03 Apr 2015
Isaiah 52:14 The Real Sufferings of Jesus Pastor Paul Choo 03 April 2015 Most people think that Jesus' sufferings were from the Jews and the Romans. Few realize that His real sufferings were from God the Father who punished Him for our sins! Slides **Right Click to Down
Most people think that Jesus' sufferings were from the Jews and the Romans.
Few realize that His real sufferings were from God the Father who punished Him for our sins!
**Right Click to Download.
Dear brothers and sisters, friends, on this day, 2000 years ago, the greatest event in human history took place. The greatest sacrifice was offered. The greatest mission was completed, and the greatest blessing to man was earned. But after 2000 years, this event is hardly understood. And after 2000 years, this event is hardly appreciated. So my desire is at the end of today, when we walk out of this room, we will say, “Wow, that is the greatest event! That is the greatest sacrifice! And we have been blessed with the greatest blessing. And we will respond accordingly.”. You know, I'm, of course, talking about the events that took place on the cross. But today, what is the cross to us? It is probably some nice structure on the top of very impressive buildings, possibly a monument on top of some striking mountain overlooking a city, and maybe for some of us, it's a beautifully painted ornate thing on a wall, on a tapestry, on your Bible cover, or for many of you, probably some beautiful piece of jewelry you wear around your neck. But I want to take you back 2000 years ago and with the hundreds of thousands of people there, I want you to see what the cross looked like to them, and what the cross should look like to us.
Just look at the words of this verse (Isaiah 52:14, “As many were astonished at you - his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind”). They are not difficult words. They are not theological jargon. They are very simple words describing what Jesus looked like on the cross to the thousands, hundreds of thousands that stood and gawked at him that day. Words like “his appearance was so marred beyond human semblance” - wow, that rocks your mind! I mean, “You mean he didn't look like a human on the cross?” That's what it says. Is that hard to understand? Is that ambiguous? Not to me! It's plain words, simple words; not lengthy, not things that you can get confused along the way in one brief statement. His appearance was so marred beyond human semblance, and his form, his body, beyond what any human had undergone - so disfigured. Wow, this is not quite what we see depicted.
You know, the cross is the most popular symbol in the world for the last 2000 years? It probably will continue till the end of history as the most popular, recognized symbol. When people see the cross, what do they see? What do you see? An ornate piece of architecture? A beautiful piece of jewelry? What do you see? Do you see these things (referring to Isaiah 52:14)? Do you see a Christ on that cross that didn't look like a human? Wow, countless artists and movie directors have claimed to picture the cross. Countless, I don't think any computer or anyone has counted how many pictures have been drawn of the cross. Does any resemble the description here, or attempt seriously to resemble the description here? “Beyond human semblance”. I don't want to question the motives of the artists or the movie directors or these people. That's not for me to question. But I can say the impact of those pieces of art and those movies and those depictions have made us minimally appreciative of what Jesus did.
About a week ago, Singapore's founding father passed away. I was told that there was serious anxiety among some authorities that not too many people would go and pay their respects to our founding father. And so in the beginning, they opened the Parliament House for rather short hours. But as the week went by, the crowd just grew and grew until it was almost unmanageable. That's kind of contrary to normal events. Normally, when a person dies, there's an outpouring of sympathy on the day he dies. But here there was little and it grew and it grew until it became amazing. It shocked all of us, I think. Why? Why was there this growing response to appreciate Mr. Lee? My analysis is, many of us never understood, never realized the sacrifices he made for us. Many complained, many grumbled at the things that had happened, but few realized the sacrifices he had made. And as article after article came out, people began to say, “Wow, did he really do that for me? Did he really do that for Singapore?” And when people realized the sacrifices that he had made, people responded, people stood in line for hours in a very uncharacteristic Singapore way. It is almost like, could Singapore respond that way? Could Singaporeans respond that way? And the answer was, yes, if we provide them with enough understanding of what this man sacrificed for us. I was glad when I was back in Singapore shortly after he passed away. On the plane, I had a copy of the Straits Times and I read, article after article, of what he had done. Two Singaporeans were sitting next to me (I believe they were Singaporeans). They were reading the same newspaper and I could see them dabbing their eyes, and so was I. I came back and I said, “I have to. I have to.” It is not my habit. I have osteoarthritis in my hip. I'm not supposed to walk. But I said, “I have to respond accordingly.”. That man sacrificed that much for my country and for me that it is only right I go. Thursday morning at 3am, I drove my car to Fullerton. Coming up the escalator, a lady saw me with my stick and said, “Don't go. It is an eight-hour wait.” And I thanked her, and I smiled, and I said, “What is eight hours? Are you crazy? You want to stop me from going for a lousy eight hours? I'm gonna do this!” And I paid my respects to Singapore's founding father. Why did I do it? Because article after article told me what he had done and sacrificed for me.
Now, at the end of this message, I want you to respond accordingly. I want you to say, “!hat will I not do for Christ who did this for me?” As we look at this picture (as depicted in Isaiah 52:14), this will give us a kind of overview of him hanging there. This is the perspective. This is the background I want you to remember as we move on in the message. Why was he reduced to becoming non-human? What was he doing for us? The night before Jesus was crucified, he went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. And his prayer was a very unusual prayer. And the events in the garden of Gethsemane were very, very unusual probably never to be repeated. The words of his prayer, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”. Now, what is this cup? You know, we use the word ‘cup of suffering’, ‘cup of bitterness’? It pictures something that we have to swallow, some medicines, or some suffering we have to take. This cup was not this size, it was not the size of Singapore, this cup was so huge. Because it was the cup that contained, figuratively, a cup that contained our sins. I don't know how many sins I have but they are definitely in the billions. I can't remember them. I can't count them. But I know that my sins are many and this cup contains my sins and your sins and man’s sins. And he was to take it as his own sins. The sinless Son of God was going to take our sins as his sins. And here he is trembling as he prayed. Here it is as he faced his cup, he trembled. Maybe we ask ourselves, “Didn't he know that he was born?” The Son of God became a baby to grow up to be a hundred percent God and a hundred percent man to go to the cross. Didn't he know that? Didn't he know that the very reason for his coming to this earth was to go and take our sins? He knew that. Then why, why on this night, the trembling? Why on this night the agony? Why on this night did he beg God and say, “if it is your will, take this cup”. You see, never forget that Jesus a hundred percent God and also a hundred percent men. As men, he had fears like us and he had shame like us. All these sins, horrendous sins that people committed, unthinkable sins, He wants to take as his own, as his own, as if he had committed them. And he was to pay the penalty as if he was the sinner. And on that night when he saw the magnitude of it. As a man, he trembled. It is almost like a man going for serious surgery. You know you have to go for the surgery and for months ahead you are told - “Alright, your surgeries are in six months’ time.” You know you're going for surgery but the night before surgery. You sit there and think through what you're going to go through the next day. And all of a sudden, for six months you have not worried about it. On that night you almost have thoughts of pulling out: “Do I really have to go through this?” That cup contains your sins and my sins. My past sins, my present sins, my future sins; all my sins were in that cup. And then that cup, he was going to drink that night, and the sheer size, the sheer awfulness, the sheer disgusting sins, and the pain that he would have to bear; he trembled. And he, as a human, his blood pressure shot through the roof and his vessels burst. The vessels in his sweat glands burst. And he didn't just sweat, he sweated not perspiration only but sweat and blood came out. And as he was there in agony, realizing what he would face the next day, his sweat was bloody. He was already a bloody mess with all the blows on him. And then the Bible tells us while in the garden of Gethsemane, the Jewish leaders came and they arrested him and they brought him before the Jewish Council. Seventy to a hundred, thereabouts, Jewish leaders who hated him, because he had exposed them. They had used religion for the gain, they had used religion for power, they had used religion for prestige, and used religion for money, as men love to do. And he had exposed them that all are fake and frauds and hypocrites. But tonight was their night. As he was brought before them, the Bible says so simply in Matthew 26:67-68 that they blindfolded him, spit in his face, hit him, punched him, slapped him, and said, “You claim to be the Christ? Who hit you?” This was the beginning of a face that will soon look non-human; punched by maybe seventy or eighty, their servants came in according to the Bible, maybe a hundred to two hundred people, spat at him, punched him. Women probably slapped him. And then he was blindfolded. Bruised; his face became soft and mashed up. But they couldn't put a death sentence on him because they were under the Romans. So they sent him off to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Such a simple word; Pontius Pilate “scourged” him. You could read that word in a second and go right by it. The Romans’ scourging was a terrible tool of torture that generally preceded a crucifixion. Typically, when a man was to be scourged, he was stripped and he was strapped to a bar, somewhat like this. And the person scourging would come from behind with a Roman Scourge. This whip was usually with a short handle, several strands of leather and hooks, metal hooks were put into the scourge. And the person coming from behind and that person to be scourged was like that. The person coming from behind will whack him. The strands of the scourge would wrap around him. And what they did was, they would then pull the skirt this way, and the strands that were caught on the face, the ear, the eye, the nose, the whatever, were ripped and pulled. Some of you say, “Pastor, why all this drama? Why all this exaggeration? How do you know that happened? Is that a fact?” Thank God for the Bible. There is a psalm that is written; I'm very sure when the psalmist wrote this, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he had no idea what he was writing because it was nonsense what he was writing. It didn't make sense. This was written hundreds of years before the Romans invented their flagellum (their whipping tools). Psalm 129:3 “The plowers plowed upon my back; they made long their furrows.” Does that make sense? A farmer plowing on your back? What nonsense is this? Plowers plow on the earth to make furrows in the ground to throw their seed in. You don’t plow a person's back! But like much of the Old Testament, so many verses describe the coming Messiah. And so after he whipped him, they ripped him, they whipped him, they ripped him. For Jews there was a limit of 39 strokes; more than that was considered inhumane. But for the Romans, there was no limit. Now I hope you begin to see Isaiah 52 verse 14, “beyond human semblance”. I hope you get the picture. I hope you understand Isaiah 52:14 is not written in exaggeration, it is not written in poetic posts, it is not written in theological jargon, it is plain words - “beyond human semblance”. And then, what next? After he was scourged, he was given to a battalion of Roman soldiers. They have an average number of six hundred; toughest, strongest soldiers of that time. They were used to violence, used to brutality, and basically they were told, “do what you want with this man”. Now, the Romans hated the Jews. The Jews were a stubborn bunch of people. The Jews made Roman soldiers' lives tough. They have always rebelled and resisted them. They have always resisted the Roman rule. This was their day. They could do whatever they want with this king of the Jews. And so this is what they did. They put a rope on him, his body was all bloody and his flesh was like strips of flesh hanging on him because he was beyond human semblance. And they put a rope on him to give him the look of a king. He didn't look like a king when his body was all ripped up. And they put a crown of thorns on his head. And they put a reed (a reed is something like a bamboo pole) in his hand and put him on a chair. “Ha! You're the king of the Jews. Sit on your throne with your purple rope and your crown and your staff; your regal royal staff!” And one by one they came at him and they spit in his face. They took the staff from his hand. They hit him on the head, crown of thorns and all. Six hundred soldiers - tell me what they look like after that. You don't need great imagination. And they hid him and they hid him. Nice dainty cross with a Christ hanging there; a few strips of blood or a few abrasions on his body are basically painted. “Is that the Christ? Is that a satanic deception?” So that we will feel a little appreciation for what our Savior did. And so after they had finished, six hundred men had finished with him. What did they do? He was sent to be crucified. Of course he couldn't carry the cross or the bar of the cross. No more muscle there. It's ripped off. It's hanging. It's hanging. His form was worse than the children of man. That's what Isaiah 52:14 says. You look at his back, “Is that a human?” Let me see. I'm not sure! You look at his front, “Is that a human?” I'm not sure! How can he carry a cross? And yet they had to crucify him. He would hold back the whole procession. He can hardly walk! So some poor fellow called Simon was pulled up and he carried across for him (Matthew 27:32. What a blessed man. And so Jesus staggered to the place called Golgotha. A place called Golgotha means the skull. And there, in a simple word, one word, he was crucified. Again we will read that he was crucified (Luke 23:33).
And we see these dainty crosses and a slightly abused Jesus. And our mind just runs right through that. What was crucifixion like? Crucifixion without any doubt is the most cruel way to kill a man. No other way invented is more cruel than crucifixion. Now, of course, nowadays, we have very modern ways that are kind - lethal injections, shooting, hanging, and in a second you're gone. Maybe more brutal ways - stoning a man; you stone a man and the first rock that hits his head, he is unconscious. That's it, story over! How can you feel after that? A mountain or rocks cover him and he's dead. What about hacking? You know, we see some newspaper articles, something happened in Pakistan, they hacked this person and after one blow on the head, he is gone - quick and fast, merciful! What about ISIS slitting throats? Fast! The cross? Excruciatingly - that's where the word came from excruciatingly means, from the cross. You hang there, slowly die in agony and shame as people stare at you and mock you and spit at you and say, “If you be the Son of God, come down.” They didn't realize that because he was the Son of God that's why he was there. There was his mission. When he reached Golgotha, the cross was put up on the floor, lying on the floor. He was pushed against it and a big nail, big enough to hold his weight, was slammed right between his wrist bones. And if you study anatomy, you know that one of the big nerves, the median nerve, is right there. As they hit that into the median nerve, you cannot imagine the pain. It is like a dentist hitting all your dental nerves and more at the same time. As he was hit, they nailed his feet and they lifted up the cross. This is not like the fake crucifixions that take place where they strap the guy with ropes there and they just nail his hand there as a drama. There was no rope there. He hung there. How do I know that? Because Psalm 22:14-17 tells me that. When the psalmist wrote this psalm one thousand years before Jesus, one thousand years before crucifixion was invented, this psalm made absolutely no sense. It was a nonsense psalm. What does this mean? What does this describe? For a thousand years people read Psalm 22 and said, “What in the world is this psalm?” But today when we read Psalm 22, we can see it was a precise medical explanation of the agonies of crucifixion. “I am poured out like water.” As he hung on that cross, the weight of his body went down and he couldn't breathe as his lungs could not breathe. He had to pull himself up so he could breathe. So it was a battle as he went down and when he ran out of air, he pulled himself up to breathe. And when he ran out of strength in his arms, he dropped down and couldn't breathe again. It was a struggle. It was a life and death struggle. And so as he struggled, the sweat came out. He is just pouring out sweat. He wasn't lying there in the sun like I saw in the Philippines. A person is in the so called crucifixions. They literally lie there and look at you all strapped up. Two tiny nails through the palms of the hands. Friends, that's a fake. He was poured out like water, just pouring out. His bone flipped out of joint as the weight pulled him down. His shoulder bones dislocate and his elbow bones dislocate. Bone after bone starts to get loosened up and come out. If you ever had a dislocated bone, you know what the pain is like. “My bones are out of joint.”, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd.” As he bleeds, he dehydrates and fluid comes out of his oozing wounds. As he pants, as he sweats, he has less and less water and he dehydrates and his tongue is stuck. If you have ever been to surgery for hours, you can’t drink water. You cannot talk because your tongue is stuck. There's no lubricant in your mouth. “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me.” (Psalm 22:14-17), shouting, “If you be the Son of God, come down! Come down!”. “They have pierced my hands and feet - I can count all my bones - they stare and gloat over me.” (Psalm 22:14-17). That's the cross. It is not a dandy piece of gold or silver. It is not a piece of art. It is a place of sacrifice; unbelievable sacrifice.
Do you think I have just described the sufferings of Christ for you and me? Let me tell you this. These are not, I repeat, these are not the sufferings of Christ for you and me. Christ suffered at the hands of who here? Jews? Romans? Is that what you and I are going to suffer for our sins? Did the Bible say when you are a sinner, you will suffer at the hands of Jews and Romans? As sinners, we suffer at the hands of an angry God, of our holy God, who hates sin with a huge hatred. Do you think this is Christ's suffering for you and me? You know what, the world thinks this is what Christ suffered for you and me. They actually believe this is what he underwent for you and me. I want to tell you this, this is not what he underwent for you and me. I want to tell you that his sufferings at the hands of the Jews and the Romans were just to give you and I a little glimpse in our finite mind of what he would suffer at the hands of Almighty God because he was carrying our sins. These are not the sufferings of Christ. This was just a sample to give us a little glimpse of what he would suffer at the hand of God; sufferings you and I cannot understand. So what does the Bible say? Please understand this, I beg you to understand this. On the cross, people looked at him “as one from whom men hide their faces”. When you see a human suffering, you pity him. When you see strips of flesh hanging on the cross, you don't know what to do. How can you feel pity for strips of flesh? There is no human semblance. Why was he like this? “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3-4), and the people esteemed him. “Sinner! He deserves it! No pity for that man. He looks so pathetic, so despicable!” and then something happens soon happens.
The next chapter of his sufferings - chapter one has just been always called ‘sufferings at the hand of Jews and Romans’. Chapter two - suffering at the hands of God. Yet, it was the will of Jehovah God to crush him; not the Romans, not the Jews. “He has put him grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt.” (Isaiah 53:10). Whose guilt? His guilt? He was sinless. He is a perfect Son of God. He never committed a sin in his head, in his eyes, in his tongue, in his heart. He never committed a sin. Whose guilt? My guilt he took and he was paying for that. And God, Jehovah God, God the Father, had to crush, had to punish God the Son because he was carrying our sins.
As people stared, hid their faces, cursed him, swore at him, something strange happened. The word ‘sixth hour’ is a Roman way of counting time. The sixth hour is noon. He had hung on the cross for three hours in full view of man. He had suffered at the hands of the Jews and the Romans for the last three hours. But at noon, when the sun is normally brightest, the sun went out. It is as if God turned off the light and darkness came from twelve o'clock till three o'clock. Why is God turning off the lights? Because in this three hours, God was going to deal with him; not the Romans, not the Jews. God was going to pour on him the suffering you and I deserve for eternity, all the suffering you and I would have paid in eternity in hell, would be concentrated, condensed and poured out on him. Now you and I can't figure this out. How can all the sins of all of us, billions of people, and each one with billions of sins, each one to suffer eternity in hell, how do you concentrate all that and pour it out on one person in three hours? It is between God and him. I don't understand. That's why there are no lights for me. There is no show for me. There is no point in showing me something I cannot understand. At the end of three hours, Jesus Christ cried out, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”. It is as if God the Father was so brutal to God the Son that God the Son cried out, “How can you do this to me? I'm your son. I'm the eternal Son from the beginning of the beginning.” But that huge outpouring of God's anger, he cries out. What exactly happened? We have to go back to the Bible and see.
Lamentations one, verse 12 and 13, seem to suggest to me what happened in the hours of darkness. Lamentations one, verse 12 and 13 says, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the LORD inflicted on the day of his fierce anger. From on high he sent fire; into my bones he made it descend.” I think it suggests Christ suffered, not slapped, not punched, not whipped, but hellfire from a judge, a holy God who hates sin. And all was won by the one who sacrificed himself for us, who took our place. After three hours, when the last sin had been settled and fully paid, the most amazing thing happened. After this, Jesus knew that all was now finished - mission accomplished. He had come for one purpose - to take our sin and pay the penalty for sin. And the last sin had been settled - mission accomplished. He said he couldn't talk. He was so dry. He was so dry. And then a jar full of sour wine stood there. So they put a sponge full of sour wine on a branch and held it to his mouth. Why? Why, after all that suffering? Why did he talk about the thirst? You mean the thirst is such a big deal after you went through hellfire for us, after the concentration of hellfire was brought on you, and then you talk about thirst? You know why? Because he wanted to lubricate his tongue so he could say the sweetest words ever uttered on planet Earth. What are the sweetest words? “It is finished.”. Wow, those are the sweetest words ever uttered! The mission to bear our sins is completed. All my sins and your sins are settled on the cross, finished, nailed to the cross, and over! The penalty has been paid by Jesus. He had to lubricate his mouth that you and I would hear the sweet words, “It is finished!” And then he died.
Friends, I don't know how you respond to Jesus. I know how Singaporeans responded to the sacrifice of Mr. Lee - a lineup for hours; hot sun and dew at night. On his final day before he was cremated and in the quenching rain they stood, ready to respond. He did so much for me. This is the least I can do for him. Christians, at the end of today, I hope you respond like the Singaporeans except that the one who sacrificed on the Cross did amazing things, things you and I throughout eternity will never be able to fully grasp. You know why God gives us eternity? So we can grasp things that are of magnitude like this. So we can sit down and ponder and ponder for a zillion years and never fully understand the three hours on the cross. But have we even spent three minutes thinking about it? No wonder Christianity is full of shallow believers who can hardly give a thing for Christ, who will not suffer any inconvenience for Christ! Can you blame the Christians? Did we blame the Singaporeans when they didn't know how to appreciate Mr. Lee? We didn't know what he sacrificed. It was a mystery to most of us. It was not revealed to us. Almost everything I read is new to me. He really did that? He really lived like that? He really sacrificed like that? I didn't know that and I read everything. What about you? What do these verses say to you?
For those who do not know Christ, I want to share a verse with you. “I write these things to you (the bible) who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know you have everlasting life” (1 John 5:13). Those who do not know Christ will say, “What's all this got to do with me? All right, Pastor, you're challenging the Christians to go out and do something, respond! What about me?” If you don't know Christ, today, in one simple step, you can join a family of Christ. You can take your simple oath by simply believing, “Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. Thank you for dying for my sins. Thank you for saying, ‘it is finished’. I trust you as my Savior. You know, in that simple step, just as us - how did we benefit from Mr. Lee? What did we do? What massive thing did we do for our country? Nothing. Most of us complain and grumble and did everything wrong, but I will tell you one thing - the day you're born into this country, in a simple step of birth, you benefited from the main sacrifice. Today I say to you in a simple step in your heart as you say, “I trust you. I believe on that cross, you took my sins and you paid the price.” I believe you. I tell you, you will know. You will know, not hope, not dream, not think. You will know that you have eternal life. My hope is that every one of you who walk out of the room today will know this: I have eternal life not because I'm great, because I'm good, or because I'm religious, but because someone sacrificed for me.
Same way as Singaporeans, none of us should walk and see why “I'm so smart and so great.” We can only see as Singaporeans, someone sacrificed for us and we have benefited. So today to those who do not know Christ, you can know it right here, right now. And to those who know Jesus, don't walk out the same. Don't walk out the grumbling, complaining Christian, the cowardly Christian, the Christian who wants ease and comfort because there is ease and comfort prepared for us for all eternity. If you are truly a believer, this is the only hell you'll ever know. If you're not a believer, this is the only heaven you will know. But for us as believers, this is not a place to take our ease. We have an eternity to take our ease. This is our place to honor our God, stand in the rain, all of the inconvenience and all of the suffering and all the pain, to honor our God and to do whatever it takes to honor His name. That's why He left us here.
Before we go home, let us close with a word of prayer. Father, thank You for the reminder. Thank you for the insights from your Word. Thank you God that we are beneficiaries of a huge sacrifice so huge that no articles, no time on Earth, no time in eternity, can fully comprehend that sacrifice. We pray that you will touch our hearts so when we leave today, we will be different people. For those who never knew Christ will live with peace (peace that all our sins have been paid at the cross.) Lord, hear our prayer, wake us up, and change us today. We will never be the same again. In Jesus’ name, amen.
More Episodes from Pastor Paul Choo:
27 Nov 2022
20 Nov 2022
24 Dec 2021
16 Jun 2021
20 Sep 2020
13 Sep 2020
06 Sep 2020
19 Apr 2019
Episodes from other sermons:
25 Dec 2022
20 Dec 2022
11 Dec 2022
04 Dec 2022
27 Nov 2022
20 Nov 2022
15 Apr 2022
13 Feb 2022