Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Messiah, Pt. 3: By His Wounds We are Healed

We have looked at the fascinating circumstances surrounding the birth and ministry of the promised Messiah. The Scriptures teach that he is to be a great man who does many things for the people living in his time period. Someone like this that is described will not be easily forgotten.

However, more important then any event surrounding the Messiah's birth or even his life will be as important as what the Bible says about the ending of his life. The entire 53rd chapter of Isaiah tells us a great deal about this Messiah. Let us examine it verse by verse.

"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."-Isaiah 53:3, New International Version

The Messiah will be a good man. The second part of this series showed us that without a doubt. However, he will be rejected. People will hide their faces from him, not even wanting to acknowledge him.

"Truly our sicknesses were what he himself carried; and as for our pains, he bore them. But we ourselves accounted him as plagued, stricken by God and afflicted."-Isaiah 53:4

This special man will take all of our problems and carry them for us. Will we be grateful? No. We will feel that all of these bad things are happening to him because he deserved them. We will think that God is punishing him for all of his sins.

"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."-Isaiah 53:5, Today's New International Version

This is one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture. We are wrong to think that what happens to him is because he deserved it. The prophet Isaiah shows us that we--you, I, even Isaiah himself, are the reasons that the Messiah will suffer these things. We are sick with sin. The Messiah's beatings take that sickness away and make us whole.

"Like sheep we have all of us wandered about; it was each one to his own way that we have turned; and Jehovah himself has caused the error of us all to meet up with that one."-Isaiah 53:6

"My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold." (Jeremiah 50:6, NASB) We have been led astray. While the prophet Jeremiah is speaking of overseers of the flock leading us astray, we can even say that sin is what has done this. We have followed off after our own selfish longings. But everything we have done, Jehovah God is putting that in front of the Messiah to make amends for.

"He was hard pressed, and he was letting himself be afflicted; yet he would not open his mouth. He was being brought just like a sheep to the slaughtering; and like a ewe that before her shearers has become mute, he also would not open his mouth."-Isaiah 53:7

This gives us more insight into the sufferings of the Messiah. We will be beat. He will even be spit upon. (Isaiah 50:6) The Messiah will be beaten so badly and disfigured so horribly that people will not even want to look at him. (Isaiah 52:14-15) He will be beaten like this but miraculously "the bones of that one; not one of them has been broken."-Psalm 34:20

"Because of restraint and of judgment he was taken away; and who will concern himself even with the details of his generation? For he was severed from the land of the living ones. Because of the transgression of my people he had the stroke. And he will make his burial place even with the wicked ones, and with the rich class in his death, despite the fact that he had done no violence and there was no deception in his mouth."-Isaiah 53:8-9

Another translation renders "restraint" as "oppression". He will be so oppressed and have so much judgment heaped upon him that he will die. His final fate is that he will be killed--murdered. Why can we say that he was murdered? Due to the fact that "he had done no violence and there was no deception found in his mouth." His death will not be deserved. Also, another aspect of the Messiah's death is revealed here. He will be buried among the rich, something that does not seem possible considering the way he was thought of and treated.

The rest of Isaiah's heartbreaking prophecy speaks of the Messiah's sacrificial death and how his death will bring us all back to a right standing with our God. Can we not all agree that the Messiah's death will bring wondrous results to all man? (Isaiah 53:10-12) There are, though, more prophecies that are more specific in what to look for in the Messiah when he gets here.

1. The Messiah will be betrayed by a friend.-Psalm 41:9
2. The Messiah will be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.-Zechariah 11:12
3. The Messiah will be accused by false witnesses.-Psalm 35:11
4. The Messiah will be mocked and told to beg for salvation.-Psalm 22:7-8
5. The Messiah’s enemies will pierce his hands and feet.-Psalm 22:16
6. The Messiah will be given vinegar and gall to drink.-Psalm 69:21
7. The Messiah’s clothes will be divided and gambled for.-Psalm 22:17-18

All of these things must be fulfilled by one man. They, like all the prophecies regarding the Messiah, are very specific.

We may think that this is the end of the Messiah, but it isn't. The Messiah will be resurrected. "For you will not leave my soul in Sheol. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit." "However, God himself will redeem my soul from the hand of Sheol, for he will receive me."(Psalm 16:10; 49:15) This certainly is good news that this special man, this "Anointed One", will not stay dead.

Many people have claimed to be the Messiah throughout history. One of the most well-known is the man Jesus Christ. In the last chapter of this series we will see if these claims are well-founded or not.