“It Was the Will of the LORD to Crush Him” and “Prolong His Days”
Scripture Readings: Isaiah 52:13-15; 53:10-12 (text); Luke 24:1-12; Hebrews 7:15-16, 23-25
Beloved Congregation of Christ:
Our text is excerpted from the last of the four Servant Songs of Isaiah, a very well-known passage often quoted during the time of Good Friday. It starts out by saying that the world was astonished and speechless at the sight of the Servant of the Lord. When they saw him as the Jews and Romans tortured him and then crucified him, his appearance was repulsive, because he was disfigured and his form was beyond human recognition. He was disfigured because he was “stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” – wounded for our transgressions” – crushed for our iniquities” (Isa 53:4-5). But afterwards, the world was dumbfounded. How can a man so reviled and disfigured be “high and lifted up and exalted”?
But this passage does not only prophesy the sufferings of Christ in verses 1-9. It also talks about his victory and vindication in verses 10-12, a not-too-familiar aspect of Isaiah 53. The first three so-called Servant Songs progressively revealed the mission of the Servant of the Lord. In the first, he brings justice to the nations, and in the second, he is the salvation of Israel and the nations. In the third Song, we learn that the Servant”™s difficulties will be caused by great opposition from others; he will be “deeply despised, abhorred by the nation” (Isa 49:6).
In this fourth Song, he shall accomplish his mission of bringing justice and salvation to the nations by being despised, rejected, stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted by his enemies. How can this be? By being crushed by the LORD, he shall “make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” (verse 11). He shall remove the guilt of many by the sacrifice of himself offered to God.
Our text tells us, “It was the will of the LORD to crush him.” The LORD is his Father whose will is to allow him to be “crushed for our iniquities” (v. 5). What kind of Father would allow his beloved Son to be crushed by his enemies? Only a Father who is holy and just to punish most severely his Servant Son for the sins of his own people that he loved with all his might. His holiness and justice must be perfectly satisfied.
So our text tells us five outcomes of the Suffering Servant being “crushed” by his enemies according to the will of his Father.
“He Shall See His Offspring”
First, “he shall see his offspring.” But this seems to contradict verse 8, where the Servant is “cut off out of the land of the living ” – And they made his grave with the wicked.” He died without any children, and his body not allowed to be buried with respected people. How then shall he “see his offspring”?
His offspring of course are the children of the Seed promised by God to the woman Eve in the Garden of Eden, the One who will crush the serpent’s head. His offspring are also those children promised to Abraham, innumerable as the stars of heaven and the sands on the seashore, for all who “are Christ’s ” – are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal 3:29). All those who are united to Christ by faith are children of God, “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rm 8:17). Christ has an inheritance from his Father””his people. And as fellow-heirs, his people also have an inheritance””heaven with all its eternal blessings.
Jesus spoke of his offspring””all those sinners who will believe in him as Savior:
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day (Jn 6:39-40).
As it was “the will of the Father to crush him,” so it is his will that all of the elect the Father promised to him will come to him, and not even one of them will be lost (Jn 6:37). He will raise everyone of them on the last day, just as he was raised from the grave by his Father. And on that day, he will gather this multitude from every nation, people and language in the world to partake of that great banquet in heaven (Rv 7:9; 19:6-8).
“He Shall Prolong His Days”
Second, “he shall prolong his days.” If the Lord promised him long life, then is 33 years considered long life? The average lifespan, according Psalm 90, is about 70-80 years, and God promised long life to Jews who were obedient to his Law. If Christ died at 33, without any descendants, then there is no other explanation of how he would “prolong” his days except his resurrection from the dead. The Servant will “extend” his life after he was crushed by his enemies. This is probably why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:4 that Christ “was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
And this is also why the writer of Hebrews says of his “prolonged” life as our Great High Priest who offered his own life as sacrifice for sin: he “has become a priest … by the power of an indestructible life… he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever” (Hb 7:16, 24). Because he is the High Priest of all believers, “he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hb 7:25).
His resurrection from the dead is God’s confirmation that his sin offering was a pleasing aroma, satisfying his just and holy nature (Eph 5:2). In the Old Testament, God confirmed his pleasure in a sacrifice by saying that it was a “pleasing aroma” (Gn 8:21; ), or by sending fire from heaven (Lv 9:24; 1 Kgs 18:38-39; 1 Chr 21:26; 2 Chr 7:1). So on the third day that Jesus was in the tomb, God sent an earthquake and two angels in dazzling white garments, and resurrected his Son (Mt 28:1-3; Lk 24:4-5).
Why do we celebrate his resurrection? Because, if he wasn’t resurrected, it would mean that God did not accept his once-for-all bloody sacrifice on the cross for all our sins. We would still be lost in sin and will suffer God’s wrath and judgment. Your faith will be useless. All that we do today and every Lord’s Day would be meaningless. Your life as a Christian would not be acceptable to God. But now, he is sitting at the right hand of his Father in heaven, interceding for you, and waiting for that great day of his return to raise you and all his people from the grave.
As well, since you are united to Christ as believers, you also share in his resurrection, not only after death (Rm 8:11; 1 Cor 15:21-22). Even now, you have new life in Christ (Rm 6:5). You are justified before God by grace through faith in Christ, because of his resurrection (Rm 4:25).
These then are the benefits of Christ’s resurrection that the Lord bestows on his children (Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 45). Without his resurrection, we are of all people, to be pitied, because we have no redemption from sin, and therefore, hopeless (1 Cor 15:17-19).
“The Will of the LORD Shall Prosper”
Third, “the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” The Servant will execute the Lord’s will and plan to save his people from sin. In willingly being crushed by God in offering himself as a sacrifice, he shall accomplish his mission. By being willing to crush his own Servant, God will accomplish his purpose.
This is why Jesus always declared that his mission was to do the will of his Father in heaven, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34); “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). Thus, he accomplished all righteousness required by the Law, and fulfilled everything that was written in the Prophets (Mt 5:17; Lk 24:44). And by this perfect obedience and righteousness, he justified us freely by grace (Rm 5:12-21).
This song opens with a presentation of the Servant by the Lord: “Behold, my servant shall act wisely.” The word used for “wisely” also means “accomplish” or “prosper,” so he shall succeed in his work by acting wisely. The will of the Lord shall prosper because he has the Spirit of wisdom.
Therefore, the work that he accomplished has eternal effects: the Servant is the eternal Son of God who cleanses the nations of sin and saves them from death and the wrath of God for eternity.
“He Shall See and Be Satisfied”
Fourth, “he shall see and be satisfied” (verse 11), because he shall obtain forgiveness for many, rise from the grave and prolong his days, and accomplish God’s will. Although he grieved and suffered in accomplishing his mission, the final outcome is satisfaction and joy. His satisfaction will be like that of a worker finishing a building, an artist admiring his painting, or a businessman reaping the benefits of good planning and execution. It is like that of God proclaiming after completing his six-day work of creation, “It was very good!”
What accomplishment would give him satisfaction? The Servant Song says that the Servant will “sprinkle many nations” (Is 52:15). Many will be cleansed and purified of their sin when he bore their sins at the cross.
This is why sprinkling is a sign and seal of the forgiveness of sins in baptism, as we witnessed today in the baptism of two of our covenant children. Christ saved us “by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Tit 3:5-6). “With our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water,” we are able to draw near to God (Heb 10:22).
Hebrews 9:9-10 also speaks of “various baptisms” by sprinkling in the Old Testament (Heb 9:13, 19, 21). Throughout the Old Testament, God”™s people were ceremonially cleansed by being sprinkled with water (or sometimes with blood). So then, pouring or sprinkling was a sign of salvation: “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants” (Is 44:3); “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you” (Ezk 36:25).
So it is in the New Testament, as when God poured out his Spirit on Pentecost Sunday (Ac 2:14-17). In continuing to pour out his Spirit on “all flesh,” the Risen Servant is satisfied.
“He Shall Divide a Portion and the Spoil With Many”
Fifth and last, he will be given “a portion with the many ” – the spoil with the strong.” Like a conquering king sharing his victory with his army, he will divide his great plunder of spoils among his men.
From the time that Jesus began his ministry of preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, he has been plundering Satan’s kingdom (Mt 12:28-29). He has been releasing the devil’s captives and taking them to the Kingdom of God, “He disarmed the rulers and authoritiesÂ and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col 2:15). And after he releases them, he leads them in a great victory procession to heaven, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives” (Eph 4:8). These chosen ones are the spoils of his victory over sin and death and the devil.
This is why Paul praises God “who gives us victory through Christ” in his resurrection, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:54-57).
Dear friends in Christ, rejoice this day! Every first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, we assemble together to remember and give thanks to God for the resurrection of our Servant, Savior, and Mediator. It is not just this Sunday we celebrate his resurrection, but every Lord’s Day.
Remember also that because Christ’s sacrifice is once-for-all, he has done everything for your salvation and forgiveness. There is nothing else to add to the work he has accomplished on the cross. If you think you can add to his work by doing good works to be saved, you are no different from all those who do the Vista Iglesia pilgrimages to seven churches, say repetitive prayers, flog themselves, and even crucify themselves every Good Friday to appease God and go to heaven. Christ has accomplished all, and the only command to you is, “Repent and believe!” and you will be saved.
The Suffering Servant also calls you to humility, to be as servants to one another, looking to the interests of your brothers and sisters in Christ, and not only to your own interests. He humbled himself in willingly being crushed by his Father to save his people from sin and death, so you too are called to humble yourself. In the end, the Father rewarded him with authority over all the world, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Php 2:9). In the age to come, you too will be exalted and glorified with your Risen Savior. The sufferings in this present world are not worth comparing with the glory that awaits you in your resurrected lives.
But just as he presented his own sacrifice on the cross as a pleasing aroma to God, Christ also calls you to present your whole life even in this present world as a living sacrifice, “good and acceptable and perfect” before God.