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Isaiah 53:2 1
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

clip_image085Background

Among the great prophetic visionaries was Isaiah, who was active during an extraordinarily lengthy period, extending from the reign of King Uzziah to that of King Hezekiah, who both ruled in Judah. Here in Isaiah’s great vision we see some of the early prophesies of our Messiah.

Isaiah was witness to one of the most turbulent periods in the history of Jerusalem, from both the religious and the political standpoint. Because of his social status he took an active and in some cases central part in the course of events. But his position did not prevent him from criticize the corruption which had permeated the ruling class and the aristocracy’s lack of attention toward the downtrodden.

Isaiah is the most “political” of the prophets. In the face of the expansionist Assyrian empire he counseled a passive political and military response. He put his faith in divine salvation, which would certainly follow from a necessary change in the moral leadership and in the people’s spiritual tenacity. Although he stood by King Hezekiah, Isaiah objected to his attempts to forge alliances with Egypt and with the envoys of the Babylonian king Merodach-baladan as a wedge against the Assyrians. Such efforts, the prophet said, demonstrated a lack of faith in God.

Biblical Truths

It’s always interesting to look at artist’s interpretations or cinematic versions. For all that the scriptures tell us of Jesus; they don’t tell us what he looked like. We only have one verse that speaks of the physical appearance of Jesus, and all it tells us is what he didn’t look like: “He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to him” (Isaiah 53:2). In other words, his appearance was rather ordinary. That’s all we’re told. It must, then, be an important point.

A tender shoot is a suckling on a trunk that sucks life from the tree. That’s how Jesus was viewed—as leading a renegade movement that threatened the Jewish establishment. Parched ground is a place where you don’t expect a root. Jesus came from what was deemed the “parched ground” of Nazareth (John 1:46), Galilee (John 7:52) and a carpenter (Matthew 13:55).

Items for Discussion

  • What can we tell about how someone looks? How they are dressed? Their physical traits?
  • What features would you expect to find in a top male Hollywood movie star?
  • Have you every wondered what Jesus looked like?
  • The only verse in the entire Bible dedicated to how Jesus looks is telling us how he didn’t look. Why would all of Scripture leave so few clues?
  • What is so extraordinary about being ordinary?
  • What is the point being made here?

 

Colossians 2:8-9
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. 9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

Background

Colossae was located twelve miles from Laodicea and about a hundred miles east of Ephesus in the valley of the Lycus River. Colossae was on the main trade route and had a diverse population of Greeks, Jews and Phrygians. The mixture of backgrounds made the city an interesting cultural center where all sorts of new ideas and doctrines from the East were discussed and considered. Because of these ungodly influences, the Colossian church was faced with the creeping influence of false teaching. Paul’s letter stresses the true gospel: Jesus is absolutely central. The Colossian church was founded by Epaphras, one of Paul’s converts. Paul’s letter was written from prison around 62 A.D.

Biblical Truths

In the main body of his letter, Paul reminds his readers of the essential ingredients of the gospel (1:12-23) they first heard from Epaphras (1:6-7), and has defended his authority to admonish and teach his readers in its light (1:24–2:3). Having laid this foundation, the apostle is now ready to attend to the situation that has occasioned his correspondence–the false teaching that threatens the faith of the Colossian believers.
Paul’s response to false teaching typically contains two parts:

  1. First, he identifies the theological errors present in a particular congregation and draws out their negative implications for faith and life. For Paul, the problem with bad ideas is that they result in distorted notions of Christ and what it means to follow him.
  2. Second, he argues against these errors in light of the foundational convictions of his gospel ministry. This, then, is the fabric of Paul’s letter-writing: to clarify a problem along with its spiritual and moral consequences and to articulate the proper response to it in light of the readers’ own understanding of the “word of truth.”

According to Paul, wisdom, whether true or false, is measured by its results. Wisdom is true if it produces a community that worships and bears witness to God in its shared life. Spiritual well-being must be aimed toward getting into the proper place (“in Christ”), where God’s grace empowers growth and worship (see 2:7). Relying on carefully thought-out ideas or rules of abstinence rather than on what God has already accomplished for us in Christ is at least imprudent, because it imperils the present results of Christ’s work in us.

Items for Discussion

  • How do you know what I teach and discuss is correct?
  • What is the influence of location on a church and its philosophies?
  • What harm is done by teachings that are not fundamentally correct?
  • What responsibilities lay with a teacher?
  • What responsibilities lay with a student?
  • Why is it so important not to rely on human knowledge but, instead, to rely on faith in Christ?

Discussion Challenge

  • What are the responsibilities of a church to train and test its teachers for accuracy in the foundations of their views?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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