Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 18 Number 1 January 2016
Page 8

God’s Choice

Chad Ezelle

Does today bring a difficult choice, a bad situation or a real temptation for you? How will you meet it and overcome it? How will you make sure that you stay on God’s path? “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Today, you’ll have choices, decisions and temptations. Will you make choices that lead you into a closer relationship with God? Will your choices prove God to be the most important part of your life? Will you let the Lord direct your steps as you make your plans, choices and decisions?

Christ, the Suffering Savior

Therman Hodge

Therman HodgeThe Ethiopian eunuch read from Isaiah 53:1-12 (Acts 8:26-35). Phillip used the passage as a springboard into preaching about Christ. God had in the long ago planned for Christ to suffer so that sin’s debt might be paid and we might be saved (Genesis 3:15; Ephesians 1:9-10; 2:15-16).

The “we” introduced suddenly in verse 2 is the nation Israel. Verse 1 wants to know, “who has believed our report” or “who has believed the report that was common among us?” This parallels the second question, “and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”

The word “arm” is used to designate power and might. For instance, one who made flesh his arm trusted in man’s power instead of God’s power (Jeremiah 17:5). God’s arm is strong and will break the arms of His enemies (Deuteronomy 4:34; 5:15; Ezekiel 30:21).

Israel should have seen God’s power in the work of Jesus (John 20:30-31; Acts 2:22; Matthew 12:22-30; Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Those who reject Jesus today have simply closed their eyes to the truth as revealed through that powerful display (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

Jesus grew up under God’s watchful and protective eye (Matthew 2:1-23, especially 12-13). Jesus had a lowly beginning in a land of conquered people and from a house as good as dead; thus he sprang up like a tender plant from the root of a tree cut down and now in dry ground. Yet, God had promised a Savior from the house of David (Acts 2:29-31). The people looked for someone with a special background and attractive appearance (1 Samuel 9:2; 10:24; 16:12). One translator put it, “We saw Him, and there was nothing in His appearance to make us desire Him, or feel attracted to Him.”

Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a feed box for animals (Luke 2:1-7). Joseph was a carpenter, not a king (Matthew 13:55). He was not born in Jerusalem, but in lowly Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:23; John 1:46; 7:52). His teaching was contrary to what was desirable to man (John 3:19-21; 1 Corinthians 2:4).

Ultimately Christ was crucified, which was not an end most hand in mind for a ruler (1 Corinthians 1:22-24; Luke 24:21). Jesus asked his followers to admit that they were sinners, which is a blow to pride. Our Lord taught to put self last, which is contrary to man’s normal selfishness (Luke 13:3; 9:23).

Christ was looked down upon and held in contempt, even by the very people He came to save (John 1:11; Hebrews 12:3). He experienced all kinds of sorrow, such as, the death of a close friend, betrayal and desertion by His closest companions, and at last, separation from God (Hebrews 2:9-10; 5:8-9; John 11:1-38; Matthew 26:47-50, 56; 27:46). The idea at the end of the verse is that Jesus’ face was repulsive, so we turned away and refused to look at Him. Also, we counted Him as being worth nothing.

“Griefs” were illnesses or diseases, and “sorrows” were pain and mental stress. Jesus did spend considerable time helping the people with these, and His miraculous healings are said by Matthew to be a fulfillment of this (Matthew 8:16-17). Remember, Isaiah 53 is Israel looking back at the proofs of Christ’s Messiahship and bemoaning the fact that she ignored them. Miracles were a proof of Christ's deity (Hebrews 2:1-4). They counted Him as a sinner being punished by God because He endured such hardships.

Verse 5 says, literally, He was pierced and crushed on account of our iniquities. The description of the horrible death he suffered appears in Scripture. He suffered the chastisement or discipline, which leads us to peace with God. The scourging He endured forms the healing medicine for our sin-sick bodies (1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:18).

Israel in verse 6 is described as a scattered flock of sheep without a shepherd. They had come to their exile because of selfish rebellion against God. The punishment for their guilt fell upon Christ (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14). Bales says, “Through His sacrifice for our sins, through His suffering love, Christ calls for men from their own way to God’s way” (1 Peter 3:18).

Jesus endured the suffering voluntarily, like a sheep led to the slaughter. He made no defense at His trial, but He stood like a lamb dumb before its shearers. Jesus had already proved who He was by His actions, so He said nothing in His own defense at the trials (Matthew 26:57-68; 27:11-14; Luke 23:1-11; John 19:1-13). He was carried out of the unjust judicial system by a death for the angry mob’s sin.

However, the Romans allowed Joseph of Arimathea to have the body (Matthew 25:57; John 19:21). Man intended to bury Him with the wicked, but God wouldn’t allow it because of His innocence.

Though man wickedly put Jesus to death, God was using it to His purposes (Acts 2:23). Jesus was an offering for sin (1 Corinthians 5:7; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 10:10; 12:24; 13:10; 1 Peter 1:23). God’s “pleasure” was to save man (John 3:16-17; 2 Peter 3:9), and Jesus would see that purpose prosper because of His work. Because of His sacrifice, Jesus will see God’s purpose fulfilled and be satisfied. Those who learn from Christ and do His will, will be saved (John 6:44-45; Romans 1:16-17; Colossians 1:13-14).

Verse 12 describes a conqueror who will receive the spoils (Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus’ death stood as a part of His exaltation (Luke 24:25-27). In fact, His suffering and death had to come for Him to triumph (Acts 2:36-42). He was a great Conqueror in that He bore the sins of many (Hebrews 9:28) and made intercession for those who transgressed in crucifying Him (Luke 23:34). Yet, they had to repent and turn to Him to receive His help (Acts 3:12-19).

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