAL BENEFITS WE HAVE BY THE CONQUEST OF CHRIST.

1. The banishment of distracting fear (Hebrews 2:15).

2. An encouragement to the spiritual conflict.

3. Joy unspeakable and glorious.

4. Hopes of glory; we shall conquer with Him, and reign with Him.

5. The very exaltation of Christ is a great comfort to us.

6. Christ’s conquest is a token, earnest and pledge of our victory.

7. What Christ did in this conquest, He did it for our sakes. He will have nothing but we shall share in it.

8. Another benefit is usefulness and serviceableness for all that befalls us. Christ doth so effect it that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). (T. Manton, D.D.)

He hath poured out His soul unto death

The conflict of Christ explained

I. HIS DEATH. “He hath poured out,” etc.

II. THE IGNOMINY OF IT. “He was numbered with the transgressors.”

III. THE CAUSE OF IT. “He bare,” etc.

IV. THE NOTED CIRCUMSTANCE IN IT. “He made intercession for the transgressors.” (T. Manton, D.D.)

The love of Christ

He gave Himself.

I. THE GIFT. “His soul.”

II. THE MANNER OF GIVING. “Poured out.”

III. THE INTENT. (T. Manton, D.D.)

Christ killed by the inner Cross

It was not the Cross of wood that killed the Saviour, but the inner Cross, which lay heavily on His soul. (C. Clemance, D.D.)

Christ’s connection with sinners the source of His glory

I. The first source of the Mediator’s glory is, that He, out of His love to guilty men, has POURED OUT HIS SOUL UNTO DEATH. The penalty of sin is death. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” The Lord Jesus came into such connection with men that He bore the death penalty which guilty men had incurred. Remark the expression: “He hath poured out His soul unto death.” It is deliberate. It is a libation presented with thought and care; not the mere spilling of His blood, but the resolute, determinate pouring out of His whole life unto its last drop--the pouring it; out unto death. Christ’s resolve to die for you and me was not that of a brave soldier who rushes up to the cannon’s mouth in a moment of excitement; but He was practically pouring out His life from the day when His public ministry commenced, if not before. He was always dying by living at such a rate that His zeal consumed Him.

2. It was most real and true. I pray you do not think of Christ as pouring out His soul, as though it made Him spend a sort of ecstatic life in dream-land, and suffer only in thought, intent, and sympathy. My Lord suffered as you suffer, only more keenly; for He had never injured His body or soul by any act of excess, so as to take off the edge from His sensitiveness.

3. See how complete it was. Jesus gave poor sinners everything. His every faculty was laid out for them. Put your trust; m Him, then, without reserve.

II. OUR LORD WAS NUMBERED WITH SINNERS. “He was numbered with the transgressors.” There is a touch of nearness to the sinner about this which there is not in the first clause. He bears death for the sinner; but you could not suppose, if you had not read it, thus He would be written in the sinner s register. He was not, and could not be, a sinner; but yet it is written, “He was numbered with the transgressors.” Is there a census taken of sinners? Then, the name of Jesus is written down. How was He numbered with the transgressors? This makes it the more marvellous, because it is so hurtful to a man who is pure, to be numbered with the impure.

Our Lord Jesus was numbered with the transgressors--

1. By the tongue of slander. They called Him a drunken man and a wine-bibber: they even called Him Beelzebub. That was sharp enough for Him to bear, whom all the angels salute as “Holy, holy, holy!”

2. In the earthly courts of justice. He stood at the bar as a common felon, though He was judge of all. Though they could not find witnesses whose testimony agreed, yet they condemned Him (Mark 15:28).

3. Our Lord Jesus Christ, on earth, was treated, in the providence of God, as transgressors are treated. Transgression sometimes brings on men poverty, sickness, reproach, and desertion; and Jesus Christ had to take His share of all these with sinful men. All things in this world that are so keen and terrible to man, because man has become so guilty, were just as keen and terrible to Him. The nails that pierced Him tore His tender flesh as they would have torn that of the sinful. Fever parched Him till His tongue cleaved to His jaws.

4. The Holy God treated Him as if He were one of us. “It pleased the Father to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief.”. God not only turned His back on transgressors, but He turned His back upon His Son, who was numbered with them.

III. The third matter by which the Lord Jesus Christ has won His victories, and earned reward of God, is this: “HE BARE THE SIN OF MANY.”

IV. The last thing is this: “HE MADE INTERCESSION FOR THE TRANSGRESSORS.” Who among us will take up the part of the guilty? Who will plead for the guilty? I know, in certain oases, the lawyer will sell his tongue to the most polluted; but if a man were perfectly pure, you would not find him saying a word in defence of the guilty. So far as the man was guilty he could not be defended. But our Lord made intercession for transgressors. When He was here on earth how tender He was with transgressors! He bore on His heart the names of guilty men. He was always pleading their cause, and when He came to die he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He took their part. He would exculpate them if He could. I dare say that He has often prayed like that for you. Now He has gone up yonder He is pleading still. Application:

He was numbered with the transgressors

The Friend of sinners

I. To the sinner, troubled and alarmed on account of guilt, there will be much comfort in the thought that CHRIST IS ENROLLED AMONG SINNERS. “He was numbered with the transgressors.”

1. In what sense are we to understand this?

2. Why was Christ numbered with transgressors?

II. We are taught in the next sentence, that Christ “BARE THE SINS OF MANY.”

1. Here it is as clear as noon-day that Christ dealt with sinners.

2. As He did bear their sins, other texts tell us that He did bear them away.

3. There is now no sin abiding upon those for whom Jesus died.

III. Our third sentence tells us that JESUS INTERCEDES FOR SINNERS. “And made intercession for the transgressors.”

1. He pleads for their forgiveness.

2. He next prays that those for whom He intercedes may be saved, and may have a new life given them. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christ numbered with the transgressors

He became a sinner, though sinless--

1. By imputation.

2. By reputation. (J. Trapp.)

Made intercession far the transgressors

Christ’s intercession for transgressors

Christ in this and such like actions is to be considered in a double regard--

1. As a holy, godly man; so He was to fulfil all righteousness.

2. As a mediator and public person, that was to be our High Priest, to satisfy and intercede. (T. Manton D. D.)

Christ s intercession

1. Who prayeth. Christ, one that could destroy them with His glory easily enough.

2. When He prayed. In the very act of His sufferings.

3. For whom He prayed. For them that offered Him all the indignities in the world.

4. How He prayed. He pleadeth for them; “Forgive them,” etc. (T. Manton, D.D.)

Jesus interceding for transgressors

Our blessed Lord made intercession for transgressors in so many words while He was being crucified, for He was heard to say, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Our Lord fixed His eye upon that point in the character of His persecutors which was most favourable to them, namely, that they knew not what they did. He could not plead their innocence, and therefore He pleaded their ignorance. Our great Advocate will be sure to plead wisely and efficiently on our behalf; He will urge every argument which can be discovered, for His eye, quickened by love, will suffer nothing to pass which may tell in our favour. The prophet, however, does not, I suppose, intend to confine our thoughts to the one incident which is recorded by the evangelists, for the intercession of Christ was an essential part of His entire life-work. Jesus Himself is the reasoning and logic of prayer, and He Himself is an ever-living prayer unto the Most High. It was part of our Lord’s official work to make intercession for the transgressors. He is a Priest, and as such He brings His offering, and presents prayer on the behalf of the people.

I. I have to direct your attention to our ever-living Lord making intercession for the transgressors; and I shall pray God that all of us may be roused to ADMIRATION FOR HIS GRACE.

1. If you will consider His intercession for transgressors I think you will be struck with the love, and tenderness, and graciousness of His heart, when you recollect that He offered intercession verbally while He was standing in the midst of their sin. Sin heard of and sin seen are two very different things. Our Lord actually saw human sin, saw it at its worst. He saw it all, and felt the sin as you and I cannot feel it, for His heart was purer, and therefore tenderer than ours: He saw that the tendency of sin was to put Him to death, and all like Him, yea and to slay God Himself if it could achieve its purpose, for man had become a Decide and must needs crucify His God--and yet, though His holy soul saw and loathed all this tendency and atrocity of transgression, He still made intercession for the transgressors.

2. Another point of His graciousness was also clear, namely, that He should thus intercede while in agony.

3. But it is marvellous that He being pure, should plead for transgressors at all: for you and for me amongst them--let the wonder begin there.

4. Further, it is to me a very wonderful fact that in His glory He should still be pleading for sinners.

5. Again, it is gloriously gracious that our Lord should continue to do this. He hath never ceased to make intercession for transgressors.

II. I do earnestly pray that we may be led of the Holy Ghost so to view His intercession for transgressors as to put our CONFIDENCE IN HIMSELF. There is ground for a sinner’s confidence in Christ, and there is abundant argument for the believer’s complete reliance in Him, from the fact of His perpetual intercession.

1. Because His intercession succeeds.

2. There is reason for transgressors to come and trust in Jesus Christ, seeing He pleads for them.

3. I am sure, too, that if Jesus Christ pleads for transgressors as transgressors, while as yet they have not begun to pray for themselves, He will be sure to hear them when they are at last led to pray.

4. In order that our confidence may be increased, consider the effect of our Lord’s intercession for transgressors.

III. I pray that our text may inspire us with the spirit of OBEDIENCE TO HIS EXAMPLE. I take the example of Christ to be an embodied precept as much binding upon us as His written commands.

1. Imitate Him by forgiving all transgressions against yourself.

2. Imitate Christ, in pleading for yourselves. Since you are transgressors, and you see that Jesus intercedes for transgressors, make bold to say, “If He pleads for such as I am, I will put in my humble petition, and hope to be heard through Him.”

3. If we have been forgiven our transgressions, let us now intercede for transgressors, since Jesus does so.

4. Let us take care, that if we do plead for others we mix with it the doing of good to them, because it is not recorded that He made intercession for transgressors until it is first written, “He bare the sin of many”

5. If Christ appears in heaven for us, let us be glad to appear on earth for him. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Monarch becomes an intercessor for His foes

(with Luke 23:34):--Here prophecy and history unite in taking us to the place which is calledCalvary.

I. IN WHAT LIGHT SHOULD WE REGARD THESE WORDS?

II. WHAT IS THE REQUEST? For whom? “Forgive them,” those who were the instruments and agents in His crucifixion. These were--

1. The people.

2. The chief priests and scribes.

3. The rulers.

4. The soldiers.

5. The Roman governor.

6. The passers-by, who were reviling Him.

7. Those who were crucified with Him, joining in the mockery and jests.

What is the plea by which the petition is urged? “They know not what they do.” Not one of them knew the full extent of the crime. Not even the disciples could have estimated the guilt of the people (Acts 3:16; 1 Corinthians 2:6). There was only One, even the Sufferer Himself, who could view that sin in all its manifold complications, and hold evenly and righteously the scales of judgment.

III. WHAT A SPIRIT OF LOVE THESE WORDS BREATHE! Their self-forgetfulness is wonderful. The sin of those thus wronging the Saviour was a far greater cause of distress to Him than all the degradation, ignominy, and pain He was enduring; on these things He could be altogether silent, in order to plead for the forgiveness of others sin. We see here, too, a love which, rising above human repulsiveness and guilt, ever regards itself as sent to save; a love which would carry on a redeeming work, even when stretched in agony on the Cross. Here, too, is not only the love of One, whose saving energy could neither be repulsed nor trammelled, but of One who, though He is most fully acquainted with the greatness of their guilt, pleads before Him, to whom sin is an abominable thing, the mitigation of their crime. Truly, it is a marvel of comfort that He, who judges sin most exactly, deals with the sinner most tenderly! Here, too, is Divine love making intercession for the transgressors; not for the good, but for the bad; not for the penitent, but for the impenitent; that they may be brought to repent; showing us how Christ’s love goes after men always, under all circumstances, in the lowest depths of guilt. Nevertheless, Divine love so pleads, as to imply that if this sin had been committed with full understanding of its enormity, He dared not have asked for its forgiveness. “For they know not what they do.” Thus the spirit of this prayer has its terrors as well as its comforts. “There is a sin unto death,” for which the Redeemer does not intercede, and for which we have no commission or authority to pray. Where that sin lies, what is its precise character, whether this or that man has committed it, we dare not say. We can tell four things about it:--we know the region in which it lies, the sign it has been committed, the sign it has not been committed, and why there is no mercy for it. Where one who has the fullest light indulges in the greatest sin, he is getting very near the unpardonable sin. The sign that it has been committed, would be hard, final, impenitence. True repentance is a sure sign it has not been committed. It is not pardonable, because at such a stage the sinner will not repent.

IV. WHAT ARE THE DOCTRINES THESE WORDS INVOLVE?

1. They teach us that the Father saves us through the Son.

2. That sins of ignorance need forgiveness. Paul sinned “ignorantly in unbelief,” and yet was the “chief of sinners.”

3. Whatever palliation of guilt may be allowed, owing to ignorance, full recognition is taken thereof by the great Intercessor.

4. We are taught that the fuller the light the greater the sin (Hebrews 10:26-27).

5. That forgiveness of sin, by God, is so precious to us, because it is made over to us in perfect knowledge of every aggravation and mitigation.

V. WHAT RESULTS DID THIS INTERCESSION SECURE? We are sure that this prayer was answered. It did not indeed avert the destruction of the doomed city, but--

1. It secured the forgiveness of every penitent who might be, nevertheless, involved in its temporal disasters.

2. The Great Pleader’s work soon proved its power in the salvation of the thief on the Cross, and shortly after of thousands more.

3. By means of the intercession of our Lord, begun on earth, and now carried on in heaven, we are “not under the law, but under grace.” (C. Clemance, D. D.)

Meaning of intercession

The question, “What is meant by intercession?” being asked in a Sunday school, one of the children replied, “Speaking a word to God fur us, sir.”

Intercession for the transgressors

“I shall never forget,” wrote Miss Plumptre to a friend, “the day of the sadness and the gladness of my heart, the day when a chafed and disappointed spirit found healing and rest in One whom I had done my utmost to be independent of. The joy of the astronomer over his newly-discovered planet is nothing to the rapture with which I gazed upon the word transgressors in the last sentence of Isaiah 53:12; ‘He made intercession for the transgressors.’ I wellremember being so dazzled that for a time I thought it a delusion, a misprint. It was something so altogether new to my proud, hard-working spirit, that I could almost wonder that I did not erase it and put in ‘the penitent’ or ‘the humble’ or one of nature’s proud epithets. Yes, I think that word ‘transgressors’ was the first that ever glowed on me with all the attraction of ‘free grace.’”.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Isaiah 53:4". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/isaiah-53.html. 1905-1909. New York.

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