Like a Lamb Led to Slaughter

// May 5th, 2019 // Sermons

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Isaiah 53 - Suffering Servant Series

Today we continue looking…  You can listen online or download it and listen later…Like a Lamb Led to Slaughter

…at the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53.  Last week, we looked at Is. 52:13-53:6, with the key focus being on v. 4:  “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…”  Our Lord Jesus, as the Suffering Servant carried the griefs and sorrows of Isaiah, of the people of Israel, and for every other person.

As I said last week – Isaiah lived and prophesied about 700 years before Christ…there is no way that he could understand fully who this servant is.  God gave the message and the message-bearer didn’t really have any idea of the content of the message.

I understand that – I often pray that the Lord would help you, as the listeners to hear what He wants to say, lest I have not been adequately listening to the message He intends for you to hear.

Last week we took note of 5 things that Isaiah saw about the coming of this Suffering Servant:

  1. He saw that we all are rebel subjects – we have all gone astray – v.6.
  2. That God would send this Suffering Servant who will be rejected by the very ones He came to save – v. 3.
  3. 5 – that “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities…” The Servant would be rejected but He did not fail His mission…becoming a ransom & a substitute was His mission!
  4. That nations and kings that had not known or understood these things will be sprinkled by the Suffering Servant – helping them see what they’ve not been told, understand what they’ve not heard.
  5. That the final result will be that this Suffering Servant will be high and lifted up, greatly exalted; Paul wrote in Phil. 2 – “…every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…”

This prophecy reveals things about God and His way of salvation that we cannot know on our own.  And it validates the ministry of Jesus because it comes 700 years before Christ, who fulfills this Suffering Servant prophecy with amazingly and precise accuracy – down to the details of how He suffered and died and was buried.

Today, we want to move on to 3 short verses – v. 7-9.  It is my hope that we will see that God revealed even more to Isaiah than what we have seen.  What we see is:

  1. The suffering of this servant and His response to that suffering – v. 7;
  2. The death of this Servant and the response of His contemporary society to that death – v. 8;
  3. And finally, the burial of this servant and its very unique, even strange and hopeful twist.

Before we look at these three verses, let me just say…I know a number of people are presently going through some tough seasons.  And like in the seasons according to the calendar, we are about half-way through our spring season.  The sun has melted our snow about 4 times already, but it really has not started to feel warm yet; yes, it is much warmer than February, but it is not anywhere close to June or July.

Spring is a season of expectation.  We all know that springtime doesn’t last.  And so, if all you have is a springtime relationship with Jesus, then you will feel empty and hopeless during the tough and hard wintery times of suffering and difficulty.

If all I have to offer you is a Savior who was a happy-go-lucky, buddy-Jesus – whose job was merely to cheer you on in your springtime excitement, you would be missing out on the bigger blessing of knowing Jesus as the One who walks with you in all the seasons of life.

It is my sincere hope and intention to teach and proclaim the opportunity to know Jesus so that all people can survive and thrive in all the seasons that we face, even in the dreary winter times of suffering in our lives.

There is a hymn in our hymnbook – we have not sung it for a while, but, it speaks of a hope that is built on Jesus, our solid Rock!  You can remain seated – you can just listen, or you can sing along if you want…but let the words minister hope, anticipation and provide you a solid foundation.  (Watch “The Solid Rock” video)

The last part of v. 3 is what came to mind as I was preparing this sermon – “When all around my soul gives way, then Christ is all my help and stay.”  Is that real for you?  Is that the Jesus you know?

Whether you are or are not, presently in a winter season in your life –it is my intention to provide you with a solid Rock to stand on when the storms hit.

There are health winters, marriage winters, parenting winters, business and finance winters.  It is my experience that when the winter time of life hits, I don’t just want a “Jesus-Buddy” to try and cheer me up and help me see the bright side.

I want a Solid Rock Jesus Christ who was, as Isaiah proclaimed Him – “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”  At a time like that, we want something to give us hope—a solid, unshakable, everlasting, God-guaranteed hope in the face of harsh realities.

And that hope is rooted in and based on the suffering, death, and burial of God’s Suffering Servant, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Now to look at these three verses:

  1. The Servant’s Suffering

Listen to v. 7: “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.”

This verse tells us about 4 things that happened to Him, and 3 times we are told how He responded…

  1. The 1st phrase – He was “oppressed” – this word, when used in the OT, usually refers to a taskmaster do what he can to make the life of his slaves miserable. Like the Egyptians demanding that the Israelite slaves make bricks without providing straw for them.  Pharaoh told the taskmasters to press them hard and bring a terrible sense of pressure, burden, stress, tension and yes – oppression on the slaves.  This is what Jesus experienced at the hands of His enemies as they continually stalked Him, captured Him, tormented Him and finally crucified Him.
  2. The 2nd phrase – He was “afflicted” – this word implies humiliation, being brought low, treated with contempt, shaming, belittling, scorn, jest, mockery, ridicule, derision. All of these things and so much more was what Jesus endured during His ministry and excruciatingly during His final hours before He died.  This was the cup that Jesus had to drink!
  3. The 3rd phrase – He was “led like a Lamb to the slaughter” – the actual “putting to death” – the slaughter doesn’t come until v. 8. This phrase merely tells us that He was led to the slaughter.  What a terrifying image.  Like one on death-row, having to make your way to the chamber.  It is one thing to be oppressed and afflicted if you know that you will walk out of the trial in a few hours into wonderful freedom and hope.  It is another thing entirely different if you know that the very path you are on is leading to the slaughter.  Jesus knew it!  He knew that there were no exits – no “Get out of Jail Free” cards, along the way.  No more spring times on this side of the resurrection.
  4. And then, the 4th phrase – He was sheared – “Like a sheep before its shearers…” He was stripped of His clothes, His friends, His honor and even, His divine protection.  Nobody has ever been as naked – stripped bare – as Jesus was on Golgotha that Good Friday.  No matter how much you and I suffer loss, in this lifetime…we will never come close to being sheared, as Jesus was – sheared of everything pleasant and beautiful.

This then leads us to take note of the way the Suffering Servant responded to all these things.  Three times in v. 7 we are told:  “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet…

  1. He did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is…
  2. Silent before its shearers, so… 
  3. He did not open his mouth.” 

An amazing response – a 3-fold stating of His response – amazing silence, patience, acceptance.  No arguing His case, no defending His innocence, no retaliation for abuse…just silence!

In Matt. 26:62-63, we read that at the mock trial in the middle of the night at Caiaphas’ house when Jesus was accused by false witnesses, the high priest said, “Do you make no answer, what is this that these men are testifying against you?” And Jesus was silent.”

Mark 15:4-5 tell us that later, early in the morning, Pilate said to Jesus in the Roman headquarters, “’Do you make no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.’ But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.”

Luke23:9 tells us that Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, and Herod “questioned him at some length, but he answered him nothing.”

And, in 1 Peter 1:23, the one who denied Jesus tells us that Jesus knew the prophecy about Him.  He knew His calling.  He was the Servant of the Lord.  He was the Messiah.  He was the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  Peter wrote, “Therefore when he was reviled, he did not revile in return and when he suffered, he did not threaten.”

But Jesus didn’t just suffer and respond with patient, silent, obedience.  He also died!  This takes us to v. 8…

  1. The Servant’s Death
  2. 8 (ESV) – “By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?”

I like the way Eugene Peterson worded v. 8 in The Message:  “Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people.”

The ESV read, “He was cut off out of the land of the living.”  He was not just led to the slaughter…He was slaughtered!  And like all the other lambs of the Passover or the sin offerings of Israel, He was slaughtered not for His own transgressions/sins – He was slaughtered for the sins of His people.  We deserved to be slaughtered for our sin, but He was slaughtered instead!

This is the heart of the gospel of God:  Jesus the God’s Suffering Servant was cut off out of the land of the living NOT for his own sins, but for the sins of His people.

This is the message that runs all through this chapter.  He was wounded for our transgressions.  He was bruised for our iniquities.  The chastisement that made us whole was on Him and by His stripes we are healed.  The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  And now v. 8 makes it crystal clear:  He died!

For this reason, Paul, wrote to the church in Corinth – 1 Cor. 15:3 – a concise summary of the Gospel:  “Christ died for us according to the scriptures.”  “Christ died” “he was cut off out the land of the living.” “For us” “for the transgression of my people.”  “According to the scriptures”—just like Isaiah 53:8 said it would happen, 700 years earlier.

And God even told Isaiah how the Jewish people would respond when it would happen – Isaiah asked, “As for his generation, who considered…” The word “considered” is not the word for “take notice” or “to perceive” – it’s the word that means to ponder or meditate.

The point seems to be:  People can see the greatest event in the world happening, and yet not see it.  We can hear without hearing.  We have an incredible capacity for wrongfully assessing spiritual things.  And one of our greatest weaknesses — probably more so today than ever before — is that we do not meditate on the great things.  We don’t stop and ponder the deep things of God.

We need to hear Isaiah’s indictment on the generation of Jesus’ day: we need to consider, ponder, muse, meditate, reflect, study and contemplate the great things.  It is the typical Tyranny of the Urgent we are so busy with living that we miss seeing the wonder of the Suffering Servant who was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgressions of his people.  Are we so busy making a living that we miss the essence of the Giver of life?  This brings us to…

  1. The Servant’s Burial
  2. 7 – He suffered patiently; v. 8 – He died for people who were too busy to notice; and now, v. 9 reads: “He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.”

But, as I said earlier, there is a twist here that produces a hope that runs through all these verses.

  • In v. 7 there is hope because the Servant is suffering not as a guilty sinner but as a sin-bearing Lamb.
  • In v. 8 there is hope because He dies not for His own sins but for the sins of His people.
  • And, in v. 9 there is hope because He is in the midst of wicked men in his dying – but unlike all common criminals of His day, He ends up in the tomb of a rich man. “He was with a rich man in his death.”

Matt. 27:57–59 tells us about Jesus’ burial:  “…Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus…took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth….he placed it in his own new tomb…”

Why is this information important?  Why did God plan it that way and even have Isaiah prophesy 700 years ahead of time that it would be this way?  Pastor John Piper thought that maybe the reason was:  “When Jesus died, the work of redemption was done.  He had cried, ‘It is finished.’ He had suffered, he had been assigned a place with the wicked, dying like a criminal between two thieves, and the expectation was that he would have his grave (if any grave at all) with the wicked.  But he didn’t.  The work of redemption was done.  There was no more need for humiliation.  Instead God signified the honor of his servant by arranging for him an honorable burial in the grave of a rich man, the disciple, Joseph of Arimathea.”

Do you get the subtle imagery in that?  Even the burial of Jesus is surrounded with hope.  He may have looked like a criminal dying for His own crimes – but he wasn’t.  This was the Servant of the Lord.  And when the work of suffering like a sacrificial Lamb and dying for the sins of His people was done, God honored Jesus even in the way He was buried.

So, friends….there is hope!!!  When you and I pass through the winter seasons of our lives, and especially when we come to that final winter –death…O, may we have cause to remember God’s Suffering Servant—His suffering as a Lamb, His death for our sins, and His honorable burial with the rich.  May we ever know that even when springtime is finished and we feel abandoned by hope…may we know the hope that comes from Isaiah 53….people, things and this world will fail, but God will not fail!

This morning, we will again participate in an activity that gives us great hope – as we eat a small piece of unleavened bread and drink juice from a cup, we are looking back at the very thing that Isaiah wrote about…the suffering, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  May our hope increase as we partake of these elements of remembrance.

We celebrate an Open Communion – if you are a born-again Christian, you are welcomed to eat and drink; if you are not, please don’t partake – God has warned us about this.

Let’s read 1 Cor. 11:23-26…

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