The seventh major division in the Book of Isaiah contains the theme of The Ministry of Restoration (49-55). This section focuses on the particular individual referred to as the Servant of Yahweh. The Prophet Isaiah heralds not only the person known as the Servant, but also His work.
The person and work of the Servant is highlighted in the following areas. First, there is the Call and Mission of the Servant (49:1-13). Second, the Comfort for Israel provided by the Servant (49:14-26). Third, Israel’s Deliverance through the Servant (50). Fourth, the Servant’s Encouragement to the Godly (51:1-52:12). Fifth, the Suffering Servant (52:13-53:12). Sixth, the Renewal of the Covenant by the Servant (54-55).
The fifth section (52:13-53:12) is perhaps one of the most significant portions of the Old Testament, if not in all of Scripture. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 has often been called the fifth gospel. It is centered on the theme of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. It is a monumental presentation of the substitutionary atonement by Yahweh’s Servant, who is also Yahweh’s Son. The New Testament declares Him to be Jesus Christ.
Dr. John Walvoord commented that, “This is perhaps the best-known section in the Book of Isaiah. Several parts of this passage are quoted in the New Testament: Isaiah 52:15 in Romans 15:21; Isaiah 53:1 in John 12:38 and Romans 10:16; Isaiah 53:4 in Matthew 8:17; Isaiah 53:7–8 in Acts 8:32–33; Isaiah 53:9 in 1 Peter 2:22; and Isaiah 53:12 in Luke 22:37. Most of this vivid passage concerns the suffering and rejection of the Servant, but the main point (in Isaiah 52:13; 53:11–12) is that His suffering will lead to exaltation and glory. True, the suffering is important, but His glory, which will be revealed, is equally important for it will show that the Servant did the will of God voluntarily. The Servant was rejected (chaps. 49–50), and then the remnant was exalted (51:1–52:12). Now the Servant is to be exalted (52:13–53:12).”
Dr. John MacArthur writes that, “This is the last and most memorable of the four Messiah/Servant-songs (cf. 42:1–9; 49:1–13; 50:4–11). 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. Clearly this refers to Messiah Jesus, as the NT attests (cf. Matt. 8:17; Mark 15:28; Luke 22:37; John 12:38; Acts 8:28–35; Rom. 10:16; 1 Pet. 2:21–25). It is often alluded to without being quoted (cf. Mark 9:12; Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:3; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 1:19; 1 John 3:5).”
Dr. Don Carson writes, regarding Isaiah 52:13-53:12, that, “From the great homecoming we turn to the solitary figure whose agony was the price of it. We are at the heart of the book, the center of its whole pattern of sin and righteousness, grace and judgment.”
Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon wrote that Isaiah 52:13-53:12 was “the Bible in miniature, the Gospel at its essence”
Martin Luther once remarked that, “Every Christian ought to be able to repeat it (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) by heart.”
It is to this particular text that we will give our attention for the next several days. I encourage you to take up Luther’s challenge to memorize Isaiah 52:13-53:12. May the Holy Spirit engrave its truth upon each of our hearts.
Soli deo Gloria!