“He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:3-4)
The prophet Isaiah has written famous poems about the Servant of the Lord. These are prophetic poems, describing a person who will come. On the one hand, this Servant of the Lord is “high and lifted up, and shall be exalted” (Isaiah 52:13). On the other hand, he will be despised and rejected, as today’s text makes clear. That is paradoxical, and has made many people wonder who this Servant of the Lord could be… But the most curious thing about him is that “he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows”. This person has a high position, but chooses to take the consequences of people’s sin on himself, which leads to him being “a man of sorrows”, “one from whom men hide their faces”.
Verse 5 explains this further:
“he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed”.
This is God’s amazing solution for our griefs and sorrows: someone else is to carry them in our place. That is the only way to lasting peace and healing.
Who would be willing to do that? And who would be able to?