The celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the center of Christianity. The church is reminded each Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, that it was this day that is the point of demarcation for all humanity. It is the empty tomb that makes it possible to live a life filled with God.
The story of the resurrection is found at the end of all four Gospels. However, the story was told long before the event took place. The prophet Isaiah told of the cross event six hundred years before the crowd cried, “Crucify Him.” The book of Isaiah has been uniquely described as the Gospel of the Old Testament.
Isaiah 53 is the focus of this lesson. Limited space will make a comprehensive look at the passage impossible. However, there is enough room to thrill the spirit. So, take a moment and read the passage. Keep the message of Isaiah 53 in context by reading 52:13 through 53:12.
The prophet began with a profoundly simple question, “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” (v.1) No doubt this stoked the curiosity of those who heard or would later read this verse. The prophet admitted that what He was about to say seemed to be unbelievable. Isaiah stated that what was hard to believe was the activity of God, described as the “arm of the LORD.” This phrase was a term used to speak of God’s mighty acts. But what was it God did that was so hard to believe? The answers are found in the rest of Isaiah 53.
First, the prophet described the coming of one sent from God. He wrote of the coming of Messiah. Christians understand this as the coming Jesus Christ. What does he say about this event? First he noted that the one coming would be a breath of fresh air on a hot and stale day when he wrote, “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.” (v.2)
Isaiah also disclosed that Messiah was not coming with a bang, in an atmosphere of pomp and circumstance when he said that there would be nothing physically attractive about Messiah that would naturally draw people to Him (v.2b). As a matter of fact, the one coming would have the opposite affect on people. He would not draw he would repel; he would not be the hero he would be a criminal (v.3). But this was not the amazing part.
As the prophet continued, he told how this coming servant would suffer. This is where the message gets amazing. He was not going to know pain and suffering because of his misdeeds but because of ours. The prophet wrote, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering” (v.4). No comments needed here; it is all too clear. What is sad is when Messiah experienced these things humanity said he got what he earned, rather than taking what we had earned. People believed God gave him what he deserved. The coming one was Jesus and the religious leaders said that He had to die because He blasphemed God (John 10:33, 19:17).
What Isaiah wrote next was even more amazing, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (v.5) In this single verse, the prophet described the reason for the coming of Messiah. He came to take the penalty our sins had earned so we could experience the peace of the Jesus offers. He died so we can live.
Why is this so amazing? A lot of people believe that this act of God is somehow an entitlement for humanity. Humanity believes it is basically good and decent. Granted under certain circumstances beyond our control, we do bad things. Why would God not do this for us? Listen to what God sees when He looks. The description is found in the words used to express our actions: transgression (used twice), iniquities, sick [we need healed], gone astray, turned to our own way (vv.5-6).
Now listen to His actions: took our pain, bore our sorrow, pierced for our transgression, crushed for our iniquities, the LORD laid on Him our sins, He was oppressed and afflicted (suffering forced on a person from the outside), He was taken away, He was cut off, He was punished, He was assigned a grave with the wicked though He has done no violence, he was caused to be crushed, he suffered and was made a sin offering (vv.4-10).
That is the amazing part. The Apostle Paul said it this way, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8) Peter wrote, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18) And a slave-shipping captain named John Newton said this, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”
What Jesus the Messiah came and did, He did because He loved us before we ever thought of loving Him (1 John 4:10). What He did He did for the undeserving, and He did it willingly. Jesus said, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:19) Now that’s amazing and believe it or not, Jesus did it for you.
And believe it or not, after Jesus suffered and died on the cross God the Father, three days later, raised Him from the dead. So come to a bloodied cross and the empty tomb; worship the One whose life was taken so He could offer life to you.