Sermon — Isaiah 53:11

9 Jul

He Shall Make Many to Be Accounted Righteous

 John Piper once said, You don’t have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know the few great things that matter, and then be willing to live for them and die for them. The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by a few great things. If you want your life to count, if you want the ripple effect of the pebbles you drop to become waves that reach the ends of the earth and roll on for centuries and into eternity, you don’t have to have a high IQ or EQ; you don’t have to have to have good looks or riches; you don’t have to come from a fine family or a fine school. You have to know a few great, majestic, unchanging, obvious, simple, glorious things, and be set on fire by them.

Amen! And among the greatest of those majestic and glorious things are right here in the verse we’re going to look at this morning . . . Isaiah 53:11. Now there’s hardly a person here in this room who won’t be able to understand what I say today. Almost every one of you will be able to hear and grasp what I talk about. I won’t use flowery language or too many big words. So we will hear a clear message this morning. But the issue is do you love what you will hear? Not, do you love the music or the one preaching or the building or anything else, simply, do you love what you hear? Does the truth you will hear capture your heart? Does it fire your imagination? Does it strengthen your spirit? Because if week after week you come here and that doesn’t happen, you would be better off not coming at all. And I really mean that. And the reason I mean that is that coming here without being moved by what you hear is actually harmful for your soul, because you are convincing yourself by your presence here that everything is OK, when everything is not OK. Now let me be clear here. You may have seasons, sometimes long seasons, when your spirit is dry and the things of God seem to you less like a great banquet and more like a can of Spam. But if you never have this experience, if your heart is in no way moved by the kinds of things we have looked at over these last weeks, you should be concerned. It is possible that you have never been saved, that you have never trusted the Lord. I think in this group while that is possible, it is more likely that you have been sidetracked. You sit here every Sunday and hear about the great treasure of Christ, that Pearl of great price, but other things have more of your heart. Maybe a desire to be comfortable, a longing to be successful, a pursuit of beauty or popularity, a hobby. It’s not that Christ is the only beautiful thing in the world but He is the most beautiful thing in the world. Salvation is the greatest thing in the world and all other things and when Jesus is first in our lives, everything else takes its proper place, so that we can enjoy God’s good gifts without making them into idols. So this morning, let’s look at the glorious truth of the gospel in Isaiah 53:11–

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.

What a steep price the Son of God paid for our freedom from sin’s penalty and power and presence! Much more than thirty pieces of silver. Jesus was anguished in soul. In the depths of His being He suffered. We saw this in Gethsemane, where He sweat as great drops of blood. We see it on the cross where He feels forsaken. Jesus bears the wrath of God against sin for all those who would believe on Him through the ages. But the anguish is rewarded. Like a mother in labor, in pain, sees the child and is filled with joy, so Jesus, in finishing the work the Father gave Him to do through His death on the cross, sees and is satisfied. Now how can He see if He died? Easter! The Lord Jesus has been raised from the dead so He gets the blessing of seeing His people saved through His death on the cross. Is the He here who is satisfied God the Father or God the Son? Yes! The Son went to the cross for the joy set before Him of bringing many sons and daughters to glory. The Father was satisfied in the obedience of the Son and in the fruit of His work, as Jesus provided a way for God to deal justly with sin while also showing mercy to sinners. Jesus died for people, but Jesus also died for God, to uphold the glory of God and to provide a way for Him to save people that is totally consistent with His nature.

by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
Jesus was not surprised by God’s call on His life. It was the will of the Lord to crush Him and Jesus knew it and willingly submitted to it from the foundation of the world. What Jesus knew made all the difference. He knew the plan of God. He knew what God planned to do in relation to sin and He knew His critical role in that plan. He knew God would require perfect righteousness and He lived that righteousness. He knew that God required the perfectly righteous One to give Himself freely as a sacrifice in the place of sinners, and He was willing to do that for us. He knew exactly what He was doing and He did it all perfectly. Right knowing leads is the only path to right living. This is why we emphasize teaching and preaching here, not so we can fill our heads with interesting data points, but so that we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. If your mind is not being shaped by God through His Word, it doesn’t matter how nice you are, you are missing the mark. And it doesn’t matter how much information you are putting in your mind if your hands and feet and heart aren’t moved by the knowledge you gain. The two go together. Christianity is a head-heart and hand thing. Jesus’ knowledge of God plan for Him moved Him to obedience. Now I understand that some understand this verse differently than what I have laid out here. They think “by his knowledge” means  the knowledge that people have regarding Jesus Christ, rather than the Servant’s knowledge. This is possible grammatically but in light of how all through the chapter the focus has been on the Father and the Son in regard to God’s will, I go with the first understanding. But in reality, both are true biblically.

Here’s the great truth of this verse . . . the righteous one, my servant will make many to become righteous. Oh, the blessing of this truth. This is the truth we call justification. We see in it the perfection of the Son. He is righteous. We see in it the uniqueness of the Son. He is the righteous ONE. We see in it the intimate relation of the Son to the Father. God says He is MY servant. We see in it the humility of the Son. He is the servant. Hallelujah, what a Savior! And what does this great Savior do? He makes many to be accounted righteous! This is salvation. We are sinners. We stand hopeless before God, dead in our sins and destined for Hell. And God in His good plan wills to send His Son to live a perfect life and die in the place of sinners, taking the penalty for sin they deserved. He makes it happen. Salvation is of the Lord. And He does it for many. Don’t be fooled into thinking just a tiny group of people are going to be saved. It is going to be many, all that the Lord calls, all that the Lord saves, everyone who trusts in Jesus. And these are accounted righteous. This is justification. We are declared righteous on the basis of Jesus’ living and dying and rising. And how does He make us righteous? He himself bears our iniquities. All the sin we have committed is laid on Him, so that He pays for our crime and we go free. This is the glory of Christ and the goodness of God.

Now in your mind right now if you’ve been following, and I do not believe these things are too hard to follow. But if you’ve been following, you might be thinking right now about the unfairness of it all. How can God be just in sending His innocent Son to death. I read this in preparing this message and I thought it was really good, “It does seem unfair for the innocent to die for the guilty. But what is God to do when all have sinned and wandered off like stray sheep? Covenant law demands punishment, but punishment in this case would mean annihilation of what God has created. God’s justice, as demanded by the law, must be satisfied. To satisfy his justice, he does something seemingly unjust. He punishes his sinless servant, the only one who has not strayed off! In the progress of biblical revelation, we discover that the sinless servant is really God in the flesh, who offers himself because he is committed to the world he has created. If his justice can only be satisfied if he himself endures the punishment, then so be it. What appears to be an act of injustice is really love satisfying the demands of justice!

The other reason this plan of God was not unfair is that it was something Jesus was entirely on board with doing. “So the first work of the Servant was the work of knowing. He did not close his eyes. He was not used unwittingly like a pawn. He knew the Father’s will. And by that knowledge he joined the Father in the redeeming work willingly and therefore effectively.

Piper says, “Now you see what God has been up to in this great and awful work of the Servant. He is providing for your acquittal. We have all sinned and brought reproach on the glory of the Lord God Almighty and infinitely holy! Left to ourselves we will come under his terrible wrath and everlasting judgment.

But that is not his heart. His heart is that his Servant—his Son—be crushed in our place, bear our iniquities, rise from the dead, intercede in heaven, and justify the ungodly.”

Christian singer Lauren Daigle had a song a couple of years ago called How Can it Be? I want to close with this song this morning . . .

I am guilty

Ashamed of what I’ve done

What I’ve become

These I am guilty
Ashamed of what I’ve done, what I’ve become
These hands are dirty
I dare not lift them up to the Holy one

I’ve been hiding
Afraid I’ve let you down, inside I doubt
That You still love me
But in Your eyes there’s only grace now

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

Though I fall, You can make me new
From this death I will rise with You
Oh the grace reaching out for me
How can it be
I know that for some of you here today, your heart is not lifted by the things we’ve talked about today, because you are burdened. You just want to get a better job. You just want to get along with your spouse. You are hoping the health crisis will go away. You just want your kids to not go crazy and rebel against everything you tried to do. You want to not feel like you’re barely getting by financially. You just want to finally get over that persistent sin. And if only, then all would be better. No. If you get what you want it will not make anything ultimately satisfying in your life. The beginning and end of life and life more abundantly is found in Jesus Christ. You will exist in eternity somewhere. Will you pay for your own sins or will you trust Jesus to pay for your sins? That is the difference between hell and heaven. And the difference between earthly joy and earthly misery is also found in this, rooting your life in the love of Jesus given for you on the cross. So my word to you this morning is this . . . focus on God, who He is. Focus on Jesus, who He is and what He is done for you. Focus your joy on Him and don’t worry about all these other things. God knows what you need. Seek Him. Give yourself to knowing God and walking with God. Come to me, learn of me . . . I will give you rest for your souls.

 

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