Daniel Davey finished out the 2016 conference’s sermon series, “Preaching Christ from the Old Testament,” with a message from Isaiah 53. “When we look at Isaiah 42, and 49, and 50, and 52 to 53, we see that this passage, the fourth poem, is the culmination of the previous three poems,” Davey said. Here, Isaiah’s “servant of the Lord” theology reaches its crescendo. Here, we see the arm of the Lord personified to accomplish His purposes and His pleasure. Few could have imagined that God’s plan for the ages would revolve around His self-abasement and brutal execution on a Roman cross. But that’s precisely how it unfolded. So King Jesus hoofed it to Calvary.
“We are so easily distracted,” Davey asserted. “Can we not say with Paul, ‘I will nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified?’ The cross, which reveals the wrath of God, is to us a sacred place.”
But no less sacred is the empty tomb, and that, too, is predicted in Isaiah’s fourth servant poem. “When You 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 hand” (Isa. 53:10). Davey explained, “If He were to die and remain dead, this would be impossible. But this verb, He will see, makes it clear: death will not hold the servant!”
So the servant, Isaiah writes, will come, and grow to maturity, and die for the sins of the people, and rise from the dead. Here is the gospel in embryonic form, prophesied more than six centuries before the birth of Jesus. (“I declare to you the gospel . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures . . . and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” [1 Cor. 15:3, 4]).
We must not, however, focus so much on the proclamation of the gospel that we overlook our response to it. According to Davey, the Scripturally mandated response is found in 1 Peter 2:21ff.: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.”
The vicarious, sacrificial death of the Lord’s Servant was a one-time, unrepeatable event. Yet the experience of being a suffering servant is one that He shares with His followers. “Paul says, ‘Preach Jesus!’” Davey concluded. “And John says, ‘Worship Jesus!’ And Peter says, ‘Model Jesus!’ It is one thing to stand and speak; it is another thing to live a life before people, one that demonstrates that this Jesus makes a difference!”