Isaiah 53:7-9 - The Trial, Death & Burial of the Messiah

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The Messiah in Isaiah Bible Study

Isaiah 53:7-9 - The Trial, Death & Burial of the Messiah

by I Gordon


We looked last time at Isaiah 53:4-6 which showed that we, like sheep, have all gone astray. The word of God says it and I'm sure that your own life confirms it! So the Lord laid all of our sins upon the Messiah so that we could once again come back into a relationship with a holy God. Now, there is probably no better description of the gospel than what is described in those three verses. Yet it is written 700 years before the event takes place [1] . Amazing!

Now this study will concern verses 7-9 which give prophetic statements concerning the trial, death and burial of the Messiah. Let's go!

Like a sheep that is silent before its shearers...

Isa 53:7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

Let me start with a quiz question concerning this verse. The Bible tells us of a man who, over seven hundred after this prophecy was given will read this passage and it will change his life. Do you know who this man is? If you know who he is, do you know the one question that he had when he read this passage? As always, the answers and important information are always in the fine print! [2]

So let's look at the verse itself... firstly it says that the Messiah would be oppressed and afflicted. These same words were used of the bondage that the Israelites were under in Egypt for 400 years. Of course, the Israelites cried out to God in that affliction where as the main thought here is that Jesus would remain silent. So the obvious question is why? Why would Jesus keep silent before those provoking and oppressing Him at His trial? [3]

The answer to that question is 1 Pet 2:23.

1Pe 2:23 '...while being reviled, He (Jesus) did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.'

The key words in that passage are 'kept entrusting'. The Greek work translated 'entrusting' here is 'paradidōmi' which means 'to surrender, that is, yield up, entrust, commit, give (over, up)'. How could Jesus remain silent before those that accuse Him? Because He had completely committed and given the whole situation over to the one who judges righteously. He didn't need to fight for His rights or state His case, for it was God who controlled this trial, not His Jewish or Roman accusers. This silence was not weakness! It was supernatural strength powered by an overwhelming knowledge that His Father was taking care of the consequences!

So Jesus totally committed Himself to the care of God. He surrendered and entrusted Himself into the Father's care. How about you? Are you doing that or is there something that is eating away at you, causing anxiety and worry and stripping the strength that you have for today before it even has come about? You too need to learn to entrust yourself into the care of Him who judges righteously. Notice also that Jesus 'kept' entrusting Himself. My guess is that it will be a continual action for you as well!

Was Jesus completely silent at His trials?

Now, this is somewhat of a side point, but as I read these verses, the thought I had was 'Was Jesus totally speechless at his trials? And if He did speak to His accusers, what did that concern and what was He silent about?'

Let's just quickly clear that up then shall we? Here are the passages concerning two of Jesus' trials - namely the first before the Jewish Chief Priests and the Sanhedrin and the second before Pontus Pilate.

Mat 26:59-65 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.' " Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?" But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." Yes, it is as you say, Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.

From this passage it is clear as to what Jesus was willing to answer and what He remained silent about. Any charges that they brought against Him were met with complete silence. He would not play their game and entrusted Himself totally unto God. And yet, when the High Priest asked whether He was the Messiah [4] , Jesus answered unequivocally that that was true!

Mat 27:11-14 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied . When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?"But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge-- to the great amazement of the governor.

Again when He stood before the governor Pontius Pilate we see the exact same response from Jesus - Silent on all accusations, but not silent as to who He was... the King of the Jews! If you are confused about who Jesus is, you shouldn't be. He clearly says in these verses (and many more) that He is the Christ, the Son of God, the King of the Jews! [5]

The death of the Messiah

Isa 53:8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

Verse 8 moves from the trial to the result of the trial. And that is to be taken away and cut off from the land of the living. In other words, the prophecy tells us that the Messiah would be found guilty of the charges brought against Him and would be executed. But note also that it again reaffirms the truth that the Messiah would not be stuck down for His own transgression, but for the sins of the people.

It is also worth noting that some translations (such as the NASB) render this verse differently for the Hebrew can also be translated, ' And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?' The thought given here is an interesting one. It poses the thought that very few of Jesus' generation would truly understand why He had to die.

So let me pose that thought to you... can you think of anyone that did understand or consider that He was dying for the sins of the people, as their substitute? Does anyone come to mind? [6]

There is someone that God spoke through (albeit briefly!) who spoke of why Jesus would die and it is none other than the high priest himself (whom we have seen opposed Jesus at His trial mentioned above), Caiaphas! Here is a little reminder for ya!

John 11:47-51 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. "What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish." He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation.

From His death to His tomb and burial

Isaiah 53:9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

Verse 9 moves on to the next phase in the death of the Messiah - His burial. The wicked men of the time had planned to throw Jesus' body out as a common criminal, but God overruled and the scripture had foretold and Jesus was with the rich at His death - in the new tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. [7]

Luke 23:50-53 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.

Not one word of Isaiah's great prophecy would go unfulfilled!


So is that it? Was that destined to be the end? Would the story end with the son of God dying and being laid in a tomb? Oh no no no! This story is only warming up and I have a sneaky suspicion that death isn't going to be the end in this case!

But what can we take from this passage? Well, we can be reminded again that God holds all things in His hand and works out all things according to His good purpose. As Isaiah himself prophesied earlier in chapter 46:

Isa 46:8-10 "Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors... I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.'

So we can take heart from these scriptures for the God we serve is awesome. Fear not and be not dismayed. The God whom we serve knows tomorrow as well as He knows today!

[1]  Just as an early side note, when you look at the amazing prophetic statements made in this chapter, it should lead to the following conclusions:

Þ The Bible is the word of God. What other book declares what is to come hundreds or even thousands of years in advance?
Þ There is a plan, outlined in advance, to which the events in this world are working towards.
Þ There is a One who is sovereign over them all, working all things in connection to His plan.
Þ As God has already foretold what is still to come then we can have confidence... I've looked at the end of the book and ... we win!

[2]  The man is, of course, the Ethiopian Eunuch who is mentioned in Acts 8:26-39. As he was reading this passage (Isaiah 53:7), he actually picks up a hitchhiker whom God has specifically sent to explain this passage to him! A man called Phillip specifically directed by God to speak to the Ethiopian. Now, the Ethiopian only has one question - "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" Now that is a very good question and what a fantastic opportunity for Phillip! And of course, there is only one man in the history of the world that has fulfilled these words so Phillip doesn't miss this opportunity as 'then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.'

What's more, the Ethiopian believed, was baptised and went away rejoicing as a new creation - one born from above! Fantastic!

[3]  Have you ever been wrongly accused of something? It can feel terrible. In my working 'career' so far, I have only been called into the bosses' office once to face an accusation against me. Well twice. The first was when I water bombed a fellow worker at our office on her last day. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It wasn't. Oops. Didn't go well! I was called into the bosses' office and was fairly much speechless because I was totally guilty as charged. The second time I was called into the bosses' office I was accused of something I didn't actually do (Honest! You don't believe me now do you?) Sometimes in those situations you can be speechless because you are taken off guard and surprised and a little tongue tied. Well, Jesus wasn't guilty, he wasn't caught off guard and He wasn't without words that could be said... Yet He remained speechless! Why? We'll look at that as we go on.

[4]  William MacDonald in the Believers Bible Commentary is very useful on this point. He writes:
The Law of Moses required that a Jew testify when put under oath by the high priest (Lev 5:1). Being an obedient Jew under the law, Jesus answered: 'It is as you said.' He then asserted His Messiahship and deity even more strongly: 'Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.' In essence He was saying, 'I am the Christ, the Son of God, as you have said. My glory is presently veiled in a human body; I appear to be just another man. You see Me in the days of My humiliation. But the day is coming when you Jews will see Me as the glorified One, equal in all respects with God, sitting at His right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.'

In verse 64 the first you is singular, referring to Caiaphas. The second you is plural (also the third), referring to the Jews as representative of those Israelites living at the time of Christ's glorious appearing, who will clearly see that He is the Son of God. 'The assertion is sometimes made,' writes Lenski, 'that Jesus never called Himself 'The Son of God.' Here (in v. 64) He swears that He is no less.'

[5]  C.S. Lewis, the popular British theologian, writes, "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

[6]  I don't think any of the disciples really understood at the time. When Jesus told them that He must suffer and die and then be raised up on the third day, Peter took Jesus aside to rebuke Him! Which led to Peter getting a pretty famous rebuke himself! (See Matt 16:21-23). John the Baptist was given revelation of Jesus' mission for he said 'Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world!' That is obviously spot on. And yet, later, when John was in prison and Jesus didn't seem to be acting like John thought the Messiah would, John started to doubt and asked whether Jesus was the One or whether they should expect someone else. Bit sad really. Although sometimes we can all doubt the goodness of God when things are difficult, can we not? We are certainly no better than John the Baptist! The old man Simeon had some wonderful revelation of Jesus right from when he saw Jesus as a baby (see Luke 2:25-35) and he knew Jesus would be opposed but he didn't speak of why Jesus would die. This leaves us with the high priest Caiaphas... He said something under the inspiration of God that was very telling!

[7]  Ray Stedman writes 'But when at last the deed was done and he cried with a loud voice, "It is finished" (John 19:30), his friends came to take him down from the cross. No enemy hands touched his body after his death, only those who loved him. As they removed his bloody body, the dear lips were silent, the wondrous voice was stilled, the light had gone from his eyes, and the great heart beat no more. But instead of throwing him on a rubbish heap, as the authorities intended, they "made his grave with the rich," just as Isaiah had predicted written 720 years before the event. Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, offered to put the body of Jesus in his new tomb that had never been used. Someone has put that rather remarkably, "He who came from a virgin womb, must be laid in a virgin tomb."