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A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr., Pastor Emeritus
and given by Jack Ngann, Pastor
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, April 10, 2020

“I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6; p. 758 Scofield).

As he read Isaiah 53, the Ethiopian Eunuch said, “Of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?” Philip the evangelist began at that same fifty-third chapter of Isaiah “and preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:34, 35). Now we come to the fiftieth chapter and the sixth verse. Again we ask “Who is Isaiah speaking of? himself or some other man?” And again, as Philip did, we must begin at this verse, and preach Jesus to you! This is surely one of the verses Jesus referred to when He told the Disciples that He would soon fulfill what the prophets wrote of Him. Jesus was leading His Disciples toward Jerusalem for the last time. He said to them,

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and [insulted], and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death...” (Luke 18:31-33; p. 1102).

Such a clear prophecy of scourging and spitting as we see in Isaiah 50:6 surely refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. The great Hebrew scholar and commentator Dr. John Gill (1697-1771) boldly says this chapter speaks of Christ, as does the celebrated commentator Matthew Henry (1662-1714). The modern commentator Dr. Edward J. Young (1907-1968) said this about our text,

Only one who is entirely without sin could undergo such suffering without a rebellious spirit. For this reason, as Pieper has so accurately pointed out, if the prophet is here describing the nation Israel, even the best part thereof, he is giving a picture that is untrue and false. The only One who can so patiently suffer is the One without sin, the Christ of God (Edward J. Young, Ph.D., The Book of Isaiah, Vol. 3, Chapters 40-66, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972, page 301).

And Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers,” said, “We believe that the speaker in this verse is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, the Son of God and the Son of man, our redeemer...Isaiah might have been one of the Evangelists, so exactly does he describe what our Saviour endured” (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Shame and Spitting,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1972, volume XXV, pp. 421, 422).

“I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6).

I ask you this afternoon to look upon Christ Jesus, and think deeply about Him who suffered such torture and pain to save you. Look away from yourself for a few minutes and look to Him.

I. First, look upon Jesus as God incarnate.

In Jesus Christ, God came down to us in human flesh. At His birth He was called “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). God came down in Christ to live among us. He came down among us with all the power of the Godhead bodily. He fed those who were hungry. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He cast out demons. He walked on water in the Sea of Galilee. At His word He caused their net to be filled with great fish. He multiplied loaves and fishes so that thousands were fed. He did the works of God the Father, and those works proved that He was God the Son.

A few people recognized who He was. But they were very few, so it could be said that “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). They dimly recognized that He was not like any other man. Yet they cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him” (John 19:15). That was what they said about Him who had descended to them from Heaven!

He came to them to bless them. He came to them without one spot of sin. Even the Roman governor said, “I find in him no fault at all” (John 18:38). He came filled with gentleness and love. He came to speak words of encouragement to those who were tired and sick. He came to comfort those who were depressed and cast down. He went out to the people. He ate with outcasts and sinners. He took little children in His arms, and blessed them. But instead of being welcomed He was flogged to the point of death by a cruel scourge. Instead of being honored He was rejected and treated shamefully. They pulled the hair from His beard. They mocked Him and spit in His face. The spitting and scourging showed what mankind does to God. It shows what people would do to Almighty God if they could. Joseph Hart described it well,

See how patient Jesus stands,
Insulted in [this awful place]!
Sinners have bound the Almighty hands,
And spit in their Creator’s face.
     (“His Passion” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768; altered by Dr. Hymers).

When a man refuses to attend church, he spits in the face of God. When a man says “no” when asked to trust the Saviour, he may as well take the whip and scourge His back! Every act of sin is like whipping the flesh from Jesus’ back. All sin is an insult to God, and to His Son. Those who have heard the Gospel and refuse to trust the Saviour are like those men who beat Jesus in the face. Those who continue to reject Jesus are the same as those who pulled the hair from off His cheeks. For a few moments of pleasure you reject the love of God, shame His Son, and risk an eternity in the fire of Hell.

My God! My God! What a sinful race we humans are! It is horrible to think of so many in this city who reject the love of Jesus and spit in His longsuffering face! I may even call your cruel rejection demonic. The demons never committed such a sin as yours. They never had a chance to be saved by Jesus after they had sinned. They never had a chance to be washed clean by Jesus’ Blood after they rebelled. But you have had one chance after the other. And yet you spit in the face of your Saviour by rejecting Him. You should look to Him whom you have treated shamefully, and mourn for Him. Oh, may God’s Spirit move you to repent in trembling and in tears!

“I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6).

II. Second, look upon Jesus as the substitute for sinners.

When our Lord Jesus Christ suffered it was for us sinners. The Bible says,

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5; p. 760).

By Christ’s bruising and His stripes, as well as His death, we are healed from the disease of sin.

Jesus took upon Himself our sin. To bear our sin He had to be treated as sin would be treated. Sin deserves to be scourged. It deserves to be spit upon. It deserves to be crucified. And because Jesus had taken upon Himself our sin, He had to be put to shame. He had to be scourged. If you want to see what God thinks about sin, look at Christ, spit upon by the soldiers, His back flogged to shreds, and His beard pulled out by the roots. If you and I, being sinners, were scourged, and beaten, and despised, we would not be too surprised. But He who took our sins into His own body was God. Since Jesus was put in our place, as our substitute, it is written of God the Father, “He that spared not his own Son” (Romans 8:32). “It pleased the [Father] to bruise him; he hath put him to grief” – He made Jesus’ soul an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10). When our sin was imputed to Jesus it threw Him into the greatest shame and suffering before it could be removed.

Remember also that Jesus freely volunteered to take your place. He willingly did it. The text says, He gave His back to the smiters. He gave His cheeks to those who plucked off the hair. He did not hide His face from shame and spitting. He did not try to escape from the insults and the shame. He freely volunteered to stand in your place and be punished for your sins. The Son of God was willingly made a curse for you.

He who covered the heavens with blackness, did not cover His own face. He who binds up the universe with a girdle was bound and blindfolded by men He had created. He whose face shines like the sun was spit upon. Why not spit on angels? Was there no place to spit but in the Saviour’s face? I could wish that man had never been created, rather than to hear of him committing such a horror!

Since He went through this to save you, will you trust Him as your substitute? If you do, your punishment will be removed in an instant, cleansed by His all-redeeming Blood!

III. Third, look upon Jesus as your own Saviour.

You have heard the Gospel and have yet rejected the Saviour. It is as if Christ has come and offered you the bread of life, and you have put up your hands and have said, “I don’t want it.” If that is not spitting in the face of God I don’t know what is.

Don’t you realize by now that Jesus went through all this pain and suffering just for you – just because He loves you? Can’t you turn away from thoughts about yourself long enough to look at Him, and think of Him, and love Him for a moment? Can’t you love Jesus just for a moment? The hymn says, “There’s light for a look at the Saviour.” A quick look away from your own thoughts and feelings will do. Can’t you escape from the prison house of self – your self – for even a moment? “Look unto me, and be ye saved” (Isaiah 45:22). Look to Him, strips of shredded skin hanging from His bleeding back. Look to Him with blood running from the sores on His face where patches of His beard have been yanked out. Look to Him with spit running down His cheeks. Look to Him standing before the howling mob in a pool of His own Blood, while they cry out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Look to Him carrying His own cross, falling beneath its load again and again, fainting under the weight of it. Look to Him – as nails pierce His hands and feet, as they mock and scream at Him. Look to Him, dying on the Cross for you! Yes, for you! Can’t you tear yourself away from thinking about yourself, your own feelings, your own selfish little life long enough to think about Him for just a moment? “There’s light for a look at the Saviour.”

Maybe I haven’t explained it well. Maybe I could have said more, or said it better. Maybe I didn’t pray enough before I spoke. But whatever shortcomings or mistakes I have made today, Jesus has made none. And it is He, not me, who calls you to look upon Him and be saved. He says to you right now, “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” You say, “I can’t feel Him.” You don’t need to feel Him! Just look to Him. You say, “I might make a mistake.” You don’t need to worry about that. You were confused by that before – but there can be no confusion now! Just look to Him. Even a quick look will do. “There’s light for a look at the Saviour.”

I am not skilled to understand
     What God hath willed, what God hath planned;
I only know at His right hand
     Is One Who is my Saviour!

I take Him at His word indeed;
     “Christ died for sinners,” this I read;
For in my heart I find a need
     Of Him to be my Saviour!

That He should leave His place on high
     And come for sinful man to die,
You count it strange? so once did I,
     Before I knew my Saviour!
(“I Am Not Skilled to Understand” by Dora Greenwell, 1821-1882;
     to the tune of “Just As I Am”).

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
     Look full in His wonderful face,
And [your fears and doubts] will grow strangely dim,
     In the light of His glory and grace.
(“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” by Helen H. Lemmel, 1863-1961;
     altered by the Pastor).