Saturday, 18 December 2010

Suffering Servant

The Old Testament book of Isaiah contains four remarkable passages concerned with a suffering servant.  The passages are:
  1. Isaiah 42:1-9
  2. Isaiah 49:1-7
  3. Isaiah 50:4-9
  4. Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
(For the sake of brevity, I have not written these passages out in full.  One can easily find them on the web.)

These passages prophecy the coming of a servant of God who has done nothing wrong, but is punished for the sins of others.  For example:

Isaiah 53:5-6:  He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities.  The chastisement for our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes 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.

The New Testament writers make it clear that Jesus was that suffering servant.  For example, all four quotations in the following passage come from those passages in Isaiah:

1 Peter 2: 21-25: Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.  “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.  “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”  For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Interestingly, this issue touches on three key Christian doctrines: that Jesus lived a sinless life, that all other human beings have sinned and deserve punishment, and that Jesus took on the punishment that we deserved (when He was tortured and crucified).

Many people, even some who call themselves Christians, oppose these three doctrines and spend a lot of energy and time trying to discredit them.  One cannot do that, however, without discarding large chunks of scripture.


  1. Thank you, Adam, for another "motivational" blog post reminding us that if we will be like Jesus, we are called to SUFFER; there is happiness in suffering, though, for Him if He lives within your heart. It means that we no longer live for ourselves, which always involves pain. It is so much better, though, than the pain of sin or the follies of any other life. After all we have "fellowship with His sufferings" walking the road of the cross and the most wonderful Friend of all is right there with us all the way.