One of our great hopes as parents is that we would raise children with a desire and boldness to tell others the gospel of Jesus Christ. To do this, our children need to know several things:
(1) what the gospel is,
(2) why we believe the gospel is true, and
(3) why sharing the gospel with others is important.
I can think of few passages in the Bible that teach all these things as well as Isaiah 53.
Written hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, this prophetic song is one of the most significant prophecies in the Bible. It is quoted or alluded to in the New Testament many times, pointing readers to Jesus as the fulfillment.
We should think of Isaiah 53 as an “anchor text” for our kids. It is a platform from which the gospel can be explained and defended.
What the Gospel Is
The gospel is primarily a message about something God has done. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 offers a breathtaking picture of that story, told hundreds of years before it happened.
- Everyone is guilty of sin – “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6a).
- Jesus, God’s Servant, has come as promised – Isaiah prophecies that God’s “Servant” would come (Isaiah 52:11) according to God’s plan. Starting with this very passage of Scripture, the evangelist Philip presented “the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35). The person of Jesus is the center of the gospel.
- Jesus died for our sins – Isaiah prophecies that God’s Servant would suffer, but not because of his own sins, but the sins of others. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (53:4). Jesus “was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities” (53:5).
- God vindicated Jesus raising Him from the dead – Jesus did not stay in the grave. Isaiah prophesies that God “shall prolong his days” (53:10). Isaiah said God’s Servant would be “high and lifted up, and shall be exalted” (52:13).
- Salvation is promised for all who believe – Because of Jesus’ death, he will “make many to be accounted righteous” (53:11).
Why We Believe the Gospel is True
This prophecy reminds us of a couple compelling reasons why someone should put their trust in the gospel.
First, we believe the the gospel is true because Jesus fulfilled this prophecy in many details:
- He would grow up in poor circumstances (53:2).
- He would have the appearance of an ordinary man (53:2).
- It would not be obvious to many that he is God’s Servant (53:1).
- He would be innocent and do no violence (53:9).
- He would bear the sicknesses and weaknesses of others (53:4).
- He would be despised and rejected by others (53:3).
- Men would hide their faces from being associated with Him (53:3).
- He would be judged and oppressed by a court of law (53:7).
- He would experience great grief and sorrow, oppression and affliction (53:3,7)
- He would be disfigured from his severe suffering (52:14).
- He would not open his mouth when accused (53:7).
- He would willingly be grouped with criminals (53:12).
- People would esteem him cursed by God (53:4).
- He would be pierced, crushed, and chastised for the sins of others (53:5-6).
- He would be crushed according to God’s plan and purpose, becoming a guilt offering (53:10).
- He would willingly die for the sins of others, bearing their sin in his own body (53:8,11,13).
- He would be buried in a rich man’s grave (53:9).
- God would prolong his days, raising him from the dead (53:10).
- He would bring peace between God and man (53:5).
- He would make many be accounted righteous (53:11).
- He would be highly exalted by God (52:13; 53:12).
- He would intercede for sinners (53:12).
Second, we believe the gospel is true because Jesus life was marked by the miraculous.
- Quoting from Isaiah 53:4, Matthew writes, “That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases'” (Matthew 8:16-17). Matthew wants us to know that Jesus’ healing ministry was not just miraculous, but each healing was a sign pointing to a greater reality: his miracles illustrated the great work of redemption he came to do. He came to take away all the damaging effects of sin, including sickness, demonic oppression, and even death itself.
- As Isaiah prophesied, God “prolonged” the Messiah’s days, raising him from the dead (Isaiah 53:10). He was seen alive by many groups of people, including more than 500 on one occasion (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). His resurrection declares him to be the powerful Son of God (Romans 1:4). His resurrection demonstrates that God accepted his great sacrifice (Romans 4:25).
Why Sharing the Gospel with Others is Important
Quoting from Isaiah 52:15, Paul writes, “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand'” (Romans 15:20-21).
Paul believed that people everywhere needed to hear about the great things the Servant of the Lord had done, so he made it his ambition to cary the gospel to people who never heard. Paul did this because:
- He wanted to see people become worshippers of the true God so Christ would be glorified (Romans 15:9).
- He wanted to see people saved, becoming acceptable in God’s eyes (Romans 15:16).
These are the same motives we want our kids to have.
Teaching Kids to Memorize Isaiah 53
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is a lengthy text but well worth the time to study as a family.
To help with this we’ve just released a new handwriting curriculum for kids that focuses on this text. As with all of our copywork curricula, these workbooks will last a full school year, combining handwriting, dictation, vocabulary, and Bible memory into one daily activity. The workbook is available in ESV and KJV translations, and includes manuscript and cursive versions.