By Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal
Christian missionaries point to the passage Isaiah 52:13 thru 53:12 as the “ultimate proof” for their belief in Jesus. A missionary once admitted to me that when his beliefs are challenged by counter-missionaries, he goes back and reads Isaiah 53 in order to be strengthened in his Christian faith.
This same missionary also admitted to me that the fact that Jesus is the most respected Jew in world history also encourages him in his faith. I understand that this particular missionary does not stand alone. Many Christians draw confidence in Jesus from the passage in Isaiah 53 and from the far-reaching reputation that Jesus enjoys.
I find this amazing. These two concepts cancel each other out. The fact that Jesus is so widely respected categorically disqualifies him from claiming the title of the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. There is no individual in the history of mankind that is more clearly disqualified from claiming this Scriptural title than is the Christian Jesus.
The suffering servant of the Lord is despised until his ultimate exaltation. The entire thrust of the passage in Isaiah is that the despised servant of the Lord will shock the world when the arm of the Lord is openly revealed upon him.
At this point in time, the arm of the Lord is not openly revealed upon anyone. Both Jews and Christians look forward to a day when the arm of the Lord is openly revealed upon God’s true servant and all the ends of the earth will clearly know the truth.
But Isaiah teaches us that when the arm of the Lord is ultimately revealed, the world will react with shock and consternation (Isaiah 53:1). This tells us that someone who is widely respected BEFORE the arm of the Lord is revealed – CANNOT be the servant that Isaiah was talking about. The fact that Jesus is the most widely respected person on earth – at this pointing time – BEFORE the arm of the Lord is revealed – is the clearest indication that this man’s claim for the title: “suffering servant” – is completely unjustified.