Suffering Servant

wonderful“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

Christmas usually is full of happy, joyous, sweet thoughts about a little baby born in a manger. It’s all goodness and light. Seldom do we think about the ugly side of Jesus’ coming to earth and the suffering he experienced. We don’t often hear about the slaughter of the innocent babies by Herod in Bethlehem. That’s because we don’t think about sin at Christmas, but that is why Jesus came to earth.

Isaiah gives us many prophecies concerning Jesus: Immanuel, Wonderful Counselor, the root of Jesse. Isaiah also gives us, particularly Isaiah 52:13-53:12, an image of a suffering servant. In these two chapters we see a picturesque retelling of Jesus’ suffering and its purpose.

Jesus didn’t come as an attractive person, like a celebrity today (53:2). In fact, when he came he was despised. People didn’t look up to him, they looked down at him (53:3). He knew grief and sorrow intimately, because he knew our sin, he bore our griefs. God put on him all of our sins (53:6).

He suffered greatly, but not for anything that he had done. He had done no violence, nor was any deceit found in his mouth (53:9). He lived a perfect, sinless life on this earth. Yet he was despised for it.

The most amazing part of Isaiah’s prophecy is that it was part of God’s plan to crush Jesus. God wanted his own son to suffer. This was in order to make an offering for our guilt, to make many righteous by his sacrifice for us (53:10-12). That should cause amazement and wonder in our hearts and minds. It certainly did in the one who wrote this Appalachian song. Consider these words and wonder yourself at what Jesus did for you and me!

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,

How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.

For poor on’ry people like you and like I…

I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

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