Throughout his ministry, Isaiah spoke of a mighty deliverer (see, for example, Isaiah 9:3–7). These prophecies would have been especially precious to the Israelites centuries later when they were in captivity in Babylon. Someone who could topple the walls of Babylon would be a mighty conqueror indeed. But that isn’t the kind of Messiah that Isaiah described in chapters 52–53: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him. … We did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:3–4). By sending such an unexpected deliverer, God taught us about true deliverance. To save us from oppression and affliction, God sent One who Himself “was oppressed, and … afflicted.” Where some expected a lion, He sent a lamb (see Isaiah 53:7). Surely, God’s ways are not our ways (see Isaiah 55:8–9). Jesus Christ frees us not by just opening the prison but by taking our place there. He relieves us from our chains of grief and sorrow by bearing them Himself (see Isaiah 53:4–5, 12). He does not save us from a distance. He suffers with us, in an act of “everlasting kindness” that “shall not depart from thee” (Isaiah 54:8, 10).
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