The Jesus Chapter: Isaiah 53

The Jesus Chapter: Isaiah 53

All of Isaiah 53 Describes Jesus:

Of all the places in the Old Testament that shine a light upon Jesus, none is quite as beautiful as Isaiah 53. This passage, written 700 years before Jesus came, highlights the beauty and jarring details of the life, death, and resurrection of our Messiah, the Lord Jesus, the King.  Enjoy this brief overview of Isaiah 53 – a chapter so clear about Jesus that Philip unpacked it ... leading the Ethiopian Eunuch to the Savior (Acts 8:26-40).

You can read Isaiah 53 here.

An NRSV Bible open to Isaiah 53.
Isaiah 53

10 Highpoints from Chapter 53

  1. The Man of Sorrows, Despised and Rejected (53:3): “Despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering (acquainted with grief). Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not.”
    stormseeker-wPbbShdlEWI-unsplashThe Man of Sorrows

  2. Stricken, Smitten by God (53:4): “…He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted.” See Matthew 8:17

  3. Pierced, Crucified (53:5): “…He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” See 1 Peter 2:24

  4. The Sin-Bearer (53:6): “We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” 1 Peter 2:24-25 says, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, ... for you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."

  5. The Silent Lamb of God (53:7): “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep is silent before her shearers, so he did not open his mouth.” At his trial before the Sanhedrin, Matthew 26:63 says "Jesus remained silent." In 27:14 Matthew says "Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge – to the great amazement of the governor.” 1 Peter 2:23 says, "When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats." In Acts 8:32-35, the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading Isaiah 53:7-8 and asked Philip who the text was about: "Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture (Isaiah 53) and told [the Ethiopian Eunuch] the good news about Jesus."

  6. The Great Substitute (53:8): “He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken – to whom the blow was due.”

  7. Sinless and Buried with the Rich (53:9): “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence/committed no sin, not was any deceit in his mouth …” A wealthy man named Joseph (of Arimathea) helped bury Jesus' body in Matthew 27:57-60: “As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him…” Also, 1 Peter 2:22 quotes the second half of 53:9, referring to Jesus.

  8. The Suffering Servant (53:10): "Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring …” 1 Peter 2:21 says, "to this you were called, because Christ suffered for you..."

  9. Resurrected! (53:11): “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life…(resurrection) … my Righteous Servant will justify many and he will bear their iniquities.”

  10. Numbered with Transgressors (53:12): “…He poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for transgressors.” Numbered with transgressors: see Mark 15:27-28 and Luke 22:36-37.

Bonus Material! Jesus Quotes Isaiah

Jesus knew the book of Isaiah quite well – and certainly knew Chapter 53's content, and what lay before him.  He also regularly quoted verses from Isaiah to his audiences. Below are a few examples:

  1. 29:13   “These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain, their teachings are but rules taught by men.”  Jesus quotes this in Mark 7:6-7, Matthew 15:7-9.
  2. 56:7   “... for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations,” Jesus repeats this in Mark 11:17.
  3. 61:1-2   “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners (the blind), to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  In Luke 4:17-19, Jesus quotes this passage in the Nazareth synagogue, and declares: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

What a Savior we have, in Jesus!