Dear radio friends,
As we seek to contemplate the wonder of God’s love and grace in the cross of our Savior Jesus Christ, we turn today to the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 53:10. We read: “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” The prophet Isaiah is our dependable guide to bring us to the cross and to see the wonder of God’s redeeming love and grace. Let us go and follow what the prophet says, taking the shoes from off our feet, for, as we read Isaiah 53, we walk on the most sacred spot in time and eternity. We come to the place where God spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all.
We might call Isaiah 53 the gospel according to Isaiah, as if Isaiah the prophet, who lived 800 years before Jesus was born, stood at Golgotha, before the cross. We read in the chapter that Jesus would open not His mouth; that He would be numbered with the transgressors; that with His stripes we would be healed; that He would make His grave with the rich in His death. All of this would come literally to pass in our Lord and Savior’s crucifixion.
And if you ask, “How could Isaiah know such details, for it would take place 800 years in the future?” The answer is: “God told him. And the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ had long been planned in the eternal heart of God.”
And if you wonder about that, then you must remember that the gospel declares that God saw Calvary from all eternity, that this lived in His eternal breast, that He planned it, that He brought it to pass, that He delighted in it, that it was His pleasure, that God gloried in it, that God would show the wonder of His grace to worthless sinners by bruising His Son.
And if you say, “But why would God do that?” The answer is: “He loved us.”
And, again, if you would say, “But why would He love us, unworthy sinners?” Then the answer is: “Because He saw in the cross His own glory. He would reveal His own glory in His justice against sin, His mercy, His righteousness, His grace toward those whom He chose to be in Jesus Christ.”
Nothing so pleases God as to reveal His own glory!
So let us go with Isaiah for a few moments today and let us see the heart of the heart, the soul of the soul, of the cross of Jesus Christ. Let us take fast hold of it by faith, let us humble ourselves, and ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes that we may have understanding. For many can go to Calvary, can read the gospel accounts of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, and miss it all, miss it by an eternity, if they look without faith. That is how far off you can miss it—by an eternity.
There are those who want to reenact the passion and the cross of Jesus Christ. But when they reenact it in a movie, they miss it. And they miss it by an eternity. For no movie can reveal what took place at the cross.
God bruised His Son. God put Him to grief. The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all. God numbered His Son with the transgressors. God made His soul an offering for sin.
Why? Because God is glorious in His love. Because God’s glory is this: Rather than that our sin should go unpunished, He hath punished it in the bitter and shameful death of His own Son, that He might be revealed as the just God and the merciful heavenly Father.
God was at work at the cross. We read in verse 10 of Isaiah 53, “Yet [that is, although Jesus was innocent and there was no violence or deceit in His mouth] it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he [the Lord] hath put him to grief.” Jesus was not swept away to Calvary by accident, by misunderstanding, or merely by the cruelty of men. But God bruised His Son.
When we read the account of the cross, we trace the death of Jesus, of course, to the hatred of the Jews and to the fickle, unmanly Pontius Pilate. Yes, that is certainly true. There was the great sin of nailing Jesus, God’s innocent Son, to a tree. And that sin is to be laid at the door of man. Peter later will say in Acts 2:23, “Him [Jesus], being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Yes, man’s sin and responsibility.
But Isaiah, and we with him through faith, see something more in Jesus’ death than merely Roman cruelty and Jewish envy. We see the solemn decree of the eternal God. We see God’s predestination, God’s predetermination, of what would take place. We see that the death of Jesus is the very center of all the other decrees of the eternal God. It is the foundation-stone on which they all stand. Look beyond the scourging and the reproach, as awful as it was, and the Roman nails pounded through His hands and feet. Hear beyond the Jewish taunts and jeers and hatred. Trace the crucifixion of Jesus to the breast of God! Trace it to a fountain, to the spring from which it cannot be plumbed—God’s love for us.
For Isaiah says, “It pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” Isaiah looks past Herod and Pilate and the chief priests to the heavenly Father.
Isaiah’s prophecy means that the true sufferings of Jesus Christ were those that the Father laid upon Him. There was something infinitely more agonizing than the nails that were pounded through His hands and His feet, and His body hanging upon those nails and tearing. There was something more than the hot, stinging, bloody welts across His back inflicted by the Roman lash. God bruised Him.
A bruise is the swelling of the body where it has been struck. And God had said, “I will smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered.” Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” as He hanged upon the cross. The sunshine of God’s presence that has cheered many a dying saint and martyr was drawn away from Jesus. God put Him to this grief. And oh, oh, such grief!
You say, “I have known such a grief when it seemed to me that it had been better that I had never been born. I have gone through sorrow when for a while there seemed to be no answer to me.” Oh, but His grief was the grief of sin—all our sin, all our woe, all that we deserved in an eternity of hell was put upon Him. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him, to place what we deserved upon Him.
And the climax of this woe was the darkness, the three hours of darkness, when the Father bruised Him and put Him to grief. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him.
That is more than just that God willed to bruise Him. Pleased. It was the Father’s pleasure. There was emotion from God. There was a delight in this. This word is used also in Isaiah 62:4. There we read, “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.” Hephzibah—My delight is in her. The Lord delights in thee. That is the same word: it pleased the Lord, it gave Him delight.
Now we ask, “How can that be? How can it be that it delighted the Lord to bruise His dear Son? Did not He say from heaven, This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased?” Did not Jesus say, “The Father loveth the Son and shows Him all things whatsoever He doeth”? How could it please and delight the Father to bruise His Son? Delightin this? Would that not be awful for God?
The answer is this. It pleased the Lord to do this because in this way He would glorify Himself in the revelation of His infinite love that He has for us and to us in Christ Jesus. He would declare that sin cannot be swept away under the rug of the universe. But rather than that our sin be unpunished, He has punished it in His own Son.
You say, “Wait. You mean that, rather than let my sin go unpunished, God has bruised His Son? Could not God simply let bygones be bygones?”
No, He will never do that. Why will He not let sin simply be ignored? Because God loves His glory. And sin tramples that glory in the dust. Sin is the belittling of the glory of God. We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. What is the essence of sin? It is that we have fallen short of prizing the glory of God above homes and DVDs and alcohol and sex and sunshine and health and money and self. God is pleased to bruise His Son because in that He says “He alone is worthy. And sin must be punished. I will punish your sin in My Son.” He delights, He has pleasure, in laying our sins’ punishment upon His own Son because in that way He shows Himself as holy and just and righteous. And at the same time, He is merciful and lovely and gracious and kind.
This was the reason for Jesus’ death. Isaiah says, “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.” Christ was so humbled, so bruised, because He was our substitute. He was an offering for our sins. How can God be just and at the same time justify His people? Well, it pleased the Lord to make His Son our substitute. God said, “This pleases me, that My Son be given as an offering to obliterate the sin of My people.” When you see Jesus Christ handed over to the soldiers to be led away to be crucified, you see the One who has been chosen of God to stand in our place. When you see Him stretched upon the cross, nailed and lifted up, the whole company of the elect of God throughout all ages arethere. He represents them. And when He suffers there upon the cross and He cries out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” He actually, at that very moment, literally and fully, bore the sin of all the elect of God. His soul was made an offering for sin, that is, His perfect life in His soul. The exact punishment that our sin deserved was poured out. All the woe, all the grief, all the eternal agony that our sin deserved was inflicted upon Him.
And now there is not so much as a speck, an ounce, an iota, a hair, an atom, a molecule of that sin’s punishment left for those for whom Jesus suffered—all the elect of God. God will never hide His face from us. But He did so from His Son.
If Christ is punished in my stead, then I shall not be punished. And the Father was pleased, the Father was delighted, to show His grace, His justice, and His wisdom in giving His Son as the substitute. God was pleased to do this.
He did not say, “Well, My chosen ones have made a mess and there is no other way, so, though I’d rather not do this, I will.” No, He delighted. He so loved us, He so loved His glory. And He was pleased with His Son. He was never so delighted in His Son as when His Son bore the curse for us.
Jesus said in John 10:17, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” He was pleased because Christ on the cross sought the glory of God. Every step to the cross Jesus echoed the words: “My Father is of infinite worth. His will, His pleasure, His holiness, and His justice are the reality of life.” And every hammer blow driving the nails into His hands and feet on the cross echoed through the universe: “My Father is of infinite value. What He has purposed is all that matters.” What alone matters is His righteousness and holiness, His justice and His love. The Father delighted in His Son. His Son delighted in Him. And the Son and the Father delighted in us out of mere grace. We are saved.
“He shall see his seed,” we read, His spiritual offspring. Not maybe, but He shall see His seed. Not, there might be a chance that He will see them. No, He shall justify many, says Isaiah. There is no uncertainty here. Christ knew that what He was accomplishing on the cross would be certainly done. He shall see His seed. He will see you for whom He died as a child of God. He will meet you at the throne of heaven when all is over and He will say, “It is I.” He will see you now opening your eyes to see Him and to love Him and to trust Him and to obey Him.
And He will arise from the dead, for God says in Isaiah 53 that God “shall prolong his days.” Up, out of the grave, says God. You shall live. You shall burst the iron bands of death and come out as One who is the victor over death. And you shall come unto Me forever, for God’s pleasure is that His Son shall stand before Him and His name shall be confessed and honored and exalted. All the Father’s good pleasure shall be accomplished.
“And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” All that pleases God, all that God has willed to show forth the glory of His name, all of that is entrusted to our Savior Jesus Christ, the crucified Lord. And all of that pleasure shall be accomplished. It shall prosper. God’s pleasure is that all the church shall be redeemed from sin and brought home in the last day. God’s pleasure is that all of His people be led in just the right way, through this present valley of sin, to be prepared for their place in glory. And this pleasure of God in His church, entrusted to the crucified Jesus, shall prosper. It shall be attained. The cross has conquered.
From land to land and from sea to sea and from age to age, until at last the King of kings shall stand with us in all of His glory and we will shout, “Hosanna! To the Son of David. Glory in the highest!”
Now, have you been to Calvary? Have you ever seen to the heart of the cross? Do you see that God is pleased to give His Son to die in your place? Do you see how glorious God is in His love and grace? Then bow and worship and go forth in all of your life to praise Him!
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee again for the Word, the blessed Word of God. Seal it unto our hearts through Jesus’ Name. Amen.