“See, My Servant will act wisely; He will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were appalled at You – His appearance was so disfigured that He did not look like a man, and His form did not resemble a human being – so He will sprinkle many nations. Kings will shut their mouths because of Him, For they will see what had not been told them, and they will understand what they had not heard.” – Isaiah 52:13-15
In Romans 15, Paul reveals what his aim was at the time of writing the letter of Romans. 15:20, “My aim is to evangelize where Christ has not been named, so that I will not build on someone else’s foundation”. He then, after revealing his aim, quotes Isaiah 52:15, “Those who were not told about Him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.” Paul has been working from Jerusalem to Illyricum for many years, but now he feels that his work there is over – and his work in Spain (15:24) should soon begin. He is not satisfied to say, “Ah, the work is done. Now I can stop evangelizing and rest.” By no means! Paul has done his work from Jerusalem to Illyricum, and now he has his eyes set on Spain. Why? Because Paul’s goal is not “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria”, Paul’s goal is “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Paul’s utmost burden is to see those different ethnic groups “who were not told about Him” and “who have not heard” to “see” and to “understand.”
Is this not shown in His own letter to Rome, in Romans 10:14-15? Paul proposes here that no man can call on God if they are not preached the Gospel! He shows us “how beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things” and though “all did not obey the gospel” of the Jews, Paul is burdened for the Gentiles. So Paul’s aim, then, is that men should see Christ and hear His gospel, but further than this, Paul’s aim is to move on to those who have not yet had a chance to do so. In our present context, you might say, “I have been preaching ‘here’, and now ‘here’ has heard the gospel. But ‘there’, I see no one who does. So I will go ‘there’ to lift Christ up and proclaim His gospel.”
The passage that Paul quotes from Isaiah 52:15 is the beginning of the “Servant’s Suffering and Exaltation” prophecy of Christ. in v. 13 it is said the Christ “will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted.” (Does not Jesus echo this? John 3:14-15, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.”) v. 14 gives description of the ordeal Christ will go through, and 15a give the reason that He goes through it: “so He will sprinkle many nations.” Just as the blood of a sacrifice is sprinkled on the altar on behalf of the people, so Christ will do. (Does this not also fulfill the promise that was to Abraham? Genesis 12:3, “… and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”) 15b presents, then, the heart of our pondering today. ”Kings will shut their mouths because of Him, For they will see what had not been told them, and they will understand what they had not heard.” Upon the exalting of Christ on the cross by the Father and “the hands of godless men” (v. 13; John 3:14-15; Acts 2:23), and upon the suffering of Christ as the propitiation of our sins (v. 14-15a), the nations will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ (v. 15b) – and it is to this end that we preach to those around us of the Good News of Christ – but we must not stop here.
We must have the aim of Paul! He did not settle with his one work being done (Jerusalem to Illyricum) but gladly and with joyous burden took on his next work: that of going to the next people who have yet to “see” and “hear” of Christ and the gospel. Brothers and sisters, we can do great things in our home, city, and country, but we must not stop here.