There are four “Servant Songs” of Isaiah that describe the service, suffering, and exaltation of the Servant of the Lord, the Messiah. And Isaiah predicts that this Servant of the Lord would deliver the world from the prison of sin. God’s Servant, the Messiah, faithfully completes all the work He is given to do! Acts 3:13 gives testimony to this:
1) Jesus always did the will of the Father (John 4:34).
2) Jesus never sought to please Himself but always to please the Father (John 5:30).
3) Jesus finished the work that God had sent Him to do (John 17:4).
4) Jesus came to glorify the Father (John 13:31).
And that’s the Son’s humility! Look at Isaiah 50:4-11:
The Son’s Humility:
1) He was humble in teaching, v4. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He was marvelled at! When He taught, the people would say; “where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him?” in John 7:15 we read; “how is it that this man is learning?” The Son’s response in verse 16 says, “my teaching is not my own, but His who sent me!”
John 12:49, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.” Now we don’t know when this teaching by the Father took place, but we can assume that for 30 years, morning by morning – He is taught by the Father, He has the Law written on His heart! One of the earlier servant songs, says it rightly; “He made my mouth like a sharp sword” (Is. 49:2). He always knew what to say, because of His relationship with His Father!
2) He was humble in obedience, v5-6. Everything the Son did for us and our salvation, was done willingly! John 10:15 – “I lay down my life for the sheep!” verse 18, “no one has taken my life away from me!” Look Isaiah 50:5-6, “The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.”
The first reference to the ear being opened goes back to the imagery found in Exodus 21. If a slave loves his master, they would go to a wooden pole, and the master would drive a nail through the servant’s ear, and it would symbolize obedience, love, and dependence. That’s the Son’s humility! And where did that obedience lead Jesus? To hunger for 40 days, to His rejection by His disciples, and even by His own family. He was ridiculed, called a demon (Jn 10:20)! And it led Him to homelessness, saying “but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matt 8:20).
Yet, in His humility – He remains obedient to the Father! He is found sinless. He is found in the garden praying, begging the Father 3 times, “remove this cup!” And as the Son’s darkest hour approaches, He is found saying, “your will be done…” Jesus shares the Father’s will! And in His humility, He remains obedient – to the point of death, yes, even death on a cross.
3) He was humble in hope, v7-8. The Son is confident in the Father because He knows He will be justified. He knows that He will be glorified, and He knows He will be exalted. You see, before Jesus is about to be shamed, He prays to the Father, as He knows He will receive the glory that He is due. Hence, He says, “who will stand up against me?” “Who is my adversary?” And yet, the Son had to trust His Father’s way is better than the ways of appearance.
The Father’s Way:
Let’s move to the fourth servant song, found in Isaiah 52:-53:11. The song begins with a promise that the Servant will be exalted! Psalm 110:1 says about the Son, “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”” But before this takes place, it is the Father’s will, it is His way; that the Son must suffer the cross.
Verse 14 tells us “His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness.” The Father’s will is for the Messiah to be “despised and rejected by mankind.” But this isn’t the final point, this isn’t the climax! Here is why the Son endures such persecution: “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (verse 5).
It is our iniquity that is placed on Him! It is our sin that explains His suffering (verse 6). Verse 7 predicts that the Messiah will be silent before His accusers – Matthew 27:11-14, “Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.”
Does the Son deserve it? No, verse 9 says that, although the Servant of the Lord is innocent, He will die with the wicked! Why? Verse 10, “It was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and… the Lord makes his life an offering for sin.”
Their Relationship to the Cross:
This is the substitutionary atonement. It means, His life for ours! Romans 3 teaches that all men are sinners. Romans 6 tells us the penalty for our sinfulness is death. So without the Son & the Father’s relationship with the cross, we are going to die and spend an eternity in hell as payment for our sins. Death is the “separation.” But their relationship makes eternal life available, as the Son gives His life for ours!
Jesus Christ died in our place when He was crucified on the cross. We deserved to be the ones placed on that cross to die because we are the ones who live sinful lives. But Christ took the punishment on Himself in our place—He substituted Himself for us and took what we rightly deserved. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 1 Peter 2:24,
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”
The death of the Son accomplished the will of the Father concerning our salvation. 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.” Though He suffers for us, although He is persecuted for us, death is not the end! After He suffers, He will “see the light of life.” He will “divide the spoils.” His days will be prolonged. What we have here is a prophecy of the resurrection of Christ.
Isaiah 53 is therefore a prophetic picture of the gospel. Jesus was despised and rejected by men (Luke 13:34; John 1:10–11); He was stricken by God (Matthew 27:46) and pierced for our transgressions (John 19:34; 1 Peter 2:24). By His suffering, Jesus received the punishment we deserved and became for us the ultimate and perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10). Although His Son was sinless, the Father laid on Him our sin, and we became righteous in the Son (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus was silent in front of His accusers (Matthew 27:12, 14; 1 Peter 2:23). Jesus was crucified between two thieves yet buried in a rich man’s tomb (Matthew 27:38, 57–60).
The relationship between the Son and the Father with the cross, is for our salvation and His glory! Later in the book of Acts, Acts 8:23-33. We read of the Ethiopian eunuch who is traveling home in his chariot, but he is found reading Isaiah. And he was unsure of who the prophet spoke, but using Isaiah 53, Philip pointed the Ethiopian to Christ: “Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35). What good news? “The Lord makes His life, and offering for ours!”