There are many individual scriptures that I claim as my favorite. I cannot pick just one. There is however, one chapter in the book of Isaiah that qualifies as my favorite chapter in the Old Testament. It presents hundreds of years before the crucifixion, the mission and suffering of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. It is a theological masterpiece concerning the cross and its objective. I will share it in its entirety then share my thoughts and experience with these 12 verses.
Isaiah 53: 1-12 NLT, “Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.
He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.
But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.”
David Baron, a Jewish convert to Christianity, wrote a Christian classic book on Isaiah 53 titled Servant of Jehovah. In it he said, “Isaiah 53 is the most central and the loftiest thing that Old Testament prophecy has ever achieved. Isaiah 53 has supplied more texts for the Gospel preacher than any other portion of the Old Testament.”
Martin Luther was of the belief that every Christian should be able to recite Isaiah 53 by heart. This chapter is to Isaiah what John chapter 3 is to the gospel of John. It is the heart of the gospel, the good news of salvation to mankind.
I am always moved in my very core when I read Isaiah 53. The prophetic suffering of the messiah and his comprehensive purchase of life is astounding. Even as I write I can feel the tears of gratitude forming. “Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.”
The forgiveness of our sins was accomplished by the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Because of Jesus there would be no more slaughtered animal sacrifices, no more atonement rituals, no more separation from the dwelling place of God by a thick veil and he would become our forever high priest. His sacrifice would allow us to come boldly, bravely, confidently into the presence of God without shame or fault.
I encourage you to mediate of Isaiah 53 and fully embrace its power for healing and redemption!