Chapter 13 The Fruit of Travail

He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied (Isaiah 53:11).

This chapter in Isaiah is the most wonderful chapter in all Holy Writ. It is the Spirit of God testifying through the prophet of the sufferings of Christ and of the glory which was to follow. There was a divine necessity in those sufferings, as the Lord explained to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. They seemed puzzled and perplexed about His Messiahship because of His death on the cross. But, says our Lord, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:26, 27). There should have been no doubt in their minds as to the necessity of those sufferings. And surely, in our Lord’s exposition of Scripture concerning those sufferings He must have made reference to this wondrous chapter in Isaiah—a most remarkable oracle.

The Product of Our Lord’s Travail

“He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied,” has reference to what was to be the result of His sufferings. He Himself would be fully satisfied. As He reviews His agonizing sufferings and contemplates what the fruit of His passion was to be, He deems those sufferings worth it all.

Travail speaks of long, severe pain. It is not like the travail of a woman in delivering a child, which is painful enough, but of short duration. The travail of our Lord would include the whole of His life on earth—all of which was a sore and painful exertion. His travail was caused by God’s determination to save men. His justice, truth, and holiness proposed tremendous issues. Each sin of man had to bear its merited load of woe. Each curse must be endured. Each violation of law must drink the dregs of condemnation. Because the Son of God came forth to save, then He who was guiltless must take the guilty place. He must stand as the sinner’s complete Sin-offering and pay in anguish and blood their every due. So wrath is endured—penalties are paid—sufferings are suffered—agonies are agonized. The work of human redemption required an infinity of woe. It was thus that sin was fully punished in Him. It is thus that believers are fully saved.

It was on account of His whole life and death of suffering that it was made possible for Him to have “a seed,”—“He shall see His seed.” The harvest of His travail was to be a vast multitude of saved men and women in whom He would find satisfaction for all His pains—“He shall be satisfied.” Most of His physical sufferings came to Him in Gethsemane’s garden and on Calvary’s cross, but His offering for sin was more than physical labor. It was “His soul” which was made an offering for sin, and that included all His toilsome labor as the Son of man. “Now is My soul troubled,” He cried. “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” is in the same realm of soul trouble. The same soul anguish lies behind the request: “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.”

His tremendous sufferings were not in vain. “He shall see His seed.” By that wondrous work He removed all hindrances to man’s salvation—secured for believers the inward presence and abiding of the Holy Spirit—made possible His own exaltation to the throne of heaven—and established the glory of God in His own universe. All this He was to see as the product of His sufferings.

The Justification of Many

“By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities” (v. 11). The only righteous person is the Lord Jesus, the Son of the living God become Son of man,—the only Person righteous in Himself and who could fulfill all righteousness on behalf of men, in that He fully answered all demands of law made upon them. Because He was utter righteousness, and because He brought in everlasting righteousness by dying “the Just for the unjust,” He is able to “justify many.” All who believe are made “the righteousness of God in Him”—being united to Him. Believers are thus brought into a state of God’s acceptance and favor, as though they themselves had fully answered all the demands of the law upon them.

The word “many” does not mean there is any limit to the number of those who may be justified through His atoning work. There is merit enough for all men to be made righteous, but not all avail themselves of the Saviour’s work. Nevertheless, while “many” may not mean all, it also does not mean few. The number of the redeemed is to be “as the stars of heaven”—“a great multitude, which no man can number” (Revelation 7:9). God justifies all who come to believe in His Son.

The Exaltation of the Redeemer

“Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death; and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (v. 12). Thus we see the Lord is given multitudes as His portion, and He takes the strong or mighty as His own—those with overcoming faith in Him. He chooses out of the total body of mankind those who are useful to Him—those who would be loyal to Him—those who would glorify Him and be devoted to Him. And those are many. All others will be sent away to perdition. What other fate could Christ-rejecters expect when they refuse Him who “poured out His soul unto death” on their behalf? The whole chapter is very clear, full, rich, precious and divine. It speaks in emphatic terms of our sinnership—that trespass stains our souls, our minds, our hearts, our every day and every hour. It is this which strengthens Satan’s claims against us. But there is perfect redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. His dying pays our sin and trespass offering. He puts to the lips of every believer a cup of overflowing merit. All our sins are buried in His wounds. All our nakedness is covered with the robe of His own glorious righteousness. Here is our full beauty! Here is our all-sufficient expiation! Here is our everlasting blessedness!

Lord Jesus! we remember
The travail of Thy soul,
When through Thy love’s deep pity,
The waves did o’er Thee roll;
Baptized in death’s dark waters,
For us Thy blood was shed;
For us, Thou, Lord of Glory,
Wast numbered with the dead.

O Lord, Thou now art risen,
Thy travail all is o’er;
For sin Thou once hast suffered—
Thou liv’st to die no more;
Sin, death and hell are vanquished
By Thee, the Church’s Head;
And lo! we share Thy triumphs,
Thou First-born from the dead.

Unto Thy death baptized
We own with Thee we died:
With Thee, our Life, we’re risen,
And shall be glorified.
From sin, the world, and Satan,
We’re ransomed by Thy blood,
And here would walk as strangers,
Alive with Thee to God.

—James Deck