10 But the LORD 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,
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.
– Isaiah 53:10-11 NASB
Now that Christmas and New Years are over, I can stop feeling the pressure to have some insightful new twist on Christmas and why resolutions are bad, and get back to writing whatever I want to write. I’ve been sitting on this one for a few weeks now, and it pleases me to share it!
He was pleased
The verses we are focusing on in this post are the central beating heart of the famous Isaiah 53 passage. I want to start by looking at this: The Lord was pleased to crush Him. He was not hesitant, and He was not regretful. He did not have mixed feelings about this. He was not dutiful, and no one forced His hand. He was pleased. It was His good pleasure that did this. He was glad for it. He received satisfaction for it. It is important that we do not water this down or read our own weakness of heart into this.
This would be great if we were talking about God making flowers and puppies. But we are talking about something monstrous – the crushing and putting to grief of the Messiah, the Righteous One, His Servant, Jesus Christ the Son of God! Notice that there is a physical aspect to His suffering: He was crushed. Notice also that there is an emotional aspect to His suffering: He was put to grief. He did not just suffer physically while He was inwardly triumphant. There was an inner despondency that was part of the suffering that pleased God. The whole package pleased Him. We want God to have some hesitation or at least some sense of duty about this – that He would rather not but that He and Jesus soldiered on and did this thing that they really in their hearts did not want to do.
Why was He pleased?
And why was He pleased to crush Him? Is God a sadistic monster who takes pleasure in suffering? It spells it out in this very verse. He was pleased because He rendered Himself as a guilt offering. What does this mean?
the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; culpability:
He admitted his guilt.
a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.
Usually we hear that He was pleased because He was looking forward to our redemption, to the restoration of our relationship with God. I don’t necessarily disagree with that, but I don’t think that is the primary truth here.
The world is filled with guilt and evil. Injustice abounds. Children die of cancer. Powerful and rich men trample upon the rights of others and get away with it. Good men die in war. Children are made orphans and neglected. Women are abused. Sensitive young boys are ridiculed and put down. We are eaten up with destructive addictions. We destroy our most precious relationships for the dumbest and most selfish reasons. We take the most powerfully beautiful things, such as human love and sexuality, and make them into a cheap cruel destructive horror.
We live lives of astounding sinfulness and foolishness and then we have the audacity to ask God why He caused it! And God looks down with immense love and compassion, and He hates it! He hates it all! He wants to say, with all of His heart and all of His power and all of His brilliance that this is not what He wants. He can’t stand it! He hates giving you your freedom and seeing you squander it away in sin and selfishness and destructiveness! The cross of Christ is the finger of God, not merely writing in stone, but writing in His own flesh with His own blood, the words: I hate this! In my great love for you, I hate all of your sin. Every tiny molecule of it. People think God lets these things go, He just watches idly from heaven while we suffer. Actually, He lets us have our autonomy, even though we use it for evil. But He was pleased to express His great and intense wrath. He was pleased to say through the cross of Christ, with a definitive and substantive statement, that evil is evil and that He stands for justice.
And so, yes, He is pleased to crush Him. He is pleased to see His Son render Himself as a guilt offering. His wrath is real and He doesn’t have the slightest hesitation about expressing it with pleasure. It is God’s pleasure and delight to uphold justice without sentencing us all to eternal hell. He could not say it louder: all the sin others have committed against you has been hugely denounced. All the sins you have committed against yourself and against others and against God have been hugely denounced. The right and beautiful and perfect and holy love and wrath of God has been demonstrated from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Romans 1:18).