12/13/2017 Message: Mercy and Prophecy

The following are the notes from this week’s CROSSROADS lesson.  Words in bold identify key phrases from notes pages handed out each week.  If you would like copies of our slides, please feel free to reach and request them.  As these are from the notes pages for each week, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors.

Slide 1

Did you know that people were talking about Jesus was before he was born (like… 700 years before)?  The Jews knew that a savior was coming.  In fact, Jews today are still waiting for their Messiah that was prophesied because they don’t believe Jesus was God’s son.  In reality, the person of Jesus Christ is exactly who was said to be coming to save us from sin.  The funny thing is that most of the prophecies about Jesus were fairly specific and entirely accurate.

Slide 2

ISAIAH 53 actually paints a picture of Christ in stunning detail.  It gives us an idea of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection.  Let’s walk through this book and see what dots we can connect between the prophecy of Isaiah and the Christ we all know.

Slide 3

Read Isaiah 53:1-3…

Who has believed what we have heard?[a] And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at him, no appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from;[b] he was despised, and we didn’t value him. (Isaiah 53:1-3)

Each section in Isaiah 53 has a ‘theme’.  The theme of this first section is the REPUTATION Jesus held with others.    The reputation of the messiah would be broken into a PHYSICAL component and a description of Jesus’ STANDING WITH OTHERS.

Isaiah says he was of unimpressive form and that there was no majesty about him.  That should sound familiar from the story of Christ’s birth (born in a manger) and from the company he held as an adult (associating with sinners).  One of the reasons why many Jews never believed in Christ is because they had convinced themselves that Christ would come back as a conquering hero to save Israel from the Romans.  In reality, Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would be a much humbler individual.

The rest of this section mentions several times that Jesus was ‘rejected by men’ and ‘despised’.  How was Jesus rejected and despised?  Obviously, there is the arrest, trial, and death of Christ, but his entire life was full of rejection.  The Pharisees rejected him over and over again because of his associations.  Several times in the Bible Jesus is run out of a town because the people don’t understand God’s power.

Let’s see what Isaiah predicted in the next section.

Slide 4

Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him for[c] the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)

The theme of this second section is the SACRIFICE of Christ.  Isaiah mentions the suffering and pain of Christ.  Specifically, he mentions that Christ would be PIERCED because of our rebellion against God and CRUSHED because of our iniquities.  If you don’t know what iniquities are, think of it like immoral behavior.  Several centuries later, Christ would be pierced by the nails on the cross and he would be crushed under the weight of torture and the cross before finally being put to death.  The last hours of Jesus’ life before death are hard to really explain because they truly are gruesome.

Still, Christ willingly paid that price.  Why?  Because Christ was actually bearing the PENALTY FOR OUR SIN.  That means that because Christ took the punishment, we don’t have to suffer an eternity of death apart from God.  See how that works?  Jesus, who was infinitely innocent of all sin, died even though it was not owed.  When he did that, he took our punishment so that when we one day see God, we no longer owe the penalty of our sin (Hell).

Slide 5

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth. He was taken away because of oppression and judgment; and who considered his fate?[d] For he was cut off from the land of the living; he was struck because of my people’s rebellion. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, but he was with a rich man at his death, because he had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully. (Isaiah 53:7-9)

The third section talks a lot about Jesus’ HUMILITY.  Again, Jesus was absolutely perfect in every way.  He didn’t deserve to be crucified, yet he did it anyway.  He refuse to ARGUE AGAINST HIS PAIN even though he had every right to demand that he not suffer the penalty for our sins.

Consider this thought: if Christ really didn’t want to die for your sins, he could have stopped the crucifixion at any moment.  Even as he sat there on the cross, he could have demanded that angels save him, but he suffered through it.  Why?  Because he loved you and wanted to be reconciled with you.  He wanted to have a relationship with you, but that relationship would be held back as long as we still had the ‘dirtiness’ of sin hanging on our souls.  Christ’s death removed that dirtiness.

Slide 6

Yet the Lord was pleased to crush him severely. When you make him a guilt offering, he will see his seed, he will prolong his days, and by his hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished. After his anguish, he will see light and be satisfied. By his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many, and he will carry their iniquities. Therefore I will give him the many as a portion, and he will receive the mighty as spoil, because he willingly submitted to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet he bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels. (Isaiah 53:10-12)

The last section talks about the RESURRECTION of Christ.  We see Isaiah talking about ‘the Lord’s pleasure’ which is us, his creation, following him.  This begins giving us an idea of exactly what Christ came to earth.  Christ didn’t come to be praised and worshiped for the man he was; he came to be worshiped for the savior he would become.  The prophecy of Isaiah explains this by connecting the GLORY of Jesus’ resurrection with the SACRIFICE here on earth.  In a way, if you take away the death and resurrection of Christ, you really don’t have much of a reason for God, in the form of Christ, coming to earth AT ALL.  If God just wanted to send a messenger, he could have sent more prophets.

But prophets wouldn’t do.  God desired to have personal relationships with all of us, but our own sin was holding back our ability to draw close to God.  Isaiah explains in great detail how God showed his MERCY through the person of Christ.

This should shape how you view the Christmas season.  The baby in a manger isn’t just “a cute baby”; it’s God, our creator, and he came for a purpose.  The purpose was to suffer for our sins so that we would have eternal life if we chose to follow his path.  When you look at what the Bible actually says about who Jesus was and who he is total, it begins to change the meaning of Christmas from a story about a cute little baby to a call to all sinners to repent and follow Christ.

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