The Sin-Bearer – Gospel in Life

The Sin-Bearer

Tim Keller |  February 21, 2016

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Isaiah 52:13-53:12
RS 364-07


If you’re reading through the book of Isaiah, you get to this passage and you’re shocked. Up until now, Isaiah indicates that God’s going to send a great king to put things right in the world. Then Isaiah starts talking about a servant. But then, here in chapter 52 and 53, he says this person has no majesty. He has no majesty? Well, who is this?

It’s surprising and it’s shocking. It subverts every human category of thought about salvation.

Let’s look at three ways in which it’s so surprising, and see what this teaches about the salvation Jesus Christ brings. Let’s notice 1) the ordinariness, 2) the violence, and 3) the vicariousness.

Sermon Summary

Isaiah 53 presents a profound revelation about God’s plan for salvation, initially suggesting a majestic King would restore the world. However, the narrative shifts in chapter 42, introducing the concept of a suffering Servant who bears the sins of many. This unexpected truth profoundly impacts every aspect of our lives, accentuating the straightforwardness and depth of God’s redemptive plan.

1. The ordinariness of the passage

Isaiah 53 reveals the unexpected nature of salvation, with Jesus, devoid of worldly beauty or majesty, embodying God’s power in ordinary ways like prayer and worship. It also illuminates Jesus’ suffering and rejection, serving as a reminder that discipleship may entail hardship. As followers of Christ, we should embrace the ordinariness of God’s power and be prepared for potential adversity.

2. The violence of the passage

Jesus Christ’s immense suffering, as depicted through the most violent and painful descriptions, challenges the notion that God’s love equates to a life devoid of suffering. Yet, it’s through Christ’s suffering and subsequent exaltation that we grasp suffering can lead to growth and transformation. This is exemplified in Joseph’s story, where his hardships were instrumental for the salvation of his family and the world, demonstrating that God’s wise, redemptive love can persist even in the face of adversity.

3. The vicariousness of the passage

Jesus’ sacrificial act of taking on humanity’s suffering and punishment offers a unique salvation, demonstrating Christianity’s distinctiveness as it fulfills both justice and love. Believers are encouraged to emulate this sacrificial lifestyle, particularly in parenting, and to choose self-sacrifice over personal freedom, thereby finding growth through the relinquishment of wealth and power. The ultimate call is to follow Jesus’ example, living a life marked by love and the willingness to give, which paradoxically leads to greater freedom, wealth, and life.



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