Jesus the Jewish Messiah, Part 2

The Suffering Servant

By Rabbi Robert

The Series

Part 1: A Rod of Jesse, born of a Virgin
Part 2: The Suffering Servant
Part 3: The Salem of Melchizedek

Last week we looked at how Scriptures show that the Messiah was to be born of a virgin — who was not single — and how he would be a branch from the stem of Jesse. Even more controversial in Judaism is how perfectly Jesus fills the prophecy of the Suffering Servant.

After I considered the stem of Jesse from Isaiah 11, I read in Zechariah 12:10 where God says that "They will look at Me the one they have pierced, and mourned for him as one mourns for an only son" [emphasis added]. When did we ever pierce God? And why is God telling us they will look at Me whom they have pierced but will mourn for Him, clearly an intentional pronoun change, and mourn as one mourns for an only son? And why does my Jewish Study Bible give an obscure Hebrew translation of this verse only to add in the commentary section:
An alternative and more common type of translation, which is at home in Christological interpretation, is represented by "and I will pour out a spirit of compassion and supplication on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that, when they look on the one whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn." (page 1264)
The only time we could have pierced God was when Messiah Jesus was on the cross and he was striped for our iniquities and pierced for our transgressions, the description of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.

Throughout history, the rabbis have argued back and forth about who the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 is. Many have said it was the Messiah, many have said it was Israel. Isaiah says the servant will be as a root out of dry ground, a man who is despised and rejected of men. Isaiah goes on to say that the Suffering Servant was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. What is so striking about the prophecy is that it says in Isaiah 53:11 that he is the "Righteous Servant who shall justify many." Only God is righteous and this is the only place that the righteous servant is mentioned. Abraham was a servant of God, Moses was a servant of God, others have been a servant of God, but there's only been one "Righteous Servant." And this Righteous Servant pours out his very soul unto death as he was numbered with the transgressors and bore the sins of many making intercession for the transgressions. This is exactly what Jesus did. He was crucified with criminals to bear the sin of the world so that we may be reconciled with God the Father. It is not our righteousness that reconciles us to the Father but the righteousness of the "Righteous Servant" that makes us righteous before the Lord.

But the most intriguing part about the passage is that the Righteous Servant had done no violence nor was there any deceit in his mouth, according to Isaiah 53:9. And this is why Israel cannot be the Suffering Servant, for as great as Israel is, she has always strayed from God. The history of Israel in both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah has been apostasy, which led to exile. They killed the prophets that were sent to them from God, and they killed the Jewish Messiah sent from God as well.

But if Isaiah 53 is not about the Messiah, then why don't we read it every year during the Torah cycle? Isaiah 53 is one of the greatest consolation chapters in the Bible. Yet, as we prepare in the month of Elul for the coming of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we conveniently skip over Isaiah 52:13 and all of chapter 53. If Isaiah chapter 53 is simply about Israel, about Israel as God's righteous servants, the land, the country, the people of Israel, we should read it each year as part of the regular cycle. The fact that we exclude this portion from the yearly cycle seems to be a conspiracy from truth.

The only logical answer is that the Messiah is the Suffering Servant. And since Jesus so completely matches the description of the Suffering Servant, He must be the Messiah.

Image Credit: MartinStr; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Other-Religions

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Published 8-31-15