The Sufferings and Victory of the Saviour 5. The Conquering Christ
The Suffering and Victory of the Saviour
5. The Conquering Christ
Isaiah 53: 10 - 12
It is Friday in Jerusalem. The smell of death is in the air. Outside the city wall, just north of the Damascus Gate, in a place reserved for public executions, 3 crosses stand beside the road. A crowd has gathered - not that crucifixion was unusual - but this day is different - an unusual man is being crucified. The soldiers know that 2 of the men being crucified are the kind of criminals that you find in any big city anywhere in the world. That’s no big deal.
But the 3rd man, the preacher from Nazareth, is different. They know it’s important because they sense the buzz in the crowd. Today there were more people than usual, a bigger crowd, noisier, rowdier, milling to and fro, waiting for the action to begin.
The group is led by a brawny foreigner carrying a cross. He couldn’t be the one they were going to crucify. It turns out he was Simon of Cyrene. Behind him is a stooped figure. Now walking, now crawling, each step an agony. He had been beaten. His face was disfigured and swollen. On his head a crown of thorns.
The soldiers laid the cross out on the ground and they laid the body of Jesus on the cross. As they adjusted his arms and legs, he let out a moan. But he did not resist them. They wrapped rope around the arms and the legs. They drove the spikes through the hands and feet. With ropes they began to pull the cross up. At the right moment, they let go and the cross fell with a thud. There was Jesus, exposed before the world, beaten, bruised and bloody. The soldiers stood back, satisfied. A job well done. "Get the dice,” someone said. “Let’s roll dice for his clothes.”
The Good Friday Question
Few things in life are more difficult than the sudden death of someone we love. The mind wrestles with so many unanswerable questions, chief among them why. Why did things happen the way they did and when they did? Why should a young man just starting out have his life so quickly cut short? This is the great question of Good Friday. Why did Jesus die?
Who is behind this travesty of justice? How could such a good man have come to such a bad end? What purpose could be served in crucifying Jesus of Nazareth? What’s so good about Good Friday?
When Isaiah comes to the end of his 4th Servant Song, he devotes the last stanza to what the death of the Servant really means. In these 3 verses we have God’s answer to the question, “Why did Jesus die?” Each verse gives us one part of the answer. Since Isaiah wrote 700 years before Calvary, he put his words in in the future tense. We will do the same thing.
1. He Will Be Crushed v. 10
Who is ultimately responsible for the death of Jesus Christ? The answer may surprise you - God takes responsibility for the death of His Son. “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.” NKJV gives that phrase a slightly different feel: “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.” As a father of 4, I cannot fathom that, have no category for it, cannot imagine willingly putting one of my children to death, much less taking pleasure in it. But the truth stands and cannot be denied: Jesus died because his Father willed that he should die. The terrible suffering our Lord endured did not happen by chance nor did it happen only because the Jewish leaders wanted it and Pilate cravenly caved in. Behind the evil deeds of evil men stands the Lord God Almighty. He and he alone sent Jesus to the cross. Until you understand that fact, the true meaning of the death of Christ will be lost to you.
God willed that his own Son be crushed. God planned that his own Son should suffer grief. God desired that his own Son be made an offering for sin. Isaiah goes on to talk about the great results that will flow from his suffering. These are the glories that will follow.
A. He will see His descendants
We rarely get to do that. I have lived long enough to see my grandchild. I like that! Psalm 128: 6 “May you live to see your grandchildren playing at your feet.” It is a wonderful privilege. I know that I probably won’t live long enough to see my great-grandchildren. In the normal course of things, I certainly won’t live to see my great-great-grandchildren. Most of us never to get to see more than one or two generations after us - But Jesus saw his descendants. Jesus, because he is the eternal Son of God, lives forever.
B. He will prolong His days
How can that be? "Darkness fell, His friends scattered, hope seemed lost - But heaven just started counting to 3 – 3, 2, 1—Resurrection!” Good Friday was not the end of the story. God was not defeated. Jesus will rise from the dead, never to die again. He will prolong his days forever. As Jesus said to John on the Isle of Patmos: “I died, and behold I am alive forevermore.” (Revelation 1:18).
C. The will of the Lord will prosper in His hand
God has designed a great work for him to do. God has ordained that his Son will be the means by which a vast multitude will be saved. He is even now leading many sons to glory. Jesus didn’t say, “I am finished.” He said, “It is finished.” He was just getting started. His death was not the end of the story. Jesus was just getting started.
2. He Will Be Satisfied v. 11
First, he suffers. Then he sees. Then he is satisfied. What could possibly justify the terrible suffering that Jesus endured on the cross? By that I mean not just the physical suffering (which was nothing less than brutal torture), but also the emotional pain that caused him to pray in agony that the “cup” of suffering might be removed from him, and the unrelenting pressure of knowing beforehand what was about to transpire, and the burden of bearing the sins of the world.
Isaiah has already told us that it pleased the Father to crush his own Son, a thought that in itself seems amazing. Even if we don’t fully understand it, we certainly can ask some questions:
Why would God do such a thing to his Son? Why would the Son willingly submit to it?
Isaiah 53: 11 tells us that after his suffering, the Servant would see “the light of life,” meaning that he would be raised from the dead. And he will be satisfied.
If we take this phrase and put it in words that Jesus might have said, it looks something like this:
“I want the joy of seeing my Father’s house in heaven filled with his redeemed children. Therefore, I am willing to suffer the pain and shame of a brutal death on the cross. I am fully satisfied with my Father’s plan.”
We know this must be the meaning because the last part of v. 11 explains the source of his satisfaction: “My righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.” May I ask you a very personal question –
Have you ever been justified?
Have you been put in a right standing with the Lord?
Have your sins been washed away by the blood of Jesus?
The only way to heaven is to admit you don’t deserve to go there, and to confess that because of your sin you deserve hell, and to cast yourself on the mercy of Jesus who loved you and died for you and paid the price for your sin when he died on the cross.
There is one final piece of the puzzle that explains the true meaning of the cross –
3. He Will Be Rewarded v. 12
With these words Isaiah comes full circle. He started by declaring that the servant would be exalted in spite of his suffering. Now he declares that the servant will be exalted because of his suffering. Using military terminology, he says that Jesus will divide the spoils of victory. Like a soldier returning triumphant from the field of battle, Christ receives the highest glory.
Jesus won the victory precisely because he was obedient to the Father’s will and offered himself on the cross. Isaiah says it 4 different ways: “He poured out his life unto death.” “He was numbered with the transgressors.” “He bore the sin of many.” “He made intercession for the transgressors.”
Isaiah says that Jesus will divide the spoil with “the strong.” Who is he talking about? He means that since Jesus is the Captain of our Salvation, he will divide the spoils of victory with all those who follow him.
Think about the famous story of David and Goliath. Why did those 2 men fight a one-on-one battle? The answer is simple. Each man represented his own army. David fought for Israel. Goliath fought for the Philistines. When David won, the whole army won with him. When the Philistines were routed, the men of Israel chased them back where they came from. 1 Samuel 17: 53 - “The people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp.” David won the battle, but the Israelites shared the spoils of victory.
It’s the same with Jesus and us. When he wins, we win. That doesn’t mean we deserve it. We don’t. When he was numbered with the transgressors, he was numbered with us. When he bore the sin of many, he was bearing our sin. When he was appointed a grave with the wicked, he was buried in our grave. That’s what makes all this so amazing. Christ the Victor has willingly shared his victory with us. Here is the ultimate good news for those who believe in Jesus. He has returned victorious from the ultimate contest.
The devil could not stop Him!
The cross could not defeat Him!
The grave could not hold Him!
Jesus is the Undefeated Champion!
Having subdued all his enemies, he marches in triumph, the Undefeated Sovereign and the Ultimate Victor. No one can stand against him.
He has attained the highest place in the universe by virtue of His suffering. He did not come to this place by founding a new movement (though he did), or by force of his oratory (which was magnificent), or by his miracles (which were amazing), and not even by the brilliance of his teaching (which was undeniable). Think about this. He came to the highest place by taking the lowest position. Isaiah says in his own way what Paul will write to the Philippians over 700 years later.
Christ became “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2: 8). It is only in light of that truth, and because of that truth, and as a result of that truth, that “God has highly exalted his Son to the very highest point in the universe so that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2: 9 - 11).
First he suffers.
Then he is exalted.
God is not done finished exalting his Son.
He will one day return to the world that rejected him.
He will one day reign on the earth where he was crucified.
What a Christ!
What a salvation!
Glory to his name forever!