6 strong reasons why Isaiah 53 describes Jesus alone
by Erik Manning
Here’s a spiritual conversation starter for you. Print off Isaiah 53 on a piece of paper. Take out the headings and verse numbers. Then grab a non-Christian friend and have them read it with you. 99 times out of a hundred, they’ll identify the Suffering Servant described in the passage as Jesus. That would be a great time to let them know that the chapter comes is out of the Jewish Bible and was written 700 years before the time of Christ!
The Bible says that one of the things that separate Yahweh from the nation’s idols is his ability to tell us the end from the beginning. (Isaiah 46:10) But not everyone is a fan of the argument from Messianic prophecy. In a debate with apologist David Marshall, atheist John Loftus argued that the passage is unequivocally not about Jesus. Says Loftus:
“Isaiah 49:1-3 helps provide the context for Isaiah 42-53. The servant is Israel. Surely if anyone in today’s pulpit interpreted the Bible out of context you would not like it. Why here?”
Loftus is taking his cue from the popular rabbinic interpretation. For an example of that, here’s Jewish author and Rabbi Tovia Singer: “The broad consensus among Jewish, and even some Christian commentators, that the “servant” in Isaiah 52-53 refers to the nation of Israel is understandable. Isaiah 53, which is the fourth of four renowned Servant Songs, is umbilically connected to its preceding chapters. The “servant” in each of the three previous Servant Songs is plainly and repeatedly identified as the nation of Israel.”
So are Singer and Loftus right? Have Christians mistakenly or underhandedly applied these passages to Jesus for the last 2000 years?
I don’t think that can possibly be the case. The rabbinic interpretation is plagued with problems…