October 3, 2021
That’s a game changer. We’re familiar with that phrase aren’t we? Throughout history there have been certain events, inventions or people who have changed how we live. When the Sumerians evented the wheel in the 4th century that was a game changer. It laid the groundwork for the world of commerce and transportation as we know today. When Gutenberg invented the printing press, he changed the world. He not only made it possible for the masses to read but made it possible for the common man to read the Bible. When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he changed the world by extending the workday, made travel by night a reality, and created a who new avenue for socializing. Those are just a few major game changers in history. But how about those game changers we’ve experienced in our lives? Game changers like Steve Jobs who made it possible for you to have a personal computer, calculator, movie screen, camera and phone fit in the palm of your hand? Or Jeff Bezos, who made it possible to buy just about anything you want and have it delivered the next day? Or how about Elon Musk? He’s a true game changer. He changed how we pay for things online by inventing Pay Pal. He’s change how we travel on the roads and he’s even making it possible for you to someday travel to space! He and all these others have changed how we live every day. Now these game changers may have improved the quality of our lives, but none of these game changers have the power to actually change a life. None of these game changers has the ability to take away suffering and pain. None of these game changers can give you peace. And none of these game changers can change your destiny. There’s only one person who has the power to change you and one event in history that changed everything for you. What I’m talking about is the cross on which Jesus Christ gave His life for you. For, without the cross we would not know Jesus. Without the cross we would not have a Savior. And without the cross where Jesus died for you, you would still be lost in your sin, without hope and without God in the world.
So today, we are going to look at how the cross changes everything. We’re going to see how this instrument of humiliation, torture and death made it possible for God to change your life. And to do that we’re going to dig into Isaiah’s prophecy of Christ’s sacrifice for you on the cross, and how His death made it possible for God to change everything for you. So, if you brought your Bible with you today, let me encourage you to find Isaiah 53:1-6, where we are going to see how the cross changed everything for us! And the first thing we’re going to see is this:
Without the Cross We Would Not Know Jesus In these first three verses Isaiah describes the spiritual blindness of those who will look upon Jesus and dismiss him as totally irrelevant to their lives. Here is his prophecy: Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Isaiah 53:1-3
Now to get a feel for the spiritual blindness of those who would one day look upon Jesus, and dismiss Him as irrelevant, shun him and ultimately reject him, Isaiah uses a unique phrase to describe God’s Servant. Isaiah call’s him, “the arm of the Lord.” This is not someone apart from the Lord but describes the LORD GodHimself in ALL HIS POWER. The “arm of the Lord” is Yahweh, the God of the Covenant who has come to deliver His people with power.
However, as God’s people were looking for God to deliver them in power, the Servant Isaiah is describing here, Jesus, the Son of God, is not who they were looking for. They were looking for someone who was well-built, strong and dynamic. They were looking for a man among men – a leader among leaders. Someone powerful in stature, someone dignified and impressive. But when they looked upon Jesus, he had no beauty or majesty that drew attention to him. There was nothing physically noticeable about him that stood out. Then there’s this description of him: He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. Now, this is a reference that’s meant to draw comparisons to the selection of God’s anointed one, David. David, you see, was the ROOT of Jesse. Do you know how he was chosen? Samuel came to Jesse and asked Jesse to show him his sons. Jesse did. But Samuel did not recognize the Lord’s anointed from any of the sons he presented. So, he asked Jesse if he had any other sons. Yes, there was one more, David, who was out tending the sheep. And here’s what’s so interesting about this encounter. David was so unimpressive that his own father dismissed him as one who could be God’s anointed. His own father failed to recognize that David could be the man of God’s choosing.
Here Isaiah is telling us, that this is what humanity does. We gage the quality of a man by his outward appearances. And that’s what mankind did with the coming of Jesus. When they saw him, they immediately dismissed him, because he was not what they were looking for. That’s what this word “despised” means in Hebrew. It means they dismissed him because he was not physically impressive. They dismissed him because of the people he associated with – the weak and lowly, those who suffered and were familiar with pain. And they dismissed him because they held him in low esteem. You see this word “esteem” is an accounting word – a reckoning of value. So when the Jews who were looking for a deliver, and looked upon Jesus, all that they observed from his life added up to zero in their eyes. He had no dignity, no power, He had no beauty or majesty, so Jesus was nothing to them. He was a joke to them, so rather than embrace him, they mocked him, shunned him and ultimately rejected Him.
And with this description, Isaiah completes his diagnosis of our human condition and that is this: To see God’s servant and find no beauty in him, no value in him and to ultimately reject him, exposes the spiritual bankruptcy of the human heart. Isaiah’s diagnosis of the human condition in the face of God’s deliverer reveals the blindness of mankind toward God’s anointed. And what Isaiah concluded here is affirmed by this truth given us in the New Testament: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
Now, I share this with you to tell you, that unless God intervenes in our lives so as to open our eyes to who Jesus is, every single human is doomed to reject Jesus. But God did intervene to open our eyes to who Jesus truly is – at the cross. At the cross, the arm of the Lord, the powerful presence of God Himself, made His power known to all through the sacrificial death of Jesus. Without the cross we would not know Jesus – we would reject Him. But the cross changed everything for us. It revealed God’s power to deliver us from sin, through the One who died for us. Which leads us to the next thing Isaiah reveals to us about the cross. And that is this:
Without the Cross We Would Not Have a Savior Here now Isaiah reveals how Jesus saves all mankind, by taking our place on the cross. Listen to all He did for us there: Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5
First, He took up our pain and bore our suffering. When Jesus took your place on the cross, he lifted off of you the judgment of God’s wrath. He took the punishment your sin deserved. Jesus lifted it from you, and took it upon Himself, and He died in your place. He did this willingly. He did this because He loved you. He did this to save you.
Now that’s a game changer. The New Testament now declares this: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 For anyone who believes in Jesus today, your destiny will be changed forever because of the cross. Now, that’s life changing power. That’s a game changer. Jesus’ death on the cross made it possible for your guilt to be removed!
Secondly, He was pierced for our transgressions. Now, this word “pierced” speaks of a death wound and means “to pierce fatally.” This is a direct reference to what was to take place on the cross. Jesus was fatally wounded for our transgressions. Now, the term “transgressions” is not a term we use much today. So, what specifically does this term mean? Transgressions are rebellious acts of sin that we willingly chose to commit. God has set-up certain boundaries for us to live within. Whenever we willingly cross over one of those boundaries, break one of His laws, that’s what the Bible calls sin. This is why our sins are never just a mistake we make. Our transgressions are always a choice. We chose to rebel against God’s laws. And in doing so, we willingly defy God and chose to live independent of His will. We do what we want, not what God wants. In this sense we chose to live as arrogant rebels who want nothing to do with God or His ways. But what is so amazing about God, is that while we were rebellious transgressors, Jesus willingly took our place on the cross so he could take away the penalty we deserved for our rebellion. That too is a game changer. Jesus being pierced for our transgressions made it possible for us to be forgiven of our transgressions. That’s the power of the cross.
Thirdly, He was crushed for our iniquities. Iniquity is different term for our sin. Iniquities reflect the perverted bent of our human nature. These are our secret sins. This is our human nature that’s been distorted by sin so that we hate, are greedy, pursue lusts, live selfishly, harbor envy and act maliciously. You can live a perfectly moral life on the outside, but your inside can be full of iniquities. That’s what Jesus addressed when he pronounced judgment on the religious leaders saying: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” Matthew 23:25,27
And yet, when Jesus took our place on the cross, He was crushed for our iniquities. In other words, when all our hidden sin was placed on Him, he experienced the crushing weight of our perversions. But He did this for us to save us! He took our punishment. He took our penalty. He took our perversions. He took our place. That is what the arm of the Lord came to do. To save us from our sins and the consequences of our sin. That’s why Isaiah could say, the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.
In other words, by taking upon himself the punishment we deserve, his death on the cross provided reconciliation in our relationship with God and healing for our souls: Our relationship with God that was broken by our rebellion is restored by the sacrifice of Jesus. Our soul ruined by the devastating effects of sin is healed by the One who took our pain. This is the power of the cross that changes everything.
Now, the moment you believe that Jesus died in your place, God’s Word guarantees your sins are taken away; your condemnation is removed, your relationship is restored with God and your heart is made new. That’s a game changer! That’s the good news of the gospel revealed in the cross. None of these things you could do on your own. But the arm of the Lord – God in all His power came to save you, through Jesus Christ giving His life for you on the cross. That’s the power of the cross. Without the cross we would not have a Savior. But with the cross we now have a Savior, and His name is Jesus. For God’s Word says, Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 Are you starting to see how the cross is the greatest game changer ever? Without the cross we would never know Jesus. Without the cross we would not have a Savior, and finally…
Without the Cross We Would Still Be Lost in our Sin Here in verse 6, Isaiah concludes the first part of his prophecy about Jesus with one of the greatest summaries of the gospel ever written: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6
First, Isaiah gives us the bad news: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way. If all we had was the first part of this verse, our situation would be bleak. Our sinful rebellion against God is what makes us abandon God and seek to go our own way in the world. And Isaiah likens our rebellion to that of sheep who wanders away from the Shepherd.
What happens when sheep wander away from their shepherd? Nothing good! As soon as a sheep wanders away from the shepherd it’s in immediate danger. That’s when the sheep’s natural predator the wolf looks to take advantage. For once the sheep is isolated, he can destroy him. Makes me think of Peter’s warning to Christians about the evil one: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 But that’s not all that happens when the we go our own way. The second thing that happens is that we leave the One who knows us, loves us, provides for us, and protects us. We break the relationship with God. We turn our backs on God. This is a perfect description of sin.
Listen to how esteemed Pastor John Stott describes our willful rebellion toward God: “This is the godless self-centeredness of sin. Every sin is a breach of what Jesus called, “the first and greatest commandment,” not just by failing to love God with all our being, but by actively refusing to acknowledge and obey Him as our Creator and Lord. We have rejected the position of dependence which our createdness inevitably involves and made a bid for independence. Worse still, we have dared to proclaim our self-dependence, which is to claim the position occupied by God alone.
Going our own way is our way of getting rid of God, in order to set ourselves up as our own god. But in the process of our going astray, we find ourselves lost in our sin, looking for life in things that do not satisfy, always wondering if the new next thing will deliver for us. All the while we live alienated from the One who Created us and wants what’s best for us. We go it alone, suppressing the truth about God, ignoring His will and living without hope. That’s the bad news.
But now the good news: and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. The good news is that on the cross, God laid upon Jesus every sin of every person who has ever lived. That means you. That means on the day Jesus hung there on the cross with his life blood flowing out of Him, struggling for every breath, enduring the searing pain of His wounds, God the Father then placed every single sin ever committed on his shoulders. Here the picture is profound. For this is what the Hight Priest did every year on the day of atonement. He placed the sins of the people on the scapegoat so every sin could be removed. That’s what the Father did for you at the cross. He took your sin and placed it on Jesus. But when He did this, it was different than what the High Priest did. For when the Father placed your sin on the cross, Jesus took away your sin once and for all and forever.
That’s why there is no need for any further sacrifice for sin. And that is why, when Jesus completed his sacrifice for every sin, he declared: tetelastai “It is finished.” At that moment, with those words, Jesus declared the debt of ever sin has been paid now and forever. And as a result, the Father’s wrath was satisfied. Never again will His Son have to suffer for our sin. For as God’s Word says, For Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. 1 Peter 3:18
That makes the cross of Jesus Christ the ultimate game changer. You see, God knew you would rebel and try to live life apart from Him. God knew that going your own way without Him would bring you suffering, sorrow, and pain. And God knew there was nothing you could do to restore the relationship you broke by your rebellion. So, God did what only He could do. The arm of the Lord came down to save you at the cross.
And because of what Jesus did that day:
Taking your sin upon His shoulders,
Being pierced for your transgressions,
Being crushed by your iniquities,
Taking the punishment you deserved
And having every sin laid upon Him…
God made it possible for you to be reconciled with Him and experience the healing power of the blood of Jesus. That’s the message of the cross. That’s the power of the cross. Now you can be forgiven, be reconciled with God and made whole again all because of what Jesus did on the cross for you. That’s the game changer that can change your life once and for all, and forever.
So I only have two questions for you today: First, do you believe the message of the cross? That Jesus came to save you by dying in your place on the cross. Second, do you want Jesus to be your Savior today?
If you can answer yes to both of these questions, then would you tell the Father that you believe in Jesus with me? Let’s pray