Astonishing!

SERIES: The Gospel According to God! SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 31-APRIL 6, 2020

Isaiah 52:13-15 (ESV)

I. The Servant’s Astonishing Revelation

  • Behold – the opening exclamation demands attention and could be translated as an outcry – “Look!”
  • It is used by Old Testament prophets four other times featuring  important messianic promises.

Zechariah 3:8 (ESV) Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch.

  • The above scripture (like Isaiah 52:13) speaks with the voice of God, introducing His anointed one as “my servant the Branch.”

Zechariah 6:12 (ESV) – And say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord.

  • In Zechariah 6:12 the word “Behold” points to “the man whose name is Branch,” 

Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) – Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

  • Zechariah uses the same word “Behold” to highlight this famous prophecy that we identify with Jesus riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  

Isaiah 40:9 (ESV) – Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news;  lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”

  • Those four titles – servant, man, King, and God find a unique parallel in the four Gospels.
  • Mark portrays Jesus as a servant.
  • Luke stresses His humanity.
  • Matthew presents Jesus as King
  •  John emphasizes His deity.
  • The Servant and His Service

The word “servant” refers to one who did hard work in obedience to his master.

  • A true servant did not act independently to fulfill the desires of his own will.
  • He sought only to please the one he served.
  • The word describes someone who is duty bound to obey his master.
  • It is an exact parallel of the English word slave.

But when Scripture employs the word to speak of someone who serves God, it is with lofty, not demeaning, connotations.

Although he is absolutely equal to the Father in His eternal essence, Jesus voluntarily “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant.” (Php. 2:7)

John 6:38 (ESV) – For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Philippians 2:7 (NIV) – rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

II. The Servant’s Astonishing Humiliation

  1. Isaiah suddenly switches from exaltation at the end of v. 13 to His humiliation in v. 14.
  2. The Hebrew word used here for astonishment is closer to the English word meaning appalled.
  3. It means a shock so staggering that one loses control of all rational faculties.  It could be translated “numbed,” “petrified,” or “paralyzed.”
  4. The damage done to Him was indescribable. In other words, He would be so disfigured from the sufferings inflicted on Him that His face and body would not even appear to be human!

Isaiah 52:14 (NLT) – But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.

Psalms 22:6-7 (ESV) – 6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.  7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads

5. Jesus’ disfigurement actually began in Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal and arrest.

  • He experienced inward anguish and utter physical exhaustion
  • He was literally sweating blood at the thought of what he would suffer on behalf of sinners.

Matthew 27:46 (ESV) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Luke 22:41-44 (AMP) – 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup [of divine wrath] from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done.” 43 Now an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony [deeply distressed and anguished; almost to the point of death], He prayed more intently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down on the ground.

6. What left him “so marred, beyond human semblance” were the many tortures inflicted on him by those who put him to death.

  • Jesus was struck on the head, spat upon, mocked, and flogged.
  • He was beaten and abused by the chief priests, the temple guard and the Romans.

Matthew 26:67-68 (NIV) – 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

Mark 14:65 (NIV) – Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

Matthew 27:27-30 (GB) – 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered about him the whole band, 28 And they stripped him, and put about him a scarlet robe, 29 And platted a crown of thorns, and put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand, and bowed their knees before him, and mocked him, saying, God save thee, King of the Jews, 30 And spitted upon him, and took a reed, and smote him on the head.

  • Added to that was the terrible scourging he received on Pilate’s orders

John 19:1 (AMP) – So then Pilate took Jesus and had Him scourged (flogged, whipped).

  • To be flogged with a Roman scourge was a severe, even life threatening punishment.
  • The victim was lashed mercilessly with a short whip consisting of a wooden handle to which long leather thongs were attached.
  • So massive was the trauma inflicted that the scourging itself did sometimes prove fatal.
  • When the sentence called for crucifixion, death by the scourge was an undesirable outcome.

A skilled officer wielding the scourge knew just how to apply the instrument in a way that would maximize the pain and injury, yet keep the victim alive so that the sentence of crucifixion would be carried out.

Crucifixion was the most brutal form of public execution ever devised.

  • Crucifixion was a method of capital punishment in which the victim was tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang, perhaps for several days, until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation
  • The injuries inflicted in the process were unspeakably savage.
  • Victims did not die right away but lasted for days.
  • They were exposed (naked) for everyone to see
  • Victims were sometimes left on display after death as a warning to any other potential criminals.

Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was  

  • particularly slow
  • painful 
  • gruesome,
  • humiliating
  • public

The people’s astonishment expressed their contempt.  It reflects the profound shock they felt as they saw Jesus’ humiliation.

They found Him repulsive, far from their conception of what the Messiah King should be like.

Many viewed Jesus as a disappointing figure whose crucifixion made Him a martyr instead of a messiah!

But Christ’s sufferings were:

  • Planned
  • Purposeful
  • Successful

PRAYER PRINCIPLE:                     Thank God that Jesus took our place in suffering for our sins.

SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE:       Share with those that may be suffering, the fact that the ultimate victory of their situation depends on their relationship with Christ.

EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE:            Remind those that need to know the price Christ paid for our salvation.

STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE:            Our consistent and insistent giving allows the Gospel of God to be furthered on earth.

DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE:            Although we may have experienced some humiliation or may be experiencing a humiliating moment, realize that we are passing through this momentary affliction; victory is on the other side.

NEXT WEEK’S TITLE: Hallelujah, What a Savior

SERIES: The Gospel According to God

NEXT WEEK’S READING ASSIGNMENT:  Isaiah 52:13-53:12; John 1:11; Colossians 2:13-15; Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7; Matthew 26:62-63; Matthew 27:14; Luke 23:9; John 19:30

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