Archives For Christology

The Gospel of John includes seven emphatic statements about the identity of Christ. Meditating on them gives a detailed picture of Christ. It would be a great devotional activity to prayerfully ponder the beauty of these pictures.  

Seven times in the gospel of John Jesus describes himself with the emphatic statement “I am” (ἐγώ εἰμι) followed by a concrete predicate word-picture. In his excellent commentary on the Gospel of John, Mickey Klink summarizes the importance of these statements. 

[The occurrence of the formal “I am” statements] develops further the revelation of the identity of God by means of the Son. These seven “I am” statements, therefore, are emphatic descriptions of the person and ministry of Jesus and cumulatively form a detailed picture of Jesus Christ.

John employs a number of other “I am” statements that are without a predicate (e.g. John 8:58). These informal “I am” statements also communicate the self-revelation of God not in a manner that is to be equated with the seven formal “I am” statements. While all the “I am” statements locate Jesus in the divine identity of God, the informal statements do not identify Jesus as a particular individual (i.e. “the light of the world”) but serve to give insight to the particular qualifications of Jesus. When informal “I am” statements are used the narrative context of the statement directs the reader to the particular qualification in view.” E. Klink (332, emphasis his).

Predicate Context
“the bread of life” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35
“light of the world” Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
“the gate” So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. John 10:7

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9

“the good shepherd” 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me . . .

“the resurrection and the life” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live John 11:25
“the way and the truth and the life” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
“the true vine”  I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. John 15:1

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 15:5


Witness how a grandfather sees color for the first time. Then consider how great will be the Christian’s joy when not just one malady is cured, but EVERY hurt is healed– in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor 15:52). 

Christ’s resurrection assures Christians that we will also share in his resurrection (1 Cor 15:20). Those who have died in Christ will rise in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Our new resurrection bodies will be cured of all aches. The lame will walk. The blind will see.

This man’s response is the tiniest preview of what it will be like to have a new resurrection body.

For more reflection on this point, see Steve Dewitt’s post, Resurrection Characteristics of Christ’s Body (And Ours As Well)

Second Corinthians (2 Cor 4:6), encourages believers with the truth that God who created all things has shown us “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” In his book, God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself, John Piper expands on what is meant by the “glory of Christ”: 

[Christ’s] glory, in his first coming, was the incomparably exquisite array of spiritual, moral, intellectual, verbal, and practical perfections that manifest themselves in a kind of meek miracle-working and unanswerable teaching and humble action that set Jesus apart from all men. Each of Jesus deeds and words and attitudes was glorious, but is the way they come together in beautiful summation . . . an exquisite array — that constitutes his glory.

But the climax of his glory on earth was the way it ended. It was as if all the darker colors in the spectrum of glory came together in the most beautiful sunset on Good Friday, with the crucified Christ as the blood-red sun in the crimson sky. And it was as if all the brighter colors in the spectrum of glory came together in the most beautiful sunrise on Easter morning, with the risen Christ as the golden sun shining in full strength. Both the glory of the sunset and the glory of the sunrise shone on the horizon of a lifetime of incomparably beautiful love. This is what Paul meant in 2 Corinthians 4:4 when he spoke of “the glory of Christ.” It is the glory of a person. But the person displays his glory in words and actions and feelings. The glory is not the glory of a painting or even a sunset. Those are only analogies. They are too static and lifeless.

The spiritual beauty of Christ is Christ-in-action—Christ loving, and Christ touching lepers, and Christ blessing children, and healing the crippled, and raising the dead, and commanding demons, and teaching with unrivaled authority, and silencing the skeptics, and rebuking his disciples, and predicting the details of his death, and setting his face like flint toward Jerusalem, and weeping over the city, and silent before his accusers, and meekly sovereign over Pilate (“You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above,” John 19:11), and crucified, and praying for his enemies, and forgiving a thief, and caring for his mother while in agony, and giving up his spirit in death, and rising from the dead—“No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:18). Such is the glory of Christ.

John Piper’s, God is the Gospel, is available for free as a pdf.

150yearlogo.jpgLuke gives the purpose of his gospel in his opening, “It seemed good to me . . . to write an orderly account for you. . .you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” Luke 1:3-4.

Sunday’s sermon at The Red Brick Church will continue our series, A Confident Christmas.  This sermon will consider the inevitable collision between the Christian worldview and that of naturalism. Below are definitions and quotes I am providing our people on the sermon notes.

I so look forward to this sermon because the more we study Luke’s gospel, the more confident of the Christmas message we grow – – and the more we will respond with worship to our glorious Savior.


A Lexicon for Sunday’s Sermon

“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. . .’” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.[1]

The Annunciation – The announcement by Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:26-38) that she would be the mother of Jesus and that Jesus’ Kingdom would never end.

Dystopia / Dystopian – “An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.”[2]

Incarnation – The term literally means “in flesh.” It references when Jesus Christ, the second person of the Triune godhead, became humanity without ceasing to be deity. The Westminster Standards summarize, “Two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion”: no conversion: God was not changed, no composition: a third hybrid was not formed that involved both deity and humanity, no confusion: deity and humanity are not a mixture.

Magnificat – The song of Mary found in Luke 1:46–55. This poem is in the style of the OT psalms, and is strongly reminiscent of the prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1–10.[3]

Metanarrative – “An attempt to grasp the meaning and destiny of human history as a whole by telling a single story about it; to encompass, as it were, all the immense diversity of human stories in a single, overall story which integrates them into a single meaning.” Richard Bauckham[4]

Miracle – “I use the word Miracle to mean an interference with Nature by supernatural power.” C.S. Lewis[5] “Events which run contrary to the observed processes of nature.” J.D. Spiceland [6]

Naturalism – The belief that there is no God and that there is nothing after death.[7] Naturalism goes further than atheism because it offers a comprehensive view of life. A web definition reads “a philosophical viewpoint according to which everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted.”

Nihilism – The rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless. If followed to their logical conclusions, non-Christian worldviews end in nihilism.

Theological liberalism[8]The religion which developed in the modern era built on the foundation of autonomous human reason (meaning humans can understand reality without God’s Word) which led to the denial of basic tenets of the faith such as the virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, authority of Scripture, imminent return of Christ, and bodily resurrection.

Worldview – A translation of the German term “weltanschauung” which reference the grid or lens through which people make sense of reality. The “collision” referenced in today’s sermon title is that of Orthodox Christianity with its belief in miracles and that of naturalism which insists that everything must be explained by natural processes.

[1] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, vol. HarperCollins (San Francisco: Harper, 2001).

[2] “Dystopia,” Oxford Dictionaries, accessed December 11, 2015,

[3] B.J. Beitzel, “Magnificat,” in The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988), 1377.

[4] Richard Bauckham, The Bible and Mission: Christian Witness in a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003), 4.

[5] C. S. Lewis, Miracles, New edition edition (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2015), 5.

[6] J.D. Spiceland, “Miracles,” in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 723.

[7] Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), x.

[8] J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009).

Our culture is infatuated with Jesus’s admonition, “Judge not, that you be not judged (Matthew 7:1-2).” But, as I explained in Sunday’s sermon, the reason this is a favorite saying may not be good news.

There are, arguably, two reasons, our culture so often quotes Jesus’s prohibition of making judgments. First, hypocritical judging, which is what Jesus warned against, is ugly. The person who presumes to know why another person suffers, or the motives of another’s heart, or another’s status with Christ, puts him or herself in the place of God. Jesus warned against such hypocrisy in the strongest possible terms (Matthew 7:2).

Of course, when Jesus warned, “Judge not, that you be not judged,” he did not mean that we are not to make reasoned moral judgments. After all, in this same context, Christ cautions that we should identify some as “dogs” and “pigs” so as to not see truth trampled in the filth (Matthew 7:6).

The second reason that our culture is so enamored with the concept of not judging is that many do not like the idea of judgment at all. “Judge not” means to some that not even God judges. Yet, the idea that God will not judge is patently false. The Bible consistently stresses that God is a God who will judge sin. Consider a small sampling of biblical examples of judgment.


Example Text Comment / Summary
The Fall / Adam & Eve’s Disobedience Gen 3 Adam and Eve rebelled against God and God pronounces a sentence of spiritual death and all the pain and heart ache of a fallen world.
The Noahic Flood Gen 6-9 God destroyed everyone on earth except Noah and his family: the one family who had faith.
Sodom and Gomorrah Gen 19:23-29 God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, though Lot is spared
The Passover Exodus 12 God struck dead the firstborn in Egypt except those covered by the lamb’s blood (Exodus 12:21-28).
The Golden Calf Exodus 32 God sent the tribe of Levi to execute about 3,000 and more died from a plague because of their idolatry at the foot of Mt. Sinai.
So severe that even Cannabilism Lev 26:14-35 God warned that if Israel broke covenant that the judgment would so severe that there would even be cannibalism (Lev 26:29).
Adult Israel dies in wilderness Num 14:20-38 God vowed that all of the adults of Israel (save Joshua and Caleb), who would not follow Moses into the Promised Land, would die.
Jericho Josh 6 The city of Jericho was completely devoted to destruction.
Jesus promises judgment Matt 16:26-28 Jesus warned that he will return and reward people according to what they have done.
THE CROSS 2 Cor 5:21, 1 Pt 2:21, 1 Jn 4:10 God’s simultaneous demonstration of love & judgment. Love: Jesus died for sin. Judgment: Jesus received the punishment we deserve.
Ananias and Saphira Acts 5:1-11 Ananias and Sapphira lied about their commitment to the Church and God struck them dead.
Herod Acts 12:23 God struck Herod dead while people were praising him for having the voice of a god.
Those who destroy the church 1 Cor 3:17 God warns that people who harm God’s temple (the church) will be destroyed.
Warning to N.T. Believers 1 Cor 10:1-22 Paul warned the church at Corinth that examples of O.T. judgment are warnings for our day as well as then.
Partakers of communion in unworthy manner 1 Cor 11:27-34 Paul explained that the reason some are sick and have died was because they participated in communion in an unworthy manner.
Leaders / Teachers Warned Luke 12:47; Jam 3:1; Heb 13:17 Warnings that those in positions of responsibility have an increased accountability to Jesus when He returns.
The Judgment Seat of Christ 2 Cor 5:9-10; Rom 14:10-12 When Christ judges Christians resulting in rewards for some and a sense of loss for others.
The Great White Throne Judgment Revelation 20:11-15 Follows the Millennial Kingdom and is the occasion when the unsaved of all the world will receive their punishment of eternal hell.
Jesus’s final words in Revelation Revelation 22:12-13, 16, 20 Jesus promised that He will soon return and that when he does he will dispense punishment to those whose who do not know Him.

If these examples of biblical judgment people do not make you uncomfortable, then maybe you are not engaging with this idea of God’s judgment. The judgment of a holy God is a sobering topic. It is so uncomfortable the reality is that many churches in North America speak little of God’s judgment. And, perhaps the reason many pastors won’t speak of judgment is the same reason Jesus admonition, “Judge not that you be not judged,” is the most popular saying in the Bible.

For biblical Christianity, there is no denying the reality of judgment. Some insist that the Old Testament presents God as a harsher judge. But this is inconsistent with the Bible. Look at the table above. Read Revelation 20-22.

Some counter, “Well, then I’m not sure if I want the Bible. I’m not sure that I want judgment at all.”

But the person who objects to God’s judgment does want judgment. All people do. Every sane person believes in judgment. You need only to go to a high school football game and see a bad call and see people express their indignation at injustice to know people believe in justice. Or, watch a political leader make a decision that affects the standard of living. People cry out for justice. We all want judgment if a loved one is harmed. We should!

The fact is that people who object against God’s judgment are okay with justice and judgment. They just want to dictate judgment on their own terms and that, says Jesus in Matthew 7:1-2, is what we must not do. To insist on being the judge is a matter of pride. Only God is worthy of rendering judgment.

But then someone else will counter, “These examples of God’s judgment are harsh. Think of Sodom! Think of eternal hell. How can a God of such harsh judgment be loving?”

This is where we need to go to the middle of the above table and focus on the the Cross! On the Cross we see how God’s love and God’s judgment are both on display. John tells us (1 John 4:10) that the ultimate display of love is that Christ died for our sins. The reason he died, was to give Christ as the propitiation or atoning sacrifice for our sins.

For sure, one reason that our culture appreciates Jesus’s admonition to not be hypocritically judgmental is because such hypocrisy is so ugly and damaging. But, I fear, the greater reason so many quote Matthew 7:1-2 is because they have misread it to mean even God does not judge. About this, unbelieving culture could not be more mistaken. God is just and he will judge sin. Those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, will suffer God’s judgment eternally (John 3:36, Revelation 21:8).

See also:

What do Christians mean when they reference the gospel or good news?

The Pastoral Privilege of Telling Christians When Jesus Will Return

Jonathan Edwards Was as High on Heaven as He Was Hot on Hell

A Soft View of Hell Makes Hard People

I am really enjoying God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth Here’s a sample quote in which they reflect on what it means to glorify God:

What does it mean to glorify God? The Westminster Catechism reminds us that “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” If we are created to glorify God, then we should know what that means. We glorify God by multiplying images of him who are crowned with his glory; we glorify God by making disciples. Jesus himself glorified God in this way. Near the end of his life, he declared:

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do . . . I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. (Jn 17:4, 6).

Jesus glorified God by making disciples who kept God’s word. The mark of these disciples was obedience. Similarly, we glorify God by our mission in making disciples who keep God’s word.

(Page 35)

See also:

Towards Understanding More About the Glory of God

Notes for “glory” on Romans Study

How Would You Define Glory?

The Seven Last Words of Christ

Chris —  April 3, 2015

Palm Sunday PicThe Seven Last Words of Christ reference Jesus’s final statements on the cross, not individual words per se. These seven final statements include:

  1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
  2. “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” Luke 23:43.
  3. “Dear Woman, here is your son!” and “Here is your mother!” John 19:26-27.
  4. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
  5. “I am thirsty” John 19:28.
  6. “It is finished!” John 19:30.
  7. “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” Luke 23:46

For more reflection see:

John MacArthur, “The Seven Last Sayings of Christ: A Plea for Forgiveness,” Grace To You, March 23, 2015,


Maundy Thursday IllustrationGiven the Old Testament’s explicit instruction to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18), what’s new about the New Commandment?

Churches celebrate Maundy Thursday on the Holy Week in commemoration of the Last Supper and Jesus’ issuance of a new commandment.

“Maundy” comes from the Latin “mandatum” and references the word “commandment” in John 13:34.[1]

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35.

Jesus illustrated his new commandment, prior to giving it, by washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-20). Christ’s example in servant love amazes us for at least four reasons:

  • The washing of feet was a menial task yet Christ, who is God, was willing to do it.
  • Christ washed the disciples feet fully conscious of the fact that his redemptive task would require him to go to the Cross.
  • Jesus washed Peter’s feet, and those of the other disciples, knowing that Peter would deny him and that all the disciples would scatter (John 13:36-38k, Matthew 26:31).
  • Jesus washed Judas’s feet even though Judas was going to betray him. In the Gospel of John, John makes sure that we do not miss that Jesus washed Judas’s feet.  Judas is mentioned at the beginning (John 13:2) and at the end of the passage (John 13:21-30).

Christ’s followers are to be known by their servant love. Jesus assured his disciples that their love for one another would distinctively identify them as followers of Christ.

The student of the Old Testament may wonder what is “new” about Jesus’s new commandment given that Leviticus 19:18 explicitly commands:

 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18.

 One of my seminary professors, Dr. Carl Hoch, whose life work was studying the New Testament use of the word “new” (καινός / kainos), identified five major ways that the new commandment is “new.”[2]

  • The New Model – Jesus himself set the example.
  • The New Motive – Jesus love for lost people is now explicitly stated.
  • The New Motivator – Jesus soon encourages his disciples that it is to our advantage that he is leaving because this means he will send the Holy Spirit.
  • The New Mission – The new commandment is the central feature of the mission of making disciples of Christ (John 13:35, Matthew 28:18-20).
  • The New Milieu – Dr. Hoch was stretching a bit for “m’s” when he got to this one, but his point is that our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection inaugurated a new age. Dr. Hoch wrote, “The new situation created by the sacrifice of Christ anticipates in the present the condition of the age to come. The mutual love of the disciples is therefore the rule of the new era.”[3]

Hoch concluded:

The new commandment is the sine qua non of the Christian life. “It is simple enough for a toddler to memorize and appreciate, profound enough that the most mature believers are repeatedly embarrassed at how poorly they comprehend it and put it into practice. Can any more be said?[4]

See also:

Kevin DeYoung on Maundy Thursday[5]

John Piper on Thursday of the Commandment[6]

What Happened Each Day of Holy Week : This post gives a summary of what happened each day of Holy Week.

The people involved in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ: Have problems keeping track of all the Marys and the other people involved in Holy Week? Here’s a summary.

Places Associated with Holy Week: Calvary is the same as Golgotha and other helpful facts about Holy Week places.


[1] In the original language, the word “commandment” is first in John 13:34. The word order is literally, Ἐντολὴν καινὴν δίδωμι ὑμῖν, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους, καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους / commandment new I give to you, in order that you love one another, even as I have loved you so that and you love one another.”

[2] Carl B. Hoch, All Things New: The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995), 142–145.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 145.

[5] Kevin DeYoung, “Maundy Thursday,” The Gospel Coalition, April 1, 2010,

[6] John Piper, “Thursday of the Commandment,” Desiring God, March 20, 2008,


Psalm 22 - Summary of New Testament UsageCharles Spurgeon believed Jesus may have repeated Psalm 22 word for word on the Cross. If you review the New Testament usage of Psalm 22, you will understand why Spurgeon thought so.

Psalm 22 is a psalm with application in David’s life (circa 1000 B.C) but it is prophetic and fulfilled completely only by Christ. Hence, it is sometimes called the 5th Gospel account of the cross.[1] Spurgeon says that this Psalm is beyond all others:

The Psalm of the Cross. It may have been actually repeated word by word by our Lord when hanging on the tree; it would be too bold to say that it was so, but even a causal reader may see that it might have been . . . O for grace to draw near and see this great sight! We should read reverently, putting off our shoes from our feet, as Moses did at the burning bush, for if there be holy ground anywhere in Scripture it is this psalm.[2]

 Regarding Psalm 22, Kaiser writes:

David did experience unusual suffering, but under a revelation from God he witnesses suffering of one of his offspring, presumably the last in that promised line, that far transcends anything that came his way.[3]

The Psalm’s essential message is summarized in verse 24. In spite of God’s awful delay in answering prayer, he answers and upholds ultimate justice.”[4] So, someone has said, that while Psalm 22 begins with a “sob”, it ends with a “song” in anticipation of the resurrection.[5]

Derek Kidner:

No Christian can read this without being vividly confronted with the crucifixion. It is not only a matter of prophecy minutely fulfilled, but of the sufferer’s humility – – there is no plea for vengeance—and his vision of a world-wide ingathering of the Gentiles. The Gelineau translation entitles it ‘The suffering servant wins the deliverance of the nations’.

 No incident recorded of David can begin to account for this Psalm. It is prophetic of the Cross.[6]



[1] Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50, ed. David A. Hubbard et al., Word Biblical Commentary (Waco: Word, 1983), 202.

[2] {Citation}

[3] Walter C. Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 113.

[4] Waltke, Bruce K., Houston, James M., and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 398.

[5] “Psalms Studies – Book 1,” accessed March 27, 2012,

[6] Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72, ed. D.J. Wiseman, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1973), 105.

See also:

What Happened Each Day of Holy Week : This post gives a summary of what happened each day of Holy Week.

The people involved in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ: Have problems keeping track of all the Marys and the other people involved in Holy Week? Here’s a summary.

Places Associated with Holy Week: Calvary is the same as Golgotha and other helpful facts about Holy Week places.

Isaiah’s servant songs (Isaiah 42:1-4, 49:1-6, 50:4-9, 52:13-53:12) are four passages in Isaiah that uniquely prophesy Christ and are of central importance as we remember the death, burial, and resurrection. Select quotes below show the importance of Isaiah’s Servant Songs.

Eugene Peterson’s Summary of the Four Servant Songs[1]

Servant Song Peterson Thought
Isaiah 42:1-9 The servant is chosen for a mission. He won’t force his way, but will do it quietly and gently.
Isaiah 49:1-7 The servant is formed in the womb. It will be a huge task, but he will be given as a light to the nations.
Isaiah 50:4-9 This song reaffirms the servant’s work of witness and preaching that is met with scorn and contempt.
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 The servant will win the victory through the unlikely approach of suffering in the place of those he saves: “sacrificial suffering, suffering with and for others.”

Youngblood says that the theme of the suffering servant is the most important theme in Isaiah.[2]

Oswalt regarding the Servant Songs writes:

 . . . there is a unique emphasis on what the Servant will accomplish for the world . . . my position is that in these passages Isaiah is speaking of an individual, almost certainly the Messiah, who will be the ideal Israel. Through his obedient service to God, Israel will be enabled to perform the service of blessing the nations that had been prophesied in Gen 12:3 and elsewhere.[3]

 God’s answer to the oppressors of the world is not more oppression, nor is his answer to arrogance more arrogance; rather, in quietness, humility, and simplicity, he will take all of the evil into himself and return only grace. That is power (Oswalt, 111).[4]

In the context of reflecting on the Servant Songs, Edward J. Young writes:

Christ was sent in order to bring the whole world under the authority of God and under obedience to Him.[5]

Those who gather about him to hear his teaching will discover that he spoke as never man spoke. His teaching was not accomplished through loud proclamation but by quiet instruction.[6]

Isaiah 52:12-53:12 is one of four servant songs. In the Old Testament “Only the strange, silent figure of Isaiah 53 stands before us as one who, it is said, remains innocent and righteous.” N.T. Wright[7]

Along with Psalm 22, Isaiah 53 is the central prophetic prophecy of the atonement found in the Old Testament. It vividly describes Christ’s substitutionary death 700 years before the cross. The Church Father Polycarp said Isaiah 53 is the golden “passional” of the Old Testament evangelist. Youngblood tells us that this song is often called the Gospel of the Old Testament and this passage is quoted more often than any other in the New Testament.

Regarding the importance of Isaiah 53 in regards to the atoning work of Christ, Stott writes:

But it is particularly the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, describing the servant’s suffering and death, which is applied consistently to Jesus Christ. ‘No other passage from the Old Testament’, Joachim Jeremias has written, ‘was as important to the Church as Isaiah 53.’19 The New Testament writers quote eight specific verses as having been fulfilled in Jesus. Verse 1 (‘who has believed our message?’) is applied to Jesus by John (12:38). Matthew sees the statement of verse 4 (‘he took up our infirmities and carried our diseases’) as fulfilled in Jesus’ healing ministry (8:17). That we have gone astray like sheep (v. 6), but that by his wounds we have been healed (v. 5) are both echoed by Peter (1 Pet. 2:22–25), and so in the same passage are verse 9 (‘nor was any deceit in his mouth’) and verse 11 (‘he will bear their iniquities’). Then verses 7 and 8, about Jesus being led like a sheep to the slaughter and being deprived of justice and of life, were the verses the Ethiopian eunuch was reading in his chariot, which prompted Philip to share with him ‘the good news about Jesus’ (Acts 8:30–35). Thus verses 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11 – eight verses out of the chapter’s twelve – are all quite specifically referred to Jesus.[8]

Stott also notices that Jesus himself made numerous references to Isaiah 53.[9] For example, Christ said that he would be:

  • Rejected
  • Taken away.
  • Numbered with the transgressors

Many other statements allude to Isaiah 53. Regarding Isaiah 53, Spurgeon wrote:

This is one of the chapters that lie at the very heart of the Scriptures. It is the very Holy of holies of Divine Writ. Let us, therefore, put off our shoes from our feet, for the place whereon we stand is especially holy ground.


This fifty-third of Isaiah is a Bible in miniature. It is the condensed essence of the gospel. I thought that our beloved friend, Mr. Moody, answered with extreme wisdom a question that was put to him when he came to London some years ago. A number of ministers had come together to meet Mr. Moody, and they began to discuss various points, and to ask what were the evangelist’s views upon certain doctrines. At last, one brother said, “Would Mr. Moody kindly give us his creed? Is it in print?” In a moment the good man replied, “Certainly; my creed is in print, it is the 53rd of Isaiah.” It was a splendid reply. How could a man come closer to the very essentials of the faith than by saying, “My creed is in the 53rd of Isaiah”? I trust that many of you, dear friends can not only say, “This is my creed,” but also, “This is the foundation upon which I have built all my hopes for time and for eternity; this is the source of my sweetest consolation; this is the sun that makes my day, and the star that gilds my night.” In these twelve verses there is everything that we need to teach us the way of salvation; God, the infinitely-wise Teacher, has revealed to us, within this short compass, all that is necessary to bring peace to troubled Spirits.

[1] Peterson, The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way, 175–176.

[2] Ronald F. Youngblood, The Book of Isaiah (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 147. See also Peterson, The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way, 174.

[3] John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah Chapters 40-66, ed. R.K. Harrison and Robert L. Jr. Hubbard, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 108.

[4] Ibid., 111.

[5] Youngblood, The Book of Isaiah, 111.

[6] Ibid., 113.

[7] N.T. Wright, Evil and the Justice of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 72.

[8] Stott, The Cross of Christ, 145.

[9] Ibid.