The missionary claim is that Isaiah 53 is the central teaching in the Jewish Bible about the messiah and how he must die for the sins of the world. Let’s examine this claim. Did Jesus’ disciples know about this ‘central prophecy’?

Matthew 16:21-22 (NIV):

21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

So what is going on? Jesus explains to Peter that he will go and suffer and die in Jerusalem (pretty much what Isaiah 53 is apparently saying, according to missionaries). What is Peter’s response? Does he say ‘Well…DUH! Because that’s what Isaiah predicted about you!’ No. That’s not what Peter says. Peter rebukes him and says G-d forbid such a thing will happen to you!!

So what conclusion can we draw from this? Either the Jewish messiah was NOT meant to come and suffer and die, or, the people who believed in Jesus didn’t know the central teaching in the Bible about the messiah. But of course, we can say that if the disciples didn’t know the Biblical prophecies about the messiah, why should we trust their testimony that Jesus even was the messiah?

So missionaries, which one is it? Is Isaiah 53 not actually talking about the messiah, or did your witnesses not know anything about the Bible?