The Suffering Servant

by Katelyn Wilson

Day 17 of Advent

Today's Reading

Isaiah 52:13-15, 53:1-12

Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace.

Despised. Rejected. A Man of Sorrows. Afflicted. 

We don’t tend to think of these things as coexisting, yet Scripture shows Jesus as both a powerful king and a suffering servant.

As the Jews looked forward to the promised Messiah, they looked for a Messiah who possessed both power and strength.

Israel first demanded a king in 1 Samuel 8, disregarding the warnings of the prophet Samuel, saying, "But there shall be a king over us, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles" (1 Samuel 8:20).

The Israelites wanted to be like other nations, and they wanted someone who could free them from oppression. They had put their hope of salvation in an earthly king.

First, King Saul ruled over them, but soon they longed for a better king. Some kings, like King David, would govern the people well, while others, like King Ahab, left the Israelites mourning and longing for the promised Messiah.

So as years passed, the Jews looked for the Savior to come to set them free from the physical oppression – something these earthly kings had been unable to do.

The Jews continued to hold deeply to this promise, longing for a powerful king who would reign with great authority. But Isaiah 52:13-53:12 depicts a very different type of Messiah. This Messiah would be a Suffering Servant.

It is here that we see the Jews were so focused on their desire for a king who would rule in a place of power that they missed Jesus when he came to earth. But it is also in this passage that we see how Christ’s suffering brought great salvation.

Jesus bore the griefs and carried the sorrows of all people, even though we rejected Him. He was pierced and crushed that we may have atonement for sins. He became the perfect sacrifice that would make salvation possible.

And all of this He did willingly.

It would have been hard to imagine the promised Messiah coming in this form. As Lord, He should be exalted and praised and lavished with precious treasures. But Jesus did not come to experience worldly pleasures. He came "not to be served, but to serve, and to give his lie as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

So even though we "all like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one- to his own way," Jesus came to earth to save us. Jesus did not come to earth for power, for He already possessed it; instead, He came and suffered so that we might experience salvation.

The Jews were looking to be free from the physical oppression they were facing, and a king seemed to be the solution. But God knew that their physical oppression was not the ultimate need. The Jews looked for their needs of security and comfort to be addressed first, but God saw their real need to be cleansed in salvation, so he sent Jesus as the Suffering Servant.

Are you looking for your needs to be fulfilled in worldly pleasures, or are you seeking your salvation in the Lord who graciously came to save us?

As we think about how Christ suffered taking on the sins of the world, how can we not thank Him for what He has done for us? Take time to remember the greatest need Christ fulfilled in bringing salvation. Reflect on God’s grace to send His Son, and Christ’s great sacrifice to allow us to have a relationship with Him.

What love He showed in humbly coming to earth only to experience suffering when he deserved glory.