Isaiah 52:13–53:12 is the Old Testament reading for today, Good Friday. This text is one of the high points in the Old Testament, shining forward to the crucifixion of Jesus. Isaiah’s name is translated “Yahweh saves” or Yahweh is salvation,” and equivalent forms in Hebrew are Joshua (Jehoshuah), Hosea, and Jesus (Greek), and we certainly see this in section of chapters 52-53.
Isaiah lived ~740–681 BC, seven centuries before the time of Christ. Yet, it is as if Isaiah had been sitting on the hill overlooking Jersusalem, watching everything happening to Jesus on the day of His death. Isaiah’s perspective is not just a historical referent, but rather a theological commentary of what was happening. I encourage you to read this section of Isaiah today and join him on that theological ledge.
Perhaps the most significant passage is Isaiah’s bold declaration: (53:10-11 NKJV)
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
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.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
Already in the early years of the 7th century BC, Isaiah was proclaiming Jesus’s bearing sins as the basis of justifying many. Notice how Paul references this in his letter to the Romans, and Peter proclaims in his Pentecost sermon.
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (NKJV)
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ [Messiah].” (Acts 2:36 NKJV)
The centrality of justification by faith (faith worked by the Holy Spirit which receives that justification) is central to Romans, but in fact, central to the whole New Testament. That is the basis of the Reformation spearheaded by Martin Luther, and continues today. When we read, speak, preach, and teach about Jesus Christ and His work of justifying sinners, the Holy Spirit uses that message to create faith in the one who listens, believes, and receives that judgment: justified!
So, Isaiah has great historical significance for the people of his era, for the fulfillment in Jesus’ death on the cross, and for the telling about that same salvation content today. It isndeed a Good Friday to see the prophecy and fulfillment together.
And this is a message to all who fit this description: