The Humanity of the Son of God (Selected Scriptures)

The humanity of the Redeemer is necessary for our salvation. The Old Testament promised a Messiah who would share fully our humanity. We see His humanity in His lineage, His suffering, and His reign. An exposition of selected Scriptures.

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On a long road trip this last summer, Diedre and I started listening to an audiobook recording of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Now that is a daunting commitment because it is sixty-seven hours of audio. It feels like everything that’s ever been written, but it’s everything that’s ever been written by Arthur Conan Doyle. And I have enjoyed numerous screen adaptations of some of those stories, and I like a good mystery. And we’ve, I don’t know, I think we’re fourteen or fifteen hours into it or something. Obviously it wasn’t a road trip long enough. We’ll have to plan another one just to get through this. But the stories of Sherlock Holmes unfold like any typical mystery does. You get all of the details or some of the details in the beginning, and then as the story unfolds—and you know how this goes. Unless of course you’re a Columbo fan. Then it’s completely reversed. But you get a few details in the beginning, and then as the story unfolds you have more and more details that are added to it until you get to the end and then you get the reveal. You get the identity or the motive or the full story behind it, and of course then you are brought sort of face-to-face with the great mind of Sherlock Holmes and how he puts the pieces together and deduces all of that to come to the conclusion.
And in many ways for the Old Testament saints who hoped and longed for and anticipated a coming Redeemer, it was much like a mystery to them. They would have had, in the very beginning, scant details, and we looked at some of those last week in Genesis 3: that there would be a Champion who would come, who in the process of destroying the serpent would Himself be bruised, and this would undo or reverse the curse, that this would take care of what had happened in the garden, and that this Person would be the seed of the woman. There would be something unique about His birth and His lineage that would be unlike any other man. We saw those. Those are really scant details. But then as the Old Testament unfolds and as time passes we have more and more details that are added to that. We get a lineage and we get a parentage and we get some of the details about this Person’s life and what He would do and where He would come from, but it would take hundreds and even thousands of years for those details to unfold.
And we looked last week at Genesis 3:15, the seed of the woman and the promise there. And then moving forward from Genesis 3:15, we have throughout all of the Old Testament, over the unfolding of hundreds of years, centuries, we have pictures and types and symbols and shadows and illustrations and foreshadowing and people who look a lot like that coming Redeemer, but not quite. Men like David, very similar in many ways to that coming Redeemer. And you can look at some of the life and reign of David and say that sounds a lot like it, but not quite it. Same thing with Aaron and the priesthood and Moses and others, the men who look a lot like the promises, but weren’t quite the promises.
And over the course of those hundreds of years, then we got a priesthood and a kingdom and a religious law with sacrifices and feasts and all of these pictures that seemed like they longed for some fulfillment. They were kind of like that, but not quite like that. And over the course of all of that time, we also got thirty-nine books of inspired Scripture that interpreted all of those things, the feasts and the festivals and the sacrifices and the priesthood and the law. You had commentary after commentary explaining these things, and you have the revelation of this coming Messiah inside of—and this is magnificent—inside of the very commentary that is explaining what it is that we should be looking for, prophecies and predictions that are woven into this historical narrative with all kinds of other genres as well. It’s quite amazing how all of that is all woven together throughout the Old Testament.
So then you get to the end of the Old Testament and you’re kind of longing for this fulfillment. When is this going to happen? And then when you look back you realize, “That was four thousand years ago that that was first mentioned.” Four thousand years of human history have passed with all of these things, these details being added, and they’re kind of like puzzle pieces to a puzzle. You get individual pieces here and there. Some of them are clearer than others. Some of them obviously go together. Some of them you’re not quite sure exactly how they go together. And even at the end of the Old Testament with all of the pieces on the table that God had chosen to reveal, even then, looking at all of those pieces, you would be stupefied to figure out how some of them fit together.
For instance, how is it possible that this seed of the woman would be bruised and yet die? How would He be bruised and—the bruise doesn’t seem to kill Him (Gen. 3), and yet He dies (Isa. 53). And how does this One who dies, how does He then reign and rule over an eternal kingdom forever? How can He rule as king if He dies? That wouldn’t make sense. Now you and I, from our vantage point, we are like the person who is an expert in Arthur Conan Doyle’s writings and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and we can listen to the stories in almost any order, and we can go back and read some of the stories and listen to parts of the story. We know how it unfolds at the end because we know the big reveal at the end. We know how it all unfolds. We know how it all is revealed at the end. So we can go back and look at the individual pieces and say, oh yes, well, the bruising obviously is a reference to the death, but the death is not going to be a death that would destroy Him forever and annihilate Him because He would rise again, and because of His resurrection, the One who died, which is really only like a bruising since He comes back three days later, can then rule and reign over this eternal kingdom forever. Now we see how all the pieces fit together. But Old Testament saints, they, for thousands of years, just long to see how God would fulfill those promises and how all of these details would come together.
We’re going to focus today and next week on promises and prophecies that reveal the nature of this Redeemer. We’ve been going—well, last week I guess was our first week, and this week we’re continuing in this series of looking at Old Testament promises and details of the coming Messiah. And our Sundays here are really in preparation for Christmas as we reflect upon the incarnation of our Lord, and we could, going into the Old Testament, we could go any number of hundreds of different directions because we have so many puzzle pieces. So we can look on any one of them or any combination of them and go in different directions. Like we could talk about the place of His birth or the prophecies of His birth or His life or His miracles or prophecies regarding His disciples and then being betrayed and His crucifixion and ultimately His resurrection and His ascension and His return for the kingdom and the establishment of the kingdom and what the kingdom will look like and how it’s tied in with everything else. We could go a myriad of different directions, but instead I’ve chosen to focus today and next week on two different types of prophecies or predictions. Today, those that demonstrate the humanity of the coming Redeemer, and then next week, those that demonstrate the deity of the coming Redeemer. So the title for today’s sermon is the humanity of the Son of God. Next week the deity of the Son of David. See what I did there? The humanity of the Son of David. That’s one of the most brilliant series of titles I’ve ever come up with. It’s only two in a row, I couldn’t do three in a row, but I thought that was good.
Today, the humanity of the Son of God. Now why the humanity? Isn’t that a given? I mean, we are actually talking about the birth—from a virgin—the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. He had a name. He had an adopted earthly father. He had a human mother, a real, literal physical birth into this realm. We know that He lived for thirty years. He had friends. He had a human body. Why would we focus upon the humanity of Christ? A couple of different reasons.
First, this may strike you as surprising or shocking, but there have been heresies that have cropped up in the history of the Christian church that denied the humanity of the Lord Jesus. They denied the humanity of Christ. Now there are heresies that deny the deity of Christ as well, but there are heresies that deny the full humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. So we want to make sure that, as we talk about who it is that was born and what He has done, that we’re giving proper attention, proper consideration to the nature and the reality of His humanity.
Second, without the humanity of Jesus, salvation is impossible. And it is important to understand this. Without the humanity of Jesus, if you do not affirm a fully human Person in the Lord Jesus Christ with a fully human nature, not sinful nature, but fully human nature, then salvation is impossible. The fall, which we looked at last week, ruined the first Adam and all who came from him and brought a curse upon creation. And Adam acted in the garden as our representative, which is why his fall in the garden is imputed to us. This is Romans chapter 5. And so we are all therefore under Adam, and we die because of his act of disobedience. Now if you think that that is unjust and unfair that somebody that you’ve never met, never talked to, acted as your representative in the garden, then you have to be consistent and say that it’s unfair that somebody who you’ve never met and never encountered acts as your representative on the cross. This is the way that God has saved us.
We have a representative in the garden, and if you think you would have done better than Adam, I have news for you, you would have done no better than Adam. Given all of the details on the ground, you would have fallen and sinned against God in the exact same way that Adam does, which is why he could act as your representative because you would have done the same thing. If you were Adam in the garden, we would all be blaming you today for what you did to this perfect creation.
Second, we needed a man to act on our behalf because that first Adam acted on our behalf. We needed a man who would act on our behalf, who would then be the head of a new humanity, one who could represent us before God as fully man, just as Adam represented us in the garden. We needed one to represent us to do what we could not do by virtue of our fallenness and our inabilities, one to do that and act as our representative. And he had to be fully man. ”It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4), and it was impossible for the righteous life of a goat or a sheep or an ox to be credited to your account. I needed somebody who could fulfill all of the demands of God’s law on my behalf so that when I stand in the presence of God, He can look at me, Jim Osman, who has never been able to keep any of His law, and say that in the accounting books of God, that law is completely fulfilled. Not because I have kept it, but because somebody else has kept it in my place. And His perfect obedience and His righteous life is credited to my account like a bank transaction. And all of my sin is credited to His account like a bank transaction. So He gets our sin, we get His righteousness, and we could not get His righteousness if He was not a perfect man who fulfilled all the demands of God’s law. Charles Hodge, in his three-volume series called Systematic Theology, writes this:
God as God, the eternal Logos, could neither be nor do what our necessities demand. Much less could any mere man, however wise, holy, or benevolent, meet the wants of our souls. It is only a Saviour who is both God and man in two distinct natures and one person forever, who is all we need and all we can desire. As God He is ever present, almighty and infinite in all [H]is resources to save and bless; and as man, or being also a man, He can be touched with a sense of our infirmities, was tempted as we are, was subject to the law which we violated, and endured the penalty which we had incurred. (Vol. 2, p. 396)
See, He represents us. He acts on our behalf in everything He did. It is entirely appropriate to say that the Lord Jesus Christ died as my substitute. But that is only half of what you need for salvation. I need one to live as my substitute, to pray and to obey and to be perfect as my substitute. Because I have not only a sin problem that needs to be washed away, I have a righteousness deficit that is like a deep, dark black hole that needs to be filled to glory’s level. I lack righteousness, and I have a heaping helping of sin. The sin has to be taken away, and the righteousness issue has to be solved. Therefore I need one who can not only die in my place, but one who can live in my place.
And the third reason we’re studying the humanity of Christ is because it’s just to me simply amazing. It wouldn’t shock us if God shows up in His creation as God. That’s not a shocking thing. God shows up as God. In glory, in splendor, in majesty, with bright lights and angels surrounding Him. If God were to show up and enter His creation as God, that would not shock us at all. That’s actually what we would expect. We would expect that very thing. But if God shows up and enters His creation taking the form of a servant and coming in the likeness of men, and He lays aside the prerogatives of His deity and leaves Heaven with the worship of angels and the worship of saints, and He takes upon Himself human flesh in all of the weaknesses, not sinful proclivities but all of the weaknesses of human flesh, so that He might know that frailty, and then unites Himself with that redeemed humanity by assuming that nature, and then lives as a creature in His creation to come not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many, and then to die at the hands of that rebellious creation all while rendering perfect obedience as their representative, and to serve that creation by living and dying at the hands of the rebels in that creation, that is magnificent. That is glorious.
For God to enter His creation is God, that’s what we’d expect. For God to take upon Himself humanity and to live with our weaknesses, to know them, to know what it is to be hungry and thirsty and tired and betrayed and abandoned and lonely and unfulfilled, to know what those are, to deal with all of the limitations of humanity that do not involve sin, and to be tempted in every way as you and I are, and yet to render in this creation which has already fallen an obedience that Adam in an unfallen creation did not render, that is magnificent. That is what makes Him such a stunning Savior.
So let’s give our attention to the fact of His humanity as promised in the Old Testament. And we’re going to look today at three different indications of His humanity, the promised Messiah’s humanity. We’re going to look at His lineage, His servant suffering, and then His reign. His lineage, His suffering, and His reign. And I promised you last week we’re going to look at a number of different passages, and we’re going to do that today starting with Genesis chapter 12. So turn in your Bibles to Genesis chapter 12.
We’re going to begin with the lineage of the Messiah. It’s important to begin with the lineage because before anybody can claim to be the Messiah, the son of David, he has to be able to trace his lineage back through a certain family tree, a certain family line. This is why, by the way, Matthew and Luke both give us genealogies of Jesus. Those are there in order for them to demonstrate the messianic credentials of this One whom they are saying is the Messiah. Anybody could step onto the scene and say, “Oh, so-and-so, he’s the Messiah.” But unless you could trace his lineage back through a certain family line all the way back, in Luke’s case, to creation itself, to Eve, and in Matthew’s case, all the way back through to David—unless you could trace that back, you could have no credible claim to be the Messiah.
So Genesis chapter 12. Now we looked last week at chapter 3, and keep in mind that as we fast-forward now nine chapters in the book of Genesis, we’re fast-forwarding through about two thousand years of human history. So this is after the flood when all of humanity has been wiped out save Noah and his three sons and their wives, so eight people on board the ark. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. And you might then be able to say, OK, well, after the flood obviously we have narrowed down the lineage through which this Messiah would come. It has to come all the way back through Noah. That’s true. But Noah has three sons, and as you might expect, they had lots of children and began to fill the earth back relatively quickly.
But in Genesis chapter 12, actually at the end of chapter 11, we get the lineage from Noah through Shem and all the way down to Abraham. Genesis chapter 12:1–3—and we looked at some of these passages in connection with tracing the promises of land and seed, etc. in the book of Hebrews. Chapter 12, now we get an indication that God has chosen one man through whom to bring this promised seed of the woman. Verse 1:
1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you;
2 and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing;
3 and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen. 12:1–3 NASB)
So now you see some details added to the promise that we looked at last week in chapter 3. Now we see the details. This is going to come obviously from Eve through Noah, through Shem, and now Abraham. Abraham is chosen out of all of the millions of people who would have existed on the earth in those days. Abraham himself is chosen, and now this promise of a great blessing is narrowed down to Abraham’s line. Abraham is chosen to be the father of a nation. And later on we would read that Abraham would become the father of kings. And that’s a significant addition to the promises to Abraham.
But Abraham ended up having two sons, one the son of a bondwoman and one the son of a free woman. Abraham tried to fulfill the promises by himself, because his wife was barren at the time, by taking Sarah’s handmaid and having a child with her, siring a child through her. And that was Ishmael. Ishmael was Abraham’s firstborn, but he was not the one through whom the Messiah would come. So now even today you have the descendants of Ishmael, which is a lot of the Arab races and nations, and you have the descendants of Isaac—I’ve got a bunch of names I’ve got to keep straight here—Isaac, which is the Jewish descendants. And so it’s not going to be this other half of humanity through Abraham, the Ishmaelites, it’s going to come through Isaac, Abraham’s son Isaac. And that’s reiterated in Genesis 17:19: “God said, ‘No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant [that one that we just read in Genesis 12] with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” Now, Ishmael, God would bless, but Isaac would be the one through whom this promise would continue and be given.
Isaac ended up taking Rebecca, and she was found pregnant with two sons. So now we have to say, OK, so which one of these sons is it going to come to? But God chose Jacob over Esau even though Esau was the firstborn. Genesis 25:23, and you can continue to follow along if you want because we’re not going back to Genesis 12. We left that in the dust. Genesis 25:23: “The Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples will be separated from your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger.” Of course we saw in Hebrews how that promise was fulfilled through the deception and sin of almost every person in that family. This promise is later confirmed when God changes his name to Israel. Genesis 35:11: “God also said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come forth from you. The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give to you, and I will give the land to your descendants after you.” So from Eve through Noah to Shem to Abraham to Isaac to Jacob.
But then Jacob has twelve sons. We’ve got to narrow it down even further now, don’t we? And God does that very thing later on at the end of the book of Genesis. And by the way, the author of Genesis is tracing this theme all the way through it. He’s not just telling a story. “Oh yeah, and this happened. Let me scratch my head. Oh yeah, and this happened. Oh, you’re never going to believe this. This was crazy. This happened as well.” That’s not how the biblical authors wrote. Moses is tracing what started in Genesis 3 all the way through the book of Genesis. And more and more details. Oh, it’s going to be a nation. It’s going to be Abraham’s descendants. Not just Abraham’s descendants, but Isaac particularly. Not just Isaac, but Jacob. And then what happens is that family ends up going down to Egypt, and they’re taken out of the land.
And it’s the end of the book of Genesis that now we’re given yet another detail. Genesis 49. This is Jacob in Egypt with his twelve sons gathered around his deathbed. And he begins to bless them, and I want you to look particularly at the blessing that is given to the tribe of Judah in verse 8. Now verses 8–12 is the blessing that is given to Judah and to his descendants. And there are details here regarding his strength and his prosperity and other things regarding his character, but I don’t want you to focus in on that so much as verse 10. Look at what he has promised. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the people.” Now Judah is promised strength and preeminence within the nation and among Jacob’s sons. And the promise here that was given to Abraham—“kings shall come forth from you”—that promise is now reiterated in verse 10. You notice the reference to the scepter. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah.”
Notice the reference to “the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh,” and that word is kind of transliterated there. The word Shiloh means “the one whose it is” or “the one to whom it belongs.” That’s what that word means. So it is a name or a title, but also that title means “the one to whom it belongs.” Now notice again—let’s insert that in verse 10. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until [the one to whom it belongs] . . .” To whom what belongs? The staff, the scepter. There’s One coming, Judah is told, from his tribe to whom the right to rule will be given, and He is the One to whom it belongs. It’s His right, it’s His rule, it’s His authority, and that would come from Judah. “And to Him shall be the obedience of all the peoples.”
So now you can see how this blessing that was promised to Abraham, the blessing to all the nations, now is going to come through Isaac and then to Jacob and then through particularly one of Jacob’s sons, Judah. He will be the one through whom this One comes, Shiloh, the One to whom the scepter, the ruler’s staff belongs, and to Him it shall be given, and to Him all of the obedience of the peoples will be rendered. All people will confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father and admit that and bow the knee.
Then we have to fast-forward another five hundred years to David. And this is the last one I want you to look at. Well, you don’t have to look. I’m going to read it to you. Second Samuel 7, David is a descendant of the tribe of Judah. Second Samuel 7:12:
12 When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, [and here’s a promise that God is giving to David] I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,
15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever. (2 Sam. 7:12–16 NASB)
Now, some of that promise that God gives to David in that passage is spoken about and fulfilled by specifically Solomon. But some of that promise is not fulfilled by Solomon. For instance, Solomon is not going to take the throne and rule forever. Solomon is dead, and he has been for a number of years now. So some of this is fulfilled by Solomon. It’s true that when he sins, he would be corrected. But some of this is fulfilled by One who would come through David, through Solomon’s line, who would ultimately fulfill the entire Davidic covenant. All of the promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and now to David. There is coming a king now from David’s line.
So we go from Abraham, which of the two, to Isaac, which of the two, to Jacob, which of the twelve, to Judah. Of all of Judah’s descendants, which one, through whom would the Messiah come? It would be through David’s line. And not specifically just David, but David and Solomon, because David had many sons. So now we’re starting to fill in. Do you see how we’re putting pieces of the puzzle together as to who this One would be who would rule the nations? Now we’re starting to get a more complete picture. So that is His lineage. He is obviously a man. We see this in His lineage. He is the promised Son of David.
Now notice, second, the suffering service of the Messiah demonstrates His humanity. And for this I would like you to turn over to Isaiah. Isaiah 42. You say, this sounds familiar, Isaiah 42. It’s because during the worship, Josh read this passage that I had planned to read to you. But we’ll read it again. Isaiah 42. Now when we turn forward to Isaiah 42, we’re fast-forwarding roughly, and these are all rough numbers, but around three hundred more years. We’ve come now forward 2,800 years from the time of Abraham. Isaiah is writing before the fall of the southern kingdom, The Kingdom of Judah, named after, obviously, Judah. He’s writing right before the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah.
And Isaiah is contrasting two things. The disobedience of the nation of Israel that resulted in the fall of that kingdom and the destruction of the Davidic monarchy for that time, the end of that, the destruction of that kingdom—the disobedience of the people had led to that and to eventually their exile in the land of Babylon and the discipline that would take place upon them for all of that period of time. He’s contrasting the disobedience of the nation with One who would come whose obedience would be perfect. And whereas the nation of Israel was called to be a light to the Gentiles and to preach the good news to them and to demonstrate the character and the grace and the salvation of Yahweh to a watching world, Israel failed to do that and they failed to do it miserably.
They failed to obey the covenant. They failed to keep the law. They failed to do everything that God gave them to do in that covenant. But One would come who is a Servant of Yahweh who would do everything that the nation of Israel failed to do. This Servant would in fact be a light to the Gentile nations. He would in fact bring the Gentiles to Himself. He would in fact obey the entire law and keep all of the stipulations and demands of the covenant that the nation of Israel had failed to keep.
So Isaiah is contrasting now these two things: the failed servant of Yahweh, the nation of Israel, and the successful perfect obedience Servant of Yahweh, whom we know to be the Lord Jesus Christ. And so you have starting in Isaiah 42 this series of songs laid out. They’re called servant songs, where the glories of this Servant and the work of this perfect Servant who would obey the law is described. Isaiah 42, beginning in verse 1:
1 “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street.
3 A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”
5 Thus says God the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and its offspring, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it,
6 “I am the Lord, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations,
7 to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.
8 I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images. (Isa. 42:1–8 NASB)
That is the description of the Servant of the Lord who would fulfill all of His word.
Then you have other servant songs throughout Isaiah, 49:1–13, 50:4–10, and it all kind of culminates in the ultimate act of obedience by this Servant with the greatest of the servant songs, starting in Isaiah 52. Turn there. Beginning at verse 13, and here I want to remind you of what we looked at last week that we saw in Genesis 3:15, the suffering of the seed of the woman, that His heel would be bruised. And here is Isaiah’s description of that bruising of this Servant. Isaiah 52:13:
13 Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people, so His appearance was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men.
15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand.
53:1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 [And look at the humanity that is described to this Servant, beginning in verse 2 of chapter 53] For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3 He was despised and forsaken of man, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 [And look at the suffering that is going to be described, and I want you to notice that He is doing all of this for someone else, acting as their representative as a man] Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. (Isa. 52:13–53:5 NASB)
That is the language of substitutionary atonement in verse 5. He did this not because of His own sin. He did this and suffered this for the sins of others. Our iniquities, our transgressions, He died in our stead, pierced for us, crushed for us, chastened for us, scourged for us.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
8 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 for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? (Isa. 53:6–8 NASB)
Who deserved that stroke? You did. And I did. And He was cut off out of the land of the living for God’s people, to whom that stroke was due. We deserve to die that death on the cross. That’s the reality. I deserve that suffering. And He bore it.
Verse 9: “His grave was assigned with wicked men [that is, He died with common thieves], yet He was with a rich man in His death [buried in a rich man’s tomb], because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.” Remember, He’s the Servant who does all Yahweh’s bidding. He’s perfectly righteous. He fulfills the law. So He’s not suffering and dying as a lawbreaker who deserves this punishment. No, no, He is entirely undeserving of it, Isaiah says. There’s no deceit in His mouth.
10 But the Lord [Yahweh] was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days [this is the resurrection; it’s not the end for this One who is crushed here in this passage], and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. (Isa. 53:10–11 NASB)
Second Corinthians 5:21: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (NKJV). You know how you would say that if you were Isaiah? It’s verse 11: “As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many.” He will declare them righteous and make them righteous, make them the righteous ones. Why? Because, verse 11, “He will bear their iniquities.” “Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12).
He’s marred more than any other man. He grows up before the Lord. He has a normal appearance like that of any other man. He would be despised. He would be rejected. He would suffer, not for His own sins but for the sins of others, and offer Himself as a substitutionary sacrifice on behalf of the ones who deserved this brutality themselves. He would be pierced and crushed and chastened, oppressed and afflicted, cut off from the land of the living, dying with wicked men and buried in a rich man’s tomb. This perfect Servant who did no wrong and obeyed Yahweh completely and perfectly in all things would suffer and die like the ones who deserved that suffering and death. He would die that suffering and die that death, and He would do it for the transgressions of His own people. He obeyed what was required of us, He fulfilled the demands of the law on our behalf, and then He suffered the punishment that we deserved, dying to pay the penalty that you and I owed for our sin.
That demonstrates His humanity. He is able to do what the blood of bulls and goats cannot do because He is fully man, He is able to take away sin because He had no sin of His own, and He is able to give righteousness to those who need righteousness because there was no deceit ever found in His mouth. He never did anything wrong. He is the Servant of Yahweh who perfectly obeyed the stipulations of the covenant, fulfilled them on our behalf, and then died the death that you and I deserved on our behalf so that He might take our sin and give us His righteousness. That is the greatest exchange that has ever taken place. And He did this on behalf of an untold and innumerable multitude of men and women from every tribe and tongue and kindred and nation on the face of the planet. An innumerable host of those who have recognized their sin, repented of it, and placed their faith in this One who died in their stead. That demonstrates His humanity.
And third, the reign of the Messiah shows His humanity. To keep this simple, stay in Isaiah and just go back to chapter 9, verses 6 and 7. And we’re going to be back here next week looking at the deity of the Messiah as well. But for today, His humanity here in Isaiah 9:6–7. This describes His reign. Remember, Abraham was promised that kings would come from him. Isaac was promised that kings would come from him—or Jacob. Jacob was promised that kings would come from him. Then Jacob’s son Judah was promised that One would come from his tribe to whom that scepter was due. And then David had that promise reiterated to him—“David, it’s your line. A descendant of yours will come. He will be the One who will establish your kingdom and rule and reign forever.”
And now three hundred years after David, Isaiah 9:6: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” This is not to say that it is the Father in terms of the Fatherhood or the Father God who is incarnated. That term Father of Eternity—we’ll look at more at this next week—it doesn’t mean “eternal Father” so much as it means “the Father of Eternity,” the One from whom eternity flows.
Verse 7: “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”
A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, that is His full humanity, and His rule, His reign, is described in verse 6—“the government will rest on His shoulders.” So just as Judah was promised that a scepter would never depart from this descendant, and just as Judah was promised that the ruler’s staff would be given to one of his descendants, so it is now that Isaiah is telling us that one would come from David’s line upon whom the government would rest, upon His shoulders. Now that’s simply an idiom or a figure of speech that described having or donning the right to rule. So a king had a robe, and the one upon whom’s shoulders the robe rested was the one who had the authority of the kingdom. And if the king wanted to delegate or give his authority to another, he would take off that kingly robe and put it upon the shoulders of another who would act in his stead. And what Isaiah is describing here is one upon whose shoulders the kingdom, a government, would rest. It’s a figure of speech. This is not merely a spiritual or an allegorical robe, nor is it a spiritual or allegorical kingdom. We’re talking about a literal government, which is why Isaiah describes it as a government that would rest upon his shoulders. It is a government.
Look at verse 7: “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.” That phrase justice and righteousness, it comes out of the—it’s similar to the phrase in Psalm 89, which describes the Davidic covenant, where it talks about justice and righteousness being the foundation of God’s throne. This Messiah will rule in the place of God over the entire world. He will sit on David’s throne. He will establish David’s kingdom, and He will rule and reign over it forever. Second Samuel 7:16—you remember what the Lord promised David? “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” Justice and righteousness will be done in His kingdom when He takes that authority and establishes that kingdom and sets up the monarchy of David over the house of Israel just as was promised to David, just as was promised to Solomon, just as Isaiah promised. That in itself is going to happen. The promised Son, the man Christ Jesus, who is a descendant of David, will rule over David’s throne.
Other passages of Scripture describe this same rule and Kingdom, and we don’t have time to go into all of them.
Jeremiah 33:15: “In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.”
Verses 17–18 of that passage says, “David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.”
Verse 19–21 of that passage says, “The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne.”
Psalm 89:4: “I will establish your seed forever and build up your throne to all generations.”
Psalm 89:36–37: “His descendants [that is, David’s] shall endure forever and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established forever like the moon, and the witness of the sky is faithful.”
Now that hasn’t happened, has it? There’s no monarchy in the land of Israel. There’s no king there sitting over David’s throne even to this day. And you may look at the nation of Israel and its current political turmoil and state with all of its immorality and secular leanings and say to yourself, How in the world can that ever possibly happen? And don’t we know that at the end of the Old Testament era, about a hundred years before the end of the Old Testament time period, that that monarchy was destroyed? But keep in mind, God did not promise David an unending monarchy that he was sitting over. He promised David an unending kingly line. And when that King who fulfills all those promises establishes that kingdom, that kingdom will be known as David’s kingdom, for the Son of David will rule the house of Israel in fulfillment to the promises given to David, and that rule and that kingdom will go on forever and ever and ever. By my theology, for a thousand years in this world and then forever in the new heavens and the new earth when the capital city of that Davidic kingdom moves from this creation into the new creation, that kingdom will not experience a blip or a hiccup or nothing. It will continue on, that King ruling and reigning forever and ever just as was promised.
You say, How is that possible? That He could establish that kingdom in this world over this creation in the current nation of Israel with its current state? The answer to that is very simple. There are a lot of things that are going to happen to the nation of Israel that are going to prepare them for that King that is still to come. And the answer to it is in Isaiah 9:7: “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” We’re not going to bring it in. We’re not going to make it happen. Nothing that we are going to do is going to establish this kingdom. This kingdom, this government, this rule, this reign that is described by Isaiah, it is the zeal of the Lord of hosts that will accomplish this.
And He will accomplish this in spite of all of His enemies all over the world, in spite of every nation on the planet, and everything, all the schemes of men, and all the designs of the wicked. In spite of all of that, He will establish this kingdom. The rulers of the earth take their stand against the Lord and against His anointed, and they say, “We’ll cast off His fetters, we’ll undo His chains, we’re going to do our own thing.” And God laughs. And then God says, “I’ve established My King on Zion” (see Ps. 2:2–6). The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
So His lineage, His suffering, and then His rule all demonstrate His humanity. The birth of Christ was the fulfillment of promises made by God over centuries. This is key. For four thousand years, people waited. People waited. Every generation could say, “Maybe in our day this will be fulfilled. Maybe in our day. May this One, this Deliverer, this Redeemer come in our time, that we may see Him, that we may behold Him.” This is why when Mary and Joseph came to the temple to present Jesus after He was circumcised, it was Simeon who came in and said, “My eyes now have seen that One. Now I have got to behold this. This is the long-expected Jesus. This is the promised Messiah. This is the One who would come and fulfill everything spoken to all of our fathers.” And very few people alive at the time even had the eyes to see that and even had their hearts opened enough to know what was going on. Very few. But in every generation there was a remnant who said, “Maybe in our day.”
No promise of God has ever failed yet, and no promise of His will ever fail. He will fulfill all of them just as He has promised. Galatians 4:4–5: “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, [and that you and I] that we might receive the adoption as sons.”