Episode 31: The Sacrifice of the Christ for Our Sins, Part 1

Peace to Live By Episode 31: The Sacrifice of the Christ for Our Sins, Part 1 - Daniel Litton
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[Transcripts may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and may contain extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       Turn with me in your Bibles, or tap in your Bible apps, to Isaiah chapter 52. Today, let’s think about Jesus. Here, we find the marvelous passage from the Prophet Isaiah about the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to the earth and died a substitutionary death for us in order to bring salvation to all humans—to those who will believe in him for the forgiveness of their sins.

       Today, let’s consider Isaiah 52:13 through 53:3. Next time we will consider the rest of chapter 53.

“Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.

“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 52:13-53:3, ESV).

Let us today dig somewhat into the depth of this passage and understand the life of our Lord a little more. Let us try to understand his sacrifice on our behalf.

       Isaiah 52:13 says, “Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.”

       If you take a step back for a minute, and you try to understand why Jesus came to the earth, you will realize that the problem is with us, humans. Looking at Jesus’ first coming from God’s perspective, we realize that the whole reason Jesus had to come to the earth and die on the cross in the first place was because of the mistakes we’ve made, the sins we’ve committed against God. We, as humans collectively, were separated from God, and the only way to live a life pleasing to God was to follow the Old Testament Law. But Jesus came and made it possible for us to live in true freedom, away from the dominate pull of sin in our lives. He allowed us to live lives that honor and worship God, and this in spirit and truth.

       God, writing through Isaiah, wants us to grasp right off the bat the fact that Jesus acted wisely in his life. Indeed, Isaiah is speaking about future events that haven’t occurred yet. But to us today, obviously, they are past events. But Jesus acted wisely in that he followed and obeyed God’s will for his life. He did what was pleasing to the Father. And here comes the point where we need to take an evaluation of our own lives and ask ourselves if we indeed are being pleasing to God in our lives. Are we taking up our crosses daily and following him, or are we just coasting and getting by in life?

       And what was the end result of Jesus’ obedience to God. Well, God highly exalted him, giving him a name that is above every name. As a matter of fact, he sits at the right hand of God and this until all his enemies—those who don’t agree with him—are made a footstool for his feet. It is true that in the future all who disobey the Gospel, who are disobedient to the truth, that they will be cast into the outer darkness, away from God, separated from Him. And this not only, but they will be punished for the collection of their offenses they’ve accumulated against him. They will pay for all the wrongs done in this life, and this forever into the future. God is holy, righteous, and just, and he cannot let sin go unpunished.

       But thankfully, Jesus died in our place, and those who accept his payment for their sin are counted guiltless. He rose from the dead, showing life wins over death. That’s the Gospel. God gives Heaven to those who love him, who want to be pleasing to Him. God gives us what we don’t deserve, and he gives graciously and abundantly. We can be thankful to God that he didn’t stop with our sin—he didn’t abandon us and leave us to rot. He provided a way for us, a way to Heaven, to be in his great peace when we leave this world. He will also give us a portion of his kingdom here on the earth, when he establishes it in the future. And the new heaven and new earth will be ours when he creates it. God is a God full of love, and he freely gives his gifts to anyone who will believe in Jesus.

       The next part of the passage states, “As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand” (Isaiah 52:14, 15, ESV).

       You see, Jesus’ death in paying for our sins was no simple act. For any of you who’ve seen Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ,’ you can get an image, a picture, into what Jesus went through. The punishment for our sin was miserable and painful, to use human words. God spared no mercy in his punishment of Christ. Whether it was the lashings, the nails, the hanging on the cross, and humiliation of it all, whatever you consider, it was grotesque. Yet he opened not his mouth, and he did not utter one complaint.

       You do realize, don’t you, that God was the One who put Christ to death on the cross? He was the One who slew Jesus for our sins. Remember Jesus said, “My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?” God abandoned him, turning against him, because he saw that the sin of the whole world—the sin of all time—on him. The Jewish God, the only God that there is, demands a payment from people for their sin. Yet, we have nothing to offer for it. So, God executed Jesus on the cross so that we could have a payment for our sin. He was guiltless, sinless, had never done anything wrong. That was why he could pay for our sin.

       And this was an epic event, when God slew him, for the Scripture even suggests that the Sun—the physical Sun of our solar system—actually stopped shinning. That is, it burnt out for a short time; it was just a rock in space. Trillions upon trillions of combustable energy—gone (see Luke 23:44, 45). There was a great earthquake (see Matt. 27:51). The curtain leading into the Holy of Holies in the Jewish Temple was torn in two (see Matt. 27:51 & Luke 23:45). People rose from the dead and entered Jerusalem (see Matt. 27:52, 53). That’s how epic and incredibly important this event was in human history.

       Going back to the passage, it states, “As many were astonished at you…kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand” (Isaiah 52:14ex, 15ex, ESV).

       In order to understand this section of the text, what it means, let’s look at what the Apostle Paul said in Romans chapter 15. He states the following, starting in verse 18:

“For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand”” (Romans 15:18-21 ESV).

So, here, Paul quoted this passage we are studying. The Gospel hadn’t been preached in the world before, yet Isaiah prophesied that this mystery of God would in fact be preached. People, which included rulers, would understand God’s plan of salvation.

       If we turn or tap to the next chapter over, in Romans chapter 16, within Paul’s prayer there is also reference to this—that of the Gospel being preached. He told the Romans that God “is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:25ex-26, ESV). So, Jesus as the Christ was the revelation the people needed to see. He was the mystery God had hidden from people for ages. It was not only made known through the New Testament, but as Paul stated, it was also made known to everyone beforehand through the Old Testament—the prophetic writings. This was God’s doing, by his commandment. The Gospel then commands people to come to know Jesus, and that occurs through faith—trusting in him.

       Our next verse states, ““Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1, ESV).

       It is true that it is really hard to believe that God would give his Son for us, on our behalf, considering how evil and sinful we are, as humans. Even the Apostle Paul wandered about this. Remember? He said, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-9, ESV). So that brings up the love of God. We can in fact believe God would due this if we try to understand his love. God’s love is huge. It is far and wide for us. Understanding that, it’s no wonder God would have done this. God is love, as the Apostle John has told us.

       I also want to note here that the reason Isaiah says that God’s arm hasn’t been revealed to anyone is because no one seeks God. Going back to Romans, it is written in chapter 3: “For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:9-12, ESV). Listen! Any view that looks at the people of the world as inherently good in their current state is in fact incorrect. All people are born into this world as sinners, separated from God. All are evil, belonging to the wrong side. That is why we have to accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins, in order to reconciled to God. If people were born into this world inherently good, then Christ did not need to die on the cross. You see, if we, as people, were inherently good, and just had ‘some’ evil but God still viewed us as good, then God would be a corrupt god. But no, he is holy, righteous, and just one sin against him, by anyone of us, makes us evil. That’s the reality of the situation. It’s either all or nothing with God.

       Continuing in the passage, speaking of Jesus now, it says, “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:2, 3, ESV).

       From the very beginning, when Jesus came to this world he was born in a humble state. We are all familiar with the story of Jesus being born in a barn for animals, lying in a manger. It is so interesting how God works. Out of all the places to be born, Jesus in born with animals and is laid down in a trough, which became his makeshift crib. Jesus deserved the best, to be born in the best place possible, but that was not what God had in mind. God confuses everyone by becoming the servant of all, for Jesus, as God, is lowly and gentle in heart. And Jesus grows up in a typical Jewish family, not one of great wealth but one that is average. The only thing we know about his boyhood is the story about him at the Passover Feast, when he was twelve years old, which is found in Luke chapter 2. He ended up staying behind in Jerusalem to learn from the Temple teachers. And his parents, both Mary and Joseph, had to come back to Jerusalem to get him, after they had left.

       So, it is true that Jesus would have “no form or majesty” in his days. The people did not see him as a stand out character because of his looks or oratory skills. Matthew tells us, in chapter 7 of his Gospel, that the crowd was astonished at his teachings, as he had taught them as a person with authority, and not like the scribes who showed no such authority from God in their teaching style. But Jesus was “was despised and rejected by men.” Certainly, not everyone rejected Jesus initially, for he had his twelve disciples, and then his other followers. But at his arrest, everyone deserted him. But really, the scribes and the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and those not part of the kingdom, were really the ones who hated and disposed of Jesus.

       At the height of the leaders’ rejection, John records for us—in John chapter 8—one of the things that they said to Jesus, seemly to try to hurt his feelings. John recorded: “They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God”” (John 8:41, ESV). So, they tried to hurt him by saying that he was a bastard child, for they believed that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had become pregnant due to an immoral relationship, for they of course didn’t believe in the virgin birth of Jesus because they didn’t believe in him. So, they tried to hurt him that way. They also tried to claim God as ‘their’ Father, in effect stating that Jesus belonged to the wrong side, that Satan was in fact his father. But let us note how Jesus didn’t even respond to the insult on his mother and the allegation of that he was born of sexual immorally. Let this be an example for us all when we find ourselves in these types of situations when talking with those who are against us.

       It is true that a lot of the Israelites, including the Scribes and Pharisees, were expecting the Messiah to come, to be the Savior of Israel. It’s just that they—at least the leaders—thought he would come as a Glorious King in fine robes, with much pomp and riches. They thought he would be high and lifted up in the realm of higher society. The leaders thought he would be like them. Jesus hadn’t come to the earth to be king—not yet. He had come to die for sins—to reconcile people with God. To put it in Jesus’ Words, he said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17, ESV). The righteous, of course, were those who were seemingly righteous, but were whitewashed tombstones, clean on the outside but full of death on the inside. That was the elitists of Israel.

       So, Isaiah calls Jesus a “man of sorrows.” This is a very interesting name for the Messiah, and one that I think many in the Christian life can relate to. Remember that Jesus said, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life” (Matthew 7:14, ESV). Jesus had befriended his twelve disciples. They were close to him. But at the end, they all let him down. He had one who became a traitor against him, and gave him up to the Jewish leaders. And then he had the rest abandon him at his arrest. God knows what it is like for us, as people, when we face abandonment by others. Perhaps a person has let us down, showing us that they are not the person we thought they were. Perhaps we put our trust in the person, only to have him or her disappoint us.

       But Jesus was sorrowful in his life I am sure for many reasons. After all, he had this great secret that he carried with him that we was God. No one else knew the secret, at least for awhile. His disciples knew he was the Christ, but did they know he was God? We see Jesus’ emotions at their pinnacle when he goes to Bethany to visit the grave of his friend Lazarus. Remember the shortest verse in the Bible is found here, in John 11, which says, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35, ESV). Was this weeping, though, just over his friend Lazarus who had died? Jesus knew we was going to raise him from the dead—for he had already hinted this to his disciples. No, I think the scene here of Jesus weeping was more a culmination of feelings that had built up inside of him. He was sad to see the heartbreak that death causes for those who love the person. He was sad to see the dramatic and life defying elements of sin. Surely, though, this picture we see hear at the tomb of Lazarus can give us a ‘big picture’ view into the thoughts of Jesus, into his psychology, a man of sorrows. He was one, who like Isaiah said, was “acquainted with grief.” He was already familiar with these feelings.

       You see, people hide their faces from the Messiah because of what he represents. People despise him because he represents Truth, and they don’t want to be faced with the truth. Jesus showed people their true colors—he showed people the reality and grievous parts of sin, and the grievous effects that sin causes in people’s lives. Many people, though, don’t want to face the truth. They don’t want to face the reality that the way they are living their lives in their current state is wrong. They don’t want to change, for they love their sin. They love the glory that comes from their peers more than the glory that actually comes from God (see John 12:43). And even as Christians, we have to be careful that we don’t fall into these traps. We have to keep close watch on ourselves. But the unbelievers do not esteem Christ, and would rather respect others who don't deserve respect.

       Perhaps today, in closing, you are one who has rejected the Messiah—who had rejected Jesus. Maybe, though, you are feeling a change of heart. Maybe you don’t want to be on the wrong side anymore. Perhaps you don’t want to be one of the people who rejects Christ, who despises him for the sake of loving this current world. If who I am describing is you, they today I have good news for you. Jesus welcomes you to his side. Indeed, God wants everyone to be on his side, as he wants to be on their side. God showed his love for everyone in the world in that he sent Jesus to the earth, who died on the cross for us—for our sins—and rose from the died so that we can have a new life. Indeed, God freely gives new life, real life, to whoever will believe. He makes each individual who believes in him a new creation, and wipes our sin debts—the things we have done wrong in our lives—he wipes those debts clean. He remembers our sins no more.

       It is true that God shows his love for everyone in the world, and wants everyone to come to know him. Today, he is specifically calling you. He wants you to let him be in control of your life, for he wants to take care of you. God isn’t a cosmic killjoy. He wants what is best for his children, and gives rest to anyone who will come into a personal relationship with him. He gives rest and real life now, and sets you up for eternity. He gives eternal life for whoever will believe in him. Great are the promises of God. Great is his power toward those who believe in him! Wonderful is his love for all his children—for those who believe in Him.

       If you would like to come into a personal relationship with God today, then follow my lead in this simple prayer:

God, I have sinned against you and against others in my life. I have not followed a right way of living. Today, I want to give my life to you since you know what is best for me. I do believe that Jesus came to the earth, and that he died on the cross for me, for my sins. I believe he rose from the dead and is now in Heaven with you. I believe you really want to give me a new life, and that you want to show me your goodness. Father, please help me to change, and make me become like Jesus. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

       Let’s pray.

       Holy Father, I thank you today for your goodness. I thank you for your gracious and generous heart, toward all and especially toward those of us who believe. You are full of goodness toward us. I pray for those who have believed in you today, who have accepted Jesus today. I pray that they will grow in you, and be immersed in your Word, the Bible, your love letter to us. I pray that they will seek to know you and be pleasing to your heart. I pray for those of us who already know you, that we would continue to be close to you, and that we would be growing, becoming more like Jesus. Thank you again, Father, for your wonderful love. Bring more people to come to know you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton