Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Title: Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Text: Isa 52:13-53:13

CIT: The Suffering Servant pays the penalty.

CIS: The Suffering Servant pays the penalty.


Joshua Bell emerged from the Metro and positioned himself against a wall beside a trash basket. By most measures, he was nondescript—a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt, and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money and began to play.

For the next 45 minutes, in the D.C. Metro on January 12, 2007, Bell played Mozart and Schubert as over 1,000’s people streamed by, most hardly taking notice that he was standing there. And, not even knowing that they were in the presence of greatness. Joshua Bell first made his debut at Carnegie Hall at the age of 17. I remember only one person who actually recognized him.

Transition: today I want to look at the promised messiah, that few would even take notice of as he stood in their presence. He had been promised by God – but they missed him, even though they stood in his greatness.

Let me give you some context for our sermon situation. There is a group of us who have been reading through the Bible. The program is called Cover to Cover and it takes about 90 days. Where we are on this Journey is that we’ve just finished up Isaiah and Jeremiah. This week, we’ll cover Lamentations and Ezekiel. So, we’re in the Major Prophets. What we’re discovering in our reading is that there is a major theme that runs through Scripture.

The story of the Bible to this point is pretty basic. God created a man and a woman and put them in a garden he had created. They had an intimate relationship with him. Their work was to tend the garden and enjoy it’s produce. In this life of luxury, the man and the woman were commanded to leave one tree’s fruit alone and not eat it, but everything else was there for their enjoyment. However, they rebelled against God’s one command. The trusted the lie of the devil and instead of what God had told them. Because of their rebellion, God banished them from garden and their lives were now filled with toil and struggle. Sin had entered the world.

God now has chosen a man through whom he would build a nation. That nation would be called Israel. Once again, God would dwell in their presence and allow them to experience the joy of a relationship with him. He gave them his law and provided a sacrificial system through which their sins could be atoned for. But just as with Adam and Eve, the people rebelled. They had inherited a land flowing with milk and honey. Now, they would be exiled from this land of promise, as Adam and Eve had experienced.

But throughout the stories of the Bible, we’ve learned of one who would come and restore that relationship – the relationship that had be destroyed by Adam and Eve – that had been destroyed by the people of Israel. This One has had many names. In our text today, he is called my servant, the arm of the Lord, and the righteous one. We know him as Jesus. He would come and die for the sins of man – to pay the penalty of death for us all. In our text, Isaiah 52.13-53.12, we will learn of this one who is to come, the purpose for his coming, and what the Father would accomplish through his son on our behalf.

The question I would like to pose to you today is: Why did Jesus have to die? We find in here, Isaiah list 4 reasons: It was God’s

  1. His Purpose
  2. His Plan
  3. His Punishment
  4. His Pleasure

We pick up in Isaiah 52:13. First, why did Jesus have to die?

I. To Accomplish His Purpose (52:13-15)

exp.: it begins, “Behold”; that’s a good start; and then the subject, the hero of our story is quickly introduced, “My Servant”; Gen. 39:17 this is the word used to describe Joseph. Even though he was 2nd in charge, just beneath his master, he still was bought and sold, had not rights;

Dr. John N. Oswalt, author of the Isaiah commentary for the NICOT, writes: שָׂכַל (sakal)is usually translated ‘be wise’ or ‘prosper’ but neither of those translations gathers up the full sense of the context here: to act with such wisdom that one’s efforts will be successful. He likes ‘accomplish his purpose.’

rd v 14; Future Tense as expressed in the Past; like it’s already happened; this makes it definitive; God has a purpose in all that he’s about to do; and just to let you know that he is sovereign, he lets us in on it all, hundreds of years before it happens! Even when it uses the past tense, it is still in the future, as if it has already happened; God knew what he was going to do!

Now, what is this purpose? We see in v 13;

  • He shall be high and lifted up, and he shall be exalted; this specific phrasing is used 4 times by Isaiah, no other place in the OT; in the other three times, it refers to only to God; So, this Servant is equal with God; What is the Servant’s purpose? His Glory! This isn’t Israel being exalted to the place of God. This isn’t some prophet who will be raised to the exaltation of God. No, this is God himself, coming as the long-expected Messiah; Phil 1:5-11; John 1.1-2
  • He shall suffer; This will be appalling. First, to a small, narrower group, rd v 14; 2nd, to a larger group – the world even, rd v 15;  He’s not going to be attractive, instead, he will be unattractive by the world’s standards, a servant, a person punished and beaten, we will not want to gaze upon his beauty, but rather look away in disgust or because of his shame; Whatever attractiveness there might be, would come from whatever is inside him, for it will not be on the outside; and he will shut the kings up, because he has been exalted above them and how can one who comes from such a situation ever be lifted above them? How can one so helpless save? How can one so low, be raised so high?
  • He Shall Save; this will become ever so clear as we get to the rest of the passage;

t.s.: First we see the Purpose of God is going to be accomplished, but just how? Well, he has a plan…

II. To Work His Plan: Our Redemption (53:1-3)

exp.: rd 53:1; 2nd title: the arm of the LORD; He would send his son; 40:10-11; 48:12-14; 51:9 we see a title, the title of the one who is the ‘Arm of the Lord’; Here we see that God has had a plan and that plan is our redemption, not just Israel, but all nations; What does that plan include?

Meeting the Messiah – the arm of the Lord. Rd v 2; a young plant; this word describes the little tree that begins to grow off of a root sticking up out of the ground. Nothing noticeable or impressive, usually snipped off by the gardener and forgotten about in no time; this verse expands on the thought established in 52:14; this isn’t saying that he lacks good looks. This is saying that his arrival isn’t anything spectacular. He doesn’t arrive as a mighty oak. He’s not the consummate professional who crushes those who get in their way and command a certain type of following or respect. Instead of a massive oak, he’s a young plant, a leaf or two, weak in appearance; rd v 2b; Think of the fulfillment of this verse: Jesus, born to a blue collar worker, a carpenter; He wasn’t rich, He didn’t have famous parents, he wasn’t born in a palace. An animal’s feeding trough was his bed. Nothing to attract us! Rd v 3; despised; English: 1 : to look down on with contempt or aversion. Hebrew: to look down on. Not contempt. NO aversion. It’s the same word, just take out the emotion. It means to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful. Its not that he wasn’t one of the winners. It was that he was one of the losers. He is weak, how can he be strong enough to save us. He is sickly, how can he heal our diseases.

ill.: And we hear the Pharisees cry out in Lk 23:35: He saved others, Let him save himself if he is the Christ of God! His Chosen One!

app.: How can this man, save us? How can this be God’s plan?

t.s.: third… why did Jesus have to die for us?

III. To Impose His Punishment (53:4-9)

exp.: rd v 4; have you noticed the pronoun ‘we’, now it turns to the pronoun ‘our’. What we didn’t notice before we see now, and it is our grief and our sorrows he bore; the very thing that made him “unattractive” – the sickness, the pains – these are ours; the poet does a great job here! Our faces are distorted because he grosses us out. What a loser! And then here, and again in vv 10-12; We see that it isn’t him at all, but it is our sickness and our weakness that he’s carrying. That which we despise is really what we see in us!

This is what theologians call “substitutionary atonement”; Our ugliness, our sin, our shame was placed upon him. He didn’t just die for the sins of the people, he died in our place. That cross – it was designed for you and for me. He suffers for the people, so they won’t have to; He suffers and dies for us, so we won’t have to;

rd v 5; he was pierced, he was crushed, he was punished because of our sin, our grief, our guilt! It was on Him! He took our stripes! We call them mistakes, shortcomings, “we’re just not perfect.” God calls it sin and the full measure of how seriously God takes this sin is displayed on the Cross. In the Words of CJ Mahanney, “He visited Jesus on the Cross with his full, furious, righteous wrath. Because these shortcomings, theses mistakes are the stuff of death and destruction, and unless someone pays by dying and being destroyed, we must pay ourselves!”

app.: rd v 6; rd v 7; rd v 8 – who even cares about his fate? This is what sin does? What does it do? It kills; It destroys; It leaves desolate; rd v 9; again, past tense to describe a future event; He would be crucified between two thieves; He would be buried in a borrowed tomb; Joseph of Arimathea; Note: 9b – not only did he not ‘do’ anything deserving punishment, he was innocent in his motives; He didn’t speak deceitfully;

t.s.: Why did Jesus have to die? The 4th reason listed by Isaiah’s prophecy…

IV. To Satisfy the Payment Due (53:10-12)

exp.: It was the Purpose of God, The Plan of God, The Punishment required by God and here – It was the Pleasure of God. Say what?!? Look at for 10; The Lord was delighted (was pleased; took pleasure) (10); The Lord was satisfied (11); Verse 12 gives us the reason for his satisfaction: rd v 12; This action by God brought redemption to us.

Conclusion: And what a great day to remember the grace of God toward us.

            Today we are going to participate in the Lord’s Supper. We’re going to do this a little different because of the COVID-19 guidelines. Hopefully, you’ve already received the elements. If you haven’t, we want to make them available to you.

What we practice: Open and Closed Communion


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Filed under Isaiah, Scripture, Sermon

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