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Isaiah 53:1–12 Suffering and Triumph of the Messiah
Isaiah 53 is one of the most prominent scriptural prophecies about Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Abinadi, Matthew, Philip, Paul, and Peter understood that at least portions, if not all, of this chapter referred to Jesus (see Mosiah 15; Matthew 8:17; Acts 8:26–35; Romans 4:25; 1 Peter 2:24–25). Isaiah 53 sets forth four recurring themes, intermingled throughout the chapter, that provide detailed descriptions of the Lord’s sufferings and Atonement: (1) The Messiah’s sufferings: “He is despised and rejected of men” (v. 3); “He is . . . a man of pains and familiar with sickness” (v. 3); “He is despised; and we esteemed Him not” (v. 3); “We esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (v. 4); “He was pierced . . . crushed” (v. 5); “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted” (v. 7); “The Lord desired to crush Him, He made Him sick” (v. 10); “He shall see the trouble of His soul” (v. 11). (2) The Messiah’s assumption of our burdens and sins: “He has borne our sicknesses and carried our pains” (v. 4); “He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities” (v. 5); “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquities of us all” (v. 6); “He was stricken for the transgressions of my people” (v. 8); “He will bear their iniquities” (v. 11); “He bore the sins of many” (v. 12). (3) The Messiah’s death: “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (v. 7); “He was cut off out of the land of the living” (v. 8); “He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death” (v. 9); “He has laid His soul bare to death” (v. 12). (4) The Messiah’s reward: “He will see His seed” (v. 10); “He will prolong His days” (v. 10); “The will of the Lord will prosper in His hand” (v. 10); “He will be satisfied” (v. 11); “Therefore will I divide for Him a portion with the great” (v. 12); “With the strong He will divide the spoil” (v. 12).
Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? John wrote that “though [Jesus] had done so many miracles” among the Jews, “they believed not on him,” which thus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy “Who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:37–38). In other words, the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah and did not believe the testimony of Jesus’s disciples or that the “arm of the Lord” was “revealed” in Jesus Christ.
He is despised and rejected of men. Including the multitude, chief priests, scribes, soldiers, rulers, and one of the malefactors (Mark 15:3–4, 29; Luke 23:1, 4–5; 10–11, 19–23, 35–36, 39).
He was pierced for our transgressions. Paul wrote, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3); one of the scriptures was Isaiah. In Hebrew, “transgressions” (Hebrew psh‘) here and in verses 8, 12, have the sense of “transgressions because of rebellion” or “intentional sinning.” with His stripes we are healed. Peter cites Isaiah with this testimony: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
All we like sheep have gone astray. Peter cited this prophecy: “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd” (1 Peter 2:25).
He opened not His mouth. Just as a ewe lamb is silent and submissive before her shearers, Jesus was silent before some of His accusers, as Mark and John have testified in their works (Mark 14:60–61, 15:4–5; John 1:29; 11:49–52).
who will consider His generation? (see Abinadi’s words, Mosiah 15:10–12). He was cut off out of the land of the living. As Paul testified (2 Corinthians 5:14–15).
He made His grave with the wicked. He was crucified between theives. with the rich in His death. Fulfilled when Joseph, the “rich man of Arimathea,” gave Jesus “his own new tomb” (Matthew 27: 57–60).
He made Him sick. DSS Isaiah reads, “he pierced him.” you will make His soul a guilt offering. The guilt offering was one of the temple’s sacrificial offerings (compare Leviticus 5:19; 7:5; 14:13). He will see His seed. See Mosiah 5:7; 15:10–12.
He was numbered with the transgressors. Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus was crucified with two thieves: “And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors” (Mark 15:27–28; see also John 12:37–38; Acts 8:28–35).
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