The Suffering Servant- Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Part 3- Humility of Christ- Isaiah 52:13-53:4
By Shawn Tomlin
This will be the third and final installment of my article series on the Suffering Servant passage of Isaiah. In the two previous articles we’ve focused on the Atonement and Imputation and Fulfilling the Will of the Father. This final article will focus on the Humility of Christ in His birth, life, and death, and all three of these articles will culminate in 52:13-15. Lets get started.
In this case we aren’t starting at the very beginning, but we will understand why that is later on. We will start at Isaiah 53:2 which reads, “For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.” In the case of Christ’s incarnation and His coming in flesh we see humility. What really grabbed me in this verse is Christ being mentioned as a tender shoot, a root out of parched ground. We can gather a couple things from this. First, the Servant will come in humility, be just like everyone else, with no apparent magnificence. Nevertheless, Christ is highly exalted by God. Secondly, the nearly exact same metaphor is used in Isaiah 11:1. Christ is the tender shoot sprouting from the stump. A stump only exists when a tree is broken, as Israel was, and it was in parched ground. Christ came humbly, and contrary to nature. Although shrouded in humility, Christ’s birth was miraculous. Some other scripture passages that deal with His humble birth are Isaiah 7:14; Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 1:18-23; John 1:14.
In regards to Christ’s humble life we read Isaiah 53:1 which states, “Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Let’s first recognize this, that the Lord keeps a believing remnant for Himself by His grace alone. No one in that believing remnant deserves such grace, in fact, like the rest of humanity, they deserve Hell. Eternity in Hell is appropriate for those turning their backs on the Most Holy God, and Him sending them there is a just reaction. But God... chose to clothe Himself in flesh, the only begotten Son, and live a life of poverty surrounded by people not chosen for Him, not of His flock. Christ came down from Heaven and lived among our filth because of the great love with which He loved us. He could’ve came in all glory and honor, but in order to fulfill all righteousness He placed Him into Creation as a humble Servant. Some supporting passages on the humility of Christ’s life include Matthew 8:20; Matthew 13:55; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Matthew 3:13-15; John 6:38.
How did Christ show humility in His death as He did in His birth and in His life? Isaiah 53:3-4 says, “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteem Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Christ humbled Himself to the Will of the Father to take the punishment for sin, not His but the sin which belonged to the remnant chosen for Him. People will avoid suffering at all costs, but Christ embraced it. Deuteronomy 21:23 and Galatians 3:13 describe a hanged man as cursed by God. So when the Jews saw Christ hung on the Cross they saw a man getting what He deserved, not what they deserved. Christ took on emotional distress, extreme pain, abandonment by people, and abandonment by God. Christ took it, so His chosen people wouldn’t have to. Christ humbled Himself to the point of allowing Himself to be nailed to a filthy, almost certainly reused cross, probably covered in the urine and feces of prior criminals who died upon it, suffered what He did voluntarily, for a remnant of sinful people, because of His lovingkindness towards us. Three other passages that help to highlight Christ humbling Himself in His death are Philippians 2:6-8; Hebrews 2:9; John 10:15.
Now let’s return to the beginning of this passage, Isaiah 52:13-15. Here we are the result of the Suffering of the Servant. The Lord glorifies Him. The result of the humble work of Christ is triumph for His people. Not only His humble work on the Cross, but also in His fulfillment of all righteousness in the humility of His birth and life. Truly, Christ’s poverty allowed us, the chosen remnant, to receive His glory. In His perfection (birth, life, death, and ultimately His resurrection) we are imputed with Christ’s righteousness and He takes from us our sin, our iniquity, and atones for it all according to the Will of the Father. That chosen remnant will be gathered together in Christ and sprinkled with His blood, the same blood that ran down that filthy cross and covered the dust of the earth beneath Him.