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The LORD Put the Servant to Grief

Daniel Barta

Dec 14, 2023

When the Servant would finally come, the people, who should have recognized Him, would end up missing Him. They would miss Him because He came in a form they did not expect. He came as a lowly servant, despised and rejected, full of sorrows and well “acquainted with grief,” without beauty and majesty. (Is 53:2-3).

The people expected a glorious king who would ascend to power, throw off the oppressors and deliver the oppressed Instead, at the hands of the authorities the Servant would be

  • pierced

  • crushed

  • chastised

  • wounded

  • oppressed

  • afflicted

  • slaughtered

  • judged

  • cut off

  • stricken

  • put to grief

  • anguished

Because the Servant would know these troubles, the people would conclude that He must not be from God. This cannot be God’s Servant. If He were sent from God, God would save Him, or even He could save Himself. God’s Servant cannot possibly be the one afflicted, crushed, and slaughtered.

They could not be farther from the truth.

Not only would God’s Servant be the one described by such hardship, it would be the LORD God who willed the Servant’s suffering.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; (Isaiah 53:10 ESV)‌

God the Father willed the suffering of the Servant. He planned it. He took an active role in it. He designed it. He decreed it. The Servant's agony would come about as fulfillment to God the Father’s purpose.

This willing of God to crush His Servant should not be understood as some sadistic pleasure God would have in afflicting His beloved with pain. God would not look on the bruising and beating of His Son and rejoice in the sight of His broken body and shed blood.

Rather, the willing of God to put the Servant to grief should be seen as the willingness to endure something undesirable to achieve a higher aim. When one wills to visit the dentist, he does not do so because he enjoys the dentist. His delight is not in the dentist chair alone. No he wills to go to the dentist so that something valuable might be achieved - namely the preservation of His functional white teeth.

When the LORD says that the Servant would suffer according to His will, He means that His great and high aim would come through the Servant’s suffering. He will accomplish a high aim by crushing His Servant. The LORD identified this high aim in

Isaiah 53:10-12

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:10-12 ESV)

‌Through the Servant’s suffering, glory would come. By His dying, He would live. “Out of the anguish of His soul,” He would come to know full delight and satisfaction (Is 53:11). In His defeat He would conquer. God willed to exalt the Servant, prosper the Servant, and set the Servant high and lifted up in the sight of all. To do so, He crushed Him and put His soul to grief.

God Willed the Death of His Servant, Jesus.

As we have seen, the Servant did indeed come. On the night He would be executed, Jesus went away to pray. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus cried out

39 “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will…” (Matthew 26:39 ESV)

Though Jesus looked upon the agony which awaited Him with great distress, He preferred the Father’s will above all. Jesus went to the cross. He drank the cup of God’s wrath, He endured the mockery, the beatings, the spitting, the cursings, and the nails in submission to the will of God. He understood that as terrible as the night would be, the suffering and the affliction came to Him by God’s design and according to God’s will.

He did so entrusting Himself to the Father, believing that through the suffering would come inexpressible, eternal joy. On the other side deep satisfaction would come. He did so knowing and trusting that God would not abandon His soul in death but would, through His suffering, bring about eternal glory and joy. Through the cross, God would exalt the Son. Through the Son’s death, victory would come.

2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 ESV)

His trust was not in vain. Indeed he suffered according to God’s will, but by God’s power He rose again from the grave. God’s hand has elevated Him to the throne at His right hand. There He reigns and rules from now until forever. His kingdom will only expand and get larger until one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is LORD. Jesus prayed that God would restore to Him His full glory and full joy (John 17), and through His suffering the LORD accomplished and fulfilled just that.

Rejoice in Hope Even As You Suffer

‌God willed the suffering of His servant because of the glory and joy that would come from it. If you belong to Christ, if by faith you are in Christ, the same applies to you.

It is true that God may will you to suffer. He may bring hardship and difficulty into your life. You should not view such affliction as outside of God’s will or contrary to His plans and purposes. Instead, in your suffering you should entrust yourself to Him. Continue faithfully to carry your cross knowing that He wills your cross, not for its own sake, but for the glory and joy that will come through it.

Like the suffering of the Servant, your suffering by God’s grace and power will achieve God’s ends. Just as He brought victory, joy, and glory to Jesus through His suffering, so He promises to bring Jesus’ people into that shared victory, glory, and joy. But those who will share in the spoils of victory must also share in the suffering of the war.

Therefore, look to Jesus whose life stands as confirmation of this truth - if God brought Jesus into joy through the endurance of His cross, He too will bring us into the same joy if we endure. That future of glory awaits for us. Even now in our suffering we can rejoice.

The key to endurance in the cause of self-sacrificing love is not heroic willpower, but deep, unshakable confidence that the joy we have tasted in fellowship with Christ will not disappoint us in death. Sacrifices in the path of love were sustained in the New Testament not by willpower, but by joyful hope. (Piper, John. When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy, p. 21)

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