“Friend, live near to the cross.” Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon
Spurgeon wrote those words nearly a century and a half ago. He wanted Christians to never lose sight of the significance of the cross: not only as a historical fact but also as a personal redemptive truth within their own lives. He encouraged believers to “take care that the theme of your conversation is the Lord Jesus.” In other words, to speak of the substitutionary atonement by Jesus Christ on the cross for sinners.
One way to always live near the cross is by singing songs about the cross of Christ. We addressed that subject yesterday and will offer other examples of wonderful music focused on the atonement in the days to come.
One of the most important songs of the cross is contained in the Book of Isaiah, the prophet. It is found in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is the final of four Messianic Servant songs from Isaiah (42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11). As one commentator has written, “This section contains unarguable, incontrovertible proof that God is the author of Scripture and Jesus is the fulfillment of Messianic Prophecy. The details are so minute that no human could have predicted them by accident and no imposter fulfilled them by cunning.”
The song clearly refers to Jesus Christ as the Messiah, which is attested to in the New Testament (cf. Matthew 8:17; Mark 15:28; Luke 22:37; John 12:38; Acts 8:28–35; Romans 10:16; 1 Peter 2:21–25). This prophetical song is often alluded to in other biblical passages without being quoted (cf. Mark 9:12; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 3:5).
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes that, “The book of Isaiah is one of the most frequently quoted books in the New Testament. Jesus was born of a virgin in fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 (Matthew 1:23), and He declared that Isaiah 61:1 was fulfilled in His coming (Luke 4:18-21). Jesus is the promised Son of David and the triumphant King who ushers in a new kingdom of peace and justice (9:6-7; 11:1-2). His body is the new temple whose exaltation brings the nations to glorify God (John 2:19-21). Jesus is the Servant who is a light to the Gentiles (49:6). Isaiah 52:13-53:12, or course, is well known for its detailed description of the work of the Suffering Servant, the One who offers a perfect atonement for the sins of His people and provides for them the righteousness by which they are declared righteous in the sight of God. Phillip preached the gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch from this passage (Acts 8:28-35).”
The song, beginning in Isaiah 52:13 and concluding in Isaiah 53:12, contains five sections (52:13-15; 53:1-3; 53:4-6; 53:7-9; 53:10-12) with three verses in each section. Each section contains a specific theme pertaining to the Messianic and Suffering Servant of Yahweh. The third section, Isaiah 53:4-6, is arguably the most significant and climatic of the entire discourse for it clearly portrays the doctrine of substitutionary atonement by the One who is holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6:1-7; John 12:41).
Beginning tomorrow, we will examine one section a day over the course of five days. We will not only examine the overall theme of each section, but also its particular content. As we do so, may each of us commit anew and afresh to live near to the cross.
Thank you for your faithful encouragement as we covenant together each day to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May God’s truth and grace reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!