Good Friday 2022
We are truly blessed to live in the time in which we do. Sure, we could focus on the negatives, but in many cases the positives outweigh the negatives. I am thinking specifically of the fact that we have the benefit of hind-sight and the complete revelation of God through the Scriptures. Isaiah, when he was given these words from God, they were veiled, speaking of days to come. Imagine how confused he must have been going over these things again and again trying to understand what it all meant. Thankfully we don’t have that same problem and we know that Isaiah was speaking of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, who would fulfill this prophecy hundreds of years after Isaiah was gone. Our job is not to figure out who this is talking about, that has been done for us, but to explore the depths of God’s Word, and to find all the treasures hidden in Christ. What I want to do this evening is take a small snapshot, and focus on just one phrase from this bottomless passage. It’s found in verse 10, “the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Through this phrase, as we meditate on the cross of Christ, we will see that:
The will of the Lord prospered through the Father crushing the Son as he bore our iniquities.
- The will of the Lord shall prosper
Isaiah 53 is part of one long revelation from God to Isaiah about God’s plan to redeem his people. At that time God’s people were taken away in captivity and God said he was going to restore them for his name’s sake; he was about to do a mighty thing so all people would know his name. But instead of revealing his plan to end just their physical captivity, God goes much deeper and shows Isaiah his plan to end a greater problem, which is captivity to sin and death. God says, “get ready because something amazing is going to happen, go bring this good news to all the people.” And he tells Isaiah that the servant of the Lord is coming, but again, God’s message takes an unexpected turn. Instead of this servant being a mighty warrior or a rich king, he is going to have no beauty that we should desire him and instead of being welcomed as a savior and redeemer he is going to be despised and rejected by men leading to a brutal, lonely, sorrow-filled death. Imagine being Isaiah and hearing this message for the first time? How confusing it must have been!
And I feel like this message about the coming servant hinges on that little phrase in 53:10, “the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Other translations say, “the good pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Either way, what God is saying, is that all that is coming to his servant is his will; it is all according to his plan. And not only is it going to go according to his will, plan and pleasure, it is going to prosper. Meaning God’s will is going to thrive, it is going to be successfully, abundantly accomplished, nothing is going to hinder it in the slightest. All that I, the Lord, set out to do, will be done fully, and to the utmost.
The question to ask is, what is the will of the Lord in regards to his servant? And in what ways did it prosper? I see two specific ways in this passage, the first is by crushing the Son.
- crushing the Son
God says that his will is going to prosper, it is going to be accomplished to the utmost, and right before that, at the beginning of verse 10, he reveals one part of his will for his servant, which is to crush him, to put him to grief. As I said before, we have the advantage of hind-sight and the full revelation of Scripture. We know this servant to be Jesus Christ, God the Son, the second person of the Trinity. So, the Father says that it is his will to crush the Son. And I want us to think about that for a moment especially in light of the fact that God says his will is not only going to be accomplished, it is going to be done fully, prosperously and to the utmost.
This word translated “crush,” is used a lot in the Psalms to describe how someone totally defeats and wipes out their enemies. This is a picture of holding nothing back in warfare. The will of the Lord to crush his servant prospered; his wrath was poured out completely. And what that looks like is all throughout the text: the servant was marred beyond human semblance, he was stricken, smitten and afflicted by God, he was pierced, he was put to grief and anguish, he was put through complete and total misery, he was mistreated, maligned, beaten, he was oppressed and he poured out his very soul unto death.
J.C. Ryle, the 19th century preacher, writes, “The catalog of all the pains endured by our Lord’s body is indeed a fearful one: seldom has such suffering been inflicted on one body in the last few hours of life. The most savage tribes, in their refinement of cruelty, could hardly have heaped more agonizing tortures on an enemy than were heaped on the flesh and bones of our beloved Master. Never let it be forgotten that he had a real human body, a body exactly like our own, just as sensitive, just as vulnerable, just as capable of feeling intense pain.”
All of this intense pain, suffering and agony that was poured out on Jesus Christ in his flesh and bones, was to show us that God the Father crushed God the Son fully and completely. Not a little bit, not half-heartedly, not in name only, not even with a small part of his power and wrath held back. He was treated like an enemy of God. His will to crush his Son prospered, it was done to the utmost.
- bearing our iniquities
Which leads us to the all-important question of, why? Why did God completely and utterly crush the Son? Because as the end of verse 11 tells us, he bore our iniquities; and this is the second way in which the will of the Lord prospered.
The word translated, “bear,” means to incur and to carry. And it has the picture of carefully unloading someone else’s burden.
Our iniquities, our sin, is our burden. It is an eternal weight on us because, as verse 6 says, we have all gone astray away from God, away from his perfect holy requirements and we incur, we carry on ourselves an eternal punishment for our sin. This applies to everyone of all time that ever lived, minus the one perfect God- man. Our unrighteousness against a righteous God demands his justice and his wrath. We deserved to be crushed by God for each one of our sins. We have earned his complete, unreserved, prosperous destruction for all eternity. Each one of us deserves to be marred beyond human semblance by God. Each of us has earned the right to be oppressed, afflicted, pierced for our own transgressions, crushed for our own iniquities.
But instead of our burden carrying us down into death and destruction, the servant, Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God who had no sin in himself, gently and lovingly lifted it from off of our necks, placed it on his own, and carried it on himself to the cross. And the will of the Lord prospered there. It prospered by crushing him completely for our sins, and it prospered by putting to death once and for all those sins that he carried. He totally, completely, fully, to the utmost, took away our burden in himself by his death. This means that Jesus Christ did not die to simply take away original sin. Jesus Christ was not crushed to make men save-able. Jesus Christ was not pierced for part of our transgressions. The will of the Lord prospered and all of our sins were accounted for in his body on the cross. Every single one was fully and completely paid for.
The result being, that the many, those who would come to God the Father through their substitute and burden carrier, Jesus Christ, are declared justified before Him. The unrighteous are accounted righteous.
In the most surprising, undeserved, mind-blowing way, God has redeemed his people. His righteous servant became unrighteous in his sight, so that those who were truly sinful, could be made glorious like him. Jesus was numbered with the transgressors, meaning he was counted as one of them, so that we would be numbered alongside him, counted as one of his brothers and sisters, before the Father for all eternity.
The will of the Lord prospered at the cross. It was abundantly carried out in its brutality and wrath against Christ, and in its totality of wiping away our sin.
Look to the cross, look to the man whose appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and see there your burden, joyfully carried for you.