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When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he declared: “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1.29).
Seven hundred years before John, Isaiah spoke of a sheep led to the slaughter in Isaiah 53. This will be the subject of today’s blog article.
Rudy Ross makes a distinction between a sin offering and a guilt offering in today’s YouTube video on the Bob Spradling channel. It is an important distinction and worth the time you will spend listening to his insights.
The Servant as a Lamb
When humans are compared to sheep, we tend to get easily lost and need someone to find us.
When the Suffering Servant is compared to sheep, it is his non-defensive, submissive nature that is featured prominently.
A collection of Psalms are labeled “laments.” Oppressed people, frequently lament and complain about the injustice of their situation in the Psalms and elsewhere.
Isaiah stated that the Suffering Servant did not open his mouth in a complaint about the injustice that was done to him.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53.7)
It is not accidental that a sheep is a dominant image in this passage. A lamb is the primary animal of the sacrificial system.
As we think about the Suffering Servant, who willingly was sacrificed for the sake of people, the trial of Jesus completes the picture of his immense love for us.
When Jesus was on trial before the religious authorities, several persons brought false witnesses against him. Matthew records the following dialogue between Jesus and the high priest.
“The high priest stood up and said, ‘Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?’
“But Jesus was silent” (Matthew 26.52-63).
Jesus was brought before the Roman authorities and Luke provides this picture of Pilate and Jesus: “He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer” (Luke 23.9).
Jesus could have called for angelic help to overcome the greatest injustice in history, but instead, he responded as prophesied by Isaiah. He was a lamb that was led to slaughter.
Unjust from Start to Finish
As the Suffering Servant, what happened to Jesus was unjust from start to finish. Isaiah pictured the events that would happen to the Son of God with these words.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people. (Isaiah 53.8)
Jesus was carried off to be beaten, humiliated, and crucified at the hands of a corrupt legal system.
However, it was not legal injustice that condemned Jesus. Rather, he was “stricken for the transgressions” of us all.
Jesus’ death was for sinners like me, just as it was for the high priest, Pilate, Herod, and everyone else who played a role in his crucifixion.
Paul recognized the power of Jesus’ sacrifice. He wrote, “He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1.13-14).
If we have been rescued from the domain of darkness and are now living in the kingdom of God, we can thank Jesus who redeemed us through his shed blood on the cross.
Not Deserving At All
The Suffering Servant did not deserve his punishment at all. Jesus never spoke ill of his tormentors. Isaiah made this point 700 years before it took place.
They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53.9)
Rudy Ross makes an important point (see our YouTube videos) about a person’s inside condition. It is not just outward behavior that is important. The inside of a person, their heart, is where God meets with humans.
Our words reveal what is in our hearts. Jesus said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles.
“For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly” (Mark 7.20-22).
Not only was Jesus able to control his outward behavior, but his inside condition also remained pure in the face of the greatest injustice in history.
E. Stanley Jones was one of the greatest missionaries of the last century. Jones had the opportunity to spend a night in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.
As he met with God in the Garden, Jones prayed and reflected on the great sacrifice that Jesus gave for the sins of the world.
I believe nights in prayer and worship made Jones the effective servant of God that he was.
I doubt if anyone other than a security guard would be able to spend the night in the Garden of Gethsemane today. However, we all can spend a significant amount of time in prayer, worship, and meditation on the theme of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
Let’s try it out!
About This Blog
Please join Rudy Ross and me on YouTube today with an interview about the difference between a sacrifice for guilt and a sacrifice for sin.
I am indebted to John Oswalt for his insights. His two-volume commentary on Isaiah is very insightful.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist Church prayer team will pray for you.