NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from The Gospel Project curriculum.
Bible Passage: Isaiah 52:13–53:12
Discussion Questions: Take a few moments to compare Paul’s words in Philippians 2:5-11 with Isaiah 52:13-15. What similarities do you see? What differences? What are some ways people recreate Jesus today in order to make Him more appealing? How do these “recreations” distract us from the primary work that Jesus came to do? How do they compromise our relationship with Him?
Food for Thought:
The Suffering Servant passage lays the foundation for the victory that Jesus earned by means of sacrifice. The action of submitting to the will of His Father was wise because it resulted in Jesus being raised, lifted up and greatly exalted (Isaiah 52:13). (Perhaps the apostle Paul had these words in mind when he penned Philippians 2:5-11.)
When we read Isaiah 53 today, we see it as referring ultimately to Jesus Christ. The original audience, however, would have identified this mysterious “servant” with God’s chosen people — Israel (see Isaiah 41:8). But the mystery deepens as we keep reading, and we begin to realize that this particular prophecy’s meaning cannot be identified solely with Israel because Isaiah describes the servant as someone who will die as a substitute for God’s people.
The Jews of Jesus’ day were hoping for a Messiah who would be a king with the power to conquer their enemies. Instead, Isaiah predicted a Servant who would be “despised” and “rejected,” without “impressive form” or “majesty” to catch our eye.
But make no mistake. The final exaltation of Christ will leave unbelievers, both Jew and Gentile alike, shocked when they consider their previous notions of Jesus. This is not the Savior most people were looking for, and if we are honest, this is not the kind of Messiah most people want today. Though it is tempting to sit in judgment over those who scorned Jesus in the past, modern generations are just as guilty of rejecting God’s messianic Servant.
A Savior who appears to be nobody is not very appealing to the masses that are desperate to be somebody. If Jesus is not a ticket to a better life now, most will find no value in following Him. We falsely assume that no one would humble himself intentionally, especially God. Thus, we fail to see that Jesus came to identify with our failure and suffering rather than be defeated by it. When we see our frailties in Him, we can rejoice that God is working through His Son in order to see His glory in us.
The Gospel Project
The Gospel Project is a chronological, Christ-centered study for kids, students, and adults. The Bible is not a collection of stories. It is one story of God’s plan to rescue His people from sin and death. It is the story of redemption, the gospel message of Jesus Christ. More information, free samples, and The Gospel Project blog can be found at gospelproject.com.
Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.