The Suffering and Glory of the Servant (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12)

Scripture Text:

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

(Click the Scripture text to open the text in a new window.)
1. When you were growing up, who was the kid in school who everyone picked on? Why? Did you join in? How do you feel about that now?

2. In what circumstances might you consider giving up a body organ or even your life for another person?

3. This is the last of the four “Servant songs” (see Isaiah 42:1 – 7; Isaiah 49:1 -6; Isaiah 50:4 – 9). If all we had were Isaiah 52:13 – 15, what would you imagine happened to this one that so many were appalled by?

4. The songs in chapters 42 and 49 indicated that the servant would “be a light to the Gentiles”. How is that idea communicated in the opening lines of today’s passage?

5. If you had grown up next door to “the Servant”, how would you describe his childhood to a newspaper reporter who interviewed you about him (Isaiah 53:2, 3)? How does that contrast with God’s perspective of him (Isaiah 53:2a)?

6. If all you knew about the Servant’s adult life was summed up in Isaiah 53:7 – 9, what would you assume must have happened to him? How does this relate to the picture of the servant in Isaiah 50:6?

7. What was the purpose of the Servant’s suffering (Isaiah 53:4 – 6)? What was the nature of his suffering? What benefits come to others because of his suffering and death?

8. How do you account for the paradox between his death (verse 9) and his seeing the “light of life” (verse 11)?

9. Verses 7, 10 and 12 use sacrificial imagery to speak of the Servant. How does that make his death more than a mere martyr’s death?

10. The New Testament freely applies this song to Jesus (Matthew 27:38, 57 – 60; John 1:29; Acts 8:32 – 34; 1 Peter 2:22, 23). From this song, how would you explain to someone else the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection? How does it bring reassurance to you of God’s forgiveness and love?

11. The apostle Paul applies Isaiah 53:1 to the ministry of the Christian (see Romans 10:16). How have you experienced rejection from others because of your faith? Has obedience to God ever left you feeling “cut off from the land of the living” (verse 8)?

12. Does knowing of God’s approval give you courage to serve, even when others turn against you? How so?

Additional Comments:

Chapter 53 has a statement of Christ’s suffering (verses 1 – 3), after which that suffering is set forth as vicarious (verses 4 – 9) and victorious (verses 10 – 12). Because of this sacrifice, salvation can be offered (as we will see next week in Isaiah 55).

If you are familiar with the words of Jesus and the New Testament writers, you will find a multitude of references to and quotations from Isaiah 53. You may have also observed in the four Servant songs (passages), that the Servant is sometimes spoken of, sometimes spoken to and sometimes speaks of Himself.

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