“From Suffering to Glory”
Lesson Text: Isaiah 53:5-8; Luke 24:25-27, 44-47
Background Scriptures: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Luke 24:25-27, 44-50
Devotional Reading: John 1:10-18
Isaiah 53:5-8 (KJV)
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
Luke 24:25-27, 44-47
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
To more fully appreciate the payment Jesus made on the cross for our sins.
To know that the Old Testament prophecies specifically foretold Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Plan to reach someone for Christ.
In the business world, there is a phenomenon called scapegoating. This happens when an employee leaves a company; problems are then blamed on the departed one for a few months. (This can happen with churches too.)
The scapegoat concept comes from the Bible: on the annual Day of Atonement, the high priest was to lay his hands on the head of a goat, confess the sins of the people, then release the goat into the wilderness to be the scapegoat ("escape goat") that took away the sins of the people. This ritual therefore was understood to be a transfer of the people's sins to the goat (Leviticus 16:7-10, 20-22).
This idea of transfer of guilt for sins is at the heart of the sacrificial system used by the Israelites. There were many kinds of sacrifices, but the most potent were those that involved killing an animal by shedding its blood. For example, a goat was to be killed on the Day of Atonement (before the other goat, the scapegoat, was released into the wilderness), and its blood used in an atonement ritual (Leviticus 16:15-19). The concepts of transfer of guilt and sacrificial shedding of blood are keys to understanding the atoning effect of Jesus' death. Today's lesson demonstrates that the idea of the sacrificial death for God's chosen one was prophesied over 700 years before it happened.
Times: between 760 and 700 B.C.; A.D. 30
Places: Jerusalem; Emmaus, near Jerusalem
While the early chapters of Isaiah celebrate Immanuel, the special child to be given as a sign of God's presence (Isaiah 7:14; 8:8; 9:6), the latter half of the book presents the Messiah as the servant, the one designated for a special ministry for the Lord (see Isaiah 42:1-4; 50:10; etc.). The most detailed prophecies about the role of the servant of the Lord are found in Isaiah 53, parts of which are in today's text. Here we learn something of how the Messiah is to bear the sins of the people, as the scapegoat did at the tabernacle. Isaiah 53 describes the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (vs. 1-4), His death (vs. 5-8) and burial (v. 9), and His resurrection and exaltation (vs. 10-12). The theme that ties the chapter together is that the innocent Servant died in the place of the guilty.
Our lesson today also addresses two sections from the Gospel of Luke. The two passages have a similar theme (Jesus' resurrection), but from different settings.
Jesus Suffered Bearing Our Iniquity (Isaiah 53:5-6)
1. How did Isaiah describe Jesus’ suffering and the cause of it? (Isaiah 53:5)
Previously, the prophet Isaiah had spoken about the Lord suffering as a Servant of God (see Isaiah 52:13-14). Isaiah revealed that the Messiah would be grossly marred and disfigured as well as despised and rejected. His death would be an atonement justifying those who have gone astray. He has done nothing to deserve being wounded and bruised; rather, He suffers because of our transgressions and our iniquities. He gains nothing personally from His chastisement; rather, it happens for our peace. This peace is the Hebrew word shalom, indicating a complete, restful relationship. The Messiah is our peace, the one who allows our relationship with God to be restored by removing the barrier of sin (see Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14).
One of the most powerful concepts in the Bible is found in the phrase “with his stripes we are healed.” This happened in the brutal, bloody flogging and subsequent crucifixion that Jesus endured at the hands of His Roman torturers (see John 19:1). On the surface, this seems like nonsense. How can all this suffering result in our healing?
Peter, an eyewitness, helps us understand when he quotes this verse and comments that Jesus “bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). This is the concept of atonement, which is at the heart of everything Christian. We cannot save ourselves from the consequences of our sins; we cannot make things right with God on our own. So God provides the perfect, once-for-all sacrifice in the person of His Son (Hebrews 9:26; 10:12; see 1 John 2:2). Jesus voluntarily takes the punishment we deserve. May we never lose this core, irreplaceable truth!
2. What analogy did Isaiah use to describe our sinful nature? (Isaiah 53:6)
Isaiah continues this prophecy of the Messiah (Jesus) by shifting to an analogy well known to his people: the realm of sheep and shepherds. First, he characterizes us as being like sheep that ignore their shepherd and wander off. In other words, we are sinners by choice and by nature. Like sheep, we are born with a nature that prompts us to go astray and like sheep we foolishly decide to go our own way. By nature we are born children of wrath (Eph. 2:3) and by choice we become children of disobedience (2:2). This is a way of describing our sinfulness, a willful rejection of God's rules and guidance. God chooses to lay the guilt for our iniquity upon Jesus. The One who is not guilty becomes the target of punishment for those who are guilty. Under the Law of Moses, the sheep died for the shepherd; but under grace, the Good Shepherd died for the sheep (John 10:1-18).
What Do You Think?
In what ways did people willfully fail to follow the shepherd, Jesus, in the first century? How do these compare and contrast with similar failures that we see today?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
John 6:60-66; 2 Timothy 4:10a; 2 John 9; 3 John 9-11; James 5:19, 20; Other
The Silent Servant (Isaiah 53:7-8)
3. In what manner did Jesus suffer? (Isaiah 53:7)
The sheep analogy continues, but shifts from us (the guilty, straying sheep) to as previously mentioned, Jesus (the shepherd) as a lamb to be slaughtered (see Revelation 5:6) and a sheep ready to be sheared of its wool. In both cases, the emphasis is on the docile, cooperative nature of sheep. Jesus, aware of the horror He would suffer on the cross, went to His death with a docile dignity (see Luke 18:31-33). A remarkable fulfillment of this prophecy comes at the trials of Jesus, where He offers no defense. This causes Pilate to marvel (see Matthew 27:12-14). Isaiah foresees both the trials and execution of the Messiah (see Acts 8:30-35, which quotes our text).
4. What kind of death is depicted by the phrase “cut off” (Isaiah 53:8)?
So by oppression and unjust judgment, the Servant was taken away to His death (Isa. 53:8a). The words following, “And who shall declare his generation?” is better translated “And who can speak of His descendants?” The point would be that Jesus was cut off in the prime of life and left no progeny. This is supported by the phrase “cut off out of the land of the living” (Isa. 53:8b).
Notice the verbs of action (“he was taken” and “he was cut off”), which indicate the passivity of the Servant. He has not brought this action upon Himself by any misconduct of His own; He is the victim of the actions and decisions of others. This proper balance recognizes the biblical truth that Christ both willingly laid down His life for our sins and those who crucified Him were personally responsible for their actions.
Isaiah ends this section with a summation of this incredible vision (53:8b): the servant of the Lord will be killed for the transgression of God's own people. The great tragedy is that the majority of Jewish people do not accept this role for their Messiah and therefore reject Jesus. In so doing, they reject God's provision for their salvation.
Prophesied to Suffer (Luke 24:25-27)
Only Luke gives us the wonderful story of the two disciples walking to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). They are joined in their walk by a stranger, and the two tell this man about the recent events in Jerusalem involving Jesus' death. This is a very sad thing for the two disciples (v. 17), for they had hoped that Jesus would be the one to redeem their nation (v. 21). The stranger is none other than the risen Jesus, but the two are prevented from recognizing Him (v. 16).
5. Why did Jesus call the disciples on the Emmaus road “fools” (Luke 24:25, 26)?
Some readers think that Jesus is being quite harsh as He calls the two fools, and slow of heart to believe. But the fact that these two will invite this (for now) stranger to stay with them (Luke 24:29) indicates that they are more intrigued than offended. Nevertheless, the two men walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus were discouraged disciples who had no reason to be discouraged. They had heard the reports of the women that the tomb was empty and that Jesus was alive, but they did not believe them. They had hoped that Jesus would redeem Israel (Luke 24:21), but their hopes had been shattered. We get the impression that these men were discouraged and disappointed because God did not do what they wanted Him to do. They saw the glory of the kingdom, but they failed to understand the suffering.
Yet, the still-incognito Jesus graciously walked with them and listened to their conversation (vs. 15-17). There is a certain “shock value” to Jesus’ technique, and we see its success when the two later say to each other, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way?” (v. 32).
6. What did Jesus teach the two disciples about Himself concerning the Scriptures? (Luke 24:27)
Although the two disciples still do not know who the stranger is, He gives them a lesson about Himself based on Scripture. He begins with Moses (meaning the five books of Moses, which are Genesis through Deuteronomy) and walks through the prophets, the writings of God's Old Testament spokesmen like Isaiah. Oh, how we wish we had a transcript of this conversation! It is not hard to imagine, though, that our earlier text from Isaiah 53 is a key part of Jesus' lesson.
Reflecting on this encounter later, the two disciples admit that this was an emotional time for them (Luke 24:32). Even before they were allowed to recognize their Master, they had sensed something supernatural and wonderful.
Understanding the Scripture (Luke 24:44-47)
In the intervening text, Jesus agrees to stay with the two disciples (Luke 24:28, 29), and He reveals His identity while breaking bread. After Jesus disappears, the two disciples return hastily to Jerusalem to tell others about their meeting with the risen Jesus. As they relate their story, it receives an unexpected confirmation: Jesus appears to all who are gathered (Luke 24:36).
7. What previous words did Jesus remind the gathered disciples of as He stood among them? (Luke 24:44)
As the disciples talked about the latest developments, Jesus stood in the room with them. They were shocked by His sudden appearance and thought they were seeing a spirit (ghost) (vs. 36-37), probably because the doors to the room were shut (John 20:19). Jesus wanted to calm His disciples’ fears by convincing them He was not a ghost. He showed them the marks left by the nails in His hands and feet. The disciples saw Him with their eyes, but they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. So Jesus asked for something to eat, and by eating a piece of broiled fish gave them proof that He was indeed not a ghost (Luke 24:38-43).
Jesus reminded His followers that while He was previously with them, He told them how the messianic promises recorded in the Old Testament were ordained by God to be fulfilled. The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms—the three sections of the Hebrew Scriptures—reveal truths about the Redeemer that had to occur.
Modern Jews refer to these three sections of the Hebrew Bible as Torah (law), Nevi'im (prophets), and Kethuvim (writings), respectively. These three together have all the same books that we have in our Old Testament, although our English Bibles arrange the 39 books differently.
The entirety of the Old Testament bears witness to the Messiah. Without this Old Testament background, our understanding of Jesus and His purpose would be limited and inadequate. There is important continuity between the Old and the New Testaments, and the connecting link is the Messiah. He is the one promised by the Old Testament and revealed to us in the four Gospels.
8. How did Jesus open the disciples’ understanding? (Luke 24:45)
The final source of peace and assurance is the Word of God, so our Lord "opened their understanding" of the Old Testament Scriptures, just as He had expounded to the two Emmaus disciples (Luke 24:27). After all, the believers were not being sent into the world to share their own personal experiences but to share the truths of the Word of God.
We do not have Jesus physically sitting with us and answering our questions about Scriptures today; but we can rest our faith on the Word of God (1 John 1:1-5). Yet there is a sense that He is still opening our understanding so that we may appreciate the message of the Bible as He did on that day in Jerusalem. This is one of the purposes of the book of Luke (and its companion volume, Acts), written to show us how Jesus understood himself and how His story was preached by the first-century church. We believe today that the Holy Spirit works through Scriptures to help us understand meanings and applications (see Ephesians 1:17, 18).
What Do You Think?
What are some ways to correct misunderstandings people hold about Jesus today?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Misunderstandings held by fellow Christians
Misunderstandings held by unbelieving seekers
Misunderstandings held by nonseekers
9. What else did Jesus tell the disciples? (Luke 24:46, 47)
Jesus not only enabled them to understand the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, but He also reminded them of what He had taught them, and He explained how it all fit together. Now they began to understand the necessity for His suffering and death and how the Cross related to the promise of the kingdom (see 1 Peter 1:10-12). What a privilege it was for them to listen to Jesus expound the Word!
But privilege always brings responsibility; Jesus takes things one step further as He gives His gathered disciples their marching orders. The colossal events of the previous week are the basis for the continuing mission of His church: to preach a message of repentance and remission of sins everywhere (compare Acts 1:8).
This message is possible because the death of Christ serves as a sacrifice for our sins. The resurrection of Christ verifies God's acceptance of His sacrifice in that regard.
What Do You Think?
How will you fill a role in proclaiming the message of Christ “among all nations?”
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Direct roles (personal witness, etc.)
Indirect roles (financial support of missionaries, etc.)
POINTS TO PONDER
1. The Love. Our Father sent His Son as a servant to die on the cross for our sins. (See Isaiah 53:5-6)
2. The Humility. A servant is not permitted to talk back; he or she must submit to the will of the master or mistress. Jesus Christ was silent before those who accused Him as well as those who afflicted him. He was silent before Caiaphas (Matt. 26:62-63), the chief priests and elders (27:12), Pilate (27:14; John 19:9) and Herod Antipas (Luke 23:9). He did not speak when the soldiers mocked Him and beat Him (1 Peter 2:21-23). (See Isaiah 53:7-8)
3. The Grace. Even after it was “finished” (John 19:30) Jesus took the time to explain the Scriptures concerning Himself, bringing enlightenment to the most stubborn preconceived ideas! (See Luke 24:25-27, 44-46)
4. The Call. Jesus concluded by reminding the disciples that they were witnesses of all these things. These witnesses include those who have testified to the reality of the Gospel, and their witness encourages us to testify today. (See Luke 44:47, 48)
The Wonder of Prophecy
The "Scopes Trial" of 1925 received widespread attention, becoming a referendum on the merits of the theory of evolution. Some saw it as a contest between Christian belief and atheism. The attorney for the evolution side was Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), perhaps the most celebrated lawyer of his day. Less remembered are two later debates that involved Darrow in the 1930s. His opponent in these was P. H. Welshimer (1873-1957), minister of the First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio.
Darrow had debated many people on the merits of the Christian faith, and his great intellect served him well. His opponents were usually not prepared to meet his challenges. Welshimer, however, employed a tactic Darrow had not encountered before: Welshimer focused on the unity of the Bible as a book of prophecy as he laid out some of the wondrous prophecies of the Old Testament that found fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Darrow had no answer for this approach and admitted as much to Welshimer in private. (Unfortunately, Darrow died a few weeks after the second debate and never had a chance to read the books on prophecy suggested by Welshimer.)
Prophecy and fulfillment are inconceivable unless there is a God who is orchestrating them. The intentions of God must be communicated, and then the intended events must take place. We have only a vague idea of how God accomplishes this, but we can marvel nonetheless. God lost us when we sinned, but He was unwilling to allow us to remain lost. We are restored to Him through His grace and mercy in the atoning death of His Son—all planned and revealed ahead of time through God's messengers, the prophets.
Holy God, we are amazed at Your plan for our salvation through Jesus, a plan prophesied hundreds of years in advance. We humble ourselves in the presence of Jesus, the prophesied One, amen.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
Our salvation in Jesus was prophesied.