Friday, January 28, 2011

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 30, 2011

(By the SERVANT’s suffering, we are made whole)
(Isaiah 52:13-53:12)

The passage of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 represents the fourth, final, and most compelling of the, so-called, “Servant Songs” that are contained in this prophetic book. It depicts the Old Testament’s most vivid description of the suffering of JESUS CHRIST, which would occur some 700 years down the road in Jerusalem, and would culminate with JESUS’ “death walk” to Golgotha, and subsequent expiration on the cross. We all know now, that, that “passion week” for JESUS was concluded three days later by HIS miraculous “resurrection” that has become the very cornerstone of the Christian Faith. When HE suffered and died on Calvary Hill on the cross, the sins of an entire world hung with HIM on HIS shoulders.
As mere humans, we are by no means designed to carry the weight, physically or spiritually that JESUS was assigned by GOD the FATHER to carry for us. In the book of Acts, in chapter 1 verse 3, the word used for “passion” in the original Greek writing is “pascho” (pas-kho), and it means “to experience the sensation or impression of pain”. It is the only time in scripture that this particular word is used for “passion”. There, it uniquely describes the suffering of CHRIST that is depicted in the “Passion Narratives” of the four Gospels (Matthew 26 & 27, Mark 14 & 15, Luke 22, and John 19). These particular passages represent the fulfillment of the prophecy that we see here in Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
Theologians of the Post-Apostolic Age often struggle trying to find an explanation as to why JESUS had to die. This passage by Isaiah gives us, perhaps, the clearest explanation of why, that can be found anywhere else in scripture. Here Isaiah tells us, in effect, that, JESUS was offered up as a “guilt offering”, or “offer of atonement” for the sins of man, past, present, and future (53:10-12). It was the only offering that could be acceptable to GOD the FATHER, and so we see here, a theory of atonement being developed.
Isaiah tells us in 52:13 that JESUS, the SERVANT, was so badly beaten and bloodied that one would have a hard time recognizing if HE was even a human being. He also tells us in 53:2 that there was already nothing beautiful or majestic about HIS appearance that could draw a person to HIM.
The prophet goes on to tell us in verse 3, that, in addition, JESUS would be rejected and despised, and would be a man of sorrow who was all too familiar with bitter grief. And we, whom HE died for, would not recognize that it was our weaknesses and sorrows that weighed HIM down (v. 4). We would think that HIS troubles were a product of HIS OWN sins, and HIS OWN making.
We Christians, of the Post-Apostolic Age, understand clearly that JESUS was wounded and crushed for our sins, not HIS. We know that HE was beaten so that we might have peace, and that HE was whipped so that we might be healed (v. 5). In verse 7, Isaiah tells us that JESUS was oppressed and treated harshly, and yet, HE never said a word. HE was led like a lamb to slaughter, and just as a sheep is silent before the Shearers, like so, JESUS, was also silent. And finally, Isaiah tells us that JESUS would be buried like a criminal, but in a rich man’s grave (See Matthew 27:57-60).
JESUS’ suffering was a unique event in the annals of biblical and human history. Its uniqueness rests in the fact that, first, HE is the SON of GOD, and secondly, that HIS vicarious sacrifice was what won us our salvation. No one else, and nothing else, could have provided us with such a precious gift. And even though HE was counted among sinners, in reality, HE actually bore the sins of sinners, and by doing so, HE now intercedes in the presence of GOD the FATHER, for every man in general, and for all Christians in particular.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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