I. IN THE STAGE OF HIS INCARNATION
The first stage of Christ, the stage of incarnation, was not a part of His redemption. Christ is our Savior, and He did redeem us, but His incarnation by itself was not His redemption. Isaiah 53:2 says, "For He grew up like a tender plant before Him, / And like a root out of dry ground." Christ’s being like a tender plant and a root out of dry ground was not part of His redemption. Likewise, His not being esteemed (v. 3) was not part of His redemption.
Isaiah 53:1b-3 refers to Christ’s incarnation. Verse 1 says, "Who has believed our report? / And to whom has the arm of Jehovah been revealed?" The arm of Jehovah is a figure of speech signifying Jehovah Himself in His power. Thus, the arm of Jehovah is God Himself in His saving power. This arm of Jehovah has been revealed. Two thousand years ago, when the Lord Jesus came out of Nazareth to preach the gospel, that was the unveiling of the arm of Jehovah. Christ as the arm of Jehovah was revealed to many, but they did not realize that He was the arm of Jehovah. They did not see that He was Jehovah Himself coming in power to save them.
Based on this revelation of the arm of Jehovah, the apostles reported (1 John 1:3). But who has believed their report? When the Lord Jesus comes back, the remnant of Israel will all repent and wail. At that time they will recount Isaiah 53:1: "Who has believed our report? / And to whom has the arm of Jehovah been revealed?" Then they will go on to recount, "For..." The word for at the beginning of verse 2 is a great word. Why did no one believe the report and receive the revelation concerning Christ? Because He grew up not like a king but like a tender plant before Jehovah. Because of this they did not believe the apostles’ report. A number of times in the four Gospels the Jews despised the Lord Jesus, speaking words such as, "Can anything good be from Nazareth?" (John 1:46) and "Is not this the carpenter’s son?" (Matt. 13:55). If Jesus had come out of Bethlehem, out of the city of the royal family, perhaps many Jews would believe in Him. But they have not believed, because He grew up like a tender plant before Jehovah, and like a root out of dry ground.
Isaiah 53:3 begins, "He was despised and forsaken of men, / A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." In verse 1 Christ is referred to as the arm of Jehovah, and in verse 3 He is called a man of sorrows. The arm of Jehovah is Jehovah in His power, and the man of sorrows is Jesus. When these two are put together, they equal incarnation. One day Jehovah, the very Elohim, became a man by the name of Jesus. In Isaiah 53 Jehovah is signified by the arm of Jehovah, and Jesus is called a man of sorrows. This is incarnation.
(Life-Study of Isaiah, Chapter 50, by Witness Lee)