How were the Israelites expecting the Messiah to deliver them?
How did Jesus’ sufferings challenge their expectations?
How does Jesus’ suffering challenge your own expectations of God’s promises?
Matthew’s Gospel is full of quotations and allusions from the Hebrew Bible, emphasizing that Jesus is the surprising fulfillment of Israel’s messianic prophecies. At the end of Matthew’s account, he specifically alludes to Isaiah 53 while telling the story of Jesus’ sufferings, death, and resurrection. Many Israelites expected the Messiah to come as a military warrior, who would punish the ruling empire and deliver the people from oppression. But through the lens of Matthew’s eye-witness testimony and Isaiah’s scroll, we learn that Jesus is so much more than the savior the people were expecting. He actually bore the punishment of those who rejected and wounded him. His humble suffering led to healing and redemption that could overcome all forms of oppression.
Let’s reflect on how Isaiah 53 is alluded to in Matthew's Gospel.
Read: Matthew 27:38-44, Isaiah 53
Compare Isaiah 53:4-5 with Matthew 27:38-44 and Matthew 8:16. What similarities do you notice between these passages? How did the mocking crowds misjudge Jesus' power and purpose?
Compare Isaiah 53:6 with Matthew 26:31-32, 56 and consider how Jesus' followers “fall away,” and how their failure “falls on him.” What is the significance of this? Why do you think Jesus and the authors used the metaphor of sheep and shepherd to describe this exchange?
Look at a few more instances where Matthew alluded to Isaiah’s prophetic words (compare Isaiah 53:7-8 with Matthew 26:59-63, or Isaiah 53:9 with Matthew 27:57-60). What stands out to you?
Isaiah 53 describes the Messiah as a suffering servant, but there are other Old Testament passages that describe the Messiah as a warrior (e.g. Psalm 2, Daniel 2, etc.). How does Isaiah 53:11-12 use battle or war imagery to describe what the Messiah’s suffering would gain? How can these two identities complement each other instead of conflict, and how are they both fulfilled in Jesus?
Turn these reflections into a prayer. Express your surprise, awe, and gratitude to Jesus for what he suffered on your behalf. Be honest about how your own expectations in life might conflict with the idea of Jesus’ suffering. Ask for renewed courage to join in Jesus’ sufferings (Matthew 16:24-25).
Jesus is God with Us.
Each Gospel account emphasizes a unique angle on Jesus’ time on Earth. Matthew’s Gospel makes clear, from its opening sentence, that Jesus is the fulfilment and continuation of the Hebrew Scriptures. He is the Messiah from the royal line of David, he is a new Moses, who has come to lead his people into a new covenant, and he is God with us—Immanuel.
Jesus Is the Long-Awaited Jewish Messiah
From the calling of the disciples to the Great Commission, every part of this Gospel account shows readers how the promises and prophecies God made to his people in the Old Testament came to pass through Jesus.