International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending January 30, 2011
Purpose: To ponder how the suffering of one can be redemptive for others
Scripture Text: Isaiah 53: 4-6, 10-12 (NRSV)
(4)Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. (5)But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. (6)All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53: 10-12
(10)Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the LORD shall prosper. (11)Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. (12)Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
To get the best understanding of our lesson passage, I would suggest you read from the beginning of this Servant Song starting in chapter 52:13 and reading through 53:12.
By going back to the beginning of this passage, in 52:13, you will find a couple of interesting statements. First it begins by declaring “Behold,” which denotes a new prophesy, second “My servant,” tells us that God is now speaking through the prophet, and of course God is speaking of His only begotten, Jesus the Christ. (The Messiah). Also you might notice from verse 15 that this is not addressed just to Judah or the Jewish people but to “many nations.”
With our understanding of the above, we can make some assumptions about the pronouns used. The “he” refers to the servant (Christ), the “our” refers to the nations.
As you read the first few verses you get the sense that the whole world is aware of its need for repentance and forgiveness, the world is very much in need of redemption. The question for God is how can this be achieved? The answer is if one person could take upon himself all of the worlds quilt and shame and if God was willing to accept that as sufficient for all, then only that willing servant would be required to suffer the pain, agony, punishment and embarrassment for all. All of which happened with Christ, in living, suffering and dying. Because of His generous act, the rest of humankind has the opportunity to be redeemed, and restored to a right relationship with the Creator.
Substitutionary suffering is a difficult doctrine for some to accept. It certainly goes against most “evolutionist” thinking, because they believe we are tuned for self preservation at all cost. The survival of the fittest, or “first law of nature” would contradict what Christ and even other heroes have done for people they love, or just out of doing “the right” thing.
The result achieved outweighs the suffering endured, and Jesus did it without any promise of reward, because the reward comes after the deed. Through Christ we all have a chance at being righteous, not by our deeds, but by what was accomplished through Him. It is after the fact that God rewards the servant with, “a portion of the great.”
This passage is sobering and should be humbling for all of us. What about us makes us worthy recipients of such grace? Not just receiving our redemption but also having Christ as our intercessor as stated in verse 12. We, like lost sheep need the “Good Shepherd” to find our way back into His fold, by ourselves we will remain lost for all of eternity. Why not accept Christ today as your redeemer? Consider all that He did just for you.