By Gene Hutchcraft
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." Isaiah 53:7
This text is the Prophet’s graphic record of a person he did not know and a time and place also concealed from the reporter. In the earth such a person is either eye witness of events or speaking to someone who personally saw the reported occurrance. They investigate, evaluate, and measure words of those witnesses knowing the limitations of human observation. Yet, in this account no man was present since the event had not yet occurred, also no man would observe the primary aspects of this incident though they would come to pass for they are prophetic! When they did happen, the reality that counted with God was invisible to the human eye. Human witnesses were saw only a small portion of the incident since the critical parts, as with your body, were veiled.
God chose the time and place of revealing these things hidden in Himself throughout the generations of the earth. No man could search and discover them, none stumbled upon them when the Mighty One was not looking or was busy with some other matter. In such things God is able, as with Jesus’ identity to John the Baptist, keep them until the moment of unveiling, which is also by God’s manner. Recall John’s account of that revelation. “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.’” (John 1:32-34) This revelation by Isaiah is that quality and method of unveiling.
These things, Jesus’ suffering as the Lamb, the ransom for the souls of men, no man knew or discovered. God revealed this in the preaching of the gospel, His redemption through Jesus’ blood. When it was announced many Jews could not believe but stumbled over it and many Gentiles thought it foolishness. God revealed their hearts in this response. His wisdom and ways no man understands but by faith and its submission to the revelation of God’s righteousness, truth, kindness, and mercy that are in Christ Jesus. Such things are shown in the words of this prophet!
The words of this account are the first portion of what the Ethiopian Eunuch read while traveling homeward from Jerusalem. “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip,(at Samaria) saying, ‘Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.’ And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias (Isaiah) the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, ‘Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.’ And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias (Isaiah), and said, ‘Understandest thou what thou readest?’ And he said, ‘How can I, except some man should guide me?’ And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.’ And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, ‘I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” (Acts 8:26-35)
The truth in this text, along with the Passover type, was the basis for John’s revealed identification of Jesus to Israel as ‘the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.’ It was also Peter’s appeal to the believers to bear their suffering with the patience of faith. “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” (1 Peter 2:23) Yet, His example in patient suffering was secondary in God’s purpose for Christ Who came to give His life a ransom for many, to lay it down and take it up again! And He did so for He always did what pleased the Father Who was ‘well pleased’ with Him!
THE VICTIM’S CIRCUMSTANCE
He was oppressed meaning ‘to drive (an animal, a workman, a debtor, an army); by implication to tax, harass, tyrannize: - distress, driver, exact (-or), oppress (-or), raiser of taxes, taskmaster . . . (Israel in Egypt or pagan armies plundering their possessions.) (STRONGS) The history of Israel, to their shame, was filled with such oppression. It was evidence of their rebellion against God. He made them the tail since they cast Him behind their backs.
Now, our Savior’s earthly life was ‘oppressed’, contrasted to the reality of His identity and being prior to His birth. That is, even entering the earth as a man was ‘oppressive’ to all He was or is. As it is written “. . . unto the Son he saith, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. . . . And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands. They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.’” (Hebrews 1:8, 10-12) This was the reality of His being in the ages of eternity which He exited to then enter our oppressive, limited, and temporary realm.
Yet, He was willing, “Then said I, ‘Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me.’” (Psalms 40:7) Christ subjected Himself to God’s will as a man in the earth, saying; ‘Mine ears though hast opened.’ (Psalm 40:6b); and ‘a body thou hast prepared for me.’ (Hebrews 10:5c). We know only 2-3 snap shots of Jesus youth, recall this rhetorical question to His earthly parents in what they thought were troubling circumstances. “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? (Luke 2:49) These affirmed His identity and were a reminder of what the angel spoke to them, which in fear for His safety, they temporarily forget.
Recall these words of His perspective midway of His earthly ministry. “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.” (Luke 12:49-51) Then also to His disciples, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you?” (Luke 9:41) Or this to Peter, “And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.’” (Mark 8:32-33) These are words of ‘disappointment.’ Not to mention the animosity or opposition of enemies who lurked around His ministry work provoking Him by questions to trap him or demands for signs when they rejected the signs of God’s choice!
Each of these testify to the oppression of Christ just by His presence in the body on earth, which hid His true identity, except to those of faith. This affirms the burden which our Lord carried to the pinnacle of His appointed suffering for the Father. Christ knew these things and spoke openly of them that the disciples and any who read the record would know that these events were not random or controlled by enemies, they were the calculated purpose of the Father to justify Himself and those who would believe to eternal life. Our primary text speaks to that reality which no man could bare or comprehend as to the weight which He bore in the body prepared for Him.
He was afflicted – “the idea is of looking down (upon), as in brow-beating; to depress literally or figuratively. (STRONGS) As did the Egyptians, the Philistines, and the Midianites to Israel; Delilah did to shaven Samson; Amnon did after violating Tamar. Just prior to our primary text Isaiah said God afflicted this man, a sobering though, the object of affliction from God!
Jesus submitted to the ‘affliction’ of men in His flesh. However, it was God’s affliction of His ‘soul’ that accomplished what was necessary to satisfy God’s justice and reconcile the world to Himself. This same prophet earlier recorded these words for Israel to remember and think on before and since the historical event of Jesus’ being ‘lifted up.’ “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6)
The gospel record portrays those some of the events after this manner when His accusers vented their scorn and hatred toward Him. These were, in other settings, refined and educated religious men, but not here and not with Him Whom they despised. This was the fulfillment of months of scheming, planning. “And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, ‘Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?’” (Luke 22:63-64) Later the Roman soldiers had their expert opportunity to degrade this Jew Whom they knew not. “And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. (Mark 15:16-19)
He was willing to bear this weight of mocking and scorn from men. Still, it was the weight of sin in His body and God’s curse for the sake of justice, righteousness, wisdom, and wrath that burst forth in the words of the Psalm. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani’ . Yet, Jesus bore it and tread ‘the winepress’ of the wrath of God alone. He could endure the threshing sledge of God’s justice and God’s truth when He became sin, carrying it in His body on the tree. Then He could afterward, by the power of His indestructible life and the Father’s promise, take up His body from the grave and show Himself alive ‘by many infallible proofs’ to those He had chosen. How He was ‘oppressed’ and ‘afflicted!’
THE VICTIM’S CONDITION
… he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter... as a sheep before its shearers… the Psalmist gives another description from the victim’s perspective. “They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.” (Psalms 38:12) And the Law of Moses confirms the situation from the interrogators’ vantage. “And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.” (Leviticus 5:1) This applies “to the case of a person who, being adjured by the civil magistrate to answer upon oath, refuses to declare what he knows upon the subject - such an one shall bear his iniquity - shall be considered as guilty in the sight of God of the transgression which he has endeavoured to conceal, and must expect to be punished for hiding the iniquity with which he was acquainted. (TSK) And so they convicted Him on all counts of the accusations, even using His own words of truth.
These men had sent their soldiers to take Him into custody. “And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, ‘Whom seek ye?’ They answered him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus saith unto them, ‘I am he.’ And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, ‘I am he,’ they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, ‘Whom seek ye?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:’ That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, ‘Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.’” (John 18:2-9) Note His meekness and compliance to the Father’s will even managing these, bringing it to pass that the scripture be not broken.
When delivered the council descended upon Him as worse than predators, who attack and kill for hunger. These men did so for hatred of the Galilean, the ‘Lamb of God.’ They were bent on protecting their positions and powers they possessed in them. They saw Jesus as a threat, a competitor, so to speak, though the Master never sought power, He had it! “Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, ‘Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, ‘What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye?’ And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.” Mark 14:61b-64) They then abused Him through the night, concluding at the dawn when they delivered Him to the Roman governor for execution of that judgment.
Jesus, in His first appearance to Pilate, made this statement who saw the reality of it on some level. “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36) So, the Son of man and God again spoke the truth to earthly powers who would someday stand to Him also to answer! What will the governor answer?
THE VICTIM’S REACTION
‘…yet he opened not his mouth… as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openth not his mouth.’ This was the due payment to God’s justice and wrath against sin, even for all ungodliness, met in Jesus’ body on the tree. It was the ‘suffering of His soul’ a price men knew not. The depths of His soul was the place of extraction which men did not know but what the Son gave in full to God’s wrath against sin and wickedness throughout the generations of men. The Father and Son appointed or determined this before the world began, prior to the earth’s foundation. “…according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.” (Ephesians 1:9) “…according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Ephesians 1:11)
Only Heaven knew the depth of sin and the greatness of the redemptive price to satisfy the greatness of God’s righteousness and truth with His intent to extend mercy and goodness to children of wrath. The angels declared ‘peace, good will toward men.’ No compromise, no middle ground, no negotiation, no reduction or discount of the price demanded for reconciliation and holiness. God will, by this one act of righteousness, be just and the justifier of those with faith in Jesus. These are the words of bro. Paul making a contrast for our understanding. “For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Romans 5:17-18).
David declared these things in one of His Psalms where he speaks with stunning precision of like suffering. “But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs. For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.” (Psalms 38:13-15) Jesus called it ‘sanctifying Himself.’ This is Jesus’ submission to God’s will, evil men did not take it from Him. Here is more of the record from the gospel’s of the events as they unfolded. “And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, ‘We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’ But neither so did their witness agree together. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, ‘Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?’ But he held his peace, and answered nothing. (Mark 14:55-61a).
Yet, Christ did speak to certain aspects of their accusations for which they assaulted and mocked Him. “And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, ‘Prophesy: and the servants (of the council)did strike him with the palms of their hands.’” (Mark 14:65).
They transferred Him to Pilate for the sealing of their will, which they could not fulfill without his permission. “And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, ‘Art thou the King of the Jews?’ And he answering said unto him, ‘Thou sayest it.’ And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. And Pilate asked him again, saying, ‘Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee.’ But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.” (Mark 15:1-5) During this time Pilate made a preliminary decision, attempting to relieve himself of final judgment on the man. “When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.” (Luke 23:6-9).
Then Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate. “And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, ‘Whence art thou?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, ‘Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?’” (John 19:9-10) Christ replied to the words of power and authority but none else for His defense. He just wanted all to know Who was the driving force in His matter of His looming death. “Jesus answered, ‘Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.’” (John 19:11).
These events were the Father’s undertaking to glorify His name, not as men glorify themselves on the earth. This glory would come by the Son’s obedience in the earth as a man laying down His life, no man would take it from Him. Such glory the earth could not contain. It will someday will consume this world on the day of Jesus’ return, “…when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26) But at this point Jesus endured shame, cursing, and the bitterness heaped upon Him by men and by God when He made Him sin and a curse upon which God expended the full weight of His wrath in payment of the debt, His life and body He gave as ransom for many.
Such was the willing price granted by the Son in obedience to the Father while Jesus was on the earth. It was the price that purchases and sanctifies you entirely, body, soul, and Spirit. ‘…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:19-21) So, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1).