The Suffering Servant – The Servant’s Submission

Isaiah 53:7 tells us that “He [the Servant] was oppressed and afflicted“.  The word translated “oppressed” is the Hebrew nagas, which means, “to press, drive, oppress, exact, exert demanding pressure; as in a driver, taskmaster, ruler, oppressor, tyrant, lord, exactor of tribute”.  The idea, here, is that the Savior was treated in the same way as a slave was treated by a tyrannical slavedriver.

When was the Savior oppressed and afflicted?  When was this fulfilled?  On the day of His crucifixion.  Here are some examples: Matthew 26:67, “they spat in his face and beat him with their fists; and others slapped him, and said, ‘Prophecy to us, you Christ; who is the one who hit you?”  Luke 23:10-11, “the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing him vehemently.  And Herod with his soldiers, after treating him with contempt and mocking him, dressed him in a gorgeous robe and sent him back to Pilate.”  Matthew 27:26, “after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.”  Luke 19:2-3, “the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and to give Him slaps in the face.”  Matthew 27:30, “They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head“.  Then they took His hands and His feet, drove nails through them.  Crucifixion was a brutal form of execution designed in such a way that the person hanging would die not from blood loss, but from suffocation.  In the position of crucifixion, it was impossible to breath without pushing up one’s body.  This would, of course, drive excruciating pain from the nail driven through both feet.  Once the victim would relax, he would begin to suffocate once more.  This process would repeat until the victim no longer had the strength or will to push himself up and died of asphyxiation.  The Servant was indeed oppressed and afflicted.

But Isaiah 53:7 then says something quite surprising: “yet He opened not His mouth“.  He didn’t speak a word of complaint.  Matthew 26:63, “But Jesus remained silent.  And the high priest said to Him, ‘I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’”  Matthew 27:12, “But when He was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer.”  Mark 15:5, “But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Verse 7 continues, “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter“.  The comparison to the lamb, here, is not so much about the slaughter as it is about the lamb’s disposition.  Lambs are unaware that they are about to be killed and, therefore, are led without protest.  Now, this doesn’t imply that the Savior was unaware of what was happening.  What this means is that He, like a lamb being led to the slaughter, was wholly submissive and silent.  Verse 7 goes on to compare Him to a sheep silent before its shearers.  Same idea here.  Sheep do not struggle when their shepherd removes their wool.  So, Jesus was silent during His persecution.

Why?  Jesus, of all people, had all the right to defend Himself.  He had the right to speak out against this heinous injustice.  He is the living God and committed no sin or crime.  Why did He say nothing?  The answer, I think, is in 1 Peter 2:23 which says, “When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”  Simply put, His trust was in His father.  It was His father’s plan to allow His Son to bear this oppression and affliction so that sinners like you and me would be saved.  We often thank the Father for His amazing love in sending His only son to die on the cross, and it is right for us to do so.  It is also important to realize that the Son, Jesus Christ, went willingly.  He spoke out nothing against His oppressors and afflicters.  He submitted to His Father’s will, which involved enduring all of the things above, so that God’s sovereign purpose of salvation would be fulfilled.  What great submission!

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