This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for January 30) is written by Drew Sherman who serves with Compass Christian Church in Colleyville, Texas.
Wounded for Our Transgressions (Isaiah 53:1-12)
By Drew Sherman
A few years ago on a mission trip to India, we, like many others who tour India, included a visit to the city of Agra where the Taj Mahal is located. Known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, this marble monument was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is widely considered as one of the most palatial structures in the world. Nearly 4 million people visit the tomb every year.
I recall the words of our tour guide as we entered the mausoleum: “You are now entering the Holy of Holies.” His words, though passionate and well-meaning, were almost blasphemous to my ears. A tomb for a rich man’s wife? A tomb built out of grief and greed. For me, it was a far cry from the Holy of Holies.
But when I look at some famous and familiar words from Isaiah 53, I feel as though I’ve entered the Bible’s Holy of Holies. As you read the following, would you agree?
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:3-5).
I must walk carefully through this paragraph. I must pause to remember what Jesus did for me. I must never forget his work on the cross. I must realize that he was familiar with suffering.
Dr. Richard Fales, an archaeologist friend, said this about the suffering Jesus endured:
Now here he is, Jesus, hanging on the cross. Here is what happens at this point. Your eyes dry out. Tear ducts fail to function. In a few moments your nose begins to feel absolutely dry like somebody running a wire brush up and down your nasal passages. Your tongue sticks to your mouth and you begin to regurgitate. You begin to vomit. Not only that, if you’ve ever had a cramp in your body, I want you to know you’re having cramps in every part of your body; fingers, muscles in your chest, in your legs, all over. You’ve got the worst migraine headache you’ve ever had. And hanging by your hands, you are now dying. You are suffocating. So what do you do to breathe? You now, having nails in your feet, push down with all your might. You shove yourself up. You take a deep breath then you drop down again because you can’t stand the pain any more. And you keep doing this; the rising, the falling, the rising, the falling. For hours Jesus did this. 1
There was Jesus. Rejected by those he loved. Despised by those he tried to teach. Standing in agony nailed to a cross. And what hurt the most? His heart, broken for you and me.
Now, 2,000 years later, his heart is still breaking. His mercies are still available every morning. His love is still reaching out to a thousand generations. He still cares, intercedes, and forgives. He still wants to be your shepherd, even if you have abandoned the flock. He still searches the highways and byways for your heart.
His wounds still heal.
Last spring I journeyed to Israel with 32 friends from our church in Texas. On the last day we visited the Garden Tomb, the place where our suffering Savior was laid to rest. I remember comparing it to the Taj Mahal. Consider that one structure is made of marble and is worth untold millions of dollars. The other structure is a hole in the side of a rock. One structure is admired for its beauty, and the other is admired for its meaning. Both are visited by millions.
I also recalled an additional explanation from our tour guide in India: “The Taj Mahal was built as a promise of eternal love.” I pondered how much the “man of sorrows” must have loved me. And I realized the wounds inflicted at Golgotha happened because of my sins and my selfishness. And as I turned around to look at the Garden Tomb one last time, I realized I was witnessing a tomb truly built on the promise of eternal love.
1 From a sermon preached at Shepherd of the Hills Church, Porter Ranch, California, April 1998.
*Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.
|HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS|
|Jan. 24: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21|
|Jan. 25: Hebrews 10:10-18|
|Jan. 26: Ephesians 4:25–5:2|
|Jan. 27: Romans 5:12-17|
|Jan. 28: Acts 8:30-35|
|Jan. 29: Isaiah 52:13–53:3|
|Jan. 30: Isaiah 53:4-12|
ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: Drew Sherman is lead pastor at Compass Christian Church in Colleyville, Texas. He grew up in Brazil, Indiana. He earned a Bachelor of Biblical Literature degree at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri, and a Master of Arts in congregational leadership at Hope International University, Fullerton, California. He enjoys coaching youth sports; reading; the outdoors; spending time with his wife, Michelle, and his kids, Hannah, Landon, and Luke; and talking about Jesus.