But the Lord was pleased to crush him, putting him to grief; if he would render himself as a guilt offering, he will see his offspring, he will prolong his days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in his hand. As a result of the anguish of his soul, he will see it and be satisfied; by his knowledge the righteous one, my servant, will justify the many, as he will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot him a portion with the great, and he will divide the booty with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.
Seeing the Heart of God and His Servant
You know someone's heart when you know their deep desires and what satisfies them. That's what this text is about—knowing the heart of God and his Servant, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The text tells us what God desires and how that desire prospers in the hand of the Servant and how the Servant sees this and is satisfied. Verse 10: "But the Lord was pleased [that is, desired] to crush him, putting him to grief." That is the Father's heart—to crush his Son.
In the last line of verse 10 Isaiah says that this desire of the Lord will succeed in the Servant's hand: "The good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in his hand." All of God's purposes in the death of his Servant Jesus will succeed. And the Servant is glad about this. He is not resentful at God. The first two lines of verse 11: "As a result of the anguish of his soul, he will see it and be satisfied." He will see the good pleasure of the Lord succeeding through his own anguish and he will be satisfied—not frustrated, not bitter, not vengeful—but satisfied.
So we don't just see the heart of God, we also see the heart of the Servant, Jesus. If you want to know the heart of God and the heart of his Servant Jesus, look now and you will see Isaiah unfold what it is they desire—what satisfies them—and you will be amazed.
We need more than anything in the world to know God—to know him not according to our own prejudices and expectations and limitations of what he can be like. We need to know him as he is, and that means as he reveals himself in his Word.
So I invite you to watch as I try to put before you the desire of God and the satisfaction of his Servant Jesus. They have one heart in this matter: what one desires satisfies the other. And what satisfies one is the desire of the other.
Eight Things the Servant Does for His People
In these three verses I see at least eight things that the Servant does for his people. And when he does these things, it's the good pleasure of the Lord prospering in his hand—which means it's a revelation of the heart of God.
1. The Servant knew the purposes of the Lord.
In the middle of verse 11 it says, "By his knowledge the righteous one, my servant, will justify the many." What does "by his knowledge" mean? It means that the first work of the Servant was a work of knowing. It means that the Servant was not taken off guard by the will of the Lord to crush him. He knew it. And he agreed with it.
If the Servant had been taken off guard—if God had snuck up on him and put him to death—then his death would have a totally different meaning than it does, and it would have justified no one. The reason the suffering and death of the Servant have justifying effects is because of knowledge: "By his knowledge the righteous one will justify many." That is, by his fully aware, conscious, mindful, alert, willing agreement with the Father's good pleasure—by this knowledge—his death has the saving effects it has.
So the first work of the Servant was the work of knowing. He did not close his eyes. He was not used unwittingly like a pawn. He knew the Father's will. And by that knowledge he joined the Father in the redeeming work willingly and therefore effectively.
2. The Servant poured out himself to death.
In the middle of verse 12: "Because he poured out his soul to death . . . " Or the first line of verse 11: He experienced anguish of soul. Or the third line of verse 10: He renders himself as a guilt offering.
In other words, the Servant dies. He does not do this accidentally. It doesn't merely happen to him; it happens by him. He lays it down according to his knowledge of the Father's will. He is obedient even unto death. He chooses to suffer.
3. The Servant bore the sin of many.
We see this in the next to last line of verse 12: "Yet he himself bore the sin of many," and the last line of verse 11: "As he will bear their iniquities."
In other words, his death was not like any other human death. It was willed by the Lord—the Lord crushed him, not merely men, "he has put him to grief" (v. 10a). It was accepted by the Servant willingly, "by his knowledge" (as we saw in verse 11). And now we see the reason for it all: it was a sin-bearing death.
Now we start to get to the heart of the heart of God: it was the will of the Lord to crush him, NOT because of his own sins, but because of our sins. What God desired was that we not bear our own sins. Seven hundred years before Good Friday God announced why his Son was being put to death: to bear the sins of many—to take our place.
Sins are not borne twice. God does not sentence his Servant and us to death for the same sins. If he bears them, we don't. And that is the glorious gospel of Jesus. He bore our sins.
4. The Servant rose from the dead.
When Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:4 that Jesus was raised from the dead "according to the Scriptures," this is probably one of the places in the Old Testament Scriptures he has in mind. In verse 10, after saying that the Servant gives himself as a guilt offering, Isaiah says, "He will see his offspring, he will prolong his days." This surely means that after he dies as an offering for sin, he lives again with "length of days."
The same way at the beginning of verse 11 after the anguish of his soul, Isaiah says, "He will see it and be satisfied." He does not go out of existence, or enter into the place of the dead in misery. He is alive to see and be satisfied with what his death has wrought. He will be raised.
Again in verse 12, after saying at the end of verse 11 that he bears the iniquities of others, Isaiah then says in verse 12, "Therefore, I will allot him a portion with the great." He has been a faithful sin-bearer in death; therefore he will be among the great in life. It's the same great "therefore" that Paul uses in Philippians 2:9, "Jesus was obedient unto death. Therefore God has highly exalted him and given him a name above every name."
So the Servant is alive, even though he was dead. He rose from the dead. The good pleasure of the Lord is prospering in his hand.
5. The Servant interceded for transgressors.
The last line of verse 12: "[He himself bore the sin of many] and interceded for the transgressors," takes us one step beyond sin-bearing and resurrection. He bore our sins AND he interceded for us transgressors. Recall how Paul wrote in Romans 8:34, "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us."
There is a great mystery here—why the Father should ordain that he save and bless his people through the intercession of the Son. One might jump to the conclusion that if Christ must intercede for us with God, then God is against us and Christ is for us.
But that is not true. And we know it's not true because God the Father is the one who has planned all this great salvation that the Servant is performing. In verse 10a, "The Lord was pleased to crush him," and the end of verse 10 it's the "good pleasure of the Lord [that] prospers in [the Servant's] hand." It's not Christ's good pleasure against God's ill will. Christ is simply working out what God the Father has planned.
And one of the things that God planned was that he would bless his people through the prayers of his Servant. Jesus bears the sin of many AND he intercedes for our transgressions. "It is Christ who died, yes who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us" (Romans 8:34). The Servant is alive; he is in heaven; and he is constantly holding before the holy face of God the wounds that the Father himself inflicted which cover all our iniquities. Which leads to the sixth thing that the Servant does.
6. The Servant justifies his people.
The next to the last line of verse 11: "My Servant will justify many." If he bore our sin in death, then our sin has been punished. And if our sin has been punished, we bear it no more. And if we bear it no more, we are without guilt before the Father. And if we are without guilt before God, we are justified, that is, acquitted, declared righteous.
Now you see what God has been up to in this great and awful work of the Servant. He is providing for your acquittal. We have all sinned and brought reproach on the glory of the Lord God Almighty and infinitely holy! Left to ourselves we will come under his terrible wrath and everlasting judgment.
But that is not his heart. His heart is that his Servant—his Son—be crushed in our place, bear our iniquities, rise from the dead, intercede in heaven, and justify the ungodly.
But as if that were not great enough, he does more for us.
7. The Servant bears offspring in his death and resurrection.
In the middle of verse 10 it says, "If he would render himself as a guilt offering, he will see his offspring . . . " Isaiah doesn't say much about this, but it seems legitimate to say this much: When the servant dies, he doesn't just provide the basis for justification; he also provides the basis for new birth—the new birth into God's family. His death and resurrection produces not only justified sinners, but offspring—new born children.
Or another way to put it would be: the death of Jesus not only solves the problem of guilt, but also the problem of alienation or loneliness or estrangement. His death and resurrection not only give us forgiveness, they give us family. We are not just OK before the law in a legal sense; we are at home with the Father in a personal, relational sense.
But that's not all. The Servant does one more thing.
8. The Servant divides the booty with the strong.
The first two lines of verse 12: "Therefore, [because of his faithfulness in death] I will allot him a portion with the great, and he will divide the booty [or spoils] with the strong."
Verse 10 says he will see his offspring. Verse 11 says he will justify many. And verse 12 says he will divide the spoils of war with the strong. I think those three groups are the same people. They are justified sinners. They are children of God. And they are now victors with the Messiah in his triumph over death and the devil and all that is evil. The servant has defeated death by rising from the dead. He has defeated the power of sin to condemn by acquitting the guilty. He has defeated the power of sin to corrupt by making children of God out of children of wrath.
And because of his triumphs, he has now taken back from the god of this world the power to give it to whom ever he pleases; and he pleases to give it to the meek. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." They shall share the spoils of Messiah's triumph over all things. They will be fellow heirs with Christ of all that God owns. "All things are yours" in Christ, Paul said (1 Corinthians 3:21).
The Satisfaction of Three Deep Longings
Let's close by thinking once more about these last three benefits that the Servant, Jesus, achieved for us on the cross: he justifies us; he makes us offspring; and he shares the spoils of victory. These three gifts of grace correspond to three tremendously deep longings that we have:
- we long for some way to get rid of guilt and a bad conscience for all that we have done wrong;
- we long to be loved and accepted as part of a significant group or a family;
- we long to be resourceful people with things at our disposal so we can act and fulfill our best intentions.
The Servant satisfies each of these longings at the cost of his own life: he justifies the ungodly; he makes us part of the offspring of God; and he shares with us the spoils of universal triumph.
And when he does that, we see God: the good pleasure of the Lord is prospering in his hand. He sees it and is satisfied.
I urge you to trust him this morning. You cannot justify yourself. You cannot make yourself a child of God. You cannot win the spoils of battle. You can only receive them as a gift and trust the work of Christ. Put your trust in him, and all that is his will be yours.