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The Crush of Delight

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God was delighted to crush the Son

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Delight, chapter 9: Jesus, obedience, and suffering

We are currently in our series on Delight… looking at all the ways that Delight is mentioned in the Bible. And we’re asking the question… what does Delight have to do with following Jesus? What does Delight have to do with Jesus’ love for us?

Isaiah’s Bright Light

Our text this morning just may be one of the hardest texts in all of the Bible. And when we say hardest, we’re not talking about difficulty in understanding. I think we know perfectly well what is being said. When we say “hardest” text in all of the Bible, this is one of those texts that for us, is very hard to accept. It’s hard enough talking about how to Delight in suffering. And there are plenty of instances in the Bible where suffering and delight are mentioned in the same sentence. But Isaiah takes it a step further. There’s no putting a soft pillow over the jagged edges of what Isaiah is saying. This is Isaiah taking a huge bright light into a dark alley and exposing our discomfort. This is Isaiah taking a loudspeaker to our attempt to whisper in quiet tones. This is Isaiah taking us by the collar and saying, “Look at this. Stop looking away. Look at this. Look at what you’ve done.”

Isaiah’s Context

This shocking statement occurs in one of the most famous sermons ever delivered before Jesus was born. Isaiah chapter 53 talks about sheep going astray, and says “by his wounds we are healed.” Almost 700 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah is talking about how Jesus would die. No text in the Old Testament has more to say about Jesus and his death than Isaiah 53. But Isaiah isn’t simply talking randomly about some future hope for Israel. He’s speaking to a people who aren’t listening. Israel’s kingdom is in its last days. Kings David and Solomon are distant memories. The glory of Israel is fading. They are no longer a world power. They are pushovers. They are weak. And they have abandoned the one true God. The God who saved them hundreds of years before, leading them through the Red Sea and into the Promised Land.

Babylon is Coming

Isaiah tells them that their Promised Land will be taken away from them. And they will end up in a land far, far away… a place called Babylon. Judgment is coming. Babylon will not play nice. Babylon will be a world power. And Israel will not escape the horror show. But there is hope. At some point in the future there will be One that God will send. Throughout the book of Isaiah, this hope is known as the Suffering Servant. Isaiah 53 is a big reason why this hope is called the suffering servant. Their hope won’t be the typical hope. Babylon has a big, bad king. Israel’s hope isn’t going to be a champion all decorated in glory. Israel’s hope is in a lowly servant. And this servant isn’t going to establish a rule, the way the normal champion would establish justice.
In fact, just like Isaiah’s audience is rejecting Isaiah’s message, when this servant comes, he’s going to get the same reception as Isaiah has received.

All the suffering of the Servant

This is what Isaiah 53 has to say about the Servant who is coming to bring justice and peace and healing:
He didn’t have an impressive form
He was despised and rejected by men,
He was a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;
he was despised
He was struck down by God
He was afflicted.
He was pierced
He was crushed
He bore our sicknesses
He carried our pains
He was punished
He was oppressed and afflicted,
He was taken away because of oppression and judgment,
He was cut off from the land of the living;
He was struck
He was assigned a grave with the wicked
If you have been following allow with the story of Isaiah… and you’re one who has been listening to Isaiah talk about impending doom, when you hear these words, there’s a bit of a double take. For starters, the language here, to this point, is about what Babylon will eventually do to Israel: Despised. Rejected. Struck down. Crushed. Punished. Oppressed. Cut off. That’s the doom that awaits Israel. You’ve been hearing this language applied to you. This is your doom.
But then Isaiah starts talking about this servant who is coming who is going to provide healing and rest and peace and hope. And now all this doom language is being applied to Israel’s hope. That’s a bit of a shocker, and it’s a bit of a downer. The audience, who already doesn’t care for Isaiah all that much is thinking, “Oh really? That’s Israel’s champion? Not exactly the stuff of legend. If that’s the One who is coming to take his place on the throne of King David forever, that doesn’t look like much. That’s suffering. Horrific suffering.

The reason for the suffering and death of the Servant

But there’s a reason why there is so much suffering for the servant. The suffering of the servant is caused by the very people who refused to listen to Isaiah. This is the champion they need. But it’s not just those who refuse to listen. Isaiah changes the pronouns. He’s no longer talking about the suffering of the servant for the people of Israel. He includes himself. He counts himself among those who need this kind of suffering servant. Why? Here’s why the servant will suffer at some point in the future:
for the iniquity of us all.
because of our iniquities;
because of our rebellion,
because of my people’s rebellion.
Two words dominate the cause. Iniquity or sin. And rebellion. The servant suffers, not because of his own sin. He is not like those listening to Isaiah who are facing judgment because they decided they didn’t need God anymore. This servant suffers as an innocent. He is a sheep. An innocent sheep who has done no wrong. Yet he suffers because of Israel’s sin. Because of Israel’s rebellion. Time and time again, Israel has broken the 10 commandments, often in very public ways. They worship idols, literal idols that have been crafted with wood. They don’t need God. They don’t want God. And their champion comes to suffer because of all that sin. Because of that rebellion. But more than that… because of all rebellion. Isaiah numbers himself among those who are in need of a suffering servant who suffers and dies because of sin and rebellion. Isaiah knows that all have sinned. All have rebelled against God.
The language here is universal. It pulls in not just the people, not just Isaiah, but all of mankind. For all time. You get the idea listening to Isaiah that there’s more going on than simply time has run out on Israel and they are about to lose their kingdom. The suffering is great. The sin is great. This goes beyond Israel to the whole world. The suffering of the servant being sent by God to bring peace and healing involves being crushed. That word is used twice in Isaiah 53. If Israel has been paying attention, that word crushed takes them back to the very first sin. The very first rebellion. Adam and Eve. They rebel. They sin. They too are kicked out of their promised land, the garden of Eden. And God tells them that someday, he’s going to come and fix the sin problem himself. The offspring of Eve, that Promised One, in fixing the sin problem will be bruised by the devil, but the devil will be crushed. This servant who is suffering in Isaiah, isn’t coming just for the rebellious Israelites facing doomsday from Babylon. He’s coming and suffering for all who are rebellious and facing a doomsday with God.

The result of the suffering and death of the Servant

In the middle of all of this, there’s one phrase that stands out. It’s the hope for us all. The Servant suffers because all are sinners and rebellious. But the result of the suffering and death of the servant is the salvation that has been promised all along… throughout Isaiah and the rest of the Old Testament. Here it is:
We are healed by his wounds.
Because the Servant was crushed, because the Servant was punished, there is salvation for the rebellious. There is salvation for the sinner. Healing. Spiritual healing. The healing of the soul. The sinner’s biggest need is to have his or her sins forgiven. And that’s what the suffering and death of the Servant accomplishes. He did it all for those who are sinners. That’s the hope for Israel. That’s the hope for Isaiah. That’s the hope for every sinner who has ever been born. The Servant suffers and dies for the salvation of His people.

The Delight of the Father

All of this leads into our main passage today. One of the main points made by Isaiah in talking about the suffering of the Servant, is that this work of salvation is all God’s doing. This isn’t anything done by humans. Humans cannot accomplish the salvation. In fact, they cannot, really account for the suffering, even though rebellion and the sin are the cause. Isaiah makes a couple of interesting statements. Even though the Servant is despised and rejected of men, the ultimate cause of the suffering and death is much higher and broader than rebellious humans:
He was struck down by God
The Lord has punished him
Huh. God struck the servant down. God punished the Servant. The ultimate cause for all of this isn’t humans. It’s not the devil. Although humans and the devil all played a role in the suffering of the Servant. Ultimately this is God’s doing. Only God can fix the sin problem. Only God can fix the problem of rebellion. Only God can accomplish salvation on behalf of rebellious sinners. So the Servant is struck down and punished by God, not for his sins, but the sins of the people.
This, of course, all happened when Jesus died on the cross. Jesus died for our sins. But he suffered greatly. He was crushed. He was punished. He was despised and rejected. All because of our sin and rebellion. God punished Jesus instead of punishing us.
But Isaiah takes it one step further. And this is where our Delight comes in. Isaiah says this in Isaiah 53:10
Isaiah 53:10 (CSB)
Yet the Lord was pleased to crush him severely.
And then again in Isaiah 53:10
Isaiah 53:10 (CSB)
the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished.
It’s one thing to say that the suffering Servant was struck down by God and punished by God. It’s quite another to suggest that the LORD “was pleased” to crush the Servant severely and that the “pleasure of the LORD will be accomplished” in the suffering of the Servant. That word “pleased” is another word for “delight”. What’s interesting about that word is that it can also be translated “God’s will”. And throughout the Bible you have this interplay with God’s will and delight. God delights in being God and accomplishing his own will. Here, though, you have this word “pleased” or “delight” in the context of severe suffering for the Servant.
Is God some kind of sadist? Did the Father get some sort of sadistic pleasure in crushing the Son on the cross? Is God a masochist? This flies in the face of everything we’ve been taught about good and evil. In fact, there are those who read this and they do say it out loud… your God is a cosmic child abuser, delighting in crushing His own son. We label those kinds of people murderers and abusers. This takes the problem of suffering and puts it on another level. But the problem is that we throw labels around and the answer for this problem is found in the very passage we read. We can begin to think of God as some kind of monster if we rip this from its text and make it say things based on our view of the world. If there is no reason behind the pleasure of the Father in the death of the son, then our Christianity is very arbitrary. We begin to treat each other in severe ways. Punishment for sin becomes a cold fact. And all sorts of oppression are the result.
We have to keep reading.
There are two reasons the Father delights in the death of the son.
He will see his seed
He will prolong his days
He will see light and be satisfied
This is the resurrection. The New Testament writers picked up on this language. The Father Delights in crushing the Son, not just because there’s a death for sinners, but a rising again for the life of rebellious sinners. God’s Desirable delight is in seeing the Son die and rise again so that sinners can find forgiveness and salvation. The Servant will suffer severely, but the Servant will also see his seed… he will rise again and see sons and daughters become God’s children as a result of his work on the cross and rising from the grave.
The second reason the Father Delights in crushing the son has been mentioned already in this chapter:
My righteous Servant will justify many,
he will carry their iniquities.
What the Son does on behalf of sinners brings the Father great delight. The salvation of sinners who cannot help themselves brings the Father great delight. The death and resurrection of the Son results in the salvation of rebellious sinners who have no hope unless the Son dies and rises for them. Everything the Servant does in life, and death, and rising again, brings the Father much, much Delight. We cannot talk about the crushing in death here, without also talking about the rising from the dead.
And it’s not just the Father, but the Servant here. The LORD’s pleasure will be accomplished is also talking about the Son. The Servant Delights in the Father. He Delights in his suffering. Why? Because he is justifying many from their sins. He Delights in saving you and me from our sin. He Delighted in carrying our sin on the cross because that’s the kind of Savior he is… he Delights in giving grace and hope and forgiveness to sinners who do not deserve. The Father Delights in Crushing the Son. The Son Delights in bringing Delight to the Father in the salvation of sinners.
This suffering of the Son also informs our suffering. We have a lot of suffering. There’s been a lot of suffering in the last year and a half. Some of you have known deep suffering personally. Some of you are in the middle of suffering. One of Jesus’ best friends, Peter references this passage in Isaiah, saying the unjust suffering of the Servant on the cross is the reason we have hope in the middle of our own suffering. We have hope in our suffering because Jesus died. Jesus rose again. Jesus, as Isaiah says, saw light again. There is an end to our suffering. It won’t always be like this. Jesus promised and guaranteed it in his resurrection.

The Focus of Jesus’ Delight!

God is not a cosmic child abuser. The Father crushed the Son because you and I are sinners. People who talk this way undervalue the problem of sin. Sin is terrible evil against God. We have to have Jesus be crushed on our behalf if we have any hope of life and salvation and right standing with God. If Jesus is not crushed on our behalf, then we will be the ones crushed. Because that’s what our sin deserves. Instead, we’re given forgiveness and grace and life. We are the focus of Jesus’ Delight! And because we are the focus of His Delight, we Delight in Jesus. It’s reciprocal. We Delight by receiving His forgiveness in faith. We Delight in conforming our lives to His plan and His will. As He Delights in us, we Delight in Him. Jesus submission and Delight in the Father, becomes our submission and obedience to the Father. And when we fail, His Delight again rescues us and gives us forgiveness and peace.
Let’s Pray.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all worked in unison to accomplish our salvation. The Father Delighted in crushing the Son so that we can be forgiven. The Son Delighted in being crushed by the Father so that He could give us His life. This forgiveness at The Table is God’s Delight in us. And we receive that Delight in faith.
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