“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 53:1-3)
“If we fail to understand what God is saving us from—namely wrath, judgment and hell—we will never understand His mercy. If we are not confronted with the wretchedness of our sin, we will not be able to rest in His amazing grace. For it is only when we grasp that we in our sin put Jesus on the cross that we can begin to see what God did for us at the cross.” Burk Parsons
As we examine the servant song of Yahweh from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, today’s theme title is taken from Isaiah 53:1-3. It is the second of five sections in Isaiah’s Fourth Song concerning the Servant of Yahweh. Today, we examine Isaiah 53:2: “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.” There are three metaphorical statements contained in vs. 2 pertaining to the Servant of Yahweh: Jesus Christ. All three contain statements regarding why Israel had such contempt for the Servant of the LORD.
First, “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground;” Isaiah begins to focus on the servant’s humble beginning. He grew up in His humanity before Yahweh like a sapling or a sucker branch. A sucker branch is, as one commentator explains, “a useless , uncultivated, unwanted parasitic shoot off the main plant.” Gardeners remove them in order so that they will not drain resources from the main trunk. These type of shoots are prevalent on olive trees.
The Servant was not distinguishable from any other infant. He appeared to be ordinary. When Jesus Christ was born, very few recognized Him for who He was. There were the shepherds (Luke 2:8-18), Simeon (Luke 2:25-32), Anna (Luke 2:36-38) and others who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38). That was pretty much it.
The Servant grew in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). John the Baptist recognized Jesus for who He was at His baptism (Mark 1:11; John 1:29) as few others did (Matthew 13:53-58). His beginning was ignoble and insignificant (John 1:46).
A root out of dry ground closely parallels the first statement. No one plants a root in dry ground. If it does appear, it is because it is a weed that no one cares for and would rather eliminate.
Second, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him.” Jesus had no physical appearance or positon of wealth and power which would attract people to Him. He looked like any other common man.
Third, “and no beauty that we should desire him.” Jesus had no particular appearance or facial features that were necessarily outstanding. He did not attract people because of His beauty. No one took pleasure in wanting to look upon His face. He probably would have not qualified as a male model.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The Servant will arise in lowly conditions and wear none of the usual emblems of royalty, making his true identity visible only to the discerning eye of faith.”
Dr. Don Carson writes, “The gulf between God’s message and man’s opinion is very plain, in the contrast between what is revealed (cf. v 1 with Rom. 10:16–17, 21) and what is naturally attractive (2) or impressive (3). Cf. the reaction to the humiliated Jesus in e.g. Mt. 27:39–44 and to the preaching of the cross (1 Cor. 1:23).”
I Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Have you been drawn by the Holy Spirit to see and understand the significance of the cross of Jesus Christ. Take this moment to repent and remember all which He accomplished on the cross for His people.
May God’s truth and grace reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!