The Travail of His Soul


One of the greatest and most beautiful passages in Isaiah’s vision is chapter 53. Written 800 years before Christ was born, Isaiah describes both the intense physical and emotional anguish of the Suffering Servant, who willingly offered his life as atonement for our sin.

You can almost feel the pain of Messiah’s rejection in the words, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering and familiar with grief.”

You can feel the heavy burden of the Great Displacement in the phrases, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering … he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, by his wounds we are healed … the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

You can sense the determination of the Christ to accomplish his mission in the metaphor: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

Surely, he is the Lamb of God who was slain and who takes away the sin of the world. He is the Beautiful Exchange who gives us life and healing for our sin and brokenness. He is the noble one who suffered and died so that we would not have to.

But the verse that always hits me hardest is verse 11. In the beautiful King James Version it says,

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.

There’s a reason why Messiah Jesus suffered such “travail”: to see you and me set free. In this very poignant verse, we are marked as the love of his soul.

Jesus saw us, went into our darkness, faced suffering and death, and rescued us. He saw us safe and saved. And that vision of us – forever out of the clutches of sin, death and darkness – was enough to satisfy him before he breathed his last.

I’m reminded of a scene in the movie “Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves,” where Robin of Locksley was asked if Maid Marion was worth all the trouble he went through to save her life. Without hesitation he said, “She is worth dying for.”

This is what verse 11 means to me. That Jesus believes I am worthy dying for. That Jesus believes you are worth dying for. That it was worth it to him to go through unjust treatment, be rejected, endure untold physical suffering, and face the hellish separation from the Father … in order to save us. (Selah)


Why Christ is the Lover of my soul is beyond me. I’m not worthy of anything except the punishment of my sin.

But what makes holy week so holy to me is because Jesus is the Lover of my soul.

And for some strange and mysterious reason, I am the “travail” of his.

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