by Paul Ryan
52:13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
The Promise of the Lord
The drama unfolds in the following verses. Verse 14 reveals that the same Servant — the Lord — will be marred “more than any man.” In other words, he will be marred beyond recognition. However, verse 15 foretells that the Servant will be exalted — the Son of God who humbles himself, taking on the form of a man to die, will shut the mouths of Kings with the glory of His resurrection and eventual second coming.
This startling truth is the foundation for Paul’s impassioned motivation. Paul quotes verse 15 in his epistle to the church at Rome. The first portion of Romans 15 is from Isaiah 11; the last portion is from Isaiah 52:15.
“And again, [Isaiah] saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust…” Paul then says of himself: “I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God… so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: But as it is written, ‘To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.’”
Paul strived to reach the unreached because of the promise of His Lord — that those who had never heard the gospel and had never known they needed the good news of Messiah would hear, understand, and be saved.
This sure promise should impassion our gospel proclamation this Christmas.
The Testimony of his People
How does this phrase banish fear and leave us unashamed? In his commentary, John Wesley says, “The Messiah was called the arm or power of God, because the almighty power of God was seated in him.” For the Lord to “bare His arm,” He powerfully intercedes on behalf of his people. This has direct implication, both in Isaiah and for Paul.
In Isaiah 52:10, “The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” In 59:1, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save.” Not only will God powerfully reveal his salvation, but He will powerfully save.
What is Paul’s response? That he is not ashamed. He explains why in Romans 1:17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
God’s powerful salvation is our passionately unashamed proclamation. This is Our Great Christmas Commission. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore…” (Matthew 28:18-19).
About the Author
Paul Ryan is the Assistant Librarian at Penn View Bible Institute and Assistant Editor of the God’s Missionary Church blog. He formerly served as Youth Pastor at the Gospel Center. You can connect with him on Twitter @paulryangmc.