Isaiah 53:11 (ESV) … “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”
The prophet now explains the Cross from God’s point of view. Even though Jesus was crucified by the hands of wicked men, His death was determined beforehand by God (Acts 2:22–23). Jesus was not a martyr, nor was His death an accident. He was God’s sacrifice for the sins of the world.
He did not remain dead! “He shall prolong His days” (Isa. 53:10) means that the Servant was resurrected to live forever. In His resurrection, He triumphed over every enemy and claimed the spoils of victory (Eph. 1:19–23; 4:8). Satan offered Christ a glorious kingdom in return for worship (Matt. 4:8–10), which would have meant bypassing the cross. Jesus was “obedient unto death,” and God “highly exalted Him” (Phil. 2:8–10).
Another part of His “reward” is found in the statement, “He shall see His seed [descendants]” (Isa. 53:10). To die childless was a grief and shame to the Jews, but Jesus gave birth to a spiritual family because of His travail on the cross (v. 11). Isaiah’s statement about his natural family (8:18) is quoted in Hebrews 2:13 and applied to Christ and His spiritual family.
The Servant’s work on the cross brought satisfaction (Isa. 53:11). To begin with, the Servant satisfied the heart of the Father. “I do always those things that please Him [the Father]” (John 8:29). The Heavenly Father did not find enjoyment in seeing His beloved Son suffer, for the Father is not pleased with the death of the wicked, let alone the death of the righteous Son of God. But the Father was pleased that His Son’s obedience accomplished the redemption that He had planned from eternity (1 Peter 1:20). “It is finished” (John 19:30).
The death of the Servant also satisfied the Law of God. The theological term for this is “propitiation” (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2). In pagan religions, the word meant “to offer a sacrifice to placate an angry god”; but the Christian meaning is much richer. God is angry at sin because it offends His holiness and violates His holy Law. In His holiness, He must judge sinners; but in His love, He desires to forgive them. God cannot ignore sin or compromise with it, for that would be contrary to His own nature and Law.
How did God solve the problem? The Judge took the place of the criminals and met the just demands of His own holy Law! “He was numbered with the transgressors” and even prayed for them (Isa. 53:12; Luke 22:37; 23:33–34). The Law has been satisfied, and God can now graciously forgive all who will receive His Son.
Grace is love that has paid a price, and sinners are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8–10). Justice can only condemn the wicked and justify the righteous (1 Kings 8:32), but grace justifies the ungodly when they trust Jesus Christ! (Isa. 53:11; Rom. 4:5) To justify means “to declare righteous.” He took our sins that we might receive the gift of His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:17). Justification means that God declares believing sinners righteous in Christ and never again keeps a record of their sins. (See Ps. 32:1–2 and Rom. 4:1–8.)
On the morning of May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay conquered Mt. Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world. Nobody has yet “conquered” Isaiah 53, for there are always new heights to reach. The important thing is to know personally God’s righteous Servant, Jesus Christ, whose conquest of sin is the subject of this chapter. “By His knowledge [i.e., knowing Him personally by faith] shall My righteous Servant justify many” (v. 11).
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3, NIV).