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Isaiah 53:6 1
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

clip_image065Background

Isaiah lived during the late eighth and early seventh centuries BC, which was a difficult period in the history of Jerusalem. He was part of the upper class but urged care of the downtrodden. At the end, he was loyal to King Hezekiah, but disagreed with the King’s attempts to forge alliances with Egypt and Babylon in response to the Assyrian threat.

Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of four kings — Uzziah (Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Legend has it that he was martyred during the reign of Manasseh, who came to the throne in 687 BC. That he is described as having ready access to the kings would suggest an aristocratic origin.

Biblical Truths

Man tends to think of himself better than he is. The scriptures give clear record of our actual lives, “All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way.” Mankind as a whole is rebellious and does not want to give ear to their Creator’s words. We have sought out our own ways. Sin is defined in many ways but one is marked by iniquity (insisting on doing it our way rather than God’s). Simply put, we are perverse.

Unless we can confess our sin and seek healing, no healing is provided. This is the importance of this verse. It highlights our need for Christ’s work. We can say it is the reason for His suffering. If we did not sin, then there would not be any need for this suffering. But truly, the source of our grief, pain and sin is all from our own sin nature.

But note what the Lord did do. “The LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” This is most remarkable. It seems unjust to have another rot for our sins. The difference in this case is that Jesus took on this sin voluntarily. We will see that stressed later by His silence during the inquiry. It seems unreasonable that one could suffer in our place but that is the fact of judgment. It seems highly unlikely that Christ so righteous would suffer so much for wicked people like us, but that is the love of God testified throughout the world.

Jesus suffered terribly on the cross. It seemed as if God was displeased with Him. But in fact Jesus died to do His Father’s will. He lived and died for others, not because of any displeasure of God against Him personally but so that God’s love might be born forth in the lives of the wicked. We first need to acknowledge our sins, however, before we can ever find the glorious love of God in Christ.

Items for Discussion

  • What do you think of yourself? Are you a sinner? Have you gone astray?
  • Would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10? (Ten being the worst)
  • Do people of society today view themselves as sinners?
  • If you were to generalize people (yes, a dangerous thing to do) would you expect to see a difference in attitudes between people with liberal views and people with conservative views with respect to how they think of themselves?
  • Can you think of any other religion in the world today that views itself as being comprised of people who are all sinners without the ability to save themselves? (This is the Christian view)

 

Luke 15:3-7
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Background

The Apostle Luke, born in Antioch, studied Greek philosophy, medicine, and art in his youth. Luke came to Jerusalem where he came to believe in the Lord. He and Cleopas met the resurrected Lord on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). After Pentecost, Luke returned to Antioch and worked with the Apostle Paul, traveling with him to Rome, and converting Jews and pagans to the Christian Faith. “Luke, the beloved physician, … greets you,” writes the Apostle Paul to the Colossians (Colossians 4:14). At the request of Christians, the Apostle Luke wrote his Gospel in the first century, sometime between 60 A.D. and 80 A.D. After the Apostle Paul’s martyrdom, Luke preached the Gospel throughout Italy, Dalmatia, Macedonia, and other regions.

In his old age, he visited Libya and Upper Egypt; from Egypt he returned to Greece, where he continued to preach and convert many despite his age. In addition to his Gospel, Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles. Luke was 84 years old when he was tortured for the sake of Christ and hanged from an olive tree in the town of Thebes, in Boethia.

Biblical Truths 2

Joyfully. It is a principle of human nature that the recovery of an object in danger of being lost, affords much more intense joy than the quiet possession of many that are safe. This our Savior illustrated by the case of the lost sheep and of the piece of silver. It might also be illustrated by many other things. Thus we rejoice most in our health when we recover from a dangerous disease; we rejoice over a child rescued from danger or disease more than over those who are in health or safety. We rejoice that property is saved from conflagration or the tempest more than over much more that has not been in danger. This feeling our Lord represents as existing in heaven. Likewise, in like manner, or on the same principle, there is joy.

In heaven. Among the angels of God. Comp. Luke 15:10. Heavenly beings are thus represented as rejoicing over those who repent on earth. They see the guilt and danger of men; they know what God has done for the race, and they rejoice at the recovery of any from the guilt and ruins of sin.

One sinner. One rebel against God, however great may be his sins or however small. If a sinner, he must perish unless he repents; and they rejoice at his repentance because it recovers him back to the love of God, and because it will save him from eternal death.

Righteous persons. The word persons is not in the original. It means simply just ones, or those who have not sinned. The word may refer to angels as well as to men. There are no just men on earth who need no repentance, Ecclesiastes 7:20;; Psalms 14:2,3;; Romans 3:10-18. Our Savior did not mean to imply that there were any such. He was speaking of what took place in heaven, or among angels, and of their emotions when they contemplate the creatures of God; and he says that they rejoiced in the repentance of one sinner more than in the holiness of many who had not fallen. We are not to suppose that he meant to teach that there were just ninety-nine holy angels to one sinner. He means merely that they rejoice more over the repentance of one sinner than they do over many who have not fallen. By this he vindicated his own conduct. The Jews did not deny the existence of angels. They would not deny that their feelings were proper. If they rejoiced in this manner, it was not improper for him to show similar joy, and especially to seek their conversion and salvation. If they rejoice also, it shows how desirable is the repentance of a sinner. They know of how much value is an immortal soul. They see what is meant by eternal death; and they do not feel too much, or have too much anxiety about the soul that can never die. Oh that men saw it as they see it! And oh that they would make an effort, such as angels see to be proper, to save their own souls, and the souls of others from eternal death!

Items for Discussion

  • Have you ever lost anything that meant very much to you and found it? How did you feel?
  • Why do you think that the comparison is made frequently of Christ as the Shepherd and we, the Christians, as His flock, the sheep?
    • Sheep are useful animals. Specifically, they produce lots of wool, and they allow their owners to shear them so it can be used by others. We, like sheep, can be productive, can be a source of warmth and love and help to others. We have gifts that can keep on giving.
    • Sheep are social animals. They feel greater comfort in being together with other sheep. They gather together when it is cold, and graze in sight of one another. There are, of course, people who are natural hermits and many more who are introverted and prefer not to be around others all the time. Yet it is the very rare person who can take off for a cabin in the deep woods and not miss others. At Walden Pond, Thoreau’s cabin in the woods, he was only a couple of miles from town, and he welcomed visitors who came to see him.
    • Sheep tend to get into trouble. Remember one of our confessions of sin: “We have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.” When grazing, sheep have a tendency to keep their heads down, their eyes and attention focused on the immediate goal-usually the grass-and to pay little attention to anything else.
    • Sheep need a shepherd. Without leadership, sheep cannot survive.
  • What are the characteristics of a shepherd?
    • Loves the sheep – all of them
    • Is willing to give his life for the sheep – sacrifice
    • Views his/her role as a servant
    • Is motivated by self-sacrifice
    • Willing to work around the clock
    • Will demonstrate perseverance
    • Knows his individual sheep
    • Is aware of the dangers to the sheep

Discussion Challenge

  • Would you die for Christ? (Another way to put this is would you trust Christ with your life?)

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. Barnes’ Notes
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