Suffering Servant (5 of 10)

The Word
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. (Isaiah 53:6).

Voice from the Church
“This is the thrust of the whole chapter, not just that he would be despised and rejected, oppressed and afflicted, … but in particular that he would be pierced for our transgressions, that the Lord would lay on him the iniquity of us all, … that he would himself bear their iniquities.”
(John R. W. Stott, 1921-2011)*

The most logical conclusion one could draw from the sheep going astray, and everyone turning to his own way, would be that these rebellious, stubborn “sheep” would be chastised by their Shepherd. But, no, it is the Shepherd himself—the Suffering Servant—that is to bear the iniquity of the sheep—fallen, sinful humanity.

This is the wonder of wonders of the Father’s and Son’s participation and joint self-giving and agony in the redemption story and atoning event. That man should be punished for willfully turning his back upon a benevolent God would only be justice; we would deserve such treatment from a holy and righteous God. But that this holy God should offer his Son, and that his most beloved Son should freely take upon himself that which is justly due to straying sheep (you and me), is beyond human comprehension: “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”! God’s Lamb became the undeserving substitutionary sacrifice for we who deserve nothing but eternal death and hell. This is mercy; this is grace; this is love.

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
(Isaac Watts, 1674-1748)**

*John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, p. 147.
**From “Alas! and Did My Saviour Bleed” by Isaac Watts.

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Author: Ralph I. Tilley

I joyfully identify with the long history of the orthodox, evangelical stream of the Church. Theologically, I am a conservative. On issues of secondary importance, I will not quibble with my brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I would hope I have no doctrinal biases; however, I realize that is a practical impossibility: “Now I know in part.” You can read more on the About page.