He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)
Although the above verse was written over 700 years before Jesus was born, it did not take early Christians long to make the connection. They had been waiting for this for centuries and when they saw Jesus before Pilate and then hanging from the cross, they sensed that this was what they had been waiting for. The itinerant rabbi who had healed, taught and shown signs of God’s work and power had seemed different than anyone they had ever met before. But when they saw him unjustly tried and convicted without as much as a single defense they remembered Isaiah 53:7 – the suffering servant.
Jesus would eventually come to be seen as the one who would fulfill Israel’s destiny. What the nation had been called to do, it had fallen short of accomplishing. By the time of Isaiah’s prophetic work it had fallen so far that almost no one believed that it would ever become what God had promised would come to be.
But God had not forgotten and was as committed as ever. What God had started in Israel’s history as a chosen people would be fulfilled by one their own serving as savior, not just for Israel, but for the entire world. Jesus would be the one that had been predicted, longed for and waited for. His willingness to live a full life shows us what life can be. His willingness to quietly suffer an unjust death at the hands of Pontius Pilate shows us what the suffering servant would do to show us love. And of course, the resurrection would vindicate him as someone like none before him.