"Because he hath
poured out his soul
unto death"

(Isaiah 53:12)

excerpted from: Keith H. Meservy, "Isaiah 53:
The Richest Prophecy in the Old Testament
on Christ's Atonement,"
Richard D. Draper, ed., A Witness of Jesus Christ:
The 1989 Sperry Symposium
on the Old Testament

In chapter 53, Isaiah repeats the awesome price Christ would pay for his victory and, by his precise words, shows that Jesus participated as an active agent in making the sacrifice by pouring out his own soul.

This action had been foreshadowed by the visit of Elijah and Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration when they prepared him for his "decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." (Luke 9:31; italics added.)

Jesus explained how he would accomplish his decease when he said: "I lay down my life. . . . no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down." (John 10:17-18.)

Thus, when his time had fully come, he set his face to go to Jerusalem, refused to call down legions of angels to defend himself, repeated his willingness to drink the cup which the Father had poured for him, and, when he had finished all that he had to do, he announced: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." (Luke 23:46.) Then "he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost," and died. (John 19:30; italics added.)

By saying that he poured out his soul unto death, Isaiah may be suggesting why it was important for him to die on the cross - for this manner of death allowed him time to do the pouring out. If he had been beheaded, hanged, run through with a sword, or stoned, he would have died instantaneously without having had any time to use his volition in giving up his own life.

When they put him on the cross to see that he died, all they needed to satisfy their own wicked desires was time. Given time, he would die. But by giving him time, they gave him control over the giving. He could decide at what point to lay down his life. Thus, as a priest sacrificing a lamb, he performed the sacrifice. And as a Lamb, he became his own victim. (Heb. 8:1-2; 9:11-16, esp. v. 14.)

This crucial detail was known to Isaiah when he said that the righteous servant would pour out his own soul unto death.

(edited by David Van Alstyne)

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