Isaiah 53

The Word Made Fresh

1Who believes what we have heard?
To whom has the might of the LORD been shown?
2He grew up before the LORD like a young sprout,
and like a root out of dry dirt.
There was nothing about him to draw attention,
nor anything in his appearance to make us want him.
3He was despised, rejected by others,
A sorrowful man who was familiar with suffering.
He was the kind of man others hide their faces from;
despised and ridiculed was he.

4But surely it was our problems he carried, and our diseases,
but we thought he was stricken and afflicted by God.
5He was wounded for our mistakes and crushed for our sins.
He suffered the punishment that should have been ours
because we were the ones who erred.
But his suffering repaired us. We are healed through his bruises.
6All of us are like lost sheep. We have all turned aside,
and the LORD has accused him of our waywardness.

7He was oppressed and afflicted but said nothing.
He was like a lamb led to the slaughtering place.
Like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
he never opened his mouth.
8His being taken away was a perversion of justice.
Who can name a single descendant from him?
He was cut off from the living,
struck down for the people’s sins.
9They buried him with the wicked and the rich
even though he had never acted in violence.
He never spoke deceitfully.

10Still, it was the LORD’s will to punish him with pain,
but when you look at his life as an offering for sin
you shall see his children and his days are prolonged,
and the LORD’s will shall be carried out through him.
11He shall see the light in the midst of his pain.
He shall know reparation through his knowledge.
My servant, the righteous one, shall save many,
and he will bear their suffering.
12So, I will award him a portion of those who are great,
And he shall divide the spoil with those who are strong
because he gave himself over willingly to death,
numbered with sinners, and bearing the sins of many of them,
and intercession was made for their transgressions.


1-3: This is the fullest description of the one Isaiah calls “the servant.” Again, it is likely that Isaiah thought he was giving a poetic description of Israel, or at least that portion of Israel that was sent into exile, but no Christian who reads these words can escape the impression that what is said here describes the Christ whose story is told in the Gospels.

4-9: Much of what Christians believe about the meaning of the crucifixion of Jesus is contained in these 6 verses.

10-12: What Isaiah says here can certainly be applied to Jesus, although the first reader of the Isaiah scrolls probably saw here a reference to the exiles and the suffering they endured on behalf of the nation.


It is often the case that one who bears the burden of others is not recognized or rewarded. It is a result of our propensity to sin. Isaiah’s prophesy was aimed at the peoples’ desire for rescue. They needed a champion because they themselves couldn’t secure their own blessings. That is true of us as well; we may think we’ve made a good life for ourselves, but if others are not blessed by the way we have lived, is our life worth the promise of salvation and everlasting life?