Isaiah 52:14
Whatever may be the immediate and historical reference of this term "servant," of this we may feel quite sure - the full reference must be to Messiah, and to the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah. Now, it is certainly singular that no trustworthy traces of the appearance of our Lord have come down to us. Everybody may imagine for himself what were the features and expression of his Divine Master; and it is better that our free imaginations should have no limitations to the representation of any artistic genius. We remember in an exhibition observing a number of paintings of the thorn-crowned head. The faces of our Lord precisely differed according as the artist was Spanish, Italian, or English, or had made the uncertain attempt of creating a face of Jewish type. All that Scripture asserts is that, so far as face and form were concerned, there was nothing arresting about Christ; you might have passed him by as a common man. It is even suggested that, as with his servant Paul, men might have rudely said that his "bodily presence was contemptible." Dean Plumptre remarks, "These words (of ver. 14) conflict strangely with the type of pure and holy beauty with which Christian art has made us familiar as its ideal of the Son of man. It has to be noted, however, that the earlier forms of that art, prior to the time of Constantine, and, in some cases, later, represented the Christ as worn, emaciated, with hardly any touch of earthly comeliness; and that it is at least possible that the beauty may have been of expression rather than of feature or complexion"

I. WHAT MESSIAH WAS - IN FACT. In no way striking. Not aristocratic-looking, or handsome, or big. Just a man, simple, undistinguished-looking. Dekker, one of our early English poets, says -

"The best of men that e'er wore earth about him was a sufferer,
A soft, meek, patient, humble, tranquil spirit,
The first true gentleman that ever breathed."

II. WHAT MESSIAH WAS - CONTRARY TO EXPECTATION. Jewish hopes fashion a hero-king, a patriot like Judas Maccabaeus, a restorer of David's line of kings. Instead, he was a simple Man, who lived a life; a Sufferer who bore a burden of peculiar sorrows; a Man who seemed to end his life in failure and shame.

III. WHY WAS MESSIAH THUS DIFFERENT TO ALL EXPECTATION OF HIM? Because men are so enslaved to the literal, the temporal, the earthly. There was nothing in the Man to attract, because God would have us feel the attractions of the Divine Saviour. - R.T.







As many were astonied at Thee.
I. THE UNEQUALLED ABASEMENT AND SORROW OF THE MESSIAH. Unequalled —

1. Because of the previous dignity from which He descended.

2. If we trace the various stages of His humiliation. Was He born? It was of no opulent parents. As He grew up he became the object of envy. When He sprang into youth, it was not to sway a sceptre or to govern millions, but to work with His reputed father. As He went on in His course He was exposed to the scoffs and malice of Jews and Gentiles, etc. Eye the Saviour's sufferings in what light you please, and you will find His sufferings were various as well as intense. He suffered as a man; from want — from fatigue — from poverty — from the crown of thorns placed on His head, etc. He suffered civilly, as a member of society. An insurrectionist and a murderer was preferred before Him. He suffered spiritually — from the thick volleys of fiery darts which were showered at Him, and from the hidings of His Father's countenance. And observe the associations which were likely to aggravate His sufferings. "They all forsook Him and fled."

3. Our Saviour's sufferings and woes derived additional poignancy and exquisiteness from the very character which He bare. "Many were astonied at Thee." The spectators were so, who smote upon their breasts, and returned, after having seen these things. Devils were astonished, when they saw how all the shafts of their malice recoiled. Angels were astonished as they ministered unto Him. So He is still a wonder unto many; and if He be not so to us, it is because of our criminal insensibility and indifference.

II. THE MOMENTOUS CONSEQUENCES BY WHICH HIS SUFFERINGS AND SORROWS WERE TO BE FOLLOWED. "So shall He sprinkle many nations." There is a direct reference to the various aspersions and ablutions under the law of Moses. These were of three kinds —

1. An aspersion of the blood of atonement once a year.

2. An aspersion of water on the unclean person, called the water of separation, by which a person was separated to a holy purpose.

3. An aspersion both of water and of blood on the leper, by which he was pronounced clean, and needed no longer to remain without the camp. Combine these ideas, and they will give the two grand designs of our Saviour's death — a propitiation, and a purification. And recollect that these two great and important ends of our Saviour's death must always be associated. Here we see their superiority over the legal aspersions.

(J. Clayton, ,M.A.)

I. THE ASTONISHMENT PRODUCED BY OUR SAVIOUR'S HUMILIATION.

1. "Many were astonied at Thee" — astonished, doubtless, at the disappointment of their expectations. They had looked for a second Joshua, who should march at their head, and lead them forth from victory to victory till all their enemies should have fallen beneath their feet. They had expected another son of Jesse, who should make the name of Israel terrible to surrounding nations. And when they saw the world's Redeemer, and found Him possessed of none of those external attributes which they deemed essential to His character, they were offended at Him, and their astonishment was that of indignation and bitter disappointment. "Is not this the carpenter's son?"

2. But our text goes on to describe some special causes of this astonishment. "His visage was so marred, more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men." Whilst further on the prophet adds, "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him." I do not believe that such expressions as these are intended to represent the person of the Saviour as naturally defective in comeliness or dignity, though they have been oftentimes so understood, for we may reasonably conclude that the form which God gave His own Son was one of the best and the most perfect, and that the features of His countenance were as expressive as human features could be of intelligence, of dignity, and of love. Yet there was a marvellous mixture of meekness with this intelligence, of abasement with this dignity, and of sorrow with this love. Never was there a countenance which so beamed with holiness; yet never was there one so deeply furrowed with the lines the curse had made. Unrepenting sinners, like the Jews of old, are to this day astonished "without" being benefited at. the sight, of the Redeemer's sufferings.

II. The text says, alluding to the ceremonial law, He shall sprinkle many nations," etc. We here perceive THE DIFFERENCE OF EFFECT produced by that astonishment which flows from contempt, and that which is produced by reverential regard for an object of infinite worth and dignity. The first opens the lips, and the latter seals them. The first accumulates epithets of scorn. But very different shall be the result of that wonder which shall fill the breast when the Saviour begins to give convincing proof of the greatness, and universality of His triumph.. "Kings shall then shut their mouths at Him." "Seeing the progress of His kingdom," says Vitrings, "they shall revoke their edicts against it, and thus shut their mouths at Him." The wonder shall then become too great for expression. Again, "That which had not been told them shall they see." The general ignorance which prevails amongst men, even the most noble and the most educated, on religious subjects, is oftentimes most astounding. To cleanse the heart, to sanctify the soul, there is no power but of God; and so, whenever a sinner is converted from the error of his ways, he is brought to acknowledge, "this is the Lord's doing." But the true accomplishment of the prediction before us requires greater things than these. There shall be a time when high and low, rich and poor, kings and subjects, shall all stand in amazement at the triumphs of the Cross of Christ. "What they had not heard shall they consider." They shall lay to heart those things which shall arrest their attention. It will not be enough for them to be mere spectators of the Saviour's triumph; they shall become deeply interested in it; all their thoughts, affections, efforts, shall tend towards it.

(S. Bridge, M.A.)

I. THE SAVIOUR'S ENDURANCE.

II. THE SAVIOUR'S SUCCESS.

(S. Bridge, M. A.)

His visage was so marred more than any man
I. CHRIST'S FACE BEING SO BEAUTIFUL WAS EASILY MARRED. The perfect beauty of God was the reflected loveliness of Christ. Perfection is easily blemished; the more beautiful anything is, the more easily it is injured.

II. CHRIST'S FACE WAS AN INDEX OF HIS LIFE AND WORK. His face told the story of His inner life. This was the chief reason for the loveliness of Jesus' face. His heart was full of pure, white thoughts, and consequently rays of beauty shot out through His gentle eyes. There burned within Him the light of tranquillity, which found expression in His calm, peaceful countenance. All the grandest virtues of this life could be seen in Jesus' face. And yet this beauty was marred, the light from His inner light suffered a black eclipse. His face was also an index of His work. When you see a man in the street you can often tell whether he is student, artist or working-man. The employment makes a certain impression upon the face. Christ s employment must have told upon His countenance. In His compassion for souls "He sighed deeply in spirit," "He groaned and was troubled." Words such as these convey some idea of the wear and tear Jesus had to endure.

III. THERE ARE SPECIAL INSTANCES GIVEN OF THE MARRING OF HIS FACE. At the grave of Lazarus, when the sisters were lamenting for their dead brother, Christ joined in the sorrow and wept, His face being stained with tears. On the brow of Olivet as He stood looking at the beloved city He began to weep, and in the garden of Gethsemane as the sweat dropped from Him in drops like blood, He fell on His face and prayed; in the judgment-hall when standing in the presence of His accusers, we read, "And some began to spit on Him and to cover His face, and to buffet Him, and to say unto Him, Prophesy, and the servants did strike Him with the palms of their hands." They degraded Jesus as much as possible, directing their blows and insults to His face; such treatment would tell heavily upon His appearance.

IV. THERE MUST HAVE BEEN SOMETHING ATTRACTIVE IN THE FACE OF JESUS. The average man could see no beauty in Jesus; still, the children were attracted by Him, and children as a rule are either repelled or won by a look. It was by a look that Jesus won Peter from a state of backsliding. In conclusion, we like to think of God as having a face the same as that of Jesus. Scientists talk of "an essence," "a great first cause," "something in the abstract," but with such definitions we wander and cannot understand God. By faith, as Dr. Saphir says, "we see the face of our dear God and seek Him as a friend" or, like one of old, we say, "Thy face, Lord, will I seek." We look forward to one day seeing the face of Jesus.

(W. K. Bryce.)

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