Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men; so shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; for what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider. (Isaiah 52:14-15)
Isaiah Standing At The Cross
The prophet Isaiah declares the image of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 in wondrous tones of love, devotion, horror, pain and sacrifice. Reading the chapter fills the mind with the terrible price paid by God’s Son. It declares the majesty of the sacrifice made by the Father allowing cruel men to abuse His Son so graphically. One cannot help but feel a sense of deep sorrow for the price paid by Jesus Christ.
As with any Bible study, it is important to see what surrounds a passage to gain a fuller meaning of the context. While the whole of the book of Isaiah declares the glory of the Messiah and chapter 53 is read frequently to remember the sacrifice of God’s Son, three verses prior to the 53rd chapter are left out of the picture that bears heavily upon the realization of the suffering servant. The prophet writes as if he is standing beneath the cross of Jesus recording what he sees. Isaiah sees clearly the Messiah hanging on the cursed tree; He has been stricken, crowned with thorns, beaten and bruised, blood covering His body, His face bruised, sweaty, dirty, skin turned pale from exhaustion and fatigue – Jesus has been so mangled He is hardly recognizable.
Isaiah writes that Jesus’ appearance was disfigured more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men. This describes the depth of His suffering. The horrible things done to Jesus during the trials before the Romans and Jews weakened Him. Roman soldiers scourged the Son of God bringing Him near death. Scourging was a horrific means to inflict incredible pain without killing the victim. The taunt back was inflamed with ribbons of flesh torn off the bone in violent blows. Isaiah stands as a silent witness to the disfiguring of the body of Jesus at the hand of the Romans. Following the scourging, Jesus is beaten, spit on, slapped, mocked with a crown of thorns pressed deeply upon His head by the whole garrison of seasoned and cruel soldiers. Crucifixion took the suffering to the most shocking level of suffering.
The mother of Jesus stood beneath the cross barely recognizing her Son. She knew it was Him but how a mother’s eyes could gaze upon what was left of her Son is hard to imagine. Isaiah completes the picture before Jesus was born of how terrible the suffering would be. How often Jesus may have read this portion of Isaiah and thought of His own death is remarkable at best. The prophet declares that in all the suffering endured by the Christ, He acted wisely. Peter would later write how that when Jesus was reviled and suffered in such a terrible manner, the Lord did not revile in return or threaten to destroy those who were killing Him. Jesus committed Himself to His Father to fulfill the work He came to accomplish.
Do not forget to read the introduction to the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 and see a mangled body given for our sins. It was not a pretty sight. The price paid by Jesus was huge. He suffered more than we can begin to imagine. He paid the debt for our sin and paid a huge price. Join Isaiah and stand at the cross. You will not be able to look long before falling on your knees and begging forgiveness. Jesus suffered because of me. Jesus suffered because of you. We bear the guilt. He gave us redemption.
In the cross and Him who hung upon it, all things meet; all things subserve it, all things need it, it is their center and interpretation. For He was lifted up on it, that He might draw all men and all things to Him. (John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, VIII, 1843)