Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for February 9

Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for February 9

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By Dr. Jim Barnette

Professor, Samford University
Senior Pastor, Brookwood Baptist Church

Does God Really Understand My Pain and Suffering?
Isaiah 53:2–12

Jesus suffered from rejection. (2–4)

Skepticism existed regarding this “arm of the Lord” who would deliver God’s people. There were two reasons for this skepticism. 

First, the unattractive perception of the suffering Servant implied no one cared to look at Him. Second, the Servant was despised and friendless. The word “despised” needs to be understood in its Hebrew sense. 

The English word connotes intense contempt. The Hebrew word does not have so much of the emotive content; it connotes considering someone as worthless and unworthy of attention. So the suffering servant was given a hasty dismissal. 

This unprecedented revelation of God was met with shock, distaste, dismissal and avoidance. Little did anyone realize that by His suffering, humanity would be offered a way to reconciliation with God Almighty. 

Jesus suffered from affliction and death. (5–9)

“But” emphasizes the contrast between the suffering Servant and us. The perception had been that God was punishing this man for His sins and failures. But in fact He was wounded and crushed as a result of our sinfulness and guilt. 

Isaiah calls sin “transgression,” which means rebellion against God; Isaiah also calls it “iniquity,” which refers to the crookedness of our sinful nature. The Servant was not merely participating in the suffering of others; He was taking on and taking away their suffering and separation due to their own sin. 

Old Testament prophets had voiced the brokenness and iniquity of Israel, but no prophets had laid themselves vulnerable to terrible suffering for the sake of Israel and, ultimately, for all people. 

Not only had the Servant done nothing worthy of pain and death, He was actually receiving the treatment that all others deserved. There was “no deceit in His mouth,” yet He took on the death sentence of which He was completely innocent. Only one who had never rebelled against the holy God could effect reconciliation to the holy God. Thanks be to God for His Son who took on our shame so that we might be rescued from our sin. 

Jesus suffered for our benefit. (10–12)

Ultimately the suffering Servant would prosper and be victorious, for His sufferings were a crowning part of God’s purpose. God would prolong the Servant’s days and bring success to all of the Servant’s efforts. And because of His success, many would be made righteous. The Servant would attain a position of exaltation comparable to that of the noblest of warriors. In that exalted position, He would not only bear the sins of many, but He would also make intercession for transgressors. 

“Therefore” in verse 12 anticipates Philippians 2:9 where Jesus Christ is exalted and given the name above every other name. In faithfulness, the suffering Servant emptied Himself and descended to the lowest depths. He fulfilled His Father’s will to the last degree. Because of that faithful obedience, God exalted His Servant to the highest heights. 

The image here is of a victory parade, with the Servant leading the parade as the conqueror of the evils of this world. This powerful passage of Isaiah does not use the word “resurrection,” but these verses display the Servant as “alive after His suffering” (see Acts 1:3). 

An additional part of His “reward” is found in verse 10: “He shall see His seed (descendants).” To die childless was a grief and shame to the Hebrews, but Jesus gave birth to a spiritual family through His death and resurrection. The statement about Isaiah’s natural family (Isa. 8:18) is quoted in Hebrews 2:13 and applied to Christ and His spiritual family.

Believers look back at this passage from the vantage point of the living Christ. It makes complete sense to the Christian that Philip’s reading of the verses could lead an Ethiopian to recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.