Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in issue no. 13 (weeks 49-52; December 8—December 29, 2019) of The Lookout magazine, and is also available online at www.lookoutmag.com.
Lesson Aim: Let the Suffering Servant heal you.
By Mark Scott
Jesus’ question to the lame man in John 5 seemed odd. “Do you want to be healed?” (English Standard Version). Of course he did—that is why he was at the Pool of Bethesda. But while many people might say they want to be healed, many really do not. Sheep (a metaphor for people in our text) rather like going astray (i.e., remaining sick). But if the second Sunday of Christmas tells us anything, it tells us that the Lamb of God can heal us. In fact, Jesus came to heal all of creation. His method of healing? Sacrifice!
We continue our study from Isaiah during the Christmas season. The passage is one of the most quoted and powerful passages in the Old Testament. The parallelisms alone give the text a poetic beauty. The Servant of God (not Israel or Cyrus) is the Messiah who will act wisely but not have a beauty that he would be desired (Isaiah 52:13–53:2). This Messiah would be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (53:3).
We Are Like Sheep and Guilty as Can Be | Isaiah 53:4-6
The need for healing was obvious. We had gone astray (wandered away) and turned to our own way. Paul said that we sinned and were continuing to lack the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Peter used the very language of our text by saying that we had strayed like sheep (1 Peter 2:25). We deserved pain, suffering, punishment, affliction, and wounds. We were the ones with transgressions and iniquities.
But God’s Servant took up (lifted up—one of the Hebrew words for forgiveness) our pain and bore (carried) our suffering (pain or grief). He ended up being punished (chastised or corrected), stricken, afflicted (browbeaten), pierced, crushed (broken or destroyed), and wounded for us. God laid our sins on him, and his wounds became the source of our healing. In addition to being healed we can experience genuine peace.
He Was Like a Lamb and as Innocent as Can Be | Isaiah 53:7-9
The Messiah did not deserve what he received. He had done no violence (damage or cruelty). He had no deceit in his mouth. Despite that, Jesus endured his trials (of which there were six—Annas, Caiaphas, Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, and Pilate again) like a lamb led to the slaughter. He was silent (put to silence or made mute). There was nothing to be gained by Jesus answering a fool according to his folly or retaliating (Proverbs 26:4; Luke 23:9; 1 Peter 2:22, 23).
The end result of this non-violent posture was that the Messiah was oppressed (ruled over) and afflicted (mentioned earlier in 53:4). By oppression (restrained—Luke 22:54) and judgment he was taken away (lay hold of; seized). The really sad thing was that no one stood up for this innocent Lamb. No one even protested (complained) in this kangaroo court (Matthew 26:59, 60). The Lamb ended up being cut off from the land of the living (a phrase that indicates being an outsider—not part of the covenant family and/or being cut down in the prime of his life). This Lamb was assigned a place with the wicked even though he was placed in a rich man’s tomb (27:57-60). God’s method of healing the world was realized through seeming injustice.
We Are Healed Because of the Sacrifice of the Lamb | Isaiah 53:10, 11
Reconciliation is best accomplished through sacrifice. Yes, the Messiah would have to suffer and be crushed. Yes, the Messiah would have to make his life an offering for sin. Yes, the Messiah would have to bear the iniquities of the people and the sin of many. Yes, the Messiah would have to pour out his life unto death. Yes, the Messiah would have to be numbered with the transgressors (emphasis beyond our text in verse 12).
But do not despair. In the Bible sacrifice leads to victory and death gives way to life. Besides healing the very sinners who brought the Lord such pain, Isaiah traced several good results of the Lamb’s sacrifice. The Messiah would get to see his offspring (a promise from Genesis 17:5-8). The Messiah would get to prolong his days and make the will of God prosper. The Messiah would see the light of life and be satisfied. The Messiah would justify many and inherit a portion among the great. Finally, as a metaphor of victory, the Messiah would divide the spoils with the strong.
When the “Jews for Jesus” read Isaiah 53 to people of their own ethnicity and ask who the person thinks is being described in the text, the answer is always Yeshua (Jesus). He is the Lamb of God who heals all of creation.
Lesson study ©2019, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on the scope and sequence, ©2019 by Christian Standard Media. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.