Theme: A Prophecy Fulfilled
This week’s lessons explain how Isaiah 53 clearly points to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Suffering Servant who would accomplish salvation for his people.
Scripture: Isaiah 53
I do not know of any chapter of the Word of God that gives greater proof of the blindness of the human heart to God’s truth than Isaiah 53. This is very evident in regard to Jewish people. In the first twelve centuries of the Christian era Jewish people through their rabbis and other Old Testament scholars considered that this chapter referred to the Messiah who should come. But at that time a change took place in Jewish thinking, and today it would be very hard to find anyone who so regards it in the Jewish community. Instead, the chapter is taken as referring to Israel as a whole, that is, to the nation and not to an individual Savior. This is so even though verse 8 very clearly distinguishes between the Messiah and the people for whom he was to die: “For the transgression of my people he was stricken.”
As Christians read this chapter, it seems to them to refer quite clearly not only to the general outlines of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, but to particular aspects of that life—to His ministry, death, and resurrection. Yet there is blindness even here. Some reject the view of the atonement which is found here. Others refuse to apply these teachings to their lives.
There are two texts in the New Testament where the word “blindness” is used. The first is in Romans 11, where it is used of the Jews; and the second is in Ephesians 4, where it is used of the Gentiles. Paul is saying in both cases that people are blind to spiritual things. What shall we do about this? The only thing we can do is appeal to God to open our eyes to see his truth. We must pray, “Holy Spirit, open our eyes to see the truths that are found in this chapter, as we study it.”
I would like to take you through Isaiah 53 section by section, showing how this chapter traces out the coming, death, resurrection, and future glory of our Savior. I want to do it in five parts. The first part is found in verses 1–3. It speaks of the Messiah’s humble origins. The second part is found in verses 4–6. It speaks of the Messiah’s vicarious suffering. The third part is found in verses 7–9. It speaks of the Messiah’s exemplary life. The fourth part is found in verse 10a alone. It speaks of the Messiah’s divine commissioning. The fifth and last part is found in verses 10b–12. It speaks of the Messiah’s glorious triumph.
If you were asked to teach on this passage, how would you approach it? Read Isaiah 53 carefully, and consider how else you might outline your study. Also list what application you would make for your hearers from it.
We know that the underlying cause of people’s blindness to spiritual things is sin. But how is this sin expressed in terms of specific reasons why people reject the Bible’s teaching?