Isaiah 53:1-8 & Luke 24:25-31, 44-53 International Commentary and Lesson

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International Bible Lessons Commentary
Isaiah 53:1-8 & Luke 24:25-31, 44-53

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International Bible Lesson
When a Lamb Saved the Sheep
Isaiah 53:6

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 53:1-8

(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 24:25-31

(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 24:44-53

(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?

Sunday, April 6, 2014 Commentary & Lesson

Sunday, April 13, 2014 Commentary & Lesson

Sunday, April 20, 2014 Commentary & Lesson

Sunday, April 27, 2014 Commentary & Lesson

— © Copyright 2014 L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

You may be reprint or reproduce this International Bible Lesson for not-for-profit use. More Uniform Bible Lessons are available at InternationalBibleLessons.org.
Read the verse by verse International Bible Lessons Commentary at: InternationalBibleLessons.com.

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Hosea 6:1-6 & Luke 24:1-12 International Commentary & Lesson

International Bible Lessons Commentary
Hosea 6:1-6 & Luke 24:1-12

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International Bible Lesson
Perfect Predictions with Perfect Timing

Luke 24:6-7

International Bible Lessons
Sunday, April 20, 2014
L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, April 20, 2014, is from Hosea 6:1-6. Please Note: Some churches will only study Hosea 6:1-3. This commentary is the first part of a two part Bible Lesson that includes Luke 24:1-12Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentarybelow. 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 usually posted each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught and is included at the bottom of this commentary.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
Hosea 6:1-6

(Hosea 6:1) “Come, let us return to the LORD; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up.

Unlike many who have never heard of the true God, the Jews in Ephraim and Judah had once known, loved, and obeyed the true God. Therefore, the prophet Hosea called them to return to God and repent of their sins. God had “torn” or disciplined them in order to lead them to repent, and if they repented God would heal them. They would experience the blessing of God once again. God’s discipline is designed to lead His children back to Him so He can heal and bind them up.

(Hosea 6:2) After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.

As God sometimes included prophecies of the Messiah and how He would be recognized into the middle of what seem to be discussions about some other topics, here we see the length of time alluded to for Jesus to be dead and buried in the tomb. Jesus was “torn” and “struck” down on His way to the cross and on the cross; He died in behalf of all who would believe in Him so God could justly forgive believers in Jesus for their sins. On the third day, God raised Jesus up to live and reign as King and Savior, and if we repent and return to the true God, He will raise us up to live before Him forever.

(Hosea 6:3) Let us know, let us press on to know the LORD; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.”

Believers can know God through Jesus Christ, and believers need to “press on to know the Lord” more deeply and personally as they prayerfully study the Bible more intensely and often. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Jesus Christ rose and appeared in the dawn of a Sunday morning, and when we come to know Him, His life and light will shine into us “as sure as the dawn.” Jesus will give believers in Him a new birth and a new life as “the spring rains that water the earth.”

(Hosea 6:4) What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes away early.

The sending of Jesus the Messiah was God’s answer to His questions in this verse. The morning clouds sometimes come with the promise of rain, but too quickly disappear under the light of the blazing sun. Likewise, the love of some for God too often changes into a love for the gifts of God and the things of this world; so their love for God too quickly disappears as does the morning dew.

(Hosea 6:5) Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have killed them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light.

Before God sent their enemies to punish or discipline His children or before He sent other perils such as drought, earthquakes, pestilence, or famine, God always sent prophets to warn His children to repent and return to Him so He would not need to discipline them. God’s light, God’s truth, the Word of God, bring a warning of judgment and future punishment to the disobedient. When the disobedient understand the Word of God, their conscience condemns them and they are “killed by the word” of His mouth, which may lead them to repentance.

(Hosea 6:6) For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Some might think that repentance means a person must begin to practice religious rituals they have neglected. However, God says a truly repentant person will love God steadfastly, constantly or consistently throughout the day every day and seek greater knowledge of God day by day, with a corresponding increasing love for God. God answered His questions in Hosea 6:4, when He won the believer’s love by sending Jesus to die a sacrificial death for our sins. Through faith in Jesus and by the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life, love for God and the knowledge of God motivate the actions of the believer and inspire their praise and thanksgiving.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
Luke 24:1-12

(Luke 24:1) But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.

Because of the Passover and the coming Sabbath, Jesus was hastily buried in a cave-like tomb and a huge stone was rolled in front of the door to seal it. Spices had been given to prepare the body for burial, but Jesus’ body was not embalmed and the spices had not been left in His tomb. Even though His body was not prepared for burial, His body did not see decay or any decomposition before God raised Him from the dead in fulfillment of the Scriptures. Peter preached, “Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption’” (Acts 2:31). As Hosea indicated, “his appearing is a sure as the dawn,” and the women found the tomb empty “at early dawn” (Hosea 6:3).

(Luke 24:2) They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,

Though two Roman guards had been stationed to guard the tomb because the religious leaders had feared that His disciples would steal Jesus’ body, the women found the tomb abandoned by the guards and the stone rolled away from the tomb door.

(Luke 24:3) but when they went in, they did not find the body.

When they entered the cave or tomb (which would have been similar to the tomb in which Lazarus was buried before Jesus raised him from the dead), they found the tomb no longer contained Jesus’ body. As yet, they did not know that Jesus was raised from the dead.

(Luke 24:4) While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.

The women did not understand the meaning of the empty tomb. Grieving, having come prepared to anoint the body of the one they loved; they did not know what to think. Suddenly two men dressed in dazzling white appeared to them, because to fulfill the Scriptures regarding the number of eyewitnesses that are needed to be accepted as legal testimony two witnesses had to speak to the women. Luke did not identify them as angels; rather, he recorded exactly what the women said they saw without drawing any additional conclusions. We know from the women’s response to these men and other gospel accounts and descriptions that these men were angels.

(Luke 24:5) The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.

These witnesses appeared suddenly in the appearance of holiness, so the women were terrified and bowed their heads in humility. The angels asked them why they were among the dead, for Jesus had risen from the dead. The empty tomb was evidence that Jesus had risen, but additional evidence of His resurrection was what Jesus had prophetically told them earlier.

(Luke 24:6) Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,

The angels went on to explain the empty tomb based on the words of Jesus, the Word of God. Before they ever travelled to Jerusalem, Jesus had told them in Galilee what would happen to Him in Jerusalem. Jesus did not need to go to the city to get a feel for how He would be accepted. He knew how He would be accepted on Palm Sunday; He knew He would be praised by the crowds. He knew how He would die at the hands of sinners and He knew He would rise from the dead. Jesus was a prophet; what He had foretold happened, so He was a true prophet of God as well as the Son of God.

(Luke 24:7) that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”

The women and the disciples of Jesus hardly understood or believed Jesus’ prophecy in Galilee. Jesus called himself “the Son of Man.” Based upon all that Jesus had done as the Son of Man, they would not believe that Jesus “would not” or “could not” (to save them from their sins) save himself from crucifixion and death. They knew that Jesus could save himself from sinners, because He had done it before (see Luke 4:28-30). Jesus, the Son of God, preferred to use the title “Son of Man” when speaking of himself, because that was His way of claiming to be the long-expected Messiah. As Son of God, Jesus was fully God; as Son of Man, Jesus was fully human. Jesus foretold exactly how many days He would be in the tomb, and His rising on the third day also proved to be correct.

(Luke 24:8) Then they remembered his words,

When they were reminded, they remembered. Reading the Bible repeatedly helps us remember and see connections between one verse and another verse in different Bible books (for example, compare Luke 24:1 and Hosea 6:3). Reading the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit and teachers (these two angels were teachers) will deepen our faith. Up to this point, the women now had three reasons to believe Jesus was alive: the tomb was empty; two angels told them He was alive; Jesus had told them earlier what to expect “He would rise on the third day” (prophecy was fulfilled).

(Luke 24:9) and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.

The women went immediately to tell the disciples and the others gathered with them what they had witnessed. These fearful followers of Jesus had gathered to grieve; they also feared the authorities, who might try to arrest and kill them too.

(Luke 24:10) Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.

The women gave eyewitness accounts. More than one witness told what they had seen and heard. Luke named the eyewitnesses. The apostles had good and sufficient evidence and reasons to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. What Jesus prophesied and what these women experienced and reported is good enough evidence for anyone to believe that Jesus was crucified, dead, buried and rose on the third day.

(Luke 24:11) But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

Jesus chose the apostles to represent Him before the world and to build His Church, so these apostles were the first to hear the women’s testimony, but they wanted and needed more evidence than the women’s testimony to believe. The fact that these apostles found it difficult to believe, but eventually believed after Jesus appeared to them too is additional evidence that Jesus actually rose from the dead.

(Luke 24:12) But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Perhaps because He was the Rock upon whom Jesus chose to build His Church, Peter immediately ran to the tomb. Along with the women, Peter knew exactly where Jesus had been buried. He found the tomb exactly as the women had described; other gospel writers give more details of Peter’s visit to the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying by themselves, which may mean that Peter saw them collapsed where the body of Jesus had been laid because Jesus had passed through them when He was resurrected from the dead. He might have seen them carefully folded and set to one side. In any event, no one would have stolen Jesus’ body without taking the shroud that covered Him with them still wrapped around His body. So, the linen cloths in the otherwise empty tomb are additional evidence for the resurrection of Jesus and that Peter had gone to the right tomb. Peter left the tomb amazed, and he would meet Jesus himself according to Jesus’ perfect timing.

Perfect Predictions with Perfect Timing
International Bible Lesson
Luke 24:6-7

“He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Luke 24:6-7—KJV).

“Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again” (Luke 24:6-7—NRSV).

When the angels met the women at Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning, they gave them good reasons to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. Unlike what everyone expected of the Messiah, everything Jesus had foretold about His going to Jerusalem and His suffering, death, and resurrection had come true exactly as He had prophesied when they were still in Galilee. First, when Judas betrayed Jesus and led the guards to arrest Him, Jesus was handed over to sinners. Second, instead of being stoned to death as was the custom of the Jews according to the Law of Moses, Jesus said He must be condemned to a cross, which was the Roman way of executing criminals. Later, the Apostle Paul explained how Jesus not only foretold His way of death, but Jesus died according to the Scriptures: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). To qualify as God’s promised Messiah, Jesus had to fulfill many difficult prophecies; including, execution on a cross and being sealed in a tomb, rising in a human body and appearing to many witnesses. Not only did Jesus need to rise from the dead perfectly, but His arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and resurrection had to be timed perfectly during a three day period according to the Old Testament and Jesus’

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

The International Sunday School Lesson for April 20, 2014 is from Hosea 6:1-6 and Luke 24:1-12. The questions below are from these two lessons.

1. How might you describe God’s punishment when God designs it to be discipline for those who are His children?

2. Compare Hosea 6:1 — “Come, let us return to the LORD; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up,” and Hebrews 12:5-6 — “And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children — ‘My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts’” (see Deuteronomy 8:5).

3. What is one fact about Jesus’ resurrection that you remember from other books of the Bible that Luke does not include in these verses?

4. Why do you think the apostles would not believe the women?

5. Why do you believe in Jesus’ resurrection?

— © Copyright 2014 L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. — E-mail: lgp@InternationalBibleLessons.org
You may be reprint or reproduce this International Bible Lesson for not-for-profit use. More Uniform Bible Lessons are available at InternationalBibleLessons.org.
Read the verse by verse International Bible Lessons Commentary at:InternationalBibleLessons.com.

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Jeremiah 23:1-6 & Zechariah 6:9-15 & John 19:1-6 International Commentary and Lesson

International Bible Lessons Commentary
Jeremiah 23:1-6 & Zechariah 6:9-15
& John 19:1-6

&

International Bible Lesson
An Innocent Man Condemned and Cursed
John 19:6

International Bible Lessons
Sunday, April 13, 2014

L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, April 13, 2014, is from Jeremiah 23:1-6; Zechariah 6:9-15 & John 19:1-6. Please Note: Some churches will only study Jeremiah 23:5-6. Some will only study John 19:1-6 or John 19:1-5 or some other combination of these three books of the Bible. 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

Jeremiah 23:1-6

(Jeremiah 23:1)  Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD.

The LORD told the prophet Jeremiah to warn the political and religious leaders and the people of the Kingdom of Judah (the southern kingdom) about His forthcoming punishment if they did not repent of their sins and turn back to God. By their selfish and unjust behavior, the leaders of the kingdom did not care about God’s people, about teaching them to obey God, about leading them to obey God’s moral laws through the just enforcement of God’s laws. Instead, they themselves disobeyed God, robbed God’s people materially and spiritually, and led them to worship idols – which eventually led to their destruction.

(Jeremiah 23:2)  Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD.

God labels the behavior of Israel’s leaders as more than “unjust.” God called their actions “evil” (which were of course “unjust”). These leaders did the opposite of what the LORD expected of them and what the people needed from them. The LORD identified himself specifically as “the God of Israel” – the God of all Jacob’s descendants – the “God of the Bible” (as we might speak of the true God today). As Isaiah warned the Kingdom of Israel, the God of Israel punished them through the Assyrian invasion in 722 BC. And as Jeremiah warned Judah, the God of Israel sent the false shepherds and many people of Judah into exile in Babylon in 587-586 BC (except for those who died in battle or by starvation first).

(Jeremiah 23:3)  Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.

After 70 years of exile in Babylon, God led His people (those left from the Kingdom of Judah) back to Jerusalem under godly leadership. By the time they returned, all of the evil shepherds had died. Through Jeremiah, God promised to bring “a remnant” or “a small number” (a “remnant” is a small piece of cloth left over from a larger piece of cloth after something has been made; such as, a dress or shirt) of faithful people back to the Promised Land. After 70 years of exile, they had learned to worship the true God only and He led them back home. The descendants of those God drove out of the Kingdom of Israel (the northern kingdom) in 722 BC, will also return home to the Promised Land someday. Some believe God began to bring His people back to begin the complete fulfillment of this prophecy in 1948, when the modern State of Israel was created.

(Jeremiah 23:4)  I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the LORD.

In beginning to fulfill this prophecy, after their time in exile two good shepherds stand out in the Old Testament. First, Ezra — the Book of Ezra describes how he led the Judean exiles back from Babylon to Jerusalem and enforced the observance of God’s laws. Second, Nehemiah — the Book of Nehemiah describes how he returned and led the people to rebuild of the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah did not fear others, but trusted in God. He was not dismayed, and he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem while overcoming much opposition from Judah’s neighbors. Jesus also fulfilled this prophecy, and continues to do so in the lives of those who trust in Him.

(Jeremiah 23:5)  The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

Though verses three and four were substantially fulfilled by Ezra and Nehemiah and Jesus the Messiah when He came the first time, verse five will not be fulfilled completely until Jesus the Messiah comes again. The “righteous branch” would be a descendant of King David. Jesus qualified in this respect (see Matthew 1:1). In all Jesus did in His first coming, He demonstrated the qualities of leadership that verse five describes. Believers now long for His second coming to fulfill this prophecy over all the earth.

(Jeremiah 23:6)  In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The LORD is our righteousness.”

Jesus came to save His people from their sins. He accomplished this through His first coming by His death and resurrection, and by His sending the Holy Spirit to empower believers to obey His commands and teachings. He is the righteousness of believer’s through His cleansing them from sin and His empowering and indwelling them to obey God by His Spirit. When Jesus returns, His people will live in safety because of His righteous leadership and their righteous ways of living through faith in Jesus Christ.

International Bible Lesson Commentary

Zechariah 6:9-15

(Zechariah 6:9)  The word of the LORD came to me:

The word of the LORD (Yahweh or Jehovah) came to Zechariah and told him to take actions in his historical situation that would also point toward the coming of the Messiah, also called the Branch. His actions would be symbolic and only better understood when the Messiah, Jesus, finally came.

(Zechariah 6:10)  Collect silver and gold from the exiles—from Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah—who have arrived from Babylon; and go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah.

These three virtually unknown Jews came from Babylon after Darius had freed the Jews following seventy years of exile as determined by God as punishment for their sins. They were to take their offering of silver and gold to the governor of the Jews in Jerusalem, who would be responsible for receiving all gifts for the rebuilding of the city and the temple.

(Zechariah 6:11)  Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak;

Through the prophet Zechariah, God said He wanted a crown of silver and gold that some believe were two circles fitted together to make a royal crown. The name Joshua means Savior, which is also the name of the man who led God’s people into the Promised Land and the name of Jesus the Messiah. A high priest is not crowned: the symbolic action here indicates that the Messiah would serve God as both King and Priest. Jesus rules as King and Priest, seated at the right hand of God.

(Zechariah 6:12)  say to him: Thus says the LORD of hosts: Here is a man whose name is Branch: for he shall branch out in his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.

The Jews were accustomed to symbolic actions made by the prophets. The LORD said the Branch or the Messiah would come and not only rule militarily but as Priest He would build the temple of the LORD or the Church. Jesus’ rule as High Priest comes first as He builds His Church on earth. His visible rule as King on earth will happen after Jesus comes again. The Apostle Paul also wrote, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

(Zechariah 6:13)  It is he that shall build the temple of the LORD; he shall bear royal honor, and shall sit upon his throne and rule. There shall be a priest by his throne, with peaceful understanding between the two of them.

The temple that Zerubbabel worked on was nearing completion in Jerusalem. The temple of the LORD or the Church would be built by the Messiah who has “royal honor” and who rules from His throne in heaven (see Ephesians 2:19-22 and 1 Peter 2:5). The one on the royal throne and the priest by His throne are the same person, Jesus the Messiah. The New American Standard Bible translates this verse more literally: “Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.” The King James Version says almost the same as the NASB: “Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”

(Zechariah 6:14)  And the crown shall be in the care of Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Josiah son of Zephaniah, as a memorial in the temple of the LORD.

The crown was not to remain on the head of Joshua the high priest. The symbolic action indicated that the Messiah was to be crowned priest and king. The crown was taken from Joshua and placed in the rebuilt temple as a visible reminder to all that the Branch, the Messiah, would come and He would the One to wear the crown. When Jesus the Messiah came the first time, He was crowned with a crown of thorns. Now, Jesus wears the crown of a priest and king in heaven.

(Zechariah 6:15)  Those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the LORD; and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.

Those who were far off in Zechariah’s day were the Jews left in Babylon and the Jews scattered when the Kingdom of Israel fell in 722 B.C. When Jesus came and after the Holy Spirit filled the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost, Jesus began to build His Church with those who were from “far off.” When Peter and Paul led the way, the Gentiles (who the Jews would have considered “far off” from being God’s children) were welcomed into the Church, “the temple of the LORD.” Those who accept Jesus Christ as Savior, and who expect Him to intercede for them as High Priest at the right hand of God, need to “diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God,” because Jesus rules as King of the universe and He wants to reign as King of our hearts.

International Bible Lesson Commentary

John 19:1-7

(John 19:1)  Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.

After a mock trial before the high priest (a mock trial because the Jewish leaders had already decided to murder Jesus; so they brought forward false witnesses against Him), they took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor, for Pilate to sentence Jesus to death by crucifixion. Hoping to satisfy the Jewish leaders with something less than death, Pilate ordered Jesus to be flogged.

(John 19:2)  And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe.

The soldiers probably flogged Jesus with a whip that had several ends to which bits of rock or metal were tied in order to bruise and break the skin. They wove a crown of thorns and pressed it upon His head, which would have resulted in much bleeding. They put a purple robe that symbolized royalty upon His back. Later, when the robe was torn from Him, the dried, bloody wounds would have reopened. Jesus would have lost a lot of blood before they crucified Him.

(John 19:3)  They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face.

They mocked Jesus and the Jews by calling Jesus “King of the Jews” as they whipped and beat Him. Each time they struck His face, the thorns from His crown would dig deeper into His skin. God the Father would eventually return Jesus true kingly crown to Him after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Amazingly, but true to His moral and spiritual character, when they crucified Him, Jesus prayed that the Father would forgive those who crucified, flogged, and mocked Him.

(John 19:4)  Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.”

Pilate then brought Jesus out to face the religious leaders and the crowd. Pilate declared that he could find no case or legal evidence against Jesus, and he hoped the cruel beating would satisfy Jesus’ bloodthirsty enemies. Pilate believed that Jesus had suffered enough, but the religious leaders would be satisfied with nothing less than Jesus’ death. The crowd, bitterly disappointed that Jesus had not overthrown their brutal Roman oppressors, probably felt that Jesus had deceived them.

(John 19:5)  So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

One can only imagine the pain and suffering of Jesus up to this point, and the shock of His appearance before the chief priests, the Jewish guards who had arrested Jesus and brought Him to Pilate, and the crowds of onlookers. Dressed as a king with a purple robe, humiliated by the Roman guards, and covered with blood Jesus did not fulfill the expectations of the hopeful crowd who looked for a conquering hero Messiah.

(John 19:6)  When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.”

Not satisfied with Jesus’ suffering up to this point, the chief priests and the arresting guards cried out for more punishment and suffering. They shouted, “Crucify him!” Pilate emphasized again that Jesus had done nothing wrong according to Roman law and his own judgment. He told them that if they were so determined to kill Jesus that they could crucify Jesus themselves. Jesus’ eventual crucifixion fulfilled Scripture: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Galatians 3:13 & Deuteronomy 21:23).

(John 19:7)  The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”

The Jews wanted Jesus dead because He threatened their power and wealth. Jesus never sinned. Jesus made no false claims or gave false testimony. During three years of public ministry Jesus proved He was the Messiah. Only the true Son of God could have done all that He did and teach what He taught. The Jews misused the Law that stated: “Take the blasphemer outside the camp; and let all who were within hearing lay their hands on his head, and let the whole congregation stone him” (Leviticus 24:14).

 An Innocent Man Condemned and Cursed

International Bible Lesson

“When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him” (John 19:6—KJV).

“When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him’” (John 19:6—NRSV).

Pilate declared twice that he found no case against Jesus. If Jesus had broken any Roman laws, certainly the religious leaders would have made these accusations against Jesus too. Perhaps Pilate hoped that when they saw Jesus suffering after His severe flogging and mocking that would satisfy His accusers. However, the religious authorities were so intent on the “legal” murder of Jesus they shouted back to Pilate, “Crucify him!” The Jewish law stated specifically how the Jews were to execute someone convicted of a serious crime, but only after a legal trial with two or more witnesses: “Take the blasphemer outside the camp; and let all who were within hearing lay their hands on his head, and let the whole congregation stone him” (Leviticus 24:14). Later, in a rush to judgment, the religious leaders and people stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7:56-60). In fulfillment of prophecy, the Messiah was not to be stoned but hanged from a tree (the wooden cross was the preferred method of Roman execution). Quoting Deuteronomy 21:23, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). The prophets foretold the method of Jesus’ execution; still, those who hated Jesus bore responsibility for their thoughts and actions. Jesus told Pilate, “you would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin’” (John 19:11).

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 13, 2014 is from Jeremiah 23:1-6; Zechariah 6:9-15; and John 19:1-7. The “Thinking Further” Questions below are from these three lessons.

1. What are some of the ways believers today can proclaim: “The LORD is our righteousness”?

2. Why is it important for the followers of Jesus Christ to study the Old Testament prophets even when they seem difficult to understand?

3. Why might it be important that Pilate found and declared no legal case against Jesus?

4. What reason did the Jews give Pilate when they insisted that Pilate have Jesus crucified? Do you think the reason they gave was the real reason? If not, what do you think their real reason might have been?

5. In your opinion, what did the high priests, scribes, and Pharisees who insisted that Pilate crucify Jesus really think about the Law of God and how did they treat it?

— © Copyright 2014 L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

You may be reprint or reproduce this International Bible Lesson for not-for-profit use. More Uniform Bible Lessons are available at InternationalBibleLessons.org.
Read the verse by verse International Bible Lessons Commentary at: InternationalBibleLessons.com.

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Isaiah 56:6-8 & Jeremiah 7:1-2 & Mark 11:12-19 International Commentary and Lesson

International Bible Lessons Commentary
Isaiah 56:6-8 & Jeremiah 7:1-2
& Mark 11:12-19

&

International Bible Lesson
What Those Who Trust in Jesus Remember

Jeremiah 7:9-10

International Bible Lessons
Sunday, April 6, 2014
L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, April 6, 2014, is from Isaiah 56:6-8. Please Note: Some churches will only study Isaiah 56:6-7. This commentary is the first part of a three part Bible Lesson that includes Jeremiah 7:1-12 and Mark 11:12-19. 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 usually posted each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught and is included at the bottom of this commentary series.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
Isaiah 56:6-8

(Isaiah 56:6) And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant—

As children of Abraham, God called Israel to bless all peoples and nations. Before the coming of Jesus Christ, the Jews allowed the Gentiles to convert to Judaism if they agreed to follow the moral and the ceremonial laws that God gave Moses. Through Isaiah, God reemphasized that all people were invited and welcome to come to Him, to unite with Him in love, to minister to Him, to serve Him, and to obey His commandments. In the early church, some Jews who became followers of Jesus insisted that in order to be saved a Gentile had to both convert to Judaism (obey both the moral and the ceremonial laws of Moses) and believe in Jesus Christ. Paul had to vigorously oppose this teaching and insist that because of the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ, the ceremonial laws (for example, laws regarding circumcision and foods) did not need to be obeyed in order to be saved and the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent to His followers empowered them to obey the moral law: the law of love for God and others.

(Isaiah 56:7) these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

God called all people to Mount Zion, His “holy mountain” to pray in His house, the temple. No matter what their national heritage or racial background, God would accept their prayers, their burnt offerings, and their sacrifices if they obeyed His commandments. By the time Jesus came, the religious leaders had turned God’s house of prayer into a den of robbers, which could only happen with the permission of the priests.

(Isaiah 56:8) Thus says the Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.

God knew that the poor, the blind, the lame, and the diseased had become the outcasts of Israel, so when God sent His Son into the world, Jesus made special effort to include these outcasts and welcome all sinners to come to Him, repent of their sins, and follow Him as their Lord. He gathered them along with some of the Gentiles who also believed in Him; such as the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at a well and her town who came to believe in Him as the Messiah. The early church also welcomed outcasts, sinners, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, to love and follow Jesus as Lord and Savior; and then come with them to serve Jesus in His kingdom.

International Bible Lessons Commentary
Jeremiah 7:1-12

The International Bible Lesson  (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, April 6, 2014, is from Jeremiah 7:1-12. Please Note: Some churches will only study Jeremiah 7:4-11.

(Jeremiah 7:1) The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

The prophet Jeremiah has been called “the weeping prophet,” because he had to preach about the people’s sins against God and the coming judgment of God upon His people. “The word” was a message directly from God that Jeremiah declared to the people of Judah. His message could have been deducted based on the law of God and the people’s disobedience; however, his message truly came from God himself to Jeremiah and confirmed what the people should have known from their study of the Law of God.

(Jeremiah 7:2) Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the LORD.

Jeremiah preached where God told him to stand. He preached to those who came to the temple to sincerely worship God and to those who came to do business for selfish reasons (such as the money changers). God wanted Jeremiah to express His words exactly as He gave them, and God told Jeremiah exactly what to say. He preached to everyone, because everyone who came to the temple had to go through the gate to the Lord’s house.

(Jeremiah 7:3) Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place.

In 722 B.C., God destroyed the kingdom of Israel through their enemies because of their sins; therefore, only the kingdom of Judah remained. As the God of both kingdoms, God sent prophets to call both kingdoms to repent, but neither kingdom repented. God wanted to dwell with His people, and because they were His people He would discipline them if they would not obey His commandments (which were for their own good). God wanted to dwell with His people in Jerusalem, but the unrepentant people of the kingdom of Judah were sent into exile in Babylon and the temple was destroyed as punishment in 586 B.C. However, through God’s prophets in Babylon, many repented and learned to obey and worship God rightly. Repentant believers found God even in Babylon, because God is everywhere present and with believers everywhere.

(Jeremiah 7:4) Do not trust in these deceptive words: “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.”

These deceptive words referred to the belief that because God dwelt in the temple in Jerusalem that God would never let Jerusalem or the temple fall into the hands of Israel’s or Judah’s enemies. Rather than repent of their sins, the people pointed to the existence of the temple as the reason God would always protect them and their city. Jeremiah warned that this was a false hope, often repeated by false prophets. As we see in the commentary above, God proved Jeremiah right, and He also proved that Jeremiah was a true prophet of God.

(Jeremiah 7:5) For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another,

God wanted His people to change their way of life from practicing evil to doing that which is good. The Law of God (the Law of Moses in the first five books of the Bible) revealed the way of love and the specific ways for people to act justly in their relationships. The Law of God was an objective standard or measure by which people could evaluate their moral behavior. God’s indictment against His people included the fact that they did not treat each other justly; instead, they took selfish advantage of one another.

(Jeremiah 7:6) if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt,

Most of the aliens were those who were not Israelites but who lived in the Promised Land because they had not been driven out. Some of these aliens had converted to the Jewish faith, but were still oppressed. So many of the Jews oppressed or took selfish, unfair advantage of those who were not racially like them, or who were orphaned or widowed or innocent, that if the kingdom did not repent God would destroy it. The people had even begun to worship the idols of the land by throwing their innocent children into the fire in order to secure the blessings these false gods promised. Indeed, what they were doing was to their own hurt and the hurt of others, so God warned them to repent so He would not need to discipline them.

(Jeremiah 7:7) then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.

Whether or not God would dwell with them did not depend upon what they believed about the temple in Jerusalem, but on how justly they treated each other. Whether or not God would dwell with them forever and ever in the Promised Land depended on how they treated the poor and underprivileged and whether or not they worshiped and promoted sacrifices to false gods. Because they did not repent, they were sent into exile.

(Jeremiah 7:8) Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail.

The “deceptive words” the people had come to believe and trust in were the false teachings of their priests, their political leaders, and their false prophets. The “deceptive words” enabled the privileged class to stay in power and enabled everyone to think they could escape moral accountability for their behavior if they continued to worship God every Sabbath. But Jeremiah consistently warned that God would hold them morally accountable, and God would punish them for their unrepentant hearts no matter how many times they went to the temple on the Sabbath. Because Jeremiah preached contrary to the “deceptive words,” he was persecuted and punished by the religious and political leaders in Jerusalem.

(Jeremiah 7:9) Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,

All of the sins listed here violated the Ten Commandments, which all of the people should have known by heart. The people went through the temple gates supposedly to worship God, but the other six days of the week they violated the Law of God (and perhaps did so even on the Sabbath). God’s objective standard of right and wrong that God had revealed clearly to them forbid murder, adultery, lying, worshiping idols, and sacrificing to the false gods their neighbors had led them to serve. They did not go through the temple gates to show their love and devotion to the true God.

(Jeremiah 7:10) and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, “We are safe!”—only to go on doing all these abominations?

The sins of God’s people in Israel and Judah seem to be similar to the sins of God’s people throughout human history. Some people think that they can disobey God throughout the week, but if they go to God’s house one day a week to worship God according to their formulas and leave God’s house feeling good that they will be safe and never suffer the just discipline of God that they deserve here or hereafter. They think they can worship God with unrepentant hearts and God does not see their hypocrisy.

(Jeremiah 7:11) Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching, says the LORD.

The temple had become a den of robbers in Jeremiah’s day; so, God destroyed the temple in 586 B.C. When the people returned from exile, they rebuilt the temple. By Jesus’ day, the temple had become a den of robbers again, and God was watching. Many of the people, including the religious leaders who permitted it, used the temple for personal enrichment rather than for the true worship of the true God. Jesus cleansed the temple, but after the religious leaders crucified Jesus, it soon became a den of robbers again; so, after about 40 years the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans.

(Jeremiah 7:12) Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.

Because of the sins the priests practiced at Shiloh, God destroyed Shiloh as a place of worship. God told the people to remember Shiloh’s history and go and look at what He had done, because He would do the same in Jerusalem and to the temple if the people would not repent. When God kept His word, the people learned that they had trusted in the “deceptive words” of their leaders and false prophets. Compare 1 Samuel 3:21 and Psalm 78:56-64. Jerusalem did suffer as did the priests and people at Shiloh suffered.

International Bible Lessons Commentary
Mark 11:12-19

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, April 6, 2014, is from Mark 11:12-19. Please Note: Some churches will only study Mark 11:15-19.

(Mark 11:12) On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.

Jesus’ actions in Mark 11:12-14 have been difficult to understand, coming between His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and His cleansing of the temple. His actions regarding the fig tree seem to be symbolic or as some commentators have said, “a parable.” If so, Jesus was showing that people are spiritually hungry in Judea and Jerusalem, and the consequences from God’s perspective when the religious leaders are self-serving instead of God-serving and people-serving. Jesus is about to do something destructive, which may indicate that even though He has consistently proclaimed a gospel of grace and peace there will come a time when He must judge the unrepentant (which the Book of Revelation describes Jesus doing as the returning King of the universe).

(Mark 11:13) Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.

Mark states this fact: “it was not the season for figs;” which makes some think that Jesus was treating the tree unjustly. However, if Jesus wanted to act out a parable in order to teach a spiritual lesson before He entered the temple to cleanse it, the lesson may be that the temple leaders appeared to be giving moral and spiritual nourishment and guidance to the people (they had leaves), but upon closer inspection they were not bearing fruit as God intended. When Jesus went to the temple that professed to be God’s house, He did not find any nourishing spiritual life there. In the Book of Jonah, God makes a gourd or bush grow and bear leaves to cool Jonah and then sends a worm to kill the gourd or bush the next day to show Jonah that people are more important than plants (Jonah 4:5-11). The warning that Jesus wanted to give through the destruction of the fig tree that produced no fruit shows that Jesus considered people and their right relationship with God as more important than a tree. God can easily make a new tree grow anywhere. In Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, he wrote that Christians need to be ready to do the Lord’s work no matter what the season: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2-KJV) — “Proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2-NRSV). No matter what the season, God expects religious leaders to be engaged in meeting the spiritual needs of those He has called them to serve.

(Mark 11:14) He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Jesus condemned the tree for not providing food that the leaves might draw people to with the expectation of finding fruit, just as people were drawn to the temple expecting to find God’s work being done and God’s spiritual food being served. Because the scribes, Pharisees, and priests would not repent, no one would ever eat spiritual food from them again. They would be replaced by Jesus’ apostles and true followers, who filled with the Holy Spirit would bear much fruit. Indeed, just as the tree was destroyed and never bore fruit again, the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. and has never produced fruit again (though Jesus cleansed the temple, it quickly reverted back to a house of robbers).

(Mark 11:15) Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves;

The fact that Jesus entered Jerusalem and cleansed the temple immediately after the incident of the fig tree indicates He intended to teach a moral and spiritual lesson through both of these actions. If those who managed the temple did not repent, then because they stole from the people with their false appearance of feeding the people when robbing them, then the temple would be destroyed as happened to the first temple in the time of Jeremiah the prophet in 586 B.C., when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and carried many Jews into exile.

(Mark 11:16) and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.

Jesus cleansed the outer courts and those places in the temple where the priests were stealing from the people. He also prevented people from disrespecting the temple and using any part of the temple for conducting any unholy business. The temple had become a commercial center for making money, and Jesus wanted to prevent this in every way.

(Mark 11:17) He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”

From reading the Gospel of John, it seems that Jesus had cleansed the temple at least once before during a Passover at the beginning of His ministry (John 2:13-17). The fact that He cleansed it again in the week of His last Passover shows how stubborn the religious leaders were: they were intent on robbing the people (especially the pilgrims who travelled great distances to get to Jerusalem for Passover) instead of keeping His house “a house of prayer for all the nations.” Jesus did not want any immoral activity in a house that His Father intended as a place to commune with Him and find forgiveness for sins. We should not be surprised that the temple quickly became a place of commerce again soon after these religious leaders crucified Jesus; therefore, God had to destroy the temple in 70 A.D. as Jesus symbolic actions with the fig tree foretold.

(Mark 11:18) And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching.

Obviously, the priests did not want their supreme authority questioned or their profit making ventures revealed to the people or disrupted. Jesus made His point: He would fearlessly promote the cause of God no matter how much opposition He faced; therefore, they feared Him and they knew they had to kill Him to stop Him before He influenced too many people.

(Mark 11:19) And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

Jesus spent the day doing many things; healing the people and teaching for examples. The people were spellbound by His teaching, and if Jesus was not stopped the people might demand that the priests keep the temple clean for the proper worship of God. When evening came, Jesus left the city with His disciples, probably taught His disciples more as they ate their evening meal, and then finally, Jesus probably went up on the Mount of Olives to pray, as was His custom.

What Those Who Trust in Jesus Remember
International Bible Lesson

“Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:9-10—KJV).

“Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are safe!’—only to go on doing all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:9-10—NRSV).

Among some people little has changed since God spoke through Jeremiah more than 2500 years ago. In Jeremiah’s day, some preached and many believed that it did not matter to God what abominations you practiced as long as you attended religious rituals regularly. To those who thought they were safe living in sin because they attended temple services, God said, “Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail” (Jeremiah 7:8). When Jesus came He found what some might consider a worse situation. Some priests and other religious leaders in Jerusalem were acting hypocritically and using money changers in the temple to defraud those who came from near and far to worship God in the temple. Approval from the priests would have been essential for money changers to rob worshipers by using an unjust exchange rate when they changed their foreign coins for approved temple coins (shekels) to give to God in worship. Today, some still think deceptively that because Jesus died for them and because they believe in Jesus it does not matter much if they keep practicing sin and refuse to turn from sinful habits. Instead of continuing in sin, those who truly trust in Jesus will remember that Jesus declared, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). The Apostle Paul warned those who focused on religious rituals instead of true obedience, “Obeying the commandments of God is everything” (1 Corinthians 7:19).

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 6, 2014 is from Isaiah 56:6-8; Jeremiah 7:4-11 and Mark 11:12-19. The Questions below are from these three lessons.

1. What foreigners did God welcome into His house of prayer?

2. What are some people, places, or things that some people trust in today instead of trusting in God and expressing that trust by obedience?

3. What are some of the behaviors that God through Jeremiah told the people to stop doing?

4. Why do you think the priests allowed the money changers and those who sold doves for sacrifices keep cheating the people, both before and after Jesus cleansed the temple?

5. Why do you think Jesus quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament prophets) after He cleansed the temple?

— © Copyright 2014 L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. — E-mail: lgp@InternationalBibleLessons.org
You may be reprint or reproduce this International Bible Lesson for not-for-profit use. More Uniform Bible Lessons are available at InternationalBibleLessons.org.
Read the verse by verse International Bible Lessons Commentary at:InternationalBibleLessons.com.

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Zechariah 9:9-10 & Matthew 21:1-17 International Commentary and Lesson

International Bible Lessons Commentary
Zechariah 9:9-10 & Matthew 21:1-17

&
International Bible Lesson

How to Prepare to Reign with Christ

Matthew 21:6

International Bible Lessons
Sunday, March 30, 2014
L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, March 30, 2014, is from Zechariah 9:9-10. 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 usually posted each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught and is included at the bottom of this commentary.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
Zechariah 9:9-10

(Zechariah 9:9) Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Jesus fulfilled this prophecy regarding the Messiah when He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The day Jesus entered the city, the crowds rejoiced as Zechariah foretold. The church is now the bride of Christ, and “the daughter” of Zion and Jerusalem may be seen as true believers of God and followers of Jesus the Messiah, for not all in Jerusalem welcomed Him gladly when Jesus literally fulfilled this prophecy.

(Zechariah 9:10) He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war-horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Jesus brings peace to those who receive Him as Lord and Savior, peace with God, peace within themselves, and sometimes peace with others. Nations with Christian leaders and Biblical traditions can often find ways to live peacefully with one another. When Jesus returns to earth visibly, as King of kings on the day of His Second Coming, He will literally fulfill this part of Zechariah’s prophecy. We do not know how many centuries God the Father has ordained to pass between Zechariah 9:9 and Zechariah 9:10, but when Jesus returns as visible Lord over all, He will establish peace throughout the world. Furthermore, His redeemed followers will come to reign with Him.

Question for Discussion and Thinking Further

Since this is the first of a two part lesson series, only 1 of the 5 Study Questions will be asked below.

1. Why do you think God inspired many different people in the Hebrew Scriptures to prophecy the coming of the Messiah?


International Bible Lessons Commentary
Matthew 21:1-17

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, March 30, 2014, is from Matthew 21:1-17. Please Note: Some churches will only study Matthew 21:1-14.

(Matthew 21:1) When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,

Bethphage means “place of young figs;” it was a small village on the Mount of Olives near Bethany. When they reached Bethphage, in order for there to be two witnesses to this miracle of Jesus, Jesus chose two unnamed disciples for His mission (two witnesses were needed for acceptable legal testimony according to the laws of Moses).

(Matthew 21:2) saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me.

Bethany was near Bethphage, but Matthew does not name the village where the two disciples found the donkey and colt. The village may have been Bethphage, which seems most likely. Jesus used the word “immediately,” because the disciples would not need to search around in order to find the donkeys: God’s providence and the guidance of the Holy Spirit arranged for them to quickly find the donkeys exactly as Jesus said they would and according to the prophecy of Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9).

(Matthew 21:3) If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.”

Jesus told His disciples to refer to Him as “the Lord” if anyone asked them why they were taking the two donkeys. “The Lord needs them” was to be a sufficient response to anyone who asked them for an explanation. Jesus said that in response to those four words the owner would send the donkeys “immediately.” God could have used a dream or the appearance of an angel to prepare the owner in advance for the coming of Jesus’ disciples to get the donkeys.

(Matthew 21:4) This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

The two witnesses reported that they found the donkeys exactly as Jesus foretold, The prophet Zechariah had also foretold that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Among other miracles, these two miracles occurred to show God the Father endorsed Jesus’ words and works as the Messiah: Jesus’ prophecy to (sending of) the two disciple witnesses and Zechariah’s prophecy were both fulfilled.

(Matthew 21:5) “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Matthew quoted a portion of Zechariah 9:9. Though Jesus had been victorious over the devil, demons, diseases, and death, Matthew abbreviated Zechariah and did not mention that Jesus had been and would come into Jerusalem “triumphant and victorious;” perhaps because most people might have thought only in military terms with respect to the Messiah’s defeat of the Romans who occupied Judea. Jesus will fulfill all of the Old Testament prophecies about Him completely, and He will win militarily over all of God’s enemies when He comes again (as the Book of Revelation describes).

(Matthew 21:6) The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them;

The disciples obeyed Jesus immediately. If they had not obeyed Jesus “as Jesus had directed them,” they would not have experienced the miracle Jesus prepared them to receive, and they would have missed the opportunity to serve Jesus and be a part of fulfilling the words of two prophets: Zechariah and Jesus.

(Matthew 21:7) they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.

Jesus chose two disciples that He knew would obey Him exactly as He commanded them. They found and brought the donkey and the colt exactly as Jesus said. Since these animals had no saddle blanket or saddle, the disciples put their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit upon. Of course, Jesus did not ride on both of them at the same time.

(Matthew 21:8) A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

Some famous people or royalty enter a room or palace on a special red carpet. Some would use this expression about them, “They were given the red carpet treatment.” In a similar way, Jesus entered Jerusalem in a way that declared His royal status as the Messiah, and the crowd gave Jesus royal honors by laying their cloaks on the road.

(Matthew 21:9) The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Some went ahead of Jesus to tell others that their king was coming, “the Son of David,” one qualified to serve as the promised Messiah. They blessed Jesus because He came “in the name of the Lord,” not in the name of Rome or the Emperor. “Hosanna” has been interpreted to mean, “Save us, we pray!” Jesus came to save His people from their sins in a totally unexpected way, but according to the Hebrew Scriptures, which is far more significant with eternal implications than saving the residents of Jerusalem from Roman oppression (which was most probably the people’s expectation on that Palm Sunday).

(Matthew 21:10) When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”

When Jesus entered the city, obviously fulfilling the Messianic expectations of the Jews, His two disciple witnesses could testify to their experience of miraculously finding the donkeys for Him. God the Father had prepared Jesus to enter the city in fulfillment of Scripture, and God had prepared and provided the donkeys. They and the other disciples could explain who Jesus was. When He entered the city, turmoil would have erupted because some might have thought He came to replace their Roman rulers.

(Matthew 21:11) The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

The people knew from Jesus’ prior trips to Jerusalem and His public ministry in Galilee, Samaria, and Judea, that He was a prophet of God. Many may have speculated that He was more than a prophet. They knew He came from Nazareth, and they might have wondered why He was riding into Jerusalem humbly on a donkey instead of a war horse when they wanted a military hero to free them from political oppression.

(Matthew 21:12) Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.

Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world, so rather than going to the seat of Roman authority to see Pilate, Jesus went to the temple, to the public seat of God’s authority on earth. Here, Jesus cleansed the temple from obvious sin and the priests’ abusive treatment of worshipers by cheating them. He had preached about the love of money as the root or cause of evil. The love of money had brought money changers into the temple (who robbed the people with the approval of the religious leadership). He went to the temple to discipline those who used God’s house and the Jews way of sacrificial worship to deceive God’s people and enrich themselves.

(Matthew 21:13) He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.”

Through the prophet Isaiah, God declared, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7). And later, through the prophet Jeremiah, God warned, “Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching” (Jeremiah 7:11). God intended for people to meet Him in a loving relationship through prayer at the temple in Jerusalem. At the temple, they could confess their sins and receive assurance of God’s forgiveness. They could offer sacrifices and thank offerings for God’s many blessings, including an offering for the birth of a child. Instead of promoting temple worship for God’s intended purposes, the priests permitted money changers to rob the people in the exchange of their foreign money for approved temple coins and in their purchase of approved sacrifices for temple worship. As Jeremiah foretold, God was watching, and His Son cleansed the temple that had become a den of robbers. Jesus reaffirmed the purpose of temple worship as a house of prayer for all peoples. Temple worship had been corrupted with the approval of the chief priests, who later plotted Jesus’ death, perhaps partly because He had condemned their corrupt practices and had hurt the profits from their criminal enterprise. Certainly, the priests could have stopped the corruption if they had wanted to do so.

(Matthew 21:14) The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them.

In addition to quoting Scripture as a justification for His actions, Jesus demonstrated that He was a true prophet of God when He healed the blind and the lame, those who came to Him in the temple immediately after He had cleansed the temple. The godless priests who stole from the people had no power to provide God’s healing touch in answer to the prayers of the people, so they were jealous of Jesus. While Jesus remained at the temple that day, His heavenly Father protected Him from the wrath of the priests. He was only arrested by the temple guards at night and taken to the chief priests for a mock trial after He had celebrated the Passover with His disciples according to His Father’s perfect timing.

(Matthew 21:15) But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry

Jesus did only good things in the name of God. Jesus truly demonstrated perfect love for God the Father and others. The chief priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees saw Jesus do all of these good things to bless and heal others. Jesus did things they had never seen before to meet the needs of others in miraculous ways, but Jesus good deeds only made them angry. They became even angrier when the common people praised Jesus as the Messiah and called out to Him to save them, saying “Hosanna.” In spite of all the evidence that God had sent Jesus to bless His people, the religious leaders hated Jesus; they became angry enough to plot His death.

(Matthew 21:16) and said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself’?”

When the religious leaders made their hateful accusations against Jesus, He once again returned to the teachings of their Scriptures, and probably quoted a portion of Psalm 8:2 – “Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger” (NRSV) or “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger” (KJV). If these religious leaders completed in their minds the latter part of Psalm 8:2 that Jesus did not quote to them, they would have heard God’s Word convict them of sin, because God ordained and prepared these infants (these common people in the crowds) to praise Jesus “because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger” or “because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” In spite of Jesus’ powerful enemies, the crowds praised Him and called out for Him to help them. God the Father had inspired their praises of His Son, Jesus, and when Jesus quoted the Scriptures to them, He silenced His enemies that day. Matthew’s quotation also included the implied truth that because Jesus is the Son of God, He had prepared the praises of the people for himself: “you have prepared praise for yourself.” As the divine Son of God, Jesus qualified to receive their praises.

(Matthew 21:17) He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

After Jesus answered these religious leaders, He went to the village of Bethany where He spent the night. Mary and Martha and their brother, Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead, lived in Bethany, so He may have stayed in or near their home where He probably continued teaching until He went out on the Mount of Olives to pray as was His custom.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

Since this is the second of a two part lesson series, only 4 of the 5 Study Questions will be asked below.

1. What, if any, reason did Jesus give His two disciples when He told them to go into the village to get the donkey and the colt?

2. How did the crowds address Jesus when they cheered for Him as He entered the city? How did people in the city describe who Jesus was?

3. Where did Jesus go first when He entered the city? What did He do there?

4. What did Jesus say the temple should be called? Should this name be applied to churches today? How well does this name describe your church: too much, too little, just right?

Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson.

How to Prepare to Reign with Christ

Sunday, March 30, 2014
L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

“The disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them” (Matthew 21:6—KJV).

“The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them” (Matthew 21:6—NRSV).

Before Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He sent two of His disciples into a nearby village to find a donkey for Him to ride in His processional into the city. These disciples did exactly as Jesus directed them, and He entered the city to the praises of the crowds who cheered, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9). We often think of the humble origins of Jesus’ first disciples and how the Holy Spirit transformed them on the Day of Pentecost into courageous witnesses for their resurrected Lord and Savior. Of course, the Holy Spirit made the real difference in their lives, but when we think of the successful eleven out of twelve of Jesus’ first disciples we need to remember how they developed the habit of going and doing exactly what Jesus told them to do. Though it may have sounded impossible, these disciples obeyed Jesus and fed more than five thousand people with a couple of fishes and a five loaves of bread (see Matthew 14:15-22). A short time later, Peter walked on water as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus (Matthew 14:23-31). Jesus’ followers will have no earthly idea of what God can accomplish in their lives until they begin to make a habit of doing as Jesus’ first disciples did. If believers will do as the Bible teaches, do as Jesus directs, do as the Holy Spirit empowers, they will look back upon achievements greater than their aspirations. More importantly, Jesus will say to them, “Well done, you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things” (Matthew 25:21).

— © Copyright 2014 L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. — E-mail: lgp@InternationalBibleLessons.org
You may be reprint or reproduce this International Bible Lesson for not-for-profit use. More Uniform Bible Lessons are available at InternationalBibleLessons.org.
Read the verse by verse International Bible Lessons Commentary at: InternationalBibleLessons.com.

 

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Revelation 5:1-14 International Bible Lesson

What Believers Will Do After Death

International Bible Lesson
Revelation 5:1-14
Sunday, March 23, 2014

L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

For the easy to print International Bible Lessons, Commentaries, Teacher Hints and Study Guides, please visit the International Bible Lesson Commentary website. The verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary on the verses in this lesson is also posted below this International Bible Lesson on the Bible Lesson Forum.

“And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints” (Revelation 5:8—KJV).

“When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8—NRSV).

You do not need to die in order to become a saint. The Bible calls all true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures “saints.” Saints are all those who have been ransomed for God by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus the Messiah. By His sacrificial death, Jesus has ransomed “saints from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). Furthermore, Jesus has planned for the saints “to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth” (Revelation 5:10). Jesus has such great plans for His followers that no wonder He wants the most important creatures and leaders in heaven to present personally to Him all the prayers of the saints. No matter how feeble or unadorned a prayer of a saint might seem, Jesus will hear and answer that prayer in the very best way. If a saint does not know how to pray at any time in any trouble, the indwelling Holy Spirit will help them pray; indeed, more than this the Holy Spirit “intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27). The Apostle Paul wrote, “Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). Jesus Christ will always sympathize with the saints, and He understands their weaknesses when He hears their prayers, because He “in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Thinking Further

1. What do you think was written on the scroll in God the Father’s hand (may be several good answers)?

2. Give a reason why you think John wept bitterly (may be more than 1 reason)?

3. Describe what John saw when he first looked at Jesus? What do you think it meant?

4. How important to God are the prayers of true Christians; people John called “saints”?

5. Who did Jesus die for and ransom by His blood? What will He make of them?

Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson above. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions and Thinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

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Revelation 5:1-14 International Bible Lessons Commentary

The International Bible Lesson Commentary and Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, March 23, 2014, is from Revelation 5:1-14. Please Note: Some churches will only study Revelation 5:6-13Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further and Study Hints for Teachers discuss five questions to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion. Study Hints for Teachers and easy to print commentaries and lessons are available at the International Bible Lesson Commentary website.

International Bible Lesson Commentary

Revelation 5:1-14

(Revelation 5:1) Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals;

God the Father is seated on and ruling from His throne in heaven, and the “right hand of God” is sometimes interpreted as “the power of God.” No one has power greater than God, so no one can snatch the scroll from His hand. The words on the scroll are the words of God. The scroll is filled with writing on the front and the back. The number seven represents perfection; therefore, the scroll is perfectly sealed so no one can add any more words to the words of God or erase any words from the scroll. Ancient scrolls or letters were sometimes sealed with melted wax upon which a signet ring impression was made. Kings often sealed official documents, decrees, and letters using their royal signet ring and sealing wax or sealing clay. The seal identified the sender and no one but the recipient was authorized to open the sealed scroll (of course anyone could illegally break a wax seal). God has the power over this scroll in heaven, so only the authorized recipient can break the seals and open the scroll after God gives them the scroll.

(Revelation 5:2) and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”

We do not know all about the scroll. Some have suggested that the scroll is the deed to the earth or universe. It may contain the complete record or blueprint of God’s plans and prophecies before He created the universe, including God’s plans for the Messiah’s redeeming work. It may be a prophecy about the future and the secret details about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when God’s enemies will be placed as a footstool under His feet. It may also include the names of all the saints, of all who will come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. We learn from the angel’s question that a person must be worthy to open the scroll by breaking its seals to discover or reveal what is written on the scroll. The person must be worthy in the sight of God, Who holds the scroll.

(Revelation 5:3) And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it.

Among all those John saw everywhere around him at that time, no one was worthy to open the scroll or read it. As noted, no one was able to open the scroll other than someone approved by God, because the scroll was firmly held by God. No one in created existence has the power to take the scroll from God and open it without God’s permission, for the true God is the Almighty God. No mere human being is qualified or worthy to open the scroll because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). No one on earth or under the earth was morally or spiritually qualified to look into the scroll.

(Revelation 5:4) And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.

John began to weep bitterly, not only because no one was found worthy to open the scroll but because sin had entered the world; because of sins committed against God, no one was worthy in heaven (forgiven sinners; such as father Abraham, Moses, King David, and Elijah), or on earth (all have sinned) or under the earth (unrepentant sinners) to look into the scroll. The holy angels in heaven have never sinned, but their good deeds did not make them worthy either.

(Revelation 5:5) Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

When one of the elders speaks to John, he shows him Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, and says Jesus is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals. Since Jesus is the Messiah, the elder describes Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the promised descendant of King David. Since Jesus the Messiah existed before King David and David called Him his Lord, Jesus is the Root of David. King David grew from and was nourished by his Lord, Jesus, as a a mighty tree is made strong from the roots up. Jesus conquered the devil, temptation (Jesus never sinned), and death (Jesus rose from the tomb). So, Jesus was worthy to open the scroll by virtue of who He is and what He has done as Lord and Savior. He died sacrificially to save sinners and He rose from the dead and He is seated at the right hand of God. John heard the angel call Jesus, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” but when he looked he saw something different from what he expected.

(Revelation 5:6) Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

See the International Bible Lesson Commentary on Revelation chapter 4 to learn more about the creatures and the elders in this verse. When John saw that Jesus was standing, he described who he saw as a Lamb that had been slaughtered, but who was now obviously alive in heaven. The Lamb had been slaughtered as the sacrificial Lamb so God could justly and mercifully forgive repentant sinners, and God had raised Him from the dead to reign at His side. Jesus conquered by His sacrificial death, and He will conquer all evil and destructive forces when He comes again (as the Book of Revelation will describe). The seven horns and seven eyes describe Jesus as the all-powerful and all-seeing God, the Son of God, whose Father sits on His throne with the scroll. These horns and eyes also represent the seven spirits, which indicate that Jesus is everywhere present as the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. Paul wrote about Jesus Christ spiritually indwelling believers: “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Jesus physical body has ascended into heaven, and spiritually, as the Son of God, Jesus is present everywhere and especially within every true Christian. The Holy Spirit had already been given to Jesus’ followers, and He had already been “sent out into all the earth.” Since the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity, John also saw the Holy Spirit “the seven spirits” (the perfect Spirit) present in heaven when Jesus took the scroll that was still sealed.

(Revelation 5:7) He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne.

Jesus proved that He was worthy when He took the scroll from the right hand of His Father because His Father gave it to Him. Jesus had completed His work of redemption, but not everyone would come to faith in Him and the rebellion of some sinners would continue on earth. Jesus had additional work to do before God could bring peace throughout the universe, and that additional work included taking the sealed scroll from His Father in heaven and coming again to earth.

(Revelation 5:8) When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

The prayers of the saints (that is, all who trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior) are precious to God and all the holy ones in heaven. Both the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ also intercede for the saints (see Romans 8:27 & Romans 8:34). The scroll is of vital importance to the saints because the prayers of the saints are mentioned here as being held by the creatures and the elders who fall down before Jesus and praise Him when He takes the scroll from His Father. It seems they are offering the prayers of the saints to Jesus at this time too. No matter how feeble our prayers might be, they are a precious to God as golden bowls of incense.

(Revelation 5:9) They sing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;

Revelation chapter 4 includes a hymn by the creatures and the elders, and in chapter 5 they sing a new song. See the International Bible Lesson Commentary on Revelation chapter 4 to learn more about the other hymn. In this new hymn, they declare Jesus worthy to open the seals on the scroll because of what He has done. He is the perfect and only acceptable sacrifice to God for the redemption of sinners, who become saints because of Jesus’ work. People are made saints by the work of Jesus, not by their works for Jesus (though all saints do good works and bear good fruit for Jesus). Jesus’ death made forgiveness and eternal life possible for saints from everywhere around the world; not just Jews, but people from every tribe, language, and nation.

(Revelation 5:10) you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.”

Jesus Christ has made all the saints of God (all true believers and followers of Jesus—not just a special group selected by church leaders) into a kingdom where He rules in their hearts as their King. The Kingdom of Jesus is spiritual, and the saints serve as priests who will serve God and others by praying and leading people to know God the Father and the Lamb of God according to the Scriptures. In the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ kingdom of priests reign over the entire earth in some sense now and will fully and visibly reign after Jesus comes again.

(Revelation 5:11) Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,

The angels of God are so numerous that they cannot be counted by any finite human being. All rational beings in heaven offer praise to God. As God deserves, the Lamb of God also deserves and receives the praise of all of God’s creatures in heaven; therefore, it is entirely appropriate for all of God’s people on earth to worship Jesus the Messiah and give Him the glory and honor reserved for God alone.

(Revelation 5:12) singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

All of God’s creatures in heaven extol Jesus with their whole being, singing praises to Him with all their might. The resurrection of Jesus continues to be emphasized by indicating that He was slaughtered (not gently executed or crucified with compassion), but is now alive and receives seven aspects of perfect praise from the entire heavenly host. In this sevenfold praise, we acknowledge that Jesus is worthy to receive the best we have to give Him in power and wealth. He is worthy to receive our wisdom or the best thinking and use of our minds for Him and His kingdom as we reign as saints. God is the ultimate source of our power, might, and wealth, and we should use these gifts wisely to achieve His purposes for His world and us. Jesus deserves all the honor, glory, and blessing for everything we ever achieve or acquire in this life.

(Revelation 5:13) Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

Someday all creatures of our God and King will bow and declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, even those whose hearts and minds remain in rebellion against God and refuse to receive His saving grace. God the Father and God the Son deserve and receive equal praise, glory, and honor from believers and they will do so forever and ever.

(Revelation 5:14) And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

The four living creatures affirmed the praise God the Father and Jesus the Lamb received from all God’s creatures. The elders worshiped the Father and the Son with heaven’s approval; therefore, it is appropriate and right for all true believers to worship God the Father and His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Who was slaughtered for us that we might receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and eternal life.

Five Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. What do you think was written on the scroll in God the Father’s hand (may be several good answers)?

2. Give a reason why you think John wept bitterly (may be more than 1 reason)?

3. Describe what John saw when he first looked at Jesus? What do you think it meant?

4. How important to God are the prayers of true Christians; people John called “saints”?

5. Who did Jesus die for and ransom by His blood? What will He make of them?

Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions and Thinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

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Acts 2:21-39 International Bible Lesson

Where We Go When We Die

International Bible Lesson
Acts 2:21-39
Sunday, March 16, 2014

L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

For the easy to print International Bible Lessons, Commentaries, Teacher Hints and Study Guides, please visit the International Bible Lesson Commentary website. The verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary on the verses in this lesson is also posted below this International Bible Lesson on the Bible Lesson Forum.

“He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption” (Acts 2:31—KJV).

“Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption’” (Acts 2:31—NRSV).

When Peter preached on the day the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus’ disciples, Peter did not point only to the disciples experiences with the resurrected Lord Jesus as the only evidence that God had raised Jesus from the dead. As Jesus had done when He taught, Peter also pointed to the teachings and prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament Bible). Peter told them how David had prophesied that though the Messiah would die, “He was not abandoned to Hades” (see various translations of Psalms 16:10). David’s prophecy can be understood in light of Jesus’ parable about the selfish rich man and the needy Lazarus. When they died, the rich man went in his spirit to Hades and Lazarus went to the side of Abraham in heaven (Luke 16:23). When Peter wrote one of his letters, he explained that after Jesus died bodily He was alive in the spirit and “went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah” (1 Peter 3:19-20). David also prophesied that after the Messiah died bodily His flesh would not experience corruption or decay. Though also buried in a tomb, Jesus’ body did not decay as did the body of Jesus’ friend Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead (see John 11:39). Though no one understands how the Shroud of Turin (possibly Jesus’ burial shroud, if authentic) was created, there is no sign of physical decay on the shroud and if Jesus’ body had decayed the shroud probably could not have retained His image.

Thinking Further

The International Sunday School Lesson for March 16, 2014 is from Psalm 110:1-7 and Acts 2:21-39. The “Thinking Further” Questions below are from these two lessons.

1. In Psalm 110, what indicates that King David was also among the prophets of God?

2. What can happen to those who persist in remaining the enemies of God and His Messiah?

3. Peter said Jesus was “a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs.” Can you give some examples of each of these? Some of his miracles may be an example of all three.

4. What did King David prophecy about death?

5. What types of evidence did Peter give that Jesus was the Messiah and God raised Him from the dead?

Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson above. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions and Thinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

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Acts 2:21-39 International Bible Lessons Commentary

The International Bible Lesson Commentary and Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, March 16, 2014, is from Acts 2:21-39. Please Note: Some churches will only study Acts 2: 22-36 or fewer verses. This commentary is the second part of a two part Bible Lesson that includes Psalm 104:1-7. Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further and Study Hints for Teachers discuss five questions to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion. Study Hints for Teachers and easy to print commentaries and lessons are available at the International Bible Lesson Commentary website.

International Bible Lesson Commentary

Acts 2:21-39

(Acts 2:21) “‘Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Immediately after the Holy Spirit, the Power from on High, descended on Jesus’ disciples and filled the entire house, they began speaking in various languages and a large crowd gathered who heard them preach the good news about Jesus in their own language. Hearing the gospel in these circumstances led some to be amazed while others mocked the disciples. In Acts 2:14, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit’s courage and power, began to preach a sermon to explain what had happened on that Day of Pentecost as the Holy Spirit enabled him. He began to explain the reason why and how everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus shall be saved. His sermon continues in the verses below.

(Acts 2:22) “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know—

Having come from various parts of the known world to Jerusalem, the Israelites spoke different languages, and on the Day of Pentecost they heard Jesus’ disciples speaking in their native languages. They either also knew Aramaic or Hebrew so they could understand Peter’s explanation and sermon, or the Holy Spirit enabled them to hear Peter’s sermon in their native language. The first miracle was one of many Galileans speaking in different languages. The second miracle could have been a miracle of one Galilean speaking, but each one hearing his sermon in their different languages. Peter preached that God had endorsed Jesus, who had come from Nazareth (because Jesus may have been a common name). God had also endorsed Jesus’ teaching by working miracles through Him. Peter reminded them that they knew of Jesus’ power, wonders, and miraculous signs that proved He was the Messiah. They knew of Jesus’ words and works because they had either seen Him or they had heard reports about Him from those they knew.

(Acts 2:23) this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law.

When these Israelites, many of them represented by their religious leaders whose actions they approved, arrested, tried, and crucified Jesus, Jesus did not fight but went willingly because He knew He was following the definite plan of God that He foreknew before He came into the world. Still, the Israelites bore individual responsibility for their actions; they had made the individual choice to kill Jesus by using the Roman (those outside the Law of God) legal system to their advantage to murder Jesus. Peter needed to convince them of their guilt so he could then encourage them to repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ, who came to save His people from their sins.

(Acts 2:24) But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.

In spite of their having Jesus crucified, God worked another miracle through Him when He raised Him from the dead. Death has power, but it has no power over God. Jesus submitted to death on the cross to free believers from the fear of death and grant them eternal life. Death could not hold Jesus Christ in its grip, and it cannot hold in its grip those who trust in Him.

(Acts 2:25) For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;

At this point in Peter’s message, the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to turn to the testimony of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, for further evidence regarding Jesus (see Psalms 16:8-11). King David wrote about Jesus before He was born and declared that Jesus was more than a mere man, for David always saw the Lord (Jesus) before him and the Lord (Jesus) gave him the power he needed (“God’s power” is sometimes the meaning of “he is at my right hand”) so he would not be shaken by his enemies or by the fear of death. Before Jesus was born, King David called Jesus his Lord. Peter also demonstrated the power of Jesus at his right hand when he preached before a large crowd, some of whom were hostile to Jesus and him.

(Acts 2:26) therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope.

Because King David had seen Jesus as his Lord, he was glad in his heart to know the Messiah who would come someday in his kingly line. Jesus had been the inspiration of and Jesus had inspired many of David’s psalms, which the apostles would later use as evidence regarding the nature and purpose of Jesus the Messiah when He came. David lived by faith in Jesus and with the hope that because of Jesus he would live again after he died. He trusted that he would live again in human flesh. Jesus rose from the dead in a human body, and Jesus will fulfill David’s hope (and the hope of all who trust in Him) of living again in the flesh after He comes again.

(Acts 2:27) For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption.

The Spirit of Jesus inspired David to write that even though he had sinned and deserved to be abandoned in hell that Jesus would not abandon him but forgive him, grant him eternal life, and raise his body from the grave someday. In addition, David foretold that Jesus, the Holy One (who never sinned), would die but His body would not decay in the grave. Though dead and buried, Jesus’ body did not in any way decay. He was not embalmed, and the women only brought spices to the tomb on Easter Sunday because they expected to find His body there to anoint. The fact that His body did not decay is an additional miracle and fulfillment of Hebrew prophecy. If authentic, the image of Jesus on the Shroud of Turin can only be explained because no physical decay of His body damaged the imprint of His body made on the cloth when He rose from the dead.

(Acts 2:28) You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

Jesus revealed the ways of life to King David; the ways God expects believers to live. As the Way of Life, Jesus raised His friend Lazarus from the dead and brought gladness to his entire family. Though Lazarus would die again, he would once again find gladness in Jesus’ presence in heaven. Because of his faith, Jesus gave eternal life to David. David knew that following his death he would be filled with gladness on the presence of Jesus. Through David’s psalm, Jesus wanted to encourage all who trust in Him to expect Him to fill them with gladness in His presence when they die; therefore, the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to share this promise with the Israelites on the Day of Pentecost.

(Acts 2:29) “Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

Peter went on to explain that David’s hope regarded life after death and the resurrection of the body. Even though David died, was buried, and his tomb was still with them, David’s hope was not wrong and David would not be disappointed because David’s hope regarded the future that Jesus’ resurrection had just assured. David was right to believe and declare that his soul would not be abandoned to Hades even though his body was still in the tomb. Because he believed in Jesus, someday his body would be raised from the dead too.

(Acts 2:30) Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne.

Some of King David’s psalms included prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah; therefore, David was a prophet whose words were inspired by the Holy Spirit when he wrote his psalms. Even though he did not always understand the complete application or full meaning of what he sang or wrote, he knew that God would put one of his descendants on his throne (unlike King Saul, whose descendant was not put on his throne because of King Saul’s rebellion against God). King Solomon followed King David on his throne, but God gave some facts to David about the Messiah who would sit on his and Solomon’s throne someday. Peter wanted to emphasize that King David believed God and knew that one of His descendants would be the promised Messiah (though he may not have known that the Messiah would be named “Jesus”).

(Acts 2:31) Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’

Having quoted some important verses from David’s psalms in context, Peter used one of the most important verses to conclude that David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah because David was buried in his tomb and had not been physically raised from the dead yet. Just as David’s soul was not abandoned to Hades, so Jesus’ soul was not abandoned either. Even though the Israelites and the Romans had Jesus crucified as a criminal, God the Father had not abandoned Jesus in Hades but had also raised Him from the dead in a glorified human body. The Bible was the authoritative Word of God and what Jesus said and did was consistent with and in fulfillment of the Bible (the Old Testament). The Bible served as a testimony about Jesus the Messiah as well as the miracles that God worked through Jesus; therefore, the people had both the Bible and Jesus’ miracles as testimonies about His resurrection from the dead.

(Acts 2:32) This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.

All of Jesus’ disciples who had also received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost were eyewitnesses that Jesus had risen from the dead in fulfillment of David’s prophecy that the Messiah would die, His soul would not be abandoned to Hades, and He would rise from the dead in a human body that did not decay. That these formerly fearful disciples could speak so boldly as eyewitnesses was a miracle of astounding proportions.

(Acts 2:33) Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.

Furthermore, in fulfillment of the Old Testament, Jesus ascended into heaven where He reigns as Messiah at the right hand of God. Jesus reigns on His throne with the power of Almighty God. In fulfillment of God’s promise, Jesus received the Holy Spirit in a way that permitted (and still permits) Him to pour out the Holy Spirit upon His followers. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God the Father and the Son to all those who trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Therefore, the Israelites staying in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost were eyewitnesses to another miracle — the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Messiah’s followers and the results of the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives and speaking about Jesus.

(Acts 2:34) For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand,

To confirm what he had just said, Peter once again pointed his listeners back to the Scriptures as the ultimate authority for what he preached. God did not want and God does not want the disciples of Jesus to believe based on their experiences alone, for the devil can counterfeit spiritual experiences to mislead people; therefore, the Holy Spirit spoke through Peter and referred the Israelites to their own Scriptures and what David has prophesied. Their most highly honored king, King David, saw into the future and witnessed God the Father say to David’s lord (Jesus), “Sit at my right hand” (Psalms 110:1).

(Acts 2:35) until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

As the Book of Revelation by the Apostle John would later reveal, through Jesus the Messiah God will bring all of His enemies to account for their continued rebellion and sin. Though it may seem difficult to us, God the Father will do this as easily as putting your feet upon a footstool to relax and rest. God’s just judgment will come upon Jesus’ enemies in the future, just as God promised through David. God will bring lasting peace to the universe someday, but some will always refuse to receive the peace and salvation of God.

(Acts 2:36) Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Peter used the Bible (the Israelites “Old Testament”) that the people reverenced as the Word of God and the words of David, whom the people honored as their greatest king, to help the Israelites understand what they had both seen and heard about the miraculous ministry of Jesus the Messiah. He then concluded his argument by declaring that God (the Father) had made Jesus both Lord and Messiah (even before He was born, because David had seen Him), which was good news. For them, the fact that they had crucified their Lord and Messiah was bad news, and God would hold them responsible for their rebellion against their divine King.

(Acts 2:37) Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

The Holy Spirit inspired Peter to courageously preach a sermon from the Scriptures and his experiences which was probably beyond his own complete understanding or logical deductions. The Holy Spirit used the truth about God and Jesus to reach the conscience of Peter’s listeners and convict them of a horrible sin: the murder of God’s Messiah. They knew and admitted their guilt before God, Peter, and the other apostles, and they wanted to know what they could do to escape the judgment and punishment of God that they truly deserved.

(Acts 2:38) Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Peter’s sermon had led them to trust (or have faith) that Jesus was the Messiah; therefore, they wanted to know what response they should make. In reply, Peter gave them more good news: they could escape God’s just judgment because of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They needed to repent for having killed Jesus (which included turning from the practice any other sins). Both John the Baptist and Jesus had preached a message of repentance and John and Jesus’ disciples baptized believers. They should be baptized and rise to a new way of life, as one rises from the dead. They should be baptized in the name of their Lord and Messiah, Jesus; truly making Jesus the Messiah their Lord to obey. Then, having been saved by faith in Jesus and having shown their faith through their baptism, they would be cleansed from sin, forgiven for their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit as a free gift from God (not Someone they have earned and deserve because of their faith, repentance, and baptism). Later, they would receive more detailed teaching about these and other truths, for after they believed and were baptized they eagerly listened to the apostles’ teaching (see Acts 2:41-42).

(Acts 2:39) For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

Peter proclaimed that the promise of salvation through Jesus was not just for them that day, but for their children and all who were far away in the homes they had left when they came to Jerusalem. Today, the promise of salvation includes everyone around the world, for people today are far away in time and space. Wherever believers preach or teach the good news of salvation the Lord our God is calling people to Jesus and to saving faith in Him as Lord and Messiah.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

Since this is the second of a two part lesson series, only 3 of the 5 Study Questions will be asked below.

1. Peter said Jesus was “a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs.” Can you give some examples of each of these? Some of his miracles may be an example of all three.

2. What did King David prophecy about death?

3. What types of evidence did Peter give that Jesus was the Messiah and God raised Him from the dead?

Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions and Thinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

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Psalms 110:1-7 International Bible Lessons Commentary

The International Bible Lesson Commentary and Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, March 16, 2014, is from Psalms 110:1-7. Please Note: Some churches will only study Psalms 110:1-4. This commentary is the first part of a two part Bible Lesson that includes Acts 2:22-27, 29-32. Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further and Study Hints for Teachers discuss five questions to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion. Study Hints for Teachers and easy to print commentaries and lessons are available at the International Bible Lesson Commentary website.

International Bible Lesson Commentary

Psalms 110:1-7

(Psalms 110:1) Of David. A Psalm. The LORD says to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The “LORD” is Yahweh or Jehovah (God the Father). In this verse, the “lord” is the Son of God, Jesus the Messiah before He was born and came to earth in human flesh. David saw God the Father speaking to His Son in heaven. King David saw and called the Messiah his lord, even before the Messiah was born. The Bible teaches that the Son of God existed before He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary. David also heard Yahweh (God the Father) say to Jesus the Messiah that following the completion of His redeeming work on the cross and resurrection, Jesus would be invited to sit at Yahweh’s right hand, and Yahweh would put the enemies of His Son under His feet as easily as people place a footstool under their feet to rest.

(Psalms 110:2) The LORD sends out from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your foes.

The LORD gave Moses the Law on a mountain. David saw that the good news of Jesus the Messiah and His kingly rule would be proclaimed from Mount Zion. Jesus’ disciples preached beginning from Jerusalem throughout Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Raised from the dead and reigning as King at the right hand of God, Jesus defeated His enemies and His divine and kingly rule in the Kingdom of God extends His authority and influence in the midst of His foes. His followers also preach in the midst of His enemies, but He remains King of the universe and someday those who refuse to repent and remain His foes will be under His feet.

(Psalms 110:3) Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day you lead your forces on the holy mountains. From the womb of the morning, like dew, your youth will come to you.

For almost 2,000 years, the disciples of Jesus the Messiah and all who have come to faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior have done so willingly and without compulsion. They have seen or heard of His miraculous works, wise teachings, sacrificial death, resurrection, and offer of forgiveness and eternal life. The Book of Revelation confirms David’s psalm and reveals that Jesus will lead His forces when He comes again; furthermore, those who trust in Him will follow Him as their divine Leader on the earth. When the new day of Jesus’ reign begins at His second coming, youth as numerous as the morning dew will come to Him, He will restore the youthfulness of all His followers, and He will reign with the strength and vigor of one who is young.

(Psalms 110:4) The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

The LORD, God the Father, has sworn to Jesus the Messiah, the ruler in the line of King David, that He is also a priest. According to the Law of Moses, only Levites could be priests in Israel; therefore, a king in the line of Judah (in the line of David) could not also be a priest. Therefore, the LORD has made Jesus a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, who received a tithe from father Abraham. The priestly order of Melchizedek existed long before God established the Levitical priesthood under Moses. Jesus is both our sacrifice for sins and our high priest. Jesus reigns as King at the right hand of God; as our Priest in heaven in the order of Melchizedek, Jesus intercedes for all of His followers and hears our prayers.

(Psalms 110:5) The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.

God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will use their kingly power to shatter the rulers who insist on opposing God, on opposing the truth and love of God, on opposing those who do His will and obey His moral law. Jesus the Messiah, “the Lord at God’s right hand” will come again someday and shatter the worldly leaders who oppose God’s kingdom. In spite of His loving sacrifice in their behalf, some will not be won to faith in Jesus Christ; instead, they will commit themselves to opposing Christ and His efforts to bring peace into the world through His faithful followers. Over time, the patience of God will cease to be a virtue and He will stop showing patience to rebels and sinners. When the time for judgment, “the day of his wrath,” has come, He will shatter those who live in unrighteousness.

(Psalms 110:6) He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter heads over the wide earth.

Some have thought that God does not exist because evil continues to exist in our world. However, King David saw that God would eventually execute judgment and remove all evil from the world. God holds all nations and all leaders accountable to Him. God will judge all nations and leaders, and He will shatter the heads (every nation’s disobedient rulers) and remove those who persist in doing evil. Sometimes God judges by giving nations over to doing what evil leaders and evil nations do, allowing them to eventually suffer the natural consequences of their behavior. David foresaw that a time will come when even those who have doubted His existence and have lived to themselves will witness the justice of God in God’s judgment upon the earth and all His foes. God will execute this last judgment after Jesus returns to earth.

(Psalms 110:7) He will drink from the stream by the path; therefore he will lift up his head.

After God has brought judgment upon His enemies and the enemies of His people, He will restore the whole earth, even purifying its streams. Jesus and all of His followers will be able to safely and peacefully drink water along any path without fear of the water or attacks from enemies. The Messiah will lift up His head in peace along with all of His followers. As Jesus told the woman He met at the well, streams of living water will flow from Him to all of His people (John 4:10). Today, His followers can enjoy the spiritual water that comes from Him, and a day will come when He will make all natural streams will flow with clear pure water.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

Since this is the first of a two part lesson series, only 2 of the 5 Study Questions will be asked below.

1. In Psalm 110, what indicates that King David was also among the prophets of God?

2. What can happen to those who persist in remaining the enemies of God and His Messiah?

Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions and Thinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

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