Isaiah 53:2 says “He has no stately form or majesty.” This is relevant because Jesus too was seen merely as a poor sage, with a trivial pedigree, and coming from an unimportant town.1 He lacked the glory and trappings of royalty.2
Isaiah 53:3 says “He was despised … we did not esteem him.” This is relevant because Jesus too was widely hated and rejected by the Jews.1
Jn 19:14-15 -- And [Pilate] said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!”
Isaiah 53:4 says “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.” This is relevant because Jesus too was regarded as being under the curse of God. 1
Isaiah 53:5 says “But He was pierced through [wounded] for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him.” This is relevant because Jesus was similarly wounded for our transgressions.1
• Acts 2:23 -- this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross
• Colossians 2:14 -- He has taken [our sin debt] out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Isaiah 53:5 says “But He was pierced through for our transgressions,… for our iniquities … by His scourging we are healed.” This is relevant for two reasons. First, the historical Jesus was scourged.1 Second, at least in concept, through Jesus's crucifixion we are spiritually healed,2 and this is the kind of healing Isaiah 53 refers to.3
Isaiah 53:6 says “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.” This is relevant because Jesus, in concept, died in a way that provided substitutionary atonement for the wicked. (For scriptures, see comments on v8).1
Isaiah 53:7 says “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.” This is relevant because it describes Jesus perfectly, in his affliction, his acceptance of being slaughtered.1 (Similarly, for his being a lamb.)2
• 1 Peter 2:23 -- When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to Him who judges justly.
Isaiah 53:8 says “He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?” This is relevant because Jesus was executed by crucifixion, and this was regarded as involving God's judgment, being a substitutionary atonement for the transgressions of sinners everywhere.
Isaiah 53:8 says “He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?” This is relevant because Jesus too was seen as a substitutionary sacrifice for the transgressions of the guilty.1
Isaiah 53:10 says “He would render Himself as a guilt offering.” This is relevant because Jesus's death was precisely understood this way.1
But wait, the guilt offering has nothing to do with blood here.1
Bernd Jandowski: “there is no mention of the blood of the Servant, nor is the Servant seen in the role of a sacrificial animal ritually slaughtered by a priestly official.” Instead “The term comes... from contexts in which--as in Genesis 26:10 and 1 Samuel 6:3-4, 9, 18 etc.---guilt-incurring encroachments and their reparation of the theme.” [“He Bore Our Sins: Isaiah 53 and the Drama of Taking Another's Place,” in Suffering Servant, 65.]But consider two points in response.
Isaiah 53:10 says the Servant is sinless. This is relevant because Jesus too was sinless (at least according to tradition). [Note: If one wants to loosen this to being extremely righteous, then Jesus fulfills this as well.]
Jesus fits the context of Isaiah 53, fitting Isaiah 42:4, 49:1-7, and 50:4-8. 1
Isaiah 53's “Servant” is a multitude (rather than one person).[Forthcoming] If true, this would be relevant because Jesus is not a multitude of persons.
Isaiah 53:3 says “He was despised, and we did not esteem Him..” This is relevant because Jesus was a praised teacher and followed by crowds (i.e. attracting many). His so-called Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem was also a crowd celebration (Matthew 21:8-11). For other examples in Matthew:
• Mt 4:25 -- Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.
• Mt 8:1 --When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him....
• Mt 13:2 -- And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach
• Mt 19:2 -- and large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there.
But so what if v2-3 says that?
• First, “attracts” in v. 2 is a reference not to popularity but the physical appearance of the servant. (It reads, “Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him”).
• The Jewish people as a whole hated him. Like his followers, Jesus was in constant danger of stoning by the Jewish people. It was so bad that they had Jesus crucified. Isaiah 53:2 is likely a reference to Jesus' state on the cross, after he was disfigured from a brutal beating (Mt 26:67; 27:26-30) and crucifixion.
• Even the small crowds that did appear often just wanted to see miracles (Jn 6:2), and tended leave and turn on him as soon as he gave his message (Jn 6:66, see Luke 14:25-34).
Isaiah 52-53 suggests the Servant is stricken with disease.1 If this were true, it would be relevant because Jesus was not sick in this way, nor did he die of sickness.
But so what? Even granting this, the prophecy is equating the disease with sin. Jesus is understood as having bore the disease of our sins.
• …1 Peter 2:24 -- and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness;
• …1 Corinthians 15:3 -- Christ died for our sins
• …Hebrews 9:28 -- so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many,
Richard Averbeck: “On a few occasions this term [“stricken”] refers to a physical wound caused by assault rather than a stroke of disease; see, for example, Deuteronomy 17:8; 21:5; 2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 39:10; 89:32; Proverbs 6:33; and perhaps Psalm 38:11, but the term is used overwhelmingly in reference to skin disease.” [“Christian Interpretations of Isaiah 53” in The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 eds. Bock & Glaser (Kregal, 2012), 55.]There are arguments that it cannot be referring to illness, however, and refers to a physical wound caused by assault.[Forthcoming]
Isaiah 53:9 says that the servant is never violent.1 This is relevant because Jesus was violent at least once, when he expelled the merchants and money changers from the temple.
John 2:15 -- He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables (cf. Matthew 21:12–17, Mark 11:15–19, Luke 19:45–48)
• …“He had done no violence” means Jesus was killed for other reasons.2
• Mk 15: 43-- “Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. ... he granted the body to Joseph.”
Isaiah 53:10 says “He will see His seed [offspring].” 1 This is relevant because Jesus had no biological offspring.
But so what if Jesus had no biological offspring? Couldn't it simply be that…
• …“seed” [Heb. zera] is metaphorical, as it often is, 1, 2 such that “see His seed” means to see his spiritual progeny grow (Acts 1:1-9)?
Hebrews 2:13 -- [Jesus says],“Behold, I and the children whom God has given me”
• Isaiah 57:3-4 -- you sons of a sorceress, seed of an adulterer and a prostitute.It can also refer to a future generation in the broadest non-biological sense (Ps 22 -- “posterity [zera] will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord”).
• Isaiah 1:4 -- a seed of evildoers,
• Isaiah 14:20 -- a seed of evildoers [Meaning a community of evildoers]
The righteous Servant is the nation of Israel. [Forthcoming] This is relevant because if it is the nation of Israel, then it cannot be an individual like Jesus.
But wait, the nation of Israel…[All Forthcoming]
• …is not “righteous”
• …is not “blind”
• …would not be punished for Gentiles
• …is the recipient of the Servant's mission
• …(“we”) is speaking of the Servant
• …is not a single person (like The Servant)