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  • Writer's pictureDavid Bent

Isaiah’s Suffering Servant (20-09-21)

Bible Reading: Isaiah 53:3-7,11

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

A Reflection

This well-known prophesy from Isaiah describes a servant of God and is the last of what are known as the four ‘Servant Songs’ of Isaiah. Many times in the New Testament this passage is linked to Jesus and to the suffering that he would endure for us so that we could justified before God; forgiven of our sins. It is often read in church around Good Friday.

Isaiah uses many evocative words to describe what God’s Servant would go through: rejected, suffering, familiar with pain, despised, held in low esteem, stricken, afflicted, pierced, crushed, oppressed. How do these words fit in with your image of the crucifixion? How do they make you feel about what Jesus went through for you?

The image of sheep is used twice in this passage. Firstly Isaiah sees all of us as sheep that have wandered away from God’s plan, gone astray, done our own thing. In what ways do you identify with that description?

Isaiah also likens Jesus to a sheep; one that remains silent before its shearers, one that is led by others to the slaughter. How do you respond when someone accuses you of something you haven’t done? What do you think could be achieved by being silent before your accusers, by suffering for crimes that others have committed? That is what Jesus has done for you and for me.

The image of God's suffering servant is a bleak one, but it ends in victory. Isaiah’s statement ‘After he has suffered, he will see the light of life’ points to the resurrection of Jesus, victorious in his defeat of sin, sickness and death. This is possible because the servant of God ‘will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities’.

Healing too is ours through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus for, as Isaiah says it is ‘by his wounds we are healed’.

Can you come to God now with your needs for forgiveness and for for healing?


Lord Jesus, thank you that you suffered and died for me.

Help me to live today in the knowledge of your death and the light of your resurrection.


How deep the Father’s love

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