Sermon — Isaiah 53:3

20 Mar

Isaiah 53:3

A Man of Sorrows

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

 What is right is not always popular. What is popular is not always right. Never has this statement been truer than when we consider Jesus, the most righteous man who ever lived, yet despised and rejected by men. This man of sorrows lived a perfect life and died a death for sinners and yet in His lifetime was ultimately mocked, abused and abandoned by all. And in our lifetime He continues to face ridicule, skepticism, and apathy. He is pushed to the margins of most people’s lives only coming to mind when His name is brought up and only then with a dismissive statement about His having been a good teacher who did some good things. What is right is not always popular. What is popular is not always right.

          Isaiah 53 tells us that the Messiah was a Suffering Servant. And Isaiah tells us in his book that this Suffering Servant was the key to God bringing His people back to Him. As verse 2 told us of the appearance of the Servant, verse 3 begins to tell us of the sufferings of the Servant.  Isaiah tells us that the Messiah, a man of sorrows and grief, would be looked down on, rejected and hated. He had told us this before. In Isaiah 49:7 we read, “Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: ‘Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.’” Likewise, another part of the Bible that looks forward to the coming of the Messiah, Psalm 22, describes the Suffering Servant in very similar terms, Psalm 22:6 “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.” Jesus understood that this would be God’s plan for Him. In talking about Himself He says in Mark 9:12  “And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt?” The Old Testament predicted a Suffering Savior and Jesus affirmed this. So let’s look this morning at the Suffering of Christ, the Scorn of the Crowd and the Significance of the Man of Sorrows.


          He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. The word translated “grief” here is often in the Old Testament translated “sickness.” So the idea of this verse may be that Jesus knew all about the maladies physical, emotional and spiritual, which befell people. We want to escape sickness and distress, but Jesus willingly embraced these things for our sake.

Jesus was a man of sorrows because of the multitude of afflictions He faced. He endured scoffing, persecution, contempt, unkindness, miseries, hunger, thirst, weariness. And Jesus faced the internal grief over those who rejected Him. We see it in Mathew 23:37 as Jesus enters Jerusalem at the end of His earthly ministry and has this deep longing for Jerusalem to trust Him. And above all that the indignity of the cross and the horror of bearing the sin of God’s people. How this all must have affected the innocent One, the One who never sinned, the One who left the glories of heaven to come to earth?

Jesus was acquainted with grief, meaning it was always in the background. His life was one of suffering. Fleeing to Egypt as a baby. Hunted by the Pharisees. All through His life He is subject to consistent grief. And then, the cross, the ultimate grief, the ultimate suffering.

Man of Sorrows, what a name, for the Son of God who came, ruined sinners to reclaim. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Let’s look next at . . .


          He was despised and rejected by men. As one from whom men hide their faces. He was despised and we esteemed Him not. That word “despised” is significant. It is a strong word. The best example I can think of to illustrate this is our 2016 Presidential campaign. People despised Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. To be sure, both of them have some character issues that Jesus didn’t have but from the perspective of public opinion, if you were opposed to Trump you were really opposed to Trump. Likewise for Hillary. The left wanted to dump Trump and the right wanted to “lock her up.” There were very few Trump fans who could give Hillary any credit for anything good at all. She was despised. Likewise, among Hillary supporters Trump was the new Hitler and nothing he ever said or did could be good enough. He was despised. The difference of course is that Jesus was totally innocent, but again I just give you this example to illustrate what despising looks like. We’ve seen it in the past year in our country, maybe even in our own hearts.

Jesus was rejected. Like the kid at school who sits off by herself to eat lunch because she has no friends and no one is willing to sit with her. He was put out of the in crowd and abandoned to suffer outside the gate. He was rejected by men. Not just by the Jews but by men, by all people. How twisted our minds are to reject the perfect Son of God.

In Jesus’ case, the rejection was so complete that men turned their faces from Him. Perhaps we have felt this temptation to turn away our faces from someone. Maybe a homeless person. Or one of those people handing out flyers at an intersection. Or maybe a disabled person. Or a person from a different culture. There are many times we may be tempted to turn away our faces. We should not. Because Jesus did not turn away His face from us but set it like a flint to accomplish God’s plan of salvation. To turn the face away from human need is to fail to be like Jesus. And when we turn our faces away from Jesus, it is an act of rejection and unbelief. It is interesting to think about the connection between this verse and Numbers 21. When Israel was hit with a plague of venomous snakes in the wilderness Moses was told to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole. And all those who looked upon the snake would live. In the same way, Jesus said in His conversation with Nicodemus in John 3 that “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should have eternal life.” Believing is compared with looking upon the source of salvation, rejection is compared to looking away.

And isn’t it amazing that in Jesus’ life, everything else acknowledged Christ, but man would not? Thomas Manton wrote, “The angels ushered in His birth. The wind and seas obeyed Him. The fish paid His tax. The wild beasts, when He was in the wilderness, would not touch Him. Even the demons acknowledged Him. The Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask whether John the Baptist was the Christ, an honorable embassy. But they now never sent an honorable embassy to Christ, never put him to the question, but only in a scoff asked him whether he were the Christ or no. Yet John gave them as much ground of distaste as Christ did, freely talking about their sins. John was sent to in an honorable way, because he was a priest’s son, but Christ only a carpenter’s son, therefore Christ was not esteemed. Even Barabbas, a thief, was preferred before Christ. This is why Peter said in his Pentecost sermon in Acts 3, “You have denied the holy and just One and desire a murderer to be granted to you.”

They looked down on His hometown of Nazareth and His home region of Galilee. They called Jesus a Samaritan and a devil. They called him a glutton and a drunkard and a friend of sinners. They called Him a deceiver.

People even today regard His low estate but not His greatness and glory. We are not ready to give up worldly pleasures, honors, profits, esteem for the sake of Christ. Our affections are not for Christ but for the flesh. We find Christ unappealing so we make idols of other things: money or relationships or sexuality or success. This is the truth: the more you have of worldly comforts, the less satisfying they are to your soul, the more you have of Christ, the more you desire to have.

Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood. Sealed my pardon with His blood. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Let’s consider also . . .


So why did Jesus endure all these sorrows? Why was He so familiar with suffering a grief? Why was this all necessary?

First, Jesus was a man of sorrows in order that His promises might be fulfilled. Again, Mark 9:12, “God had foretold in the prophets that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be brought to naught.” The Jews may have been looking for a great Messiah political deliverer but the prophets say He would be a suffering servant.

Jesus endured sorrows to give us an example of obedience and to enter willingly into our experience. Hebrews 5:8 says, “He learned obedience through the things He suffered.” Jesus suffered willingly to show His love to us. Jesus suffered willingly to be a perfect mediator for us. Jesus was perfect in Himself, but His mediating work for us was perfected through suffering, as the One who came to save us did so by going through all the very same things we experience. Jesus endured sorrows to be able to comfort us more fully in our trials. Hebrews 2:18, “For in that He Himself suffered, being tempted, He is able to comfort those who are tempted.” Hebrews 4:15, “For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all things tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

God demonstrates His love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus explains the significance of His sufferings after His resurrection on the road to Emmaus. When he comes alongside the two travelers He says, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Do you think it might have been just possible that Jesus touched on Isaiah 53 in His discussions on the road to Emmaus? It was necessary for the Christ to suffer. It was God’s plan that Jesus suffer. Later in Isaiah 53 we will see this very clearly. Redemption through suffering. Life through death. Acceptance through the rejected one. God’s love through the One despised by men.

Lifted up was He to die, it is finished was His cry. Now in heaven exalted high, hallelujah, what a Savior!

What is right is not always popular. What is popular is not always right. As we close this morning, consider Jesus, and consider your heart. Are you among the scorning crowd or have you bowed the knee? John 1:10-11 says,  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. Are you a John 1:11 person? Or are you a John 1:12 person? “But as many as received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” Are you a John 1:11 person, or a John 1:12 person? Have you rejected the Suffering Savior or have you embraced Him? Are you on the broad way that leads to destruction or the narrow way that leads to life? Broad way/Narrow way. Do you acknowledge the man of sorrows as your Savior? Do you understand anything of the depth of His suffering for you? Do you accept Him as He is or do you try to reshape Him into your idea of Him? Do you treasure Jesus more than your comfort? Do you walk in Jesus’ example of humility? Do you live a life of self-giving love?

Or do you join in with the crowd that scorns and despises Him?

Do you face grief and suffering or do you try to avoid it at all costs? Do you feel shame over who Jesus is or His call on my life? Do you turn away from Jesus and seek your own way?

Manton says, “Christ went before you, He sympathizes with you. So learn from Him patient endurance. Strokes upon the wicked come from God’s hand, strokes upon His people come from God’s heart. Bear up, then, against the greatest crosses. Are you cast aside? So was Christ. So was the early church: “We are made the filth of this world and the off-scouring of all things” (1 Co. 4:13). Are you compassed about by losses, afflictions? So was Christ.

Learn from Christ humility. See the difference between Christ and Adam. The highest is become the humblest; our first parents would be as gods, Christ would scarce be as man. It is good to learn humility from this pattern showed us in the mount, even Mount Calvary, to deny ourselves to set up Christ, as Christ denied himself to set up us.

Consider His love. All for you. Christians should blow up the fire of love by these thoughts. Let it melt our hearts and draw us out in love to God again.

Don’t be a John 1:11 person. Be a John 1:12 person.

 When He comes our glorious King, all His ransomed home to bring. Then anew this song we’ll sing. Hallelujah! What a Savior!


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