Isaiah 53 is considered one of the most direct and powerful prophecies related to Jesus Christ as the suffering servant, fulfilling the role of the Jewish Messiah. Long before the death of Jesus on the cross, many Jewish teachers believed this important section of Isaiah predicted the coming of a redeemer who would arrive in Jerusalem. Yet modern Jewish scholars often argue the chapter relates to Israel, Moses, or another Jewish prophet of old. However, the text of Isaiah 53 strongly connects with the sufferings Jesus endured.
Is the 'Suffering Servant' of Isaiah 53 a prophecy about Jesus?
Isaiah 53:2 notes, "For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him." These words predict a man who would not stand out due to his looks or royal background. Jesus was born in a manger and grew up in a small Jewish town, fitting the prediction of these words.
Isaiah 53:3 predicts, "He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Jesus was despised and rejected by the Jews. His death was so repulsive that it would lead men to hide their faces.
Isaiah 53:4-9 share many details that match Jesus and only Jesus: "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth."
The ideas of pierced, crushed, chastised, and wounded all fit the sufferings Jesus endured on the cross. Further, His wounds bring healing to those who believe in Him. Jesus has taken our sins upon Him. He did not protest at His trials, but was silent in His defense and was slaughtered similar to the manner of a lamb led to death. His grave, or death, was with the wicked since Jesus was crucified with two criminals. He was buried in the tomb of a rich man. He had done no violence, yet had died as a criminal.
These details fit so precisely with Jesus and only Jesus that the New Testament writers often referred to Isaiah 53 and other prophecies within Isaiah to support their view of Jesus as the Messiah. Still today, those who consider the words of this prophecy, written more than six hundred years before their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, find compelling evidence of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and the only way to God (Acts 4:12).
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