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Author: Ron Graham

Isaiah Gleanings

Turning Sorrow to Joy
—Isaiah 53:3

He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3a, NASB).

This lesson comes from what may rightly be regarded as the chief chapter of Isaiah. Chapter 53 is the prophecy of the Suffering Servant, who is none other than Jesus Christ.

How do we know that Isaiah 53 is speaking about Jesus Christ? The Ethiopian Treasurer was reading this chapter. He asked Phillip, “Of whom does the prophet speak?” Then Phillip preached to him Jesus. (Acts 8:26-40)

The sorrow portrayed in Isaiah 53 is sorrow that turns into joy. There are three ways this is true.

1 Death Turned to Intercession

Our Lord’s death, that he might make atonement for our sins, was followed by his exaltation, that he might make intercession for us.

His Sorrow: "He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3a NASB).

His Joy: "Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be lifted high and lifted up, and greatly exalted" (Isaiah 52:13 NASB).


Christ suffered death to atone for our sins. Atonement means to make “at one” with God those who are separated from him by sin (1John 2:1-2).

"If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father: Jesus Christ the righteous. He himself is the atonement for our sins, and not ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1John 2:1-2).


Christ arose to intercede for us as our great High Priest who ever lives. Intercession means being our advocate with God, representing us before God. (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25-27).

"It is Christ who died and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who makes intercession for us”" (Romans 8:34 NKJV).

"Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25 NKJV).

"For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens" (Hebrews 7:26 ESV).

"He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself" (Hebrews 7:28 ESV).

2 Guilt Turned to Forgiveness

Our sorrow in sin can be replaced by our justification and forgiveness.

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned - every one - to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6, ESV).

"As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:11, NASB).

"[Righteousness] will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification" (Romans 4:24-25, ESV).

3 Trials Turned to Eternal Joy

Our sorrows and tribulations in this life will be replaced by joy in heaven.

"Surely our pains He Himself bore, And our sickness He carried" (Isaiah 53:4a, NASB margin).

"This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: He took our illnesses and bore our diseases." (Matthew 8:17, cf Isaiah 53:4).

Matthew has just told us that Jesus, by healing the sick, fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 53:4 that Jesus bore the pains and sickness of humanity.

Even today, Jesus supports us in our tribulations. He comforts us with the knowledge that eternal glory awaits us after our trials (Romans 8:18, Revelation 21:4)

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18, ESV).

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4, ESV).

"He will see his offspring, he will prolong his days..." (Isaiah 53:10b, NASB).



  • Christ’s death for atonement was turned to exaltation for intercession.
  • Our guilt for sin was turned into the magnificent blessing of forgiveness.
  • Our trials and troubles for this life will be turned into heavenly and eternal gladness.

"You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy" (John 16:20).


Webservant Ron Graham

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