He Was Numbered Among Transgressors

“And He said to them, ‘But now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one. For I tell you, that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, “AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS”; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.’  And they said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, ‘It is enough.’ “  Luke 22:36-38 (NAS)

This week, we make one last jaunt into the gospel of Luke and consider a portion of one of the most well known and oft cited Old Testament passages in the New Testament. The partial quote is from Isaiah 53, verse twelve, the famous “suffering servant’ chapter. Mark also references this passage in his gospel (Mark 15:28). Here is the verse from Isaiah in its entirety. “Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”


Allot, Divide, and Numbered
Isaiah 53:12, which contains our subject text for today, concerns the satisfaction, seed, and spoils to come to the Servant for His willing submission to the plan of Yahweh.

 – Allot-The language of Isaiah conveys the picture of a conqueror, one who has defeated his foes and now stands victorious, prepared to receive the plunder of the vanquished. So great is this all encompassing victory, his place will be among the mightiest who’ve ever subdued their enemies.

 – Divide-The spoils of His victory he doesn’t selfishly hoard, but distributes them among His army, the strong, the ones that assist and continue to assist in His victories.

Passages such as this from Isaiah coupled with other Old Testament prophecies, developed a picture in the minds of the physical minded Jews that the Messiah would be a mighty Warrior, renowned in all the earth. This would be the one to restore the fortunes of Israel and return the kingdom to her former glory.

 – Numbered-Here’s the strange thing though that seems to have escaped the notice of those reading the context of the verse and the chapter as a whole. The benefits and rewards of being allotted among the great and dividing the spoils came only after being numbered among transgressors and pouring Himself out to death as an intercessory offering for those who had transgressed. Clearly Isaiah through the Spirit is painting a picture of a resurrection to life after having been put to death.  If this was properly understood, then the resurrection would be the linchpin in proving the prophesied Messiah.

Jesus Numbered
In Luke’s account where we find our quote from Isaiah 53:12, Jesus is preparing his apostles for some big changes to come-the prophesied end of His physical ministry through the pouring out of Himself unto death. To make it clear what He meant, He quoted from the scroll of Isaiah. Every “good” Jew who had been taught in the synagogue system would recognize the passage Jesus cited. Yet it seems the multitudes had compartmentalized that part of the prophecy and instead been trained to focus on the understanding that the Christ was “to remain forever” according to other passages in the Law. (C. f. John 12:34) A cursory reading through the gospels would indicate that this selective blindness to the prophesied fact that the Messiah would  pour Himself out to death as evidenced in the word of God had extended itself to Jesus’ disciples as well.

In fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy, the record indicates that Jesus was indeed numbered among transgressors, being crucified between two thieves. He bore the sin of the many who in one week’s time had gone from “Hosanna, blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD” (Luke 19:38)to “Crucify, Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:21) For but a few days, they actually allotted to Jesus a portion with the great, declaring Him the King coming in the name of the LORD. When it was determined that Jesus was not interested in restoring the fortunes of physical Israel or returning her to her former glory as in the days of previous kings like David and Solomon, then it was “away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!” (Luke 21:18) The undefiled and holy servant of God was exchanged for a murderer, a transgressor whose days were numbered! How ironic.

Jesus portion allotted
Jesus pouring Himself out to death at the hands of godless men (Jews and Gentiles alike) was part of the foreknowledge of God. This was to fulfill prophesy such as Isaiah 53:12. Having borne the sin of the transgressors and interceding on their behalf by the sacrifice of Himself, God raised Him from the dead and allotted His portion high above all other names declaring all, including earthly kings (Ps. 72:8-11), would one day bend their knee before Him, acknowledging Him as the King of Kings.

Jesus divides the booty among His army
In His resurrection and ascension to the throne in heaven, Jesus demonstrated the ultimate all encompassing victory and proved He was the prophesied Messiah. He snapped the bonds of death and bound the strongman (Satan) who had held captive the nations to do His will by means of the fear of death. The Father gave the Son the nations as his booty, His inheritance (Ps 2) for conquering sin and death. Everything He has received He has in turn shared it with us as His seed, joint-heirs. He has seated us with Him in the heavenly places, has strengthened us and entrusted us, His army, with going forth with the gospel to continue to plunder the house of Satan, assisting Him in the march to eternal victory! Amen


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