Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 and why it cannot apply to Jesus
v3 he is acquainted with infirmity/disease, Jesus was not characterized with disease of leprosy and he was not shunned or avoided by men as one from whom men hide their faces.
v3 He was despised, and forsaken of men, A man of pains, and acquainted with disease, And as one from whom men hide their face: He was despised, and we esteemed him not. (JPS)
v7 he was afflicted yet he did not open his mouth, Jesus opened his mouth and defended himself time and again (John 18:20-23, 18:33-38, Mark 14:62)
v20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. v21 Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. v22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? v23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? (KJV)
v33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? v34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? v35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? v36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. v37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. v38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. (KJV)
v62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. (KJV)
v9 they made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his tomb. However, Matthew tells us that Jesus was buried in a new tomb (Matt 27:60) and Luke tells us where no man had been laid (Luke 23:53), it is had to be buried with the rich or the wicked if he was buried with no one at all.
v60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. (KJV)
Luk 23:53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. (KJV)
v10 he shall see his offspring and prolong his days. We have no indication that Jesus had children or his days were prolonged because he died at age 33. Furthermore, if Jesus is God, how can God prolong his life? By nature he is supposed to be eternal. I think Hezekiah- a mortal being is a good example of one whose life was prolonged. Christians further claim that the offspring spoken of here refers to his disciples and church in general as his children, so Jesus did fulfill this scripture. However, the Hebrew word translated as offspring is “zarah” which literally refers to seed or progeny as in biological children, so, no it does not apply to Jesus.
There are four Servant songs in the book of Isaiah stretching from chapter 41 through to chapter 53 where they culminate. The first three servant songs as you will see clearly identify Israel as the Lord’s Servant. The real suffering servant can clearly be seen in the broader context of Isaiah’s book and the immediate context in chapter 53. Israel is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 (Isa 41:8-9, 43:10, 44:1-2, 44:21, 45:4, 48:20, 49:3)
Israel is the servant of the Lord
v8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. v9 Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. (KJV)
v1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: v2 Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen. (KJV)
v21 Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. (KJV)
v4 For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. (KJV)
v20 Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob. (KJV)
v3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. (KJV)
There are so many passages in the whole bible which describe the Jewish people as God’s servant. These are just a few among many (Lev 25:42, 55; Jer 30:10, 46:27-28; Ez 28:25; 1 Chron 16:13; Psalm 136:22 etc)
So the first three servant songs identify Israel as God’s servant, finally I will address the fourth and last servant song which is in Isaiah 53. Chapter 53 is actually a continuation of chapter 52, that’s where the song begins in verses 13-15.
v13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. v14 As many were astonished at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: v15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. (KJV)
The Jewish interpretation of these scriptures makes much more sense than the Christian view and I will state why in the next passages. Rabbi Michael Skobac debunked 365 alleged messianic prophecies which point to Jesus back in 2015 on an Australian radio station. Any way you can find podcast of those shows on this site: http://www.truth2u.com and I intend to borrow some of his explanation on what these verses entail.
Verses 13-15 state that when the servant of the Lord is exalted, lifted up and high, many nations and kings of the world will shut up their mouth and be astonished, for what had not been told them shall they see and what they had not heard will they consider. So here we are clearly told the reaction of kings and nations of the world who will be shocked at the exaltation of the Lord’s servant. If this servant of the Lord is truly Jesus, is it possible that nations and kings of the world will be shocked when he is lifted up and exalted? Rabbi Michael Skobac says “No” and I completely agree with him. Here is why:
The world’s largest religion is Christianity which has spread and penetrated all regions of the world. Christians are all over the world in many nations and they are all expecting the imminent return of their lord and savior. To make matters even more interesting, Islam the second largest religion in the world also believe in Jesus, yes they do. They call him Issa the son of Miryam who is the last prophet who will come in the end times. Muslims in this regard also expect Jesus who they hold in high regards to return in the end times. So we have the two world’s largest religions all expecting the return of Jesus and their members are all over the world. If Jesus was exalted, is it possible that the world can be shocked? I don’t think so- on the contrary the majority of the world is expecting him to be exalted.
Think of it this way, if the Jews who rejected Jesus as their messiah turn out to be wrong and that they rejected their true messiah, it’s only the Jews who will be shocked when Jesus is exalted. This is because the majority of the nations of the world consist of Christians. So if Jesus is lifted up and high, the nations of the world will hardly be shocked, it’s the Jews instead, who will be shocked. The majority of the world is expecting Jesus to be lifted up and high. However, if it turns out that the Jews were right and Christians were wrong, it’s the rest of the world which will be shocked when the servant of the Lord is exalted.
And this explanation makes much more sense considering the way the scriptures are presented. Isaiah does not say Israel will be shocked when the servant of the Lord is lifted up and high, it is the kings and the rest of the world who will be shocked when this servant is exalted. So if the Jews are justified and vindicated for not accepting Jesus as their messiah, it’s the Christians/Muslims who will be shocked, that is the rest of the world.