The Suffering Servant – The Generation’s Ignorance

Isaiah 53:8 says, “By oppression and judgment He was taken away“.  This can also be understood, “by oppressive judgment”, and that’s the meaning, here.  In order to satisfy the people, and in order to rationalize the unjust murder of Jesus, the Jewish leaders put him through a Kangaroo Court, having the appearance of justice, but in fact perverting it.  He had committed no actual crime and the witnesses were lying.  The whole “trial” was an oppressive mockery of justice.  They were not after the truth; they were after blood.

Verse 8 continues, “and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living“.  The Hebrew phrase translated, “cut off” implies violence.  This was no peaceful death.  The Savior was violently killed off.  The whole phrase, “cut off out of the land of the living“, simply means he was violently killed.  And we need not prove anymore that this was the case for Jesus.

Verse 8 goes on to say that He was “stricken for the transgression of my people“.  Isaiah groups himself with the bunch.  As we’ve established before, Jesus died for the sins of the elect, and so, it follows that “my people” is referring to God’s chosen people.  Notice here that it doesn’t give the reasons of the Jewish leaders.  It doesn’t say he was “stricken for challenging the Pharisees’ authority” or “stricken for being a rabblerouser”.  It says that he was “stricken for the transgression of my people“.  God’s reason is given here.  The reason why Jesus was stricken was ultimately because it was God’s design that His Son would die on the cross and pay the penalty for the sins of His chosen people.

Notice the question, “who considered” it?  Who considered that Jesus was killed to pay for the sins of many?  Again, Isaiah uses a rhetorical question to emphasize that no one considered it.  The murderers of Jesus did not know what they were doing.  This is confirmed in Jesus’ cry from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Peter also affirms this in Acts 3:17, when he says to the Jews, “I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your rulers“.  They had hatred in their hearts, but they had no idea that it was directed at their long-awaited Messiah.

Now, does this ignorance absolve them of their responsibility?  Of course not!  They broke God’s law, and they killed His Son.  They faced temporal judgment with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, signaling the end of the old covenant age, and many of them are paying the price into eternity.  However, God’s grace could extend also to them.  We remember from the book of Acts that Peter and John preached the gospel and thousands of the Jews involved were saved!  What glorious grace!  God still saved many of those who brutally murdered His Son!

Similarly, many people today are ignorant of the fact that their sin deserves God’s holy judgment.  In fact, many people who will be saved are currently unaware that it wastheirsins that held Jesus’ hands and feet on the cross.  Yet God extends grace to them.  God, Christian, has extended amazing grace to us.  He relentlessly pursued us, even though we were responsible for the death of His Son!  Glory in that grace, Christian.

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