Like the Psalms of David, Isaiah 52 and 53 employ the imagery of sheep and shepherds, and they clearly and correctly point forward to the promised Messiah. These inspired holy words, penned seven centuries before the Eternal God clothed Himself in humanity, miraculously and marvelously foretell the coming of the Messiah.
“See, my servant will be successful; he will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted” (Isaiah 52:13). Oh, the King is coming; the King is coming! But before the Messiah comes in glory, He came as the Suffering Servant. “He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at him, no appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). Jesus humbled Himself, (Philippians 2:7) coming to earth as a common, ordinary man. (Yes! He was 100% God, but at the same time, He was 100% man. The math doesn’t add up, but since the Bible says it, I believe it!)
“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11). “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; he was despised, and we didn’t value him” (Isaiah 53:3). Crucified on the cross, the Lamb of God “was so disfigured that he did not look like a man, and his form did not resemble a human being” (Isaiah 52:14).
Faithful to his eternal plan, “he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds” (Isaiah 53:4-5). Praise the Lord!
Isaiah, like David, saw the Messiah in the role of shepherd and mankind in the role of sheep. “We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him for the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:6-7).
The Holy Spirit revealed to Isaiah that the Messiah would suffer and ultimately die. “For he was cut off from the land of the living; he was struck because of my people’s rebellion”(Isaiah 53:8). Isaiah even foretold the unusual fact that the sinless Jesus would be buried by a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea. “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, but he was with a rich man at his death, because he had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully” (Isaiah 53:9).
Triumphantly, Isaiah also foretold the resurrection of the Messiah. “When you make him a guilt offering, he will see his seed, he will prolong his days, and by his hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished. After his anguish, he will see light and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:10-11).
Isaiah saw these things seven hundred years before they were fulfilled in Jesus. Other Old Testament writers shared glimpses of the Messiah. Zechariah foresaw the triumphant entry
(Zechariah 9:9; Mark 11:7-11) and the thirty pieces of silver paid to the betrayer (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-15; 27:5-7). David foretold that none of the Messiah’s bone would be broken (Psalm 34:20; John 19:32-33) and Isaiah said that Jesus would be spit upon and beaten (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67). The Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament become reality in the New Testament. If the Bible says it, you can believe it.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.