Versatility: Isaiah 53
We all have that one friend.
They can turn a hand at almost anything. Leather work, no problem. Roping, heels or horns, is not an issue for them. They can diagnose a farm truck, weld a pen, train a horse, and if need be pen a poem. They are the most interesting man in the world. I have a few of these men in my life…and I’m jealous of them. Lucas, Josh, Bandy, Thomas, Chuck, and the others, you guys know who you are. Whatever your hands found you doing today, you undoubtedly accomplished more than I.
As Holy Week begins, I want to introduce you to a man who is every bit as versatile as those mentioned above. He was a main part of whatever he was involved in; that is probably why he was invited to every party. Like the afformentioned, everyone wanted him around…especially when the worst happened.
Isaiah was one of the prophets of Judah. His ministry and writings spanned a significant amount of events during some of the best and worst kings of Judah. Then he died. But the Words of his prophecy would be remembered and written again, long after his death.
The major players of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and Peter) account for most of writings of the New Testament. Every one of them in some way interacts with Isaiah’s recorded prophecy.
They all, lacking Peter, quote Isaiah 6 to some degree. Isaiah, having been known as the “Messianic Prophet”, is littered through out the Gospel Narratives and the Pauline Epistles. Every time Isaiah 6 is quoted, the situation is the same and the context similar: unbelief or non-understanding of the people. This is not the case for Isaiah 53.
Isaiah 53 (really 52.15ff.) is used by all of them to explain the events that would happen in 33 a.d. that we will all celebrate and mourn this coming weekend. When these guys went to the cross (the NT writers), they brought with them the words of Isaiah 53. Arguably, and Psalm 22 is debatable , Isaiah 53 is the clearest picture of what took place on the day Jesus was crucified. But each writer brings Isaiah’s words out in different was, to highlight their own arguments and illuminate their individual aspects of the cross.
The beauty of the gospel is that there is but one Gospel (the good news of Jesus coming to Earth to die for our sins and give us eternal life through his resurrection) yet there are many gospels (the individual stories of how Jesus came and what he does in us and through us). Each NT writer lends their own aspects to the gospel narrative and each writer pulls from Isaiah 53 in a different way for a different purpose! Paul asks a question; John makes a statement about God; Peter illuminates a doctrine. Every one is unique.
This week I want to highlight this incredible passage of Scripture (Isaiah 53) through the lenses of the New Testament writers who bring him along to the cross in effort to put words to what they are witnessing.