In this article on Isaiah 53:10 the Bible changes our perception of what is weak and what is strong. We see the power of God for salvation in the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

Source: Clarion, 2008. 2 pages.

Isaiah 53:10a - The Power of Weakness

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer ... the Lord makes his life a guilt offering.

Isaiah 53:10a

The Bible teaches us a remarkable lesson regarding the words “strong” and “weak.” It doesn’t follow human expectations! For when we hear the word “strong,” we think of a muscular person, someone who is able to stand up against attacks. On the other hand, “weak” makes us think of someone who is easily pushed over.

The Bible changes this perception. What we think of as strong may actually be weak and what we see as a sign of weakness may in fact be evidence of strength. Just consider of the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Elsewhere Paul speaks about the message of the cross and he writes that “the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Let us not be mistaken, our Lord is powerful. We know of his strength and how He stands up against the enemy. Think of the song the people sang at the Red Sea: “Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy” (Exodus 15:6). In Isaiah 52, too, we read about the mighty arm of God:

The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.Isaiah 52:10

Quite the language! The Lord will show his muscle. He rolls up his sleeves to show how strong He is and all the nations will see it!

But it will happen in a way that is totally unexpected. This is why Isaiah 53 begins with that question, “Who has believed our message?” (v 1). Who believes that the arm of God is revealed in this way? It defies all human expectation. For how does God show his power? In sending his servant, who is described in this chapter.

When you read this description, you don’t think of a powerful arm. This servant was not one who commanded respect because of his physique and strength. He had no beauty or majesty. He was even despised and rejected by men. He was oppressed and afflicted and cut off from the land of the living. Who would think that in such a servant the Lord is baring his arm and showing his power?

To add to this, this is not an accident – as if the Lord would have liked to do it differently, but it just turned out this way. No, we read that this was God’s will. It was his will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer.

It is an unlikely demonstration of power to the human eye and ear, but in fact it is evidence of God’s power. For these words show the depth of God’s redemption. He was willing to have his only begotten Son crushed. The same arm that destroyed Pharaoh and his host now crushes our Lord Jesus Christ. God is executing his will in perfect wisdom. And in this servant we see the power of God to redeem.

For the Lord made his servant a guilt offering. The work of the servant is described here in terms of the temple service. With the guilt offering, the Lord showed his people that they were sinners and that their sins incur guilt. Guilt has to be paid for. So this servant will be the guilt offering and, in doing it once for all, takes away all the guilt of God’s people. Talk about being strong!

Why did He do this? To redeem us. This is how far He was willing to go! It is more than all the signs and miracles in Egypt, more than what Israel sang about at the shores of the Red Sea. God’s servant, our Lord Jesus Christ, was crushed for our sins, as our guilt offering.

Who would think that a man nailed to a cross is strong? Yet if you want to see the power of our God, look at the cross: “The weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” In this He turns my world upside down, and in Him my guilt is gone. With the Apostle I can say, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” For I may rely on the power of his grace. What a power! What an arm!

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