Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
isa 53:1Who - Who, not only of the Gentiles, but even of the Jews, will believe the truth of what I say? And this premonition was highly necessary, both to caution the Jews that they should not stumble at this stone, and to instruct the Gentiles that they should not be seduced with their example. The arm - The Messiah, called the arm or power of God, because the almighty power of God was seated in him. Revealed - Inwardly and with power.
isa 53:2As a root - And the reason why the Jews will generally reject their Messiah, is, because he shall not come into the world with secular pomp, but he shall grow up, (or spring up, out of the ground) before him, (before the unbelieving Jews, of whom he spake Isa 53:1, and that in the singular number, as here, who were witnesses of his mean original; and therefore despised him) as a tender plant (small and inconsiderable) and as a root, or branch, grows out of a dry, barren ground. No form - His bodily presence shall be mean and contemptible. No beauty - This the prophet speaks in the person of the unbelieving Jews. We - Our people, the Jewish nation.
isa 53:3We hid - We scorned to look upon him.
isa 53:4Yet - Our people believed that he was thus punished by the just judgment of God.
isa 53:5Wounded - Which word comprehends all his pains and punishments. For our iniquities - For the guilt of their sins, which he had voluntarily taken upon himself, and for the expiation of their sins, which was hereby purchased. The chastisement - Those punishments by which our peace, our reconciliation to God, was to be purchased, were laid upon him by God's justice with his own consent. Healed - By his sufferings we are saved from our sins.
isa 53:6We - All mankind. Astray - From God. Have turned - In general, to the way of sin, which may well be called a man's own way, because sin is natural to us, inherent in us, born with us; and in particular, to those several paths, which several men chuse, according to their different opinions, and circumstances. Hath laid - Heb. hath made to meet, as all the rivers meet in the sea. The iniquity - Not properly, for he knew no sin; but the punishment of iniquity, as that word is frequently used. That which was due for all the sins of all mankind, which must needs be so heavy a load, that if he had not been God as well as man, he must have sunk under the burden.
isa 53:7He opened not - He neither murmured against God, nor reviled men.
isa 53:8Taken away - Out of this life. By distress and judgment - By oppression and violence. and a pretence of justice. His generation - His posterity. For his death shall not be unfruitful; when he is raised from the dead, he shall have a spiritual seed, a numberless multitude of those who shall believe in him. Cut off - By a violent death. And this may be added as a reason of the blessing of a numerous posterity conferred upon him, because he was willing to be cut off for the transgression of his people.
isa 53:9With the wicked - This was a farther degree of humiliation. He saith, he made his grave, because this was Christ's own act, and he willingly yielded up himself to death and burial. And that which follows, with the wicked, does not denote the sameness of place, as if he should be buried in the same grave with other malefactors, but the sameness of condition.
isa 53:10He - God was the principal cause of all his sufferings, tho' mens sins were the deserving cause. When - When thou, O God, shalt have made, thy son a sacrifice, by giving him up to death for the atonement of mens sins. His soul is here put for his life, or for himself. Shall see - He shall have a numerous issue of believers reconciled by God, and saved by his death. Prolong - He shall live and reign with God for ever. The pleasure - God's gracious decree for the salvation of mankind shall be effectually carried on by his ministry and mediation.
isa 53:11Shall see - He shall enjoy. The travel - The blessed fruit of all his labours, and sufferings. Satisfied - He shall esteem his own and his father's glory, and the salvation of his people, an abundant recompence. By his knowledge - By the knowledge of him. Justify - Acquit them from the guilt of their sins, and all the dreadful consequences thereof. And Christ is said to justify sinners meritoriously, because he purchases and procures it for us. Many - An innumerable company of all nations. For - For he shall satisfy the justice of God, by bearing the punishment due to their sins.
isa 53:12I - God the father. A portion - Which is very commodiously supplied out of the next clause. With the strong - God will give him happy success in his glorious undertaking: he shall conquer all his enemies, and set up his universal and everlasting kingdom in the world. Because - Because he willingly laid down his life. Transgressors - He prayed upon earth for all sinners, and particularly for those that crucified him, and in heaven he still intercedes for them, by a legal demand of those good things which he purchased; by the sacrifice of himself, which, though past, he continually represents to his father, as if it were present.