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CHRIST – UNIVERSALLY DEVALUED

(SERMON NUMBER 4 ON ISAIAH 53)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, March 16, 2013

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).


Dr. Edward J. Young said,

The unbelief that Isaiah here depicts is the same unbelief found all about us today. Men say pleasant and complimentary things about [Christ]. They will praise His ethics, His teaching, declare that He was a good man and a great prophet, the only one who has answers to the social problems that today confront the world. They will not, however, acknowledge that they are sinners, deserving of everlasting punishment, and that the death of Christ was a vicarious sacrifice, designed to satisfy the justice of God and reconcile an offended God to the sinner. Men will not receive what God says concerning His Son. Today, also, the Servant [Christ] is despised and rejected of men, and men do not esteem Him (Edward J. Young, Ph.D., The Book of Isaiah, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972, volume 3, p. 344).

Luther said that the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah was the very heart of the Bible. I think he was right. If you accept that, then our text takes on tremendous importance. I believe this verse to be one of the clearest statements about the total depravity of mankind given in the Bible. By “depravity” we mean “corruption.” By “total” we mean “complete.” Man became completely corrupted by the sin of our first parents. As the Heidelberg Catechism put it, the depravity of human nature comes “From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise. This fall has so poisoned our nature that we are born sinners – corrupt from conception on” (The Heidelberg Catechism, Question seven). Total depravity is shown by man’s hostility toward God,

“Because the carnal mind is enmity [hostile] against God”        (Romans 8:7).

That hostility extends to Christ, who is God the Son. Total depravity explains why the Roman soldiers who arrested Him

“spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head”
       (Matthew 27:30).

Total depravity explains why the Roman governor Pilate

“scourged Jesus [and] delivered him to be crucified”
       (Matthew 27:26).

Total depravity explains why the people screamed at Him and insulted Him as He hung dying on the Cross.

Total depravity explains why, even today,

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).

I. First, total depravity causes mankind to despise and reject Christ.

“He is despised and rejected of men…” (Isaiah 53:3).

This describes the general rejection of Christ that we see in the world today. We see it on the covers of American magazines like Time and Newsweek at Christmas and Easter. These news periodicals invariably do a cover story on Christ at that time each December and each April. But I can assure you they are never flattering stories. They always choose an odd looking medieval painting of Jesus for the cover of the magazine, a painting that makes Christ appear strange and out of date to the modern mind. Of course they do that on purpose. They invariably have a cover story written by men from the extreme fringe of theological liberalism, men who reject Christ as the only begotten Son of God, and the only means of salvation. I am sure this sort of thing is printed in the British tabloids, and in magazines throughout the world. Christ is often attacked openly on television and in the movies as well.

In your secular high school or college, you who are students are well aware that your professors never have a good word to say about Jesus or Christianity. Christ and His teachings are constantly attacked and belittled by your professors.

“He is despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3).

Your classmates at school, and co-workers at your job, use Christ’s name as a curse word, and speak evil of Him on an almost daily basis.

If you come from a non-Christian home, you cannot find refuge there either! You know very well that your non-Christian parents despise and reject the Saviour. Many of you know how difficult it is to endure the slander and ridicule they heap on Christ – and on you for believing in Him and becoming a serious Christian in a Baptist church. All of this flows out of the hostile, depraved heart of mankind.

“He is despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3).

II. Second, total depravity causes the sorrow and grief of Christ.

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…” (Isaiah 53:3).

What causes Christ’s sorrow and grief? What else but the hostility and rejection that a lost world has toward Him!

When He was living on earth the scribes, Pharisees and high priests were so hostile to Him, and so strongly rejected Him, that He cried out in great agony of soul:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luke 13:34).

Christ was so broken down with sorrow and grief, so weighed down with man’s sin, that in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before they crucified Him,

“His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).

There my God bore all my guilt;
   This through grace can be believed;
But the horrors which He felt
   Are too vast to be conceived.
None can penetrate through thee,
   Dismal, dark Gethsemane!
None can penetrate through thee,
   Dismal, dark Gethsemane!
(“Gethsemane” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768; altered by the Pastor;
     to the tune of “Come, Ye Sinners”).

What caused Christ to experience this agony in His body and soul, if not your sin? What caused His sorrow and grief, if not the hostility and enmity of your depraved nature, which called forth the judgment of God on Him, making it necessary for Him to bear your sins from Gethsemane to the Cross?

Man of sorrows, what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
    (“Hallelujah! What a Saviour!” by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876).

And what is it in your inward nature today that causes Jesus sorrow and grief, as He looks down at you from Heaven? He is sorrowful and grieved over the fact that you, yourself, despise and reject Him. You may say you love Him. But the fact that you refuse to trust Him shows that you really despise and reject Him. Be honest with yourself! If you do not despise and reject Him, what other possible reason could there be that keeps you from trusting Him? Your refusal to trust Him causes Him great grief and sorrow this evening.

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…” (Isaiah 53:3).

III. Third, total depravity causes mankind to hide its face from Christ.

Look at the third clause of the text,

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him…” (Isaiah 53:3).

Dr. Gill said, “And we hid as it were our faces from him; as one loathsome and abominable, as having an aversion to him, and abhorrence of him, as scorning to look at him, being unworthy of any notice” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume I, pp. 311-312).

In their natural state of depravity, men hide their faces from Christ. They may, as Dr. Young said, “say pleasant and complimentary things about Him…[But] they will not, however, acknowledge that they are sinners, deserving everlasting punishment, and that the death of Christ was a vicarious sacrifice, designed to satisfy the justice of God and reconcile an offended God to the sinner. They will not receive what God says concerning His Son” (Young, ibid.).

The non-Christian religions either reject Jesus completely, or else relegate Him to the position of a mere “prophet” or “teacher.” Thus, they reject the true Christ, as He is revealed in the Bible. The cults also reject the true Christ. They reject orthodox Christianity and substitute, in place of the real Christ, “another Jesus, whom we have not preached” (II Corinthians 11:4). Jesus prophesied this when He said, “There shall arise false Christs” (Matthew 24:24). The only true Christ is the one revealed in the Old and New Testaments. All other conceptions of Christ are “false Christs,” or, as the Apostle Paul put it, “another Jesus, whom we have not preached.” The Mormons have a false Christ. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a false Christ. The Muslims have a false Christ. Many evangelicals also have a false “Spirit-Christ” today, a gnostic Christ, as Dr. Michael Horton explains in his book Christless Christianity (Baker Books, 2008). By believing in a false Christ they hide their faces from the true Christ revealed in the Holy Scriptures.

Sadly this is often true among evangelical Christians. Dr. A. W. Tozer, a highly esteemed evangelical author, made that point very plain when he said,

      There are a great many bogus [counterfeit] Christs among us [evangelicals] these days. John Owen, the old Puritan, warned people in his day: “You have an imaginary Christ and if you are satisfied with an imaginary Christ you must be satisfied with an imaginary salvation”…But there is only one true Christ, and God has said that He is His Son…Even among those who acknowledge the deity of Christ there is often a failure to recognize His manhood. We are quick to assert that when He walked the earth He was God with men, but we overlook a truth equally as important, that where He now sits on His mediatorial throne [up in Heaven] He is man with God. The teaching of the New Testament is that now, at this very moment, there is a man in heaven appearing in the presence of God for us. He is as certainly a man as was Adam or Moses or Paul. He is a man glorified, but His glorification did not dehumanize Him. Today He is a real man, of the race of mankind.
      Salvation comes not by “accepting the finished work” or “deciding for Christ.” [Salvation] comes by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, the whole, living, victorious Lord who, as God and man, fought our fight and won it, accepted our debt [of sin] and paid it, took our sins and died under them and rose again to set us free. This is the true Christ, and nothing less will do (A. W. Tozer, D.D,. “Jesus Christ is Lord,” Gems From Tozer, Christian Publications, 1969, by permission of Send the Light Trust – 1979, pp. 24, 25).

The natural depravity of the human heart causes unsaved people to hide their faces from the true Christ.

“And we hid as it were our faces from him” (Isaiah 53:3).

IV. Fourth, total depravity causes mankind to devalue Christ.

Look at the end of our text, in verse three. Let us stand and read aloud the last clause, beginning with the words, “he was despised…”

“He was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).

You may be seated. Speaking on those words, “we esteemed him not,” Spurgeon, “the prince of preachers,” said,

This must be the universal confession of the human race. From the highest monarch to the meanest [lowest] peasant, from the loftiest intellect to the most degraded mind, from the admired of all men to the unknown and insignificant, this one confession must come: “We esteemed him not”…Even the holiest of saints…even they once “esteemed him not”…at one time “esteemed him not [before they were converted]” (C. H. Spurgeon, “Why Christ is Not Esteemed,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1978 reprint, volume LIII, p. 157).

In that same sermon, titled, “Why Christ is Not Esteemed,” Spurgeon gave four reasons why this lost world fails to appreciate Christ, why unconverted people do not see Christ’s value, do not think highly of Him, do not esteem and worship Him. Spurgeon said that unsaved people do not esteem Him for these four reasons:

(1)  Men do not value Christ because they esteem themselves so highly. “Self-esteem,” he said, “keeps Jesus out…and the more our self-esteem increases, the more firmly do we fasten [lock] the door against Christ. Love of self prevents love of the Saviour.”

(2)  Men do not value Christ because they esteem the world so highly. Spurgeon said, “We esteemed him not because we loved the earth and all its follies.”

(3)  Men do not value Christ because they do not know Him. Spurgeon said, “There is a great distinction between knowing about Christ and knowing Christ himself…Those who think wrongly about Christ have never known him…‘we esteemed him not’… because we knew him not.”

(4)  Men do not value Christ because they are spiritually dead. Spurgeon said, “There need be no surprise that we did not esteem Christ, for we were spiritually dead…we were ‘dead in trespasses and sins,’ and, like Lazarus in his grave, we were becoming more and more corrupt as every moment passed.”


These are the reasons Spurgeon gave for mankind’s rejection of the Saviour, for the fact that they see no value in Him. I wonder, does this text apply to you?

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).

Have the words of this sermon made you think about your depravity, the stubborn resistance of your heart to Jesus? Have you felt a little of the corruption of your heart, which rejects Christ and does not value Him? If you feel any of that awful corruption in yourself, I can assure you it is only by the grace of God that you do. As John Newton put it,

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
   That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
   Was blind but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
   And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
   The hour I first believed!
(“Amazing Grace” by John Newton, 1725-1807).

If you feel that your stubborn heart is barred against Christ, and if you feel to any degree your own wretched depravity in rejecting Christ, will you now submit yourself to Him? Will you trust Christ, whom the world despises and rejects? When you trust Jesus you will be instantly saved from sin and Hell by His Blood and righteousness. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by the Pastor: Isaiah 52:13-53:3.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Amazing Grace” (by John Newton, 1725-1807).


THE OUTLINE OF

CHRIST – UNIVERSALLY DEVALUED

(SERMON NUMBER 4 ON ISAIAH 53)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).

(Romans 8:7; Matthew 27:30, 26)

I.   First, total depravity causes mankind to despise and reject Christ,
Isaiah 53:3a.

II.  Second, total depravity causes the sorrow and grief of Christ,
Isaiah 53:3b; Luke 13:34; 22:44.

III. Third, total depravity causes mankind to hide its face from Christ,
Isaiah 53:3c; II Corinthians 11:4; Matthew 24:24.

IV. Fourth, total depravity causes mankind to devalue Christ, Isaiah 53:3d.