"See, my servant will act wisely
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
Just as there were many who were appalled at him--
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man
and his form marred beyond human likeness-
so will he sprinkle many nations,
and KINGS will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will SEE
and what they have not heard, they will UNDERSTAND.
Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of a dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities
and carries our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our inquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 52:13-15, 53: 1-6
The "servant" as the term is used here, is the Messiah, our Lord Jesus. This servant would "be marred beyond human likeness"; but through his suffering , he would cleanse the nations (Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:2).
These verses continue to speak of the Messiah, Jesus, who would suffer for the sins of ALL people. Such a prophecy is astounding! Who would believe that God would choose to save the world through a humble, suffering servant rather than a glorious king? The idea is contrary to human pride and worldly ways. But God often works in ways we don't expect.
Many wonder how could an Old Testament prophet undestand the idea of Christ dying for our sins (our transgressions and iniquities)--actually bearing the punishment that we deserved? The sacrifices suggested this idea, but it is one thing to kill a lamb, and something quite different to think of God's chosen servant as a Lamb. But God was pulling aside the curtain of time to let the people of Isaiah's day a look ahead to the suffering of the future Messiah and the resulting forgiveness made available to all mankind.
Isaiah speaks of Israel straying from God and compares them to wandering sheep. Yet God would send the Messiah to bring them back into the fold. Now we have the hindsight to see and know the identity of the promised Messiah who has come and died for our sins. But if we can see all that Jesus did and still reject him, our sin is much greater than that of the ancient Israelites who could not see what we have seen. Have you given your life to Jesus?
NIV Life Application Bible Study Notes Isaiah 52 & 53; Zondervan Press