J. Frank Norris
Prepared and Given by
J. FRANK NORRIS
to the Students of the
FUNDAMENTAL BAPTIST BIBLE INSTITUTE FORT WORTH, TEXAS
ISAIAH 53 by J. Frank Norris
The greatest chapter, the highest mountain peak of the whole Bible. This chapter should be memorized by all.
This chapter gives the whole history of the conception, birth, life, character, suffering, the two trials, crucifixion, burial, resurrection and return of Christ. It also gives the whole plan of salvation.
There is not another chapter in the whole Bible that covers so much ground This chapter is short with only 12 verses. It is in contrast with the preceding chapter.
Vs. 1-12 “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his land. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many: for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors:”
Quoted in the New Testament as follows:
John 12:38, “That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arms of the Lord been revealed?”
Matt. 8:17, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”
I Peter 2:24, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by hose stripes ye were healed.”
Acts 8:32-33, “The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.”
I Peter 2:22, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:”
Mark 15:28, “And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.”
This one chapter stumps all the Jewish Rabbis for it cannot be denied that the reference is direct to Jesus Christ who became the substitute for man, the just dying for the unjust.
If you get the great inside meaning of the death of Christ you have the whole Bible plan of salvation. “He died for our sins, according to the Scriptures.” This chapter is complete, giving a full account of His suffering in behalf of others.
In the twelve verses you find Him taking our place twenty-four times. Twice as many times He is taking our place as verses in the chapter. The redemption was an atoning sacrifice reconciling us to God. This whole chapter contains the fullest account in the Bible of the design of His suffering and death. This chapter is the only adequate explanation of the sorrow of the world. In this chapter is every battlefield of this hour, every sorrow of all time. I brought in a man this morning whose son went down at Corregidor, he doesn’t know if his boy is alive or dead. This chapter is an answer to that heartbroken father.
Higher than the highest heavens, deeper than the deepest hell, broader than the widest universe, longer than everlasting to everlasting, all there is of God, all there is of Satan, all there is of sin, all there is of salvation, all there is of holiness, all there is of justice, all there is of mercy, is in this chapter. God and man meet. It is the Mercy Seat of the tabernacle in the wilderness transferred to Calvary. The veil of the temple rent from top to bottom; no longer the High Priest of Israel, or the successor to Aaron, enter in; but every man enters as the propitiation for our sins.
Verse 1: “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”
Contrast to last three verses 52nd chapter.
The two-fold question is a challenge to the unbelief of the Jews. The “kings” and the Gentiles accept Him as the true Messiah while the Jews, because of the hardness of their heart and blindness, rejected Him.
Romans 10:16-21, “But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
“But I say, Have they not heard? yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
“But I say, Did not Israel know? first Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
“But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
“But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
Verse 2: “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”
“For he” – not an influence, not a system, not education, not science, not a philosophy, but a Person! This Person is the answer to all unbelief, to all sin, to all the questions of philosophy, to every mystery, riddle and problem of the whole human race.
Compare Isa. 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Isa. 11:1, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:”
The personal pronoun refers to Jesus and occurs 48 times in these twelve verses.
We need a new vision of the Person of Christ, both His humanity and His Divinity. There is no such thing as the ideals and principles of Christ separate and independent of the Person of Christ, as the Modernists assert.
It was a Person that was born, that became manifest in the flesh, that worked at the carpenter’s bench, that was surrounded by the doctors of the law in the Temple; a Person that was baptized; a Person the Spirit came on without measure; a Person that healed all manner of disease; a Person that talked, wept, ate, slept, prayed; a Person in Gethsemane; a Person that was betrayed; a Person that was indicted for blasphemy and for sedition; a Person that was mocked, disrobed, blindfolded, spit upon, crowned with thorns; a Person that was nailed to the cross and died; a Person that was buried; a Person that rose from the grave; a Person that ascended back to the right hand of the Father; a Person that intercedes for us and a Person that will come in glory and power for us.
His virgin birth, “grow up before him as a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground;”
“A tender plant” – “for unto us a child…” in contrast with the powers, principalities and rulers of this world.
“A root out of a dry ground” – a desert, unnatural, but His birth was supernatural.
Describe how we set out plants.
His character – “hath no form,” no armour, no panoply, no helmet, breastplate, sword, not a man of war.
“Nor comeliness” – means stately, exalted station, kingly, not a man on horseback, but riding the meekest and humblest of all beasts.
“No beauty that we should desire him” – means more than aesthetic. Greek conception of proportion.
Why nothing is said about the physical features of Jesus in the Gospels, the color of His hair, the color of His eyes or His clothes. Every time His face, hands, feet or features are mentioned, they are marred, wounded, stained with sweat blood.
He does not come with the regal pomp and splendor which it was supposed He would assume. He is apparently of humble rank; He is poor; He has few attendants; and He has disappointed wholly the expectation of the nation, and is not such a prince as they had desired. In regard to the personal appearance of the Redeemer, it is remarkable that the New Testament has given us no information. There was evidently DESIGN in this; and the purpose was probably to prevent any painting, statuary or figure of the Redeemer that would have any claim to being regarded as correct or true. They evidently intended that His image should not be set up as an object of worship; and designed probably that the view of Him as a man should be comparatively obscured in the contemplation of Him as Divine. As it stands in the New Testament, there is just the veil of obscurity thrown over this whole subject which is most favorable for the contemplation of the incarnate deity. We are told that He was a man; we are told also that He was God; and the image to the mind’s eye is as obscure in the one case as the other; and in both we are directed to His moral beauty, His holiness and benevolence, as objects of contemplation, rather than to his external appearance of form.
Verse 3: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not”
“He is despised and rejected of men” – historical past, present and future. He has never been admired or received, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” Rejected by the people of Nazareth. Rejected by the rulers. He is rejected now, His Word is rejected. His blood is despised (“Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Heb. 10:29). Said not concerning Jews only, but Gentiles as well, Acts 4:27, “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou has anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together.”
REJECTED. Behold what a return Israel made for benefits! They slew their Benefactor, rendering evil for good, death for life. Him who had raised their dead, healed their lame, cleansed their lepers, opened the eyes of their blind, they nailed on the wood: they hung up on the tree Him who spread out the earth; they pierced with nails Him who laid the foundations of the world; they bound Him who absolved sinners; they gave Him vinegar and gall to taste who offered the food and drink of life and righteousness; they marred His hands and feet who had brought healing to theirs; they closed His eyes who had opened theirs; they committed Him to the sepulcher who raised up the dead, not only before His Passion, but even while hanging on the cross. Creation, in amazement, said, “What is this new mystery?”
It is a half truth to say that the Jews put Christ to death.
“A man of sorrows” – His character, as a drunkard, a gambler, a thief, a reprobate is called, denoting His character – He enters into the sorrows of the world – “He wept.”
“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.”
“And acquainted with grief” – more than knowing the manner of a man, or how he looks. He experiences grief, He went through every school of sorrow.
Heb. 2:10 and 14, “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.”
Heb. 2:17-18, “Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
“For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”
“We hid as it were our faces from him” – ashamed of Him. Not like Joseph with his father Jacob before Pharaoh, but like the college student I saw, ashamed of his own farmer father.
The girl on the ship “President Pierce” learning for the first time why her father’s face and hands were scarred. He rescued her from the burning home when a babe.
“And we esteemed him not” – we made no estimate of value. He had no value. He was no conqueror, no man of war.
Verse 4: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.”
We now come to Gethsemane. We have seen His birth, His life, His character.
“Surely he hath borne our griefs” – most certainly, without doubt.
Not as Mary said, “Lord if thou hadst been here our brother had not died.” He is by the sick bed in the hospital, at every funeral, in the midnight hour, in every Gethsemane, with every mother who receives the tragic news, “Missing in action.”
“And carried our sorrows”
John 18:1, “When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.”
Luke 22:44, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Heb. 5:7, “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;”
“Yet we did esteem his stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted”—
(1) “we esteemed him not”
(2) “yet we did esteem him”
First, “we didn’t esteem him” as a man, as the Messiah, the Son of God the virgin-horn Son.
But now, “we esteem him” betrayed, and “we esteem him” in sorrow – the Son of Man, betrayed in the hands of sinners.
Matt. 26:57, “And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.”
What sorrow! What anguish was in His face as He was led away!
Verse 5: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Should read: “But he was wounded for transgressions that were ours; he was bruised for iniquities that were ours.”
His trial, scourgings:
“He was bruised for our peace was upon him” – that is, by His chastisement or punishment, we receive peace.
Eph. 2:14, “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;”
“And with his stripes we are healed” – the method of using the Roman lash with tips of steel – three – and the limit was 39, or 13 lashes. If there had been one more lash, it would be 42 and the law limited to 40.
The steel tips brought the blood.
The story of father cutting himself in the presence of his disobedient son.
It is by Christ’s SUFFERING for sins that we, in some manner, are delivered from sin. It is by His DEATH that we are made to live. His teachings were of superhuman wisdom and authority; His example was of spotless perfection; but it is His bitter passion, His tasting of death, His cross, which are everywhere set forth – whether in the Old Testament, in the form of didactic statement – as the one reason and method of man’s restoration.
If Christ will pluck away eternal judgment for the world, He must bleed for it. So great a salvation must tear a passage into the world by some tragic woe – without shedding of blood there is no remission. This blood – oh, it is this that has a purifying touch, working lustrally, as the Divine word conceives, on all the stains of our sin, washing us, making us clean, sprinkling even our evil conscience. This tragic power of the cross takes hold, in other words, of all that is dullest, and hardest, and most intractable, in our sin, and moves our palsied nature, all through, in mighty throbs of life. And this is Christianity; meeting us just where we most require to be met. Christ is a great bringer on for us because He suffers for us. Christianity is a mighty salvation because it is a tragic salvation. With a fall and an overspreading curse at the beginning, and a cross in the middle, and a glory and shame at the end, where souls struggle out, through perils, and pains, and broken chains, or bear their chains away unbroken still and still to be – how moving, and mighty, and high must be the sentiment of it! Oh, how grandly harrowing is that joy, how tremulous in tragic excitement is that song of ascription, roaring as a sea surge round the throne – “unto Him that loved us, and washed us front our sins in His blood!”
BY HIS STRIPES. How literally this was applicable to the Lord Jesus it is unnecessary to attempt to prove. This could not be mere conjecture. How could Isaiah, seven hundred years before it occurred, CONJECTURE that the Messiah would be SCOURGED and BRUISED? It is this PARTICULARITY of prediction compared with the literal fulfilment which furnishes the fullest demonstration that the prophet was inspired. In the prediction nothing is VAGUE and GENERAL. Nothing has the aspect of mere conjecture. All is particular and minute, as if he saw what was done and was describing a real transaction, and the description is as minutely accurate as if he was describing what was actually occurring before his eyes.
J. Frank Norris