The Messiah next returns to Isaiah 53:8 as Handel continues to show the suffering and rejection of our Savior. His birth at Christmas is a celebration but it led to a pathway filled with grief and sorrow for our Lord Jesus. I think the Amplified Translation will help us to see this verse more clearly.
Isaiah 53:8 “After oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation [His contemporaries], who [among them] concerned himself with the fact
That He was cut off from the land of the living [by His death]
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke [of death]was due?
Jesus’ persecution by both the religious Jews in several illegal mock trials and then His judgement by Jews and condemnation by the Romans are what is spoken of here as oppression and judgement. His trial before the Sanhedrin is recorded in Matthew 26:62-67 “Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God:Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” 64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him.” Later before Pilate they all demanded death for Jesus. Matthew 27:20-23 “But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. 22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
Verse 8 also states that Jesus would be cut off from the land of the living and sentenced to death for the transgressions of the people not his own. Paul puts this cutting off plainly in Romans 5:6-8 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
How can we be encouraged by these words of suffering and death of our Savior? Jesus came as a babe fully aware of his life and purpose. Even as young as 12 when he spoke in the temple people were amazed. Luke 2:46-47 “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” When Mary and Joseph asked him about it he replied in verse 49 ““Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Jesus knew His purpose and came to earth to do the will of His Father in heaven. He came for us. Are you motivated by the love of God to give yourself willingly to serve others? It is Jesus’ example to us given at Christmas for us to ponder and imitate in our own lives. What better time of year to put this into practice!