What Did the Servant Do?

Alec Motyer

READ : Isaiah 52:13?53:12

The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous. (v. 11 NRSV)

In this, his best-known chapter, Isaiah explains why the Servant of the Lord suffered
and died. What does it mean that “he was wounded for our transgressions”? The Hebrew is
actually very precise; “he was wounded because of our transgressions.” There was a
cause—our sinfulness—and an effect—his wounds. By being wounded to death,
Isaiah says (v. 12), he bore our sins—like the scapegoat in the wilderness on which
all the transgressions of Israel were loaded.

But there is another very important point: it was the Lord himself who “laid on him the
iniquity of us all.” Until the Lord is satisfied, there can be no salvation. The
sin-bearing death of the Servant was overseen by the Lord himself. This is one of the
grounds of its effectiveness in saving us and of our assurance of salvation.

Even so, there is still more: the Servant not only bore our sins, paying our penalty,
but also he imparted his righteousness to us. Isaiah 53:11 literally says, “The righteous
One, my servant, will provide righteousness for the many.” His perfect righteousness is
our eternal robe to wear before God who, ever since Calvary, only looks on us as we are in
Christ. “Jesus, thy blood and righteousness, my beauty are, my glorious dress.”


“Jesus, the sinners’ Friend: I hide myself in thee.”