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International Bible Lesson
When a Lamb Saved the Sheep
International Bible Lessons
Sunday, April 27, 2014
L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.
The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, April 27, 2014, is from Isaiah 53:1-8. Please Note: Some churches will only study Isaiah 53:3-8. This commentary is the first part of a two part Bible Lesson that includes Luke 24:25-31; 44-53 (some will only study Luke 24:25-27; 44-47). Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary below. Study Hints for Thinking Further, a study guide for teachers, discusses the five questions below to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion; these hints are available on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. The weekly International Bible Lesson is posted each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught.
International Bible Lesson Commentary
(Isaiah 53:1) Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
God inspired the prophet Isaiah to foretell that Jesus the Messiah would first come into the world as a Suffering Servant Messiah. No one would believe that Jesus came as a Suffering Servant until after Jesus had suffered crucifixion and death, and then rose from the dead to explain once again what He had taught His disciples. The Apostles would not believe the report of the women who came from Jesus’ tomb with the angelic message that Jesus had risen from the dead as He had told them when they were in Galilee. The arm (which means “the power”) of God the Father and the power of Jesus was revealed to the Apostles when Jesus appeared to the Apostles at various times in His resurrected glory. Today, Isaiah could ask the same questions of believers and unbelievers.
(Isaiah 53:2) For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
Jesus grew up as a normal boy; however, we see a small measure of His wisdom when He talked to the priests in the temple when He was only twelve years old. He grew up in what many Jews would have considered the “dry ground” of Nazareth in Galilee, where many thought nothing good could come from such a spiritually desolate place. Isaiah prophesied that the Suffering Servant Messiah would not attract people by kingly majesty or personal appearance. Certainly, as Jesus hanged and suffered on the cross, there was nothing in His physical appearance that would attract believers to Him. Only one Roman soldier called Jesus the Son of God, but his conclusion was based on the way Jesus died.
(Isaiah 53:3) He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.
The efforts by many religious leaders to murder Jesus indicate they despised and rejected Jesus as a prophet of God, the Messiah, and the Son of God. When Jesus could barely carry His cross, we know He suffered infirmity, but He may have had other physical infirmities that moved Jesus to say, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’” (Luke 4:23). As He was arrested, tried, condemned, suffered, and died, He was held “of no account.”
(Isaiah 53:4) Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.
Jesus was condemned to die on the cross in humiliation before mockers who thought God had struck Him down because of His sins, especially the sin of claiming to be the Son of God. They thought God afflicted Him because He deserved to die. But, as Isaiah foretold, His Apostles learned and taught that Jesus carried our sins, our infirmities, and our diseases to the cross; He suffered in our place to grant us eternal life.
(Isaiah 53:5) 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.
Isaiah went on to prophesy that Jesus was wounded and died because of our sins and evil deeds, not because of any sins He had committed or any claims He had made. Isaiah left no doubt about why Jesus suffered: we deserve punishment for our sins. God sent Jesus to suffer our punishment in our place, and Jesus’ sacrificial death makes believers whole and puts them in a holy and right relationship with God. Even today in this life, because of Jesus’ death, many are healed physically, mentally, and spiritually, and all believers will be made completely whole when God raises them from the dead.
(Isaiah 53:6) 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 continued to emphasize the nature of our sin and iniquity. We have not followed the LORD as our Shepherd. We have gone our own way instead of God’s way, the way of Jesus, Who is the Way. We have not obeyed God. We have not loved God or our neighbors or ourselves. We have been self-centered instead of God-centered. Jesus took upon himself the consequences we deserve for our iniquities when He died on the cross.
(Isaiah 53:7) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
When Jesus was flogged and hanged on the cross “he did not open his mouth;” which means, He did not complain against God or curse His oppressors. As He died, He asked God to forgive His enemies because they did not know what they were doing. He did not fight His enemies or try to flee from the way of the cross, but went quietly as a lamb is led to slaughter. Jesus knew where He was going, whereas a lamb might not; He knew He was going to die for us. Jesus also knew that He would be raised from the dead on the third day and ascend into heaven, which helped Him face His suffering and death.
(Isaiah 53:8) By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people.
We know from the Bible that justice was perverted at Jesus’ trial, because false witnesses were called and Pilate declared there was no case against Jesus. When Jesus died, He “was cut off from the land of the living.” Jesus died for a good reason; He died for the transgressions of God’s people. Isaiah prophesied exactly the suffering and death of Jesus and why Jesus came and died. From prophecy and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we have many good reasons to believe that Jesus came into the world as the Messiah and He is the Son of God, Who reigns at the right hand of God.
International Bible Lessons Commentary
Luke 24:25-31, 44-53
(Luke 24:25) Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!
With all of the evidence before them and the testimony of reliable witnesses, Jesus said they were foolish not to believe. They had received enough evidence from enough eyewitnesses in order to believe and give good reasons why they believed Jesus was risen from the dead. They were “slow of heart” or “slow to allow the evidence to convince them of the truth.” They were slow to believe what the Old Testament Scriptures taught about Jesus and His first coming and His sacrificial death and His resurrection. They had the Bible and eye witnesses, but they were slow to accept them. On the Day of Pentecost, filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter presented Old Testament evidence for Jesus’ resurrection and the testimony of eye witnesses to His resurrection.
(Luke 24:26) Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”
Jesus indicated that there was no other option for the Messiah other than to suffer and die on a cross in fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Yes, some would accept His teachings, repent of their sins, trust in Him as the Messiah, but enough would oppose Him that He would be crucified according to the Bible’s prophecies (see especially Isaiah 53). Then, He would be raised from the dead and ascend into heaven.
(Luke 24:27) Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
Jesus could teach a great deal from the Scriptures during a 7 mile walk to Emmaus. He would have their undivided attention, and people sometimes walk slower and slower when discussing important ideas. Jesus could begin with Genesis 3:15, and also talk about how Jacob’s prophecy regarding the lion of the tribe of Judah in Genesis 49:8-12 applied to Him. He taught about what Moses prophesied. He could have also taught about the prophecies of David, Isaiah, Daniel, and others. Then, these disciples would teach these truths to the other disciples, probably teaching some of these truths before Jesus appeared to them again in the upper room. Certainly, they would tell many times what Jesus taught them from the Scriptures on the road, and the Holy Spirit would help them remember what Jesus taught them as they taught. The Holy Spirit would also protect them from making any mistakes when they taught what Jesus had taught.
(Luke 24:28) As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on.
Jesus would have walked on, but they chose to invite Him into their lives and into the place they planned to stay in the village. They probably wanted to learn more about Jesus from the Scriptures as He confirmed and strengthened their faith. Jesus did not demand that they listen to more of what He taught; He taught with such authority and wisdom that they heard Him gladly.
(Luke 24:29) But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.
They gave Jesus good reasons for Him to stay with them. After a 7 mile walk, a meal, a place to refresh, a place to rest, and a place to sleep were parts of their appeal for Jesus to stay with them. These two disciples had learned from Jesus’ teaching to be servants of others in need, and they followed the example Jesus had left to His disciples, especially at the Last Supper (Passover) when He taught about His coming as a servant and that they should be servants of others too.
(Luke 24:30) When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
When we read this verse, we naturally think of Jesus’ Last Supper. These two may or may not have been at Jesus’ Last Supper (which we think of as exclusively for the 12 disciples, because of many paintings of the Last Supper). As their teacher on the road, Jesus would have naturally offered a prayer and broken and distributed the bread at their meal. They would have seen Jesus do this on other occasions when He fed His disciples or fed the crowds. They would have recognized His hands as His hands, just as we recognize the hands of a loved one when we have seen them used often. Luke does not tell us if they saw the marks of crucifixion on His hands or not, but perhaps they did.
(Luke 24:31) Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.
God opened their eyes and the eyes of their understanding in Jesus’ manner of breaking the bread and praying. The very moment they recognized Jesus, they would have tried to detain Him and talk more to Him, but His time of visitation was over and He had taught them all they needed to know at that time; so, He vanished from their sight. As God, He could stay with them invisibly and be with others at the same time. As God, He could give them the strength to walk 7 miles back to Jerusalem that very night, which they did.
(Luke 24:44) Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”
Just as Jesus had told the two on the road to Emmaus, He told these disciples that He had come to fulfill the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms (or all the Scriptures). For further proof that He had risen from the dead, Jesus referred them to what He had told them previously during His public ministry. He was the same person who had done what He had said; nothing had happened to him that He had not expected and had foretold. In addition, all that had happened to him the Hebrew Scriptures had foretold. Everything had happened according to God’s perfect plan.
(Luke 24:45) Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
Jesus physical appearance; His previous teaching; the Bible’s predictions; all confirmed that Jesus was the Messiah that God had promised to send and He had risen from the dead. Jesus personally opened their minds so they could rightly interpret the Bible. Later, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the disciples and all who believe in him so all believers can understand the Bible. The Holy Spirit still helps believers understand the Bible today.
(Luke 24:46) and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day,
Jesus helped them see this truth so they would have both His appearances and the Scriptures as two types of witnesses to His resurrection and the perfect timing of His resurrection, which would not have been foretold and accomplished without the action and perfect timing of God. Over time, the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent to them helped them understand more and more about the intention and meaning of His death.
(Luke 24:47) and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
Jesus taught that repentance (turning from the practice of all known sins as condemned in the Bible and turning from self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness) and God’s forgiveness of sins was to be proclaimed in His name: “forgiveness of sins” included our forgiving others as God has forgiven us. The preaching in Jesus’ name to all people is necessary, and His grace and power are necessary for repentance and forgiveness of sins.
(Luke 24:48) You are witnesses of these things.
These human witnesses to these events surrounding the suffering and death and resurrection of Jesus, and the Scriptures are two witnesses that confirm the actual facts of these events. Today, the Scriptures and the life changing new birth that believers experience through faith in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit are two witnesses to unbelievers of the truth of the Christian faith.
(Luke 24:49) And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
God the Father promised to them that they would receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus the Messiah is the Son of God, who sends the Holy Spirit into believers. The Holy Spirit is the “power from on high,” Who helps believers witness for Jesus Christ. He opens the minds of believers so they can witness persuasively, and He opens the minds of unbelievers so they can think clearly, respond to the truth, and believe in Him. The Holy Spirit gives believers guidance in timing, courage, and power to share the truth of Jesus with others.
(Luke 24:50) Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them.
Jesus walked with them as He walked with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. This short walk enabled the disciples to believe more strongly that Jesus had a resurrected and divinely empowered body that had been crucified and buried. He removed all doubts during His walk, and He was available to them to answer any further questions they might have thought to ask on the way. Their conversations gave them further proof that Jesus indeed was alive.
(Luke 24:51) While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.
Jesus was not only blessing them by giving them parting words of benediction; rather, He was blessing them by His very presence in their midst and by the words He had spoken during all this time. His appearance was not brief. He needed to explain to them what He was returning to heaven to do, and that they should not expect Him to appear anymore to them in ways that they had recently experienced. The next step for them was to wait until they received the promised Holy Spirit (which they did on the Day of Pentecost: see Acts chapters 1 & 2); then, they would be His witnesses to all people beginning in Jerusalem.
(Luke 24:52) And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy;
They worshiped Jesus because they knew conclusively that Jesus was the divine Son of God, who was worthy of their worship. By worshiping Jesus, they were not breaking the commands of God in the Scriptures to worship God alone. The resurrection and the teaching of Jesus and worshiping Jesus brought them great joy, and led to their obeying Jesus by returning to Jerusalem.
(Luke 24:53) and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
The first disciples of Jesus the Messiah were Jews who practiced their faith. They spent almost all of their time in the Temple of God that Jesus had cleansed and had called His Father’s house of prayer. They worshiped God, blessed God, and made God happy by all they said and did. Perhaps they also expected to receive the promised Holy Spirit in the Temple. Of course, they received the Holy Spirit unexpectedly when they were in the upper room.
When a Lamb Saved the Sheep
International Bible Lesson
“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” (Isaiah 53:6—KJV).
“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 53:6—NRSV).
God inspired the prophet Isaiah to compare people to sheep. Sheep are prone to wander away from their shepherd and flock. They eventually get lost, get into trouble, and sometimes get eaten by predators. People often act worse than sheep. God gave us minds, laws, and abilities to make good choices, but invariably at various times all of us have deliberately gone astray. Instead of following our Shepherd, we have chosen to go our own way. We have chosen the selfish and self-centered way instead of God’s way. Everyone has meditated on sinful desires and thoughts, and sometimes we have acted on those thoughts in ways that have brought harm to others and us. Because God loves everyone, God sent someone like a sheep to save us from our iniquity, our habitual practice of sin, and the eternal consequences of our disobedience. Isaiah wrote of him, “Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” when He was oppressed and afflicted (Isaiah 53:7). Isaiah was, of course, writing about the Messiah that God planned to send, and when the Messiah came He died as a sacrificial lamb when He died on the cross. When John went to heaven and saw Jesus, he saw “a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered” (Revelation 5:6). He explained why God sent Jesus, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:19).
Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson.
Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further
The International Sunday School Lesson for April 27, 2014 is from Isaiah 53:1-8 and Luke 24:25-31, 44-53. The “Thinking Further” Questions below are from these two lessons.
1. How have sinners like sheep gone astray? How was Jesus like a sheep?
2. Why did Jesus suffer and die?
3. What reason did Jesus give to the two He talked to for their not believing in His resurrection? Do you think this reason might apply to some people today?
4. In addition to the eyewitness accounts they had heard about Jesus having risen from the dead, what other important evidence did Jesus give these two people in His efforts to convince them that He was alive?
5. What did Jesus do to help His disciples understand the Scriptures? What do we need to better understand the Scriptures today?
— © Copyright 2014 L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.
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