The Suffering Servant
Read: Isaiah 52:13–53:12
The book of Isaiah is all about God’s message to Israel both before and after their time of exile. God’s original plan for the people of Israel was that they would be a “light to the nations,” and spread God’s blessing to all the world. However, leading up to the exile, we can see the many ways in which the people of Israel continued on a downward spiral of disobedience and failure (see 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings). However, rather than simply giving up on the people of Israel, God seeks to save them (and the rest of the world) from their own brokenness through another way, a “new thing.” Through this new “Suffering Servant” (who we understand to be embodied in Jesus Christ), Israel will be redeemed from their brokenness by a different kind of king: a King who leads by serving, taking on the suffering of his people in order to restore their right relationship with God. With this new kind of King comes a new kind of Kingdom, where the people of the world will eventually be able to participate in relationship with God the way it was intended to be.
Isaiah 53 gives us a moving picture of the way Jesus suffered and died, but it is not meant to stop there. Out of our thankfulness for God’s free gift of this restored relationship, we are invited to follow the way of discipleship, imitating the way Jesus lived his life in selflessness and sacrifice for others, and allowing God to work through us to spread love and blessing to all those around us.
- When someone doesn’t live up to your expectations of them, what is your first reaction? How do you feel and how do you try to move forward?
- Now think about what Isaiah 53 says about God’s reaction to actions of the people of Israel- what does this say about God and/or how does it impact your view of God?
- If you were an Israelite in exile, how would you respond to the idea that the person who is meant to deliver you is someone who will suffer this way?
- What would it look like to live into Jesus’ example of sacrificial service in our lives today?