See, my servant will be successful;
he will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted.
Just as many were appalled at you—
his appearance was so disfigured
that he did not look like a man,
and his form did not resemble a human being—
so he will sprinkle many nations.
Kings will shut their mouths because of him,
for they will see what had not been told them,
and they will understand what they had not heard.
Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a young plant
and like a root out of dry ground.
He didn’t have an impressive form
or majesty that we should look at him,
no appearance that we should desire him.
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
Throughout God’s words of comfort to the exiles of Israel in Isaiah 42-53, God makes four distinct references to a coming Servant who will bring restoration to the people of Israel and final fulfillment of the ultimate goal of God’s covenant with Abraham, the restoration of all people groups to a real relationship with Him. These passages are commonly referred to as the Servant Songs. Through the hindsight of history, the song that begins at the end of Isaiah 52 is the one that most clearly points Jesus as the Servant that is to come. It speaks both of His humiliation and exaltation through His death and resurrection.
This song also presents an image of someone who could easily be looked past and even rejected as being unimpressive. The coming servant was not going to be seen as celebrity material. Still, his life of obedience and sacrifice would cause even kings to shut their mouths and be silent. The arrogance and self-promotion of many earthly rulers have nothing to say before the example of humble obedience demonstrated by the coming suffering servant. History has shown that critics have little to say in response to the life of obedience lived by Jesus Christ.
In our world of self-promotion and arrogance, we need to remember the example of Jesus as the Suffering Servant. All of our grand theories about God do not speak as strongly to a watching world as a life of humble obedience that follows the example of Jesus. There is no more powerful testimony to the truth of the Gospel than a person who lives out the example of Jesus in countercultural ways. Whether it be a young couple that chooses to live among and serve the people our nation is attacking in war or a community of grieving Amish believers who reach out to the widow of the man who committed an unthinkable crime against their children, these stories do more to silence the mouths of critics than the most elegant of sermons or the most well written essay on apologetics.
- How does the example of the Suffering Servant speak to you today?