He poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12b
The story of the Suffering Servant in the book of Isaiah does not fit nicely and neatly into the progression of the book. It can seem out of context—not particularly well connected to the material that comes before and after. This story gained new meaning and drew renewed attention generations after its composition, as the first followers of Jesus struggled to understand who Jesus was. Jesus’ followers had believed that he was the Messiah—the soon to be crowned king of Israel and redeemer of God’s chosen people. However, upon Jesus’ death, that belief was called into question. How could there be a crucified Messiah? Even if one were to believe in Jesus’ miraculous resurrection, there seemed to be no biblical model for a suffering and dying heavenly king.
That is when the odd and seemingly disconnected story of the Suffering Servant gained power and recognition. The plight of the Suffering Servant seemed to match Jesus’ life and ministry exactly. It is nearly impossible to read Isaiah 53, and not feel as if Jesus is the complete fulfillment of that passage of scripture. Jesus may not have fit the model of the Messiah the Jewish people had hoped for, but he appears to be the complete fulfillment of the self-sacrificing leader God promised in the book of Isaiah.
Can you see Jesus as the Suffering Servant prophesied in the book of Isaiah?
Lord, I find when I look for You, it is often in the wrong places. I seek to witness You in power and majesty, and therefore I can easily miss You in moments of suffering and service. Help me to be attentive to the unique and unexpected places You reveal yourself. I thank You for the many scriptures that can refocus me on where and how You choose to encounter us. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.