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He (Jesus) was Numbered With The Transgressors

Luke 22:37 — For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.

Isa 53:12 — Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isa 53:10-12

In the foregoing verses the prophet had testified very particularly of the sufferings of Christ, yet mixing some hints of the happy issue of them; here he again mentions his sufferings, but largely foretels the glory that should follow. We may observe, in these verses,

  • I. The services and sufferings of Christ’s state of humiliation. Come, and see how he loved us, see what he did for us.
    • 1. He submitted to the frowns of Heaven (Isa 53:10): Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him, to put him to pain, or torment, or grief. The scripture nowhere says that Christ in his sufferings underwent the wrath of God; but it says here,
      • (1.) That the Lord bruised him, not only permitted men to bruise him, but awakened his own sword against him, Zec. 13:7. They esteemed him smitten of God for some very great sin of his own (Isa 53:4); now it was true that he was smitten of God, but it was for our sin; the Lord bruised him, for he did not spare him, but delivered him up for us all, Rom. 8:32. He it was that put the bitter cup into his hand, and obliged him to drink it (Jn. 18:11), having laid upon him our iniquity. He it was that made him sin and a curse for us, and turned to ashes all his burnt-offering, in token of the acceptance of it, Ps. 20:3.
      • (2.) That he bruised him so as to put him to grief. Christ accommodated himself to this dispensation, and received the impressions of grief from his Father’s delivering him up; and he was troubled to such a degree that it put him into an agony, and he began to be amazed and very heavy.
      • (3.) It pleased the Lord to do this. He determined to do it; it was the result of an eternal counsel; and he delighted in it, as it was an effectual method for the salvation of man and the securing and advancing of the honour of God.
    • 2. He substituted himself in the room of sinners, as a sacrifice. He made his soul an offering for sin; he himself explains this (Mt. 20:28), that he came to give his life a ransom for many. When men brought bulls and goats as sacrifices for sin they made them offerings, for they had an interest in them, God having put them under the feet of man. But Christ made himself an offering; it was his own act and deed. We could not put him in our stead, but he put himself, and said, Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit, in a higher sense than David said, or could say it. “Father, I commit my soul to thee, I deposit it in thy hands, as the life of a sacrifice and the price of pardons.” Thus he shall bear the iniquities of the many that he designed to justify (Isa 53:11), shall take away the sin of the world by taking it upon himself, Jn. 1:29. This mentioned again (Isa 53:12): He bore the sin of many, who, if they had borne it themselves, would have been sunk by it to the lowest hell. See how this dwelt upon; for, whenever we think of the sufferings of Christ, we must see him in them bearing our sin.
    • 3. He subjected himself to that which to us is the wages of sin (Isa 53:12): He has poured out his soul unto death, poured it out as water, so little account did he make of it, when the laying of it down was the appointed means of our redemption and salvation. He loved not his life unto the death, and his followers, the martyrs, did likewise, Rev. 12:11. Or, rather, he poured it out as a drink-offering, to make his sacrifice complete, poured it out as wine, that his blood might be drink indeed, as his flesh is meat indeed to all believers. There was not only a colliquation of his body in his sufferings (Ps. 22:14I am poured out like water), but a surrender of his spirit; he poured out that, even unto death, though he is the Lord of life.
    • 4. He suffered himself to be ranked with sinners, and yet offered himself to be an intercessor for sinners, Isa 53:12.
      • (1.) It was a great aggravation of his sufferings that he was numbered with transgressors, that he was not only condemned as a malefactor, but executed in company with two notorious malefactors, and he in the midst, as if he had been the worst of the three, in which circumstance of his suffering, the evangelist tells us, this prophecy was fulfilled, Mark 15:27-28 . Nay, the vilest malefactor of all, Barabbas, who was a traitor, a thief, and a murderer, was put in election with him for the favour of the people, and carried it; for they would not have Jesus released, but Barabbas. In his whole life he was numbered among the transgressors; for he was called and accounted a sabbath-breaker, a drunkard, and a friend to publicans and sinners.
      • (2.) It was a great commendation of his sufferings, and redounded very much to his honour, that in his sufferings he made intercession for the transgressors, for those that reviled and crucified him; for he prayed, Father, forgive them, thereby showing, not only that he forgave them, but that he was now doing that upon which their forgiveness, and the forgiveness of all other transgressors, were to be founded. That prayer was the language of his blood, crying, not for vengeance, but for mercy, and therein it speaks better things than that of Abel, even for those who with wicked hands shed it.
  • II. The grace and glories of his state of exaltation; and the graces he confers on us are not the least of the glories conferred on him. These are secured to him by the covenant of redemption, which these verses give us some idea of. He promises to make his soul an offering for sin, consents that the Father shall deliver him up, and undertakes to bear the sin of many, in consideration of which the Father promises to glorify him, not only with the glory he had, as God, before the world was (Jn. 17:5), but with the glories of the Mediator.
    • 1. He shall have the glory of an everlasting Father. Under this title he was brought into the world (Isa 9:6), and he shall not fail to answer the title when he goes out of the world. This was the promise made to Abraham (who herein was a type of Christ), that he should be the father of many nations and so be the heir of the world, Rom. 4:1317. As he was the root of the Jewish church, and the covenant was made with him and his seed, so is Christ of the universal church and with him and his spiritual seed is the covenant of grace made, which is grounded upon and grafted in the covenant of redemption, which here we have some of the glorious promises of. It is promised,
      • (1.) That the Redeemer shall have a seed to serve him and to bear up his name, Ps. 22:30. True believers are the seed of Christ; the Father gave them to him to be so, Jn. 17:6. He died to purchase and purify them to himself, fell to the ground as a corn of wheat, that he might bring forth much fruit, Jn. 12:24. The word, that incorruptible see, of which they are born again, is his word; the Spirit, the great author of their regeneration, is his Spirit; and it is his image that is impressed upon them.
      • (2.) That he shall live to see his seed. Christ’s children have a living Father, and because he lives they shall live also, for he is their life. Though he died, he rose again, and left not his children orphans, but took effectual care to secure to them the spirit, the blessing, and the inheritance of sons. He shall see a great increase of them; the word is plural, He shall see his seeds, multitudes of them, so many that they cannot be numbered.
      • (3.) That he shall himself continue to take care of the affairs of this numerous family: He shall prolong his days. Many, when they see their seed, their seed’s seed, wish to depart in peace; but Christ will not commit the care of his family to any other, no, he shall himself live long, and of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, for he ever lives. Some refer it to believers: He shall see a seed that shall prolong its days, agreeing with Ps. 89:2936His seed shall endure for ever. While the world stands Christ will have a church in it, which he himself will be the life of.
      • (4.) That his great undertaking shall be successful and shall answer expectation: The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. God’s purposes shall take effect, and not one iota or tittle of them shall fail. Note,
        • [1.] The work of man’s redemption is in the hands of the Lord Jesus, and it is in good hands. It is well for us that it is in his, for our own hands are not sufficient for us, but he is able to save to the uttermost. It is in his hands who upholds all things.
        • [2.] It is the good pleasure of the Lord, which denotes not only his counsel concerning it, but his complacency in it; and therefore God loved him, and was well pleased in him, because he undertook to lay down his life for the sheep.
        • [3.] It has prospered hitherto, and shall prosper, whatever obstructions or difficulties have been, or may be, in the way of it. Whatever is undertaken according to God’s pleasure shall prosper, Isa 46:10. Cyrus, a type of Christ, shall perform all God’s pleasure (Isa 44:28), and therefore, no doubt, Christ shall. Christ was so perfectly well qualified for his undertaking, and prosecuted it with so much vigour, and it was from first to last so well devised, that it could not fail to prosper, to the honour of his Father and the salvation of all his seed.
      • (5.) That he shall himself have abundant satisfaction in it (Isa 53:11): He shall see of the travail of his sous, and shall be satisfied. He shall see it beforehand (so it may be understood); he shall with the prospect of his sufferings have a prospect of the fruit, and he shall be satisfied with the bargain. He shall see it when it is accomplished in the conversion and salvation of poor sinners. Note,
        • [1.] Our Lord Jesus was in travail of soul for our redemption and salvation, in great pain, but with longing desire to be delivered, and all the pains and throes he underwent were in order to it and hastened it on.
        • [2.] Christ does and will see the blessed fruit of the travail of his soul in the founding and building up of his church and the eternal salvation of all that were given him. He will not come short of his end in any part of his work, but will himself see that he has not laboured in vain.
        • [3.] The salvation of souls is a great satisfaction to the Lord Jesus. He will reckon all his pains well bestowed, and himself abundantly recompensed, if the many sons be by him brought through grace to glory. Let him have this, and he has enough. God will be glorified, penitent believers will be justified, and then Christ will be satisfied. Thus, in conformity to Christ, it should be a satisfaction to us if we can do any thing to serve the interests of God’s kingdom in the world. Let it always be our meat and drink, as it was Christ’s, to do God’s will.
    • 2. He shall have the glory of bringing in an everlasting righteousness; for so it was foretold concerning him, Dan. 9:24. And here, to the same purport, By his knowledge (the knowledge of him, and faith in him) shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear the sins of many, and so lay a foundation for our justification from sin. Note,
      • (1.) The great privilege that flows to us from the death of Christ is justification from sin, our being acquitted from that guilt which alone can ruin us, and accepted into God’s favour, which alone can make us happy.
      • (2.) Christ, who purchased our justification for us, applies it to us, by his intercession made for us, his gospel preached to us, and his Spirit witnessing in us. The Son of man had power even on earth to forgive sin.
      • (3.) There are many whom Christ justifies, not all (multitudes perish in their sins), yet many, even as many as he gave his life a ransom for, as many as the Lord our God shall call. He shall justify not here and there one that is eminent and remarkable, but those of the many, the despised multitude.
      • (4.) It is by faith that we are justified, by our consent to Christ and the covenant of grace; in this way we are saved, because thus God is most glorified, free grace most advanced, self most abased, and our happiness most effectually secured.
      • (5.) Faith is the knowledge of Christ, and without knowledge there can be no true faith. Christ’s way of gaining the will and affections is by enlightening the understanding and bringing that unfeignedly to assent to divine truths.
      • (6.) That knowledge of Christ, and that faith in him, by which we are justified, have reference to him both as a servant to God and as a surety for us.
        • [1.] As one that is employed for God to pursue his designs and secure and advance the interests of his glory. “He is my righteous servant, and as such justifies men.” God has authorized and appointed him to do it; it is according to God’s will and for his honour that he does it. He is himself righteous, and of his righteousness have all we received. He that is himself righteous (for he could not have made atonement for our sin if he had had any sin of his own to answer for) is made of God to us righteousness, the Lord our righteousness.
        • [2.] As one that has undertaken for us. We must know him, and believe in him, as one that bore our iniquities-saved us from sinking under the load by taking it upon himself.
    • 3. He shall have the glory of obtaining an incontestable victory and universal dominion, v. 12. Because he has done all these good services, therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and, according to the will of the Father, he shall divide the spoil with the strong, as a great general, when he has driven the enemy out of the field, takes the plunder of it for himself and his army, which is both an unquestionable evidence of the victory and a recompense for all the toils and perils of the battle. Note,
      • (1.) God the Father has engaged to reward the services and sufferings of Christ with great glory: “I will set him among the great, highly exalt him, and give him a name above every name.” Great riches are also assigned to him: He shall divide the spoil, shall have abundance of graces and comforts to bestow upon all his faithful soldiers.
      • (2.) Christ comes at his glory by conquest. He has set upon the strong man armed, dispossessed him, and divided the spoil. He has vanquished principalities and powers, sin and Satan, death and hell, the world and the flesh; these are the strong that he has disarmed and taken the spoil of.
      • (3.) Much of the glory with which Christ is recompensed, and the spoil which he has divided, consists in the vast multitudes of willing, faithful, loyal subjects, that shall be brought in to him; for so some read it: I will give many to him, and he shall obtain many for a spoil. God will give him the heathen for his inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, Ps. 2:8His dominion shall be from sea to sea. Many shall be wrought upon by the grace of God to give up themselves to him to be ruled, and taught, and saved by him, and hereby he shall reckon himself honoured, and enriched, and abundantly recompensed for all he did and all he suffered.
      • (4.) What God designed for the Redeemer he shall certainly gain the possession of: “I will divide it to him,” and immediately it follows, He shall divide it, notwithstanding the opposition that is given to him; for, as Christ finished the work that was given him to do, so God completed the recompence that was promised him for it; for he is both able and faithful.
      • (5.) The spoil which God divided to Christ he divides (it is the same word), he distributes, among his followers; for, when he led captivity captive, he received gifts for men, that he might give gifts to men; for as he has told us (Acts 20:35) he did himself reckon it more blessed and honourable to give than to receive. Christ conquered for us, and through him we are more than conquerors. He has divided the spoils, the fruits of his conquest, to all that are his: let us therefore cast in our lot among them.1

  1. Matthew Henry Commentary ↩︎