One of the biggest surprises in the Bible is the kind of Messiah God sent to save Israel. Jews expected a warrior. Someone like King David, only better. A leader who would free them from oppressors. restore Israel’s lost glory, and even create heaven on earth.
“In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together. . . a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm . . . .The earth will be filled with people who know the Lord” (Isaiah 11:6, 8-9).
Jesus won’t be that kind of Messiah-at least not in his first coming. Many scholars say the Bible’s scenes of a glorious Messiah have to wait for Jesus second coming.
In the first coming. Jews won’t get a victorious king on a golden throne. They’ll get an executed rabbi on a stone slab. New Testament writers point to Isaiah 53 and say that this should have come as no surprise.
Isaiah describes the suffering and death of Jesus with such theological and historical accuracy that the words read more like history than prophecy. Yet a surviving copy of Isaiah’s book, found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, dates to 100 years before Jesus. There’s no way it could be history passed off as prophecy.
In what many Christians have come to call the Suffering Servant passage, Isaiah describes Jesus as a servant-minded Savior who gives his life for others:
- “Despised and rejected-a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.”
- Pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. . . He was whipped so we could be healed.”
- “The Lord laid on him the sins of us all.”
- “Led like a lamb to the slaughter . . . .he did not open his mouth.”
- “He had done no wrong.”
- “He was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave” (Isaiah 53:3, 5-7, 9).