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CHRIST – REJECTED BY THE MASSES

(SERMON NUMBER 3 ON ISAIAH 53)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, March 10, 2013

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:1-2).


Isaiah said that few would believe his message about God’s suffering servant, and few would experience His grace. The Apostle John quoted Isaiah 53:1 to describe the unbelief of most Jews in the time of Christ.

“But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:37-38).

The Apostle Paul also quoted this verse 30 years after Christ’s Ascension back to Heaven, to show that the majority of Gentiles would be only slightly more responsive to the Lord Jesus Christ than were the Jews. Paul said,

“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him…But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias [Isaiah] saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?” (Romans 10:12, 16).

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself told us the same thing. He said that the number of those who believe on Him savingly would be few,

“Because strait [small] is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14).

Christ made that same point when He said,

“Strive to enter in at the strait [small] gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able”
      
 (Luke 13:24).

People in the world usually believe that nearly everyone will go to Heaven. But Jesus said the exact opposite,

“Few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14).

“Many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24).

That disturbing truth is echoed in the sorrowful lament of Isaiah,

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1).

We may ask why that is so. The Jews looked for a great and powerful ruler, a king of splendor and wealth, to be their Messiah, and the Gentiles looked for no Messiah at all! Thus, we see that mankind in general did not expect Christ to come as a lowly suffering Servant, dying on the Cross to make payment for their sins.

In the eighth chapter of Acts, the Ethiopian Eunuch was as blind to these facts as the priests and Pharisees of Judaism. He was reading the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah when the evangelist Philip caught up to his moving chariot.

“And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias [Isaiah], and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I…” (Acts 8:30-31).

This African was a convert to Judaism.  He was evidently acquainted with the Old Testament Scriptures, and yet he was as blind as the Jewish scribes when it came to this passage of Scripture.

It seems to me that anyone could have seen from this passage that the Messiah, when He came, would not be rich and famous, surrounded by pomp and human glory, but would come as a “man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” to be “despised and rejected of men.” Yet, although this truth was written plainly in the Bible,

“He came unto his own [the Jewish people], and his own received him not” (John 1:11).

The nation of Israel did not, as a whole, accept Jesus as their Messiah even though He was so perfectly described in this Bible prophecy. And the prophet gives us the reason they rejected Him in the second verse of our text, 

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form [beauty, Strong] nor comeliness [majesty, Strong]; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2).

But we should not judge the Jewish people who rejected Him more harshly than the Gentiles, who for the most part also rejected Him.  Spurgeon said,

Remember that what was true of the Jews is equally true of the Gentiles. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the simplest thing in the world, but yet no man understands it until he is taught [by] God…Sin has brought upon the human race a mental incapacity with regard to spiritual subjects…how is it with you? Are ye blind also?...Are ye blind also? Oh, if ye be, may [God] instruct you in the faith of Jesus (C. H. Spurgeon, “A Root out of Dry Ground,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1971 reprint, volume XVIII, pages 565-566).

Now, turning to our text in verse two, we will see three reasons why Jesus is rejected. Read verse two aloud,

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2).

I. First, Christ is rejected because He appears to man
as a tender plant, a suckling.

Few believe in Jesus because of that fact.

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant…”
       (Isaiah 53:2).

Or, as Dr. Gill said, “As a little sucker, as the word signifies, which grows out of the root of a tree…of which no notice or care is taken, nor anything hoped for from it; and the figure [of speech] denotes the [lowly] and unpromising appearance of Christ at his [birth]; which is the reason given why the Jews in general disbelieved, rejected, and despised him” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume I, pp. 310-311).

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant…”
       (Isaiah 53:2).

This means that Christ was born and grew up “before” God the Father, who took notice of Him and strengthened Him. Yet Dr. Young said, “To men, however, the servant [Jesus] appeared as a suckling…Men cut off the sucklings, because they take the life from the tree and in men’s sight are to be cast out” (Edward J. Young, Ph.D., The Book of Isaiah, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972, volume 3, pp. 341-342).

Isn’t that the very reason the chief priests and Pharisees wanted to get rid of Jesus? They said,

“If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” (John 11:48).

“Men cut off the sucklings, because they take the life from the tree and in men’s sight are to be cast out” (Young, ibid.). They were afraid they would lose their identity as the Jewish nation if they believed in Him. As a “tender plant,” a suckling, they feared that He would “take the life from the tree” of their nation.

And isn’t that really the same reason you reject Him? Think deeply about that! Isn’t it true of you as well – that you are afraid of losing something that seems important to you – if you come to Him and trust Him? Isn’t it true that you are afraid that Christ will “take the life from the tree,” that He will suck away something that is very important to you? 

I asked Dr. Cagan to get me a copy of an article that was put in The Saturday Evening Post in October 1929.  It was an interview with the great physicist Dr. Albert Einstein.  The interviewer asked him, "Do you accept the historical existence of Jesus?"  Einstein answered, "Unquestionably.  No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus.  His personality pulsates in every word.  No myth is filled with such life" (The Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929, p. 117).   Einstein had a very high view of Christ.  But sadly he was never converted.  What stopped him?  It certainly wasn't any intellectual problem.  Einstein was an adulterer, and he did not want to give up that sin.  It's as simple as that.  You do have to give up certain things to become a real Christian. 

Now, I would be a false teacher if I told you that isn’t true. If I told you that you can come to Christ without losing anything I would be preaching a false doctrine. Of course it costs something to come to Jesus! It costs your very life! How could Christ have made it plainer? He said,

“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:34-37).

That’s plain enough, isn’t it? In order to come to Christ you must deny yourself, you must give up your own ideas, your own plans, your own ambitions. You must turn yourself over to Him. That’s what it means to trust Christ. You trust Him – not yourself. You give yourself over to Him – not to your own thoughts and goals. You “lose” your life by turning it over to Him. It is only when you lose your life, by surrendering to Christ, that your life is saved for all eternity.

Thus, the word rendered “tender plant” signifies that Christ is a life-giver in the sight of God. But He is a life-taker in the sight of man, and therefore most people reject Him. They don’t want Him to “take” their life over! They are afraid to let go of their life and let Him lead them.

II. Second, Christ is rejected because He appears to man
as a root out of a dry ground.

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground…” (Isaiah 53:2).

My time is gone because I have taken too long on the first point. But we can easily see how Christ appeared as a “root out of a dry ground.” Dr. Young said,

Dry ground refers to the lowly condition and background in which the servant [Christ] was to appear. It suggests the miserable nature of the conditions in the midst of which the servant’s life was lived…A root in a dry parched ground must struggle to preserve life (Young, ibid., p. 342).

This prophecy refers to the poverty into which Christ was born. His adoptive father was only a carpenter. His real mother Mary was a poor virgin girl. He was born in a stable and grew up among the poor, “as a root out of a dry ground.” He did His life’s work among the poor and lowly. His Disciples were nothing but fishermen. He was rejected by King Herod, by the Roman governor Pilate, by the learned scribes and Pharisees, “as a root out of a dry ground.” They flogged Him half to death, and then they nailed His hands and feet to a cross. They put His broken, dead body into a borrowed tomb. His entire life on earth, His suffering and His death, were all lived “as a root out of a dry ground.” But, thank God, He rose from the dead on the third day, “as a root out of a dry ground”! Like the tender shoot of a plant growing up suddenly after an unexpected rainstorm, so Christ sprang forth, alive from the dead, “as a root out of a dry ground.” Hallelujah!

And yet most people do not believe in Him. They think of Him as a “life sucker” and a “dead Jew.”

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground…” (Isaiah 53:1-2).

III. Third, Christ is rejected because He has no form nor comeliness, no beauty that we should desire Him.

Please stand and read verse two aloud.

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2).

You may be seated.

Jesus has “no form nor comeliness,” no outward appearance of majesty and splendor. Dr. Young said, “When we see the servant [Christ] we find no beauty that we should desire him. Our judgment, in other words, is according to the outward appearance and is not just and true. It is a sad picture. The servant [Christ] dwelt in the midst of his own people, and behind his physical form the eye of faith should have seen the true glory; but looking upon his outward appearance, Israel found nothing of beauty to delight its eye…the appearance of the servant [Christ] was such that man, judging from a wrong perspective, would completely misjudge him” (Young, ibid.).

Outwardly Jesus has no beauty or majesty to attract the world. He does not offer the things that attract most people. He does not offer success or fame or money or earthly pleasure. Quite the opposite. At the beginning of this service Mr. Prudhomme read that portion of Scripture which tells us what Christ offers.

“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:34-37).

Christ offers self denial. Christ offers the loss of control over one’s own life and destiny. Christ offers the salvation of the soul, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life. These are intangible things, things that cannot be touched or seen by human feeling or sight, things that are spiritual in nature. Therefore Christ is rejected by those whose inner eyes have not been opened by God, because

“the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned: (I Corinthians 2:14).

But I wonder, this morning, if God may be speaking to your heart. I wonder if God may be saying to you, “Although there is no beauty that we should desire him, yet I am drawing you to my Son.” Have you ever felt that in your heart? Have you ever felt that the world offers nothing more than a passing moment of pleasure or a passing moment of success? Have you ever thought about your soul? Have you ever thought about where you will spend eternity if Jesus does not cleanse your sin with his Blood? Have you been thinking about these matters? And, if you have, will you come by simple faith to Him who “hath no form nor comeliness…no beauty that we should desire him”? (Isaiah 53:2). Will you kneel before Jesus of Nazareth, and trust Him with all your heart? I pray that you will do so.

Let us stand as Mr. Griffith comes to sing two stanzas of the hymn he sang before this sermon.

Take the world, but give me Jesus, All its joys are but a name;
But His love abideth ever, Thro’ eternal years the same.

Take the world, but give me Jesus, in His cross my trust shall be;
Till with clearer, brighter vision, Face to face my Lord I see.
Oh, the height and depth of mercy! Oh, the length and breadth of love!
Oh, the fulness of redemption, Pledge of endless life above!
   (“Take the World, But Give Me Jesus” by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

If God has spoken to your heart, and you are ready to leave the pleasures of this passing world, and if you are ready to submit to Jesus Christ and come to Him by faith, and you want to have your sins cleansed by His Blood, and if you want to speak to us will you please step to the back of the room now?  Dr. Cagan will lead you to a quiet place where we can talk this over. I pray that you will come and be saved by simple faith in Jesus. Dr. Chan, please come and pray for those who responded. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Mark 8:34-37.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Take the World, But Give Me Jesus” (by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).


THE OUTLINE OF

CHRIST – REJECTED BY THE MASSES

(SERMON NUMBER 3 ON ISAIAH 53)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:1-2).

(John 12:37-38; Romans 10:12, 16; Matthew 7:14;
Luke 13:24; Acts 8:30-31; John 1:11)

I.   First, Christ is rejected because He appears to man as a tender
plant, a suckling, Isaiah 53:2a; John 11:48; Mark 8:34-37.

II.  Second, Christ is rejected because He appears to man as a root
out of a dry ground, Isaiah 53:2b.

III. Third, Christ is rejected because He has no form nor comeliness,
no beauty that we should desire Him, Isaiah 53:2c; Mark 8:34-37;
I Corinthians 2:14.