Servant Songs - The Suffering Servant

Sermon from CCM:City Centre


This sermon was preached by Tom O’Toole at the CCM:City Centre site of Christ Church Manchester on Sunday 8th December 2019.



This message was part of the ‘SERIES NAME’ series, preached at Christ Church Manchester’s church in Fallowfield in EARLY/MID/LATE YEAR. The full series included the following sermons:


This sermon was based on Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12.

He Was Pierced for Our Transgressions

13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
    he shall be high and lifted up,
    and shall be exalted.
14 As many were astonished at you—
    his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
    and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
15 so shall he sprinkle many nations.
    Kings shall shut their mouths because of him,
for that which has not been told them they see,
    and that which they have not heard they understand.
53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 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.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.



The Man of Sorrows

  • Came From an Unexpected Place. If you want a plant to grow in some ground, you would typically prepare and cultivate and water it. Dry ground is unlikely … and yet that is what it says of this servant. How did Jesus fulfil this?
    • Paralysed Nation…
    • Born in a stable…
    • Nazareth {Can any good thing come from Nazareth} … small village of only a few hundred – Bad reputation … 4BC Roman armoury 4 miles ago was robbed (2000 Jews crucified) … 10 years later a tax revolt, similar consequence.
  • God can use you wherever you came from. Place … Family … Circumstances …
  • Had an Undesirable Image. Didn’t have the chiselled superhero image. You couldn’t physically pick him out of a crowd. The God of all glory, becomes man, and he wasn’t even stand-out in this human world.
  • Lived an Unwanted Life “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hid their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isn’t is interesting that this was the reaction he got – and yet it was.
  • Man of Sorrows. Acquainted with grief. He knew suffering. Shared human experience, followers turning back, friends betraying him, fleeing, crowds turning on him, physical beatings, death.


  • Why would God send his servant for that?

Pierced For Our Transgressions

  • The idea is ‘Penal Substitutionary Atonement’
  • Penal – To do with punishment for an offence. Jesus in his sufferings was not just randomly being afflicted by the hardship of life – he was being punished for wrongs. Transgressions or Iniquities. (Rule breaking, inherently wicked or wrong)
  • And yet it is shocking that this is what we see happening to the Lord’s Servant He never did anything wrong.
  • Substitutionary – substitution means one takes the place of another – substitute teacher, or sport. Jesus took punishment for sin … but he did so in place of someone else. It wasn’t his sin as he had none.
  • He died. We deserved it – He was punished. It was our sin.
  • Atonement – Theologically – Restoration of relationship with God through a sacrifice, taking wrath. The implication – Our sin is utterly done away with.

Led Like a Lamb to the Slaughter

  • Quietly Bore Affliction . Affliction – Oppression, affliction – like a lamb to the slaughter.  Again brings to mind sacrifice imagery.
  • Look how he bore it –
    • If it was me I would be kicking and screaming about the injustice of it all, but this is what he came for.
    • [Mark 15:60-61] – “And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer…”
  • Cut Off From the Land of the Living. Where it took him was all the way to death – crucifixion is a long slow death by asphyxiation. God’s promises ultimately were a servant who would be afflicted, would suffer and would ultimately die.
  • Buried in a rich man’s grave – Joseph of Arithmethea.
    • This is where the story gets to by the end of Good Friday… But there is a twist in the tale yet!

He Shall Prolong His Days

  • I Shall Prolong His Days. What an odd thing to say… Yet we see in Christ just how it was fulfilled.  For the servant of the Lord, death wasn’t the end of the story. He accomplished everything he set out to as he poured out victory. He was triumphant even over death. It is like it couldn’t keep its claws on him.
  • He Shall See His Offspring. Not physical offspring. Spiritual offspring. His sin bearing, penal substitutionary work has been applied to many and reconciled them to God.

  • The Will of the Lord Shall Prosper In His Hand. Exaltation… We sometimes miss this – He rules everything. The Lord’s servant puts everything right…

    • We came at this from the angle of anticipation.
    • We have seen the fulfilment – and we live in it.
    • This is not just a one day – Happily ever after. It is a right here right now reality that we can own and live in.




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