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The Servant - Isaiah 52-53

Taught on | Topic: Prophecy | Keywords: prophecy, gospel, Servant Song, Servant, sinless, sin, vicarious atonement, substitution, silence, salvation, lamb, sacrifice, Savior, guilty

Of all the Old Testament writings that predict the Messiah, Isaiah 53 is the Grand Canyon of the prophetic landscape. It captures the person and work of Christ with precise clarity, and it unfolds His atoning sacrifice on the cross like no other text. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, His death was announced and detailed. Isaiah the prophet shows us that Jesus would be the perfect servant of the Father in dealing with the most serious problem of the human race.

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The Servant
Isaiah 52-53
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Of all the Old Testament writings that predict the Messiah, Isaiah 53 is the Grand Canyon of the prophetic landscape. It captures the person and work of Christ with precise clarity, and it unfolds His atoning sacrifice on the cross like no other text. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, His death was announced and detailed. Isaiah the prophet shows us that Jesus would be the perfect servant of the Father in dealing with the most serious problem of the human race.
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Against All Odds

Against All Odds

Did you know that you have a one in 136,011 chance of death by lightning strike? Your odds of winning the Powerball lottery are only one in 292 million. In this series, Skip Heitzig investigates a number of biblical prophecies that would be impossible for Jesus to fulfill unless He was God Himself. So whether you're a skeptic or you want to strengthen your faith, join us for Against All Odds.

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Outline

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  1. He’s a Sovereign Servant (52:13)

  2. He’s a Sinless Servant (53:9)

  3. He’s a Suffering Servant (52:14; 53:4-5, 7, 10, 12)

  4. He’s a Substitutionary Servant (53:4-7, 10, 12)

  5. He’s a Silent Servant (53:7)

  6. He’s a Saving Servant (52:15; 53:11)

Study Guide

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Recap Notes: April 2, 2017
Speaker: Skip Heitizg
Teaching: "The Servant"
Text: Isaiah 52-53

Path

Of all the Old Testament writings that predict the Messiah, Isaiah 53 is the Grand Canyon of the prophetic landscape. It is called a Servant Song, one of four found in Isaiah. It captures the person and work of Christ with precise clarity, unfolding His atoning sacrifice on the cross like no other text. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, His death was announced and detailed. Against all odds, Isaiah showed us that Jesus would be the perfect Servant of the Father in dealing with the most serious problem of the human race: sin. This chapter addresses the most important question in life: how can a person be right with God? Pastor Skip described Isaiah's vision of God's perfect Servant:
  • He's a Sovereign Servant (52:13)
  • He's a Sinless Servant (53:9)
  • He's a Suffering Servant (52:14; 53:4-5, 7, 10, 12)
  • He's a Substitutionary Servant (53:4-7, 10, 12)
  • He's a Silent Servant (53:7)
  • He's a Saving Servant (52:15; 53:11)

Points

He's a Sovereign Servant
  • Jesus came to serve His Father, to accomplish His will in redemptive history.
  • There are some disputes as to who the servant is that Isaiah refers to.
    • Isaiah used the term servant differently in several places, referring at times to Israel, the Messiah, and himself.
    • Isaiah 53 is an embarrassment to Jewish leaders. In the eleventh century, rabbis began to interpret the text as referring to Israel, not the Messiah.
  • Historically, the Targums and Talmud understood the text to be about the Messiah. One Targum even interpreted the word servant as Messiah.
  • Probe: The word sovereign means a supreme ruler. How does Jesus show His sovereignty through suffering, fulfilling Isaiah 52-53?
He's a Sinless Servant
  • The punishment Jesus received was undeserved; He paid a debt He did not owe.
  • In Philippians 2, the apostle Paul reminds us that Jesus was God incarnate, a sinless God-man who took the form of a bondservant to save us.
  • Probe: Why is it important to understand that Jesus was sinless? Could a sinful man be a perfect sacrifice?
He's a Suffering Servant
  • Jesus was tortured severely. Two lictors (Pilate's bodyguards) delivered diagonal blows with metal- and bone-studded whips, shredding skin and lacerating muscles.
  • After His beating, Jesus carried the upper portion of His cross, the patibulum, through the streets. It weighed between seventy-five and one hundred pounds.
  • No other religion has at its heart the humiliation of its God. Jesus may repulse some, but He will redeem many. His suffering brings salvation.
  • Probe: Jesus' suffering was according to the "will of God" (1 Peter 4:19). Why was it the Father's will that His Son should suffer? See Hebrews 9:22.
He's a Substitutionary Servant
  • We have a collective problem: we're sinners. We all have a sorrow that comes from a sickness that is brought on by sinfulness.
  • Our disease requires a specialist—someone who can stand in for us. The Servant must be a substitute.
  • Theologically, this is called vicarious atonement. Simply put, Jesus was slaughtered so we can be saved.
  • The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God; the essence of salvation is God substituting Himself for mankind.
  • Probe: A substitute is a person or thing acting or serving in place of another. Read 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Galatians 3:13. Why was Jesus a proper substitute? Could any person have filled the bill other than Him?
He's a Silent Servant
  • When Jesus was brought before the high priest and Pilate, He remained silent.
  • Silence can be intimidating, and it gives us time to think about the situation.
  • At those times when God is silent in our life, it could be that we know what He is saying and that He is waiting for us to act on what we know.
  • Probe: As the popular phrase states, "Silence can be deafening." How can silence speak louder than words? Read Proverbs 17:26, Psalm 46:10, and Lamentations 3:26. How does God use silence to increase our faith?
He's a Saving Servant
  • The term sprinkle refers to ceremonial cleansing in the Mosaic sacrificial system; it's how God saved people before Christ.
  • Notice that Jesus "shall justify many," (53:11, emphasis added) not all. Not everyone will let the Servant be his or her substitute.
  • But God will save all who do. God has a big eraser, but we must admit our smudges; we must repent and turn to Christ.
  • Probe:  To save means to deliver from danger, harm, and sin. Read Psalm 35:9 and 1 Peter 1:8. Take a moment to talk about when God saved you. What was it like knowing that God had rescued you from eternal separation from Him?
Practice

Connect Up: In theology, the doctrine of salvation has its own field called soteriology. Why is salvation so important that it deserves a whole field of study? What does this tell you about the Father's will for people? See 2 Peter 3:9.

Connect In: The living church is a group of saved people. Being that the true church is a saved church, how should our salvation influence and affect our life? Read Galatians 5:13, Hebrews 6:10, and 1 Peter 4:10. Should a saved church be a serving church? What does a serving church look like?

Connect Out: How would you summarize Isaiah 53 as an evangelical statement so you can share it with a nonbeliever?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Jesus is unlike anyone else (see Luke 19:10)
    2. Isaiah 53 is the pinnacle of all messianic prophecies in the Old Testament
      1. Penned 680 years before Christ
      2. Sum and substance of the gospel message
      3. Jesus quoted from it
      4. Referred to in fifteen New Testament books
      5. Known by the New Testament authors to be a messianic passage
      6. Read by the eunuch that Philip ministered to (see Acts 8:27-39)
    3. A Servant Song
      1. One of four in the book of Isaiah (see Isaiah 42; 49; 50; 53)
      2. All refer to Christ
      3. Five stanzas
  2. He's a Sovereign Servant (52:13)
    1. God the Father's Servant who came to earth to serve the will of the Father in redemptive history (see Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; John 6:38)
    2. There is some dispute as to the identity of the Servant in Isaiah 52-53
      1. Not everyone agrees that this refers to Jesus
      2. Isaiah used the term servant to refer to several different people
        1. The nation of Israel
        2. Himself
        3. The Messiah
      3. This prophecy is so obviously fulfilled in Jesus that it has become an embarrassment to the Jews
        1. They knew that historically, Isaiah 53 is a messianic prophecy
        2. The Targums translate Isaiah 52:13 as "Behold, My Servant Messiah"
        3. They came up with an alternate interpretation
          1. It became common to refer Isaiah 53 to the nation of Israel
          2. History of the Jews, the despised nation of the world
    3. It cannot refer to Israel
      1. It does not fit
      2. Israel never suffered vicariously for another nation
      3. They never suffered voluntarily
      4. They never suffered silently
      5. In Isaiah 49, God speaks to His Servant Messiah about His servant Israel
  3. He's a Sinless Servant (53:9)
    1. Buried in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb (see Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:43-46; Luke 23:50-53; John 19:38-42)
    2. No one could convict Him of sin (see John 8:46; 18:38; 19:4-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
    3. The punishment He received was undeserved
      1. He paid a debt He did not owe
      2. His esteemed position as the Son of God made what He did that much more powerful (see Philippians 2:6-7)
  4. He's a Suffering Servant (52:14; 53:4-5, 7, 10, 12)
    1. His visage was marred
      1. Visage = face
      2. Disfigured
    2. The crowd wanted blood (see Mark 15:13-14; Luke 23:21; John 19:6, 15)
      1. Pilate thought he could placate the crowd by beating Jesus (see John 19:1)
        1. People sometimes died from Roman scourging alone
        2. Two soldiers with whips made with leather strips and pieces of glass, metal, and bone
        3. The whips would tear the skin and tissue from the back of the victim, exposing the vital organs
      2. Ecce homo = behold the man (see John 19:5)
    3. He carried His cross
      1. Patibulum = the crossbeam
      2. He didn't even make it all the way (see Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26)
      3. This was God's sinless Servant taking this torture
      4. No other religion has at its heart the humiliation of its God
  5. He's a Substitutionary Servant (53:4-7, 10, 12)
    1. The human race has a sin problem (see Romans 3:23)
      1. We all have a sorrow that comes from a sickness that is brought on by sinfulness
      2. Our disease requires a specialist
      3. It requires a substitute who will take our place
    2. Jesus died instead of you
      1. Vicarious atonement= someone dying in your place
      2. Jesus volunteered to do it for us
      3. We are not good enough; we need someone to stand in for us
    3. Jesus stepped into critical mass, stopping the chain reaction that sin brought to humanity
      1. He was slaughtered so we could be saved
      2. The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God; the essence of salvation is God substituting Himself for man
  6. He's a Silent Servant (53:7)
    1. Jesus was brought before the chief priests, high priest, Sanhedrin, Herod, and Pilate
      1. He remained silent as they hurled accusations at Him (see Matthew 26:63; Mark 14:61; Luke 23:9)
      2. This astonished Pilate (see Matthew 27:14)
        1. He had seen many prisoners go to a cross before, but none of them were silent
        2. He had never seen someone stand silent while accusations were hurled at them
    2. Silence can be intimidating
      1. But silence gives you time to think
        1. Perhaps Jesus had said everything He needed to say to Pilate
        2. Perhaps He wanted to give Pilate time to think about what He said
      2. Some people worry when they feel God is not speaking to them
        1. It could be that He is silently giving you time to think about what He has already said
        2. Maybe He wants you to contemplate before you act
  7. He's a Saving Servant (52:15; 53:11)
    1. The priests used to sprinkle the mercy seat with the blood of the lamb sacrifice
    2. Signified the cleansing of sins
    3. Jesus would cleanse the sins of many nations
    4. Jesus would justify many people
      1. Many does not mean all
        1. Not all will be saved
        2. Many will be saved, but many won't
      2. Many will not admit they need a savior
        1. God has a big eraser, but you must first admit you have smudges
        2. So many people do not see their need for a substitute
  8. Closing
    1. It is embarrassing to be thought guilty when you're not
      1. It's worse to not think you're guilty when you are
      2. The vast majority of the human race lives like this
    2. Isaiah 53 answers the most important question ever asked: How can a sinner be made right with God so as to escape eternal punishment and live in heaven?
      1. The answer is by accepting the substitute: Jesus
      2. Until you admit you have a need and ask Him to do something about it, you're under the death sentence
      3. You only get to heaven by your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
Figures referenced: D.L. Moody, Rabbi Rashi, Louis Slotin, Charles Spurgeon

Latin words: ecce homo

Cross references: Isaiah 42; 49; 50; Matthew 20:28; 26:63; 27:14, 32, 57-60; Mark 10:45; 14:61; 15:13-14, 21, 43-46; Luke 19:10; 23:9, 21, 26, 50-53; John 6:38; 8:46; 18:38; 19:1, 4-6, 15, 38-42; Acts 8:27-39; Romans 3:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 2:6-7

Transcript

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Hello and welcome to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque. We pray that you are encouraged by this teaching. And if you are, we'd love to hear about it. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/give.

Isaiah 53 captures the person and work of Jesus with precise clarity, and it unfolds the atoning sacrifice on the cross like no other text. As we continue the series Against All Odds, we learn that Jesus' death was announced hundreds of years before he was born. Now we invite you to turn in your Bible to Isaiah, chapter 53. Skip begins the message, "The Servant."

Could you turn in your Bibles to the book of Isaiah, chapter 53, Isaiah 53? So a couple of days ago, my wife in the morning said something very interesting to me. I had never heard her say this to me before. She said, Skip, I don't hate you. Now if I just left it at that, you would think that we've got some problems in our relationship, so I need to explain.

The night before, she had a dream. I was in that dream, but let me back up. The evening before, we had seen this television program where a crime was solved. In this program, there was a mass murderer who had a very disturbing personality, and they've solved the crime.

They finally brought him to justice. Well, in her dream, you know how dreams are, so she projected in her dream all of the poor qualities of this person onto me. So I was that guy when she woke up, and she was very angry. And she kind of told me that she had this dream.

But I went and I brought her coffee. And when I brought her coffee, she said, Skip, I don't hate you. I'm here to tell you, God doesn't hate you. He is not against you.

I grew up wondering if he wasn't against me because of the way He was portrayed by some. I don't know if you've ever tried this, but I used to do this from time to time where you watch a preacher on television but you turn off the sound. And you just watch him, try to figure out what he's saying, and it's humorous sometimes to turn back on the sound.

I've caught some of them saying that God loves you, and He has a wonderful plan for your life. But turn off the sound, and sometimes it's [NO SPEECH]. And I'm thinking, I think he's saying by his body language, God hates me and has a miserable plan for my life.

But I just want you to know that Jesus is unlike anyone or anything else. He said that He came to seek and to save those who are lost. Isn't that a great promise, to seek and to save those who are lost. Well, we are in Isaiah, chapter 53. You will need a Bible to follow along with this.

In Isaiah, chapter 53, we have the quintessential Messianic prophecy. It is the pinnacle of all Old Testament predictions fulfilled in the New Testament. One author said, "Isaiah 53 contains unarguable, incontrovertible proof that God is the author of scripture, and that Jesus is the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. The details are so minute that no human could have predicted them by accident, and no imposter could fulfill them by cunning."

And yet this chapter, penned by Isaiah 680 years before Jesus Christ, theologians call it the Mt. Everest of Messianic prophecy. Charles Spurgeon said, "It is the Bible in miniature and the gospel in essence." This chapter is the sum and the substance of the gospel message.

It is quoted by Jesus Himself. It is referred to, get this, by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, I Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, I Peter, and I John. Do you think that the New Testament authors knew Isaiah 53 to be a Messianic passage? Absolutely they did.

In fact, this was the passage-- do you remember it-- in Acts, chapter 8, when the Ethiopian eunuch is paused by the side of the road, and he's got a scroll opened up. And Philip comes alongside of him, and he happened to be reading, this eunuch, this chapter, Isaiah, chapter 53. And he turned to Philip, and he said, what does this mean? And who is He speaking about?

And it says that Philip, from that moment, preached Christ to him. And through that little encounter, the Ethiopian eunuch received Christ and was baptized. The chapter that is before us is known as a Servant Song, a Servant Song. There are four of them in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah, chapter 42, 49, chapter 50, or parts of those chapters, and this chapter are the four Servant Songs of Isaiah. All of them are referring to Christ.

There are five stanzas in this last Servant Song, the most famous of all, the most memorable of all. But we only have time to highlight some of the features. I want to show you six characteristics of the main character, and that is the Servant of the Lord.

But let's read it. Let's get oriented with it, Isaiah 53. It actually begins in 52, verse 13, so if you don't mind scoot back up. Some of the chapter divisions are unfortunate, and this is one of those places. Isaiah 52, verse 13,

"Behold my servant shall deal prudently. He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. Just as many were astonished at you, his visage was marred more than any man, His form more than the sons of men. So shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him.

For what had not been told them, they shall see. And what they had not heard, they shall consider. Who has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant and as a root out of dry ground.

He has no form or comeliness, and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way. And the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth.

He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, as a sheep before its shearers, a silence so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment. And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of My people, He was stricken.

And they made His grave with the wicked, but with the rich at His death because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him. He has put Him to grief. When you make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed.

He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul and be satisfied. By His knowledge, My righteous servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors and He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors."

What I want to do is skim over this and show you six characteristics of this One named the Servant, the Servant. First of all, He is a sovereign Servant. That is, He is the Lord, God, God the Father's own Servant. He came to this earth primarily to serve the will of His Father in redemptive history.

You'll recall that Jesus said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many." In John, chapter 6, He said, "I have come down from heaven, not to do My will but to do the will of Him who sent me." So His whole life was wrapped up in serving the will of the Father to be the savior.

Now I do want to warn you about something. You need to know that there is some dispute as to the identity of the servant in Isaiah, chapter 52 and 53. Not everyone agrees with the fact that it is the Lord. And that is a fact, it is about the Lord Jesus.

You read it through with me. From the retrospect knowing the New Testament, it's obvious. But not everybody agrees, and there's a couple of reasons why there is a dispute.

Number one, because when Isaiah uses the term "servant," he uses that term to refer to not just one person but a few different people in the book of Isaiah. Sometimes he uses the term "servant" to refer to the nation of Israel. They were supposed to be ones who served the Lord.

Sometimes he uses it to refer to himself, Isaiah, the servant of the Lord. And at other times, in four places, I mentioned, there's four Servant Songs, he used it to refer to the Messiah. So because he uses different terms, or the same term for different people, some don't agree this is the Messiah.

There is a second reason why there is a dispute, and that is because it is so obviously fulfilled in Jesus Christ that it has become an embarrassment to the Jewish community. As soon as Jesus rose from the dead after being killed and buried and resurrected, like it is predicted in this section, many of the Jewish leaders ran from Isaiah 53 hard and fast. It was pretty obvious. Because they knew that historically, Isaiah 53, and I read copious amounts of literature to research this, the original interpretation by all the ancient Jewish sources was that Isaiah 53 is Messianic.

It is referring to the person of Messiah who was to come. In fact, one of the oldest translations of the Hebrew into Aramaic, the Targums, I mentioned them before, translates Isaiah, chapter 52, verse 13, this way. "Behold my servant, Messiah, shall prosper."

It was unmistakable. This referred to the Messiah. But it's uncomfortable because if Jesus fulfilled all those prophesies, and we don't believe in Him, we have to come up with an alternative interpretation, and they did. So it became common to take Isaiah 53, which had been interpreted previously as Messianic, and say, it must refer to Israel, the nation of Israel.

One Jewish scholar, one author, said "Isaiah 53 describes the history of the Jews, the despised nation of the world, persecuted by the crusaders, the Spanish inquisition, and the Nazis. These verses do not point to a Messiah." The real clencher came in the 11th century AD, when a very famous rabbi named Rabbi Rashi-- if you know Jewish literature, you know the name Rabbi Rashi-- he definitely said, Isaiah 53 refers to the Jewish nation, not to the Messiah.

So that became the interpretation, but it wasn't always the interpretation. But now let me tell you why it can't refer to Israel. Because as you read through Isaiah 53, there is no way it fits.

First of all, Israel never suffered vicariously. That is, they never suffered for another nation. It wasn't that their suffering helped another nation.

Number two, Israel never suffered voluntarily. Yes, they suffered, but nobody signed up for it. Nobody said, yeah, I want to be persecuted by Adolf Hitler.

And third, they never suffered silently like the servant in Isaiah 53 did. So yes, Isaiah refers to Israel as God's servant and to himself as God's servant, but he also refers uniquely to the coming Messiah, and this is one of those places. Oh, and by the way, this problem is solved in Isaiah 49. You don't have to look it up, but write it down and look it up later.

In Isaiah 49, which is the second of the four Servant Songs of Isaiah, in that chapter, the Lord God speaks to his servant, the Messiah, about His servant Israel. It's very plainly those two servants are delineated in that single passage. So this is the sovereign servant of the Lord. This is God's servant. This is Jesus.

A second thing to make a note of is this is a sinless servant. Look at verse 9. "They made His grave with the wicked, but with the rich at His death." Remember He was buried in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb.

"Because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth." One translation puts it, "Because He committed no sin, nor was there any deceit in His mouth." Remember what Jesus asked some of his detractors when there was a confrontation?

He said, which of you can convict me of sin? That's a rhetorical question. The answer is nobody. Even Pontius Pilate said I find no fault in Him.

And Paul, the Apostle, understood this when he-- we touched on this verse last week-- God made Him, Jesus, who knew no sin to be sin for us. Jesus was sinless. He committed no sin. He had no sin nature.

Why is that important? It's important because it shows us the punishment He got, He didn't deserve. He paid a debt that he did not owe. There's a great story. It's true.

Back in the late 1800s, DL Moody, Dwight Lyman Moody, the evangelist, had a home in Northfield, Massachusetts. He used to hold Bible conferences back there. And leaders from all over the country, in fact, from all over Europe, would get on boats, on ships and come to America to attend one of those conferences. So one time, the place was packed. The grounds were filled with European visitors, guests who were there to hear the world's only famous evangelist at the time, DL Moody.

Well, there is a European custom, and that is at night, the gentlemen take their shoes off, and they put them in the hallway. And during the night, a hall servant comes by, collects the shoes, cleans them, polishes them, and puts them back in front of the door in Europe. But this is America. There are no hall servants in America. You clean your own stinking shoes, right.

Well, Dwight L. Moody noticed that all the shoes were out in front of the door, so he collected them all. He told some of his ministry students about it. They didn't have any time to do that. They had all sorts of excuses, and so DL Moody took those shoes to his own room and personally one by one, pair by pair, cleaned and polished every pair of shoes.

He put them back in front of the door. So when they opened their doors in the morning, they didn't think anything of it. It was protocol in Europe. They saw cleaned polished shoes.

They put them on, and they went to the meeting where DL Moody was speaking. That's why they came. They had no idea that the one who became the hall servant was the evangelist they came to listen to.

There was one man, one friend of Moody who saw what was happening out of his window. And he told it to a few people. By the end of the week, people were fighting over polishing those shoes. But Moody's esteemed position as conference leader and as evangelist made his service all the more dramatic and lovely.

Think of Jesus now. Paul, the Apostle, said He was God in human flesh, but He made Himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a bondservant. That's the word he used, a bondslave. So His esteemed position as the sinless servant of God made what He was about to do all the more dramatic and lovely.

There's a third characteristic I want you to notice. He's a suffering servant. Go back to chapter 52, look at verse 14, "His visage was marred"-- His visage means His face-- "marred more than any other man and His form more than the sons of men."

Listen to that again from the Living Bible. "They shall see my servant beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know it was a person standing there." Do you remember the crowd standing before Pontius Pilate? They wanted blood.

They shouted, "crucify Him." Pilate thought he could placate them by just having Jesus beaten. So he handed Him over to the Roman soldiers to scourge Him. And we've told you before that a Roman scourging, sometimes people died from just that.

There were two soldiers, a whip in each one of the soldier's right hand usually. It was a short handle with leather strips. Embedded into the leather was pieces of glass, metal, bone. The idea is that when the whip went across the back of the victim, it stuck into the flesh, and the soldier would pull back, lacerating the flesh into ribbons.

By the time it was done, the subcutaneous tissues had been broken through. And one historian says even the vital organs could be viewed by those around. As I say, many did not even survive that.

When they brought Jesus back from the Roman scourging, and He stood a second time before Pontius Pilate, Pilate said those famous words in Latin, "ecce homo," "behold the man," as if to say, do you not now pity this poor bloodied creature? Have you not had enough of His punishment? But of course, that wasn't it, was it?

There was more. He was, He was given a cross, or the upper beam of the cross, known as the patibulum, 75 to 100-pound beam placed on his back to carry to the place of execution. He didn't even make it all the way. He had to have help from a man from North Africa, who carried it the rest of the way.

Isaiah, look at verse 4 of chapter 53. Look at some of the words to describe the suffering, "stricken," "smitten by God and afflicted," verse 5, "wounded," "bruised," "His stripes," verse 7, "oppressed," and "afflicted" is again. Look at that phrase in verse 7, "led as a lamb to the slaughter," verse 10, the word, "bruise" and the word, "grief."

Now as you see this in your mind's eye, it should take your breath away because you realize this is Christ. This is the Messiah. This is God's sinless servant experiencing great suffering. It takes our breath away because no other religion has at its heart the humiliation of its God.

He is the sovereign servant, a sinless servant, and a suffering servant, but there's more. And this is really the heart of the passage. He is a substitutionary servant.

Verse 4, "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted, but He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed."

"All we like sheep have gone astray." You wonder what you do, that's your part. You and I, we've gone astray like sheep. We've "turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

Throughout this whole section is the language of substitution. There is a problem that the human race has. It's a fatal disease. Paul summed it up in a single verse, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." That is the collective problem of the human race.

Isaiah touches on that. He mentions in the verses we just read, "our griefs," or literally our sickness, "our sorrows, our transgressions, our iniquities," that's our stuff. To put it in a single sentence, we all have a sorrow that comes from a sickness that is brought on by sinfulness. We all have a sorrow that comes from a sickness that is brought on by sinfulness.

So our disease called sin requires a specialist. It's not a quick fix. It requires a substitute, somebody who's going to take the rap, the punishment, the guilt for us. When we say Jesus died for you, another and better way of saying that is Jesus died instead of you. That's what we mean by "for," He died instead of you.

The theological term is vicarious atonement. You want to impress your friends, throw that one out. Yeah, I believe in the vicarious atonement. Well, if you're a Christian, everybody does.

It just means substitutionary atonement. Somebody died in your place because the wages of sin is death, so somebody has got to die. And the reason we're blessed is because He said, I'll do it. He became your substitute.

I've told you before, when I first heard the gospel, I was watching that television program. Billy Graham was explaining the gospel. I remember thinking these thoughts. As he was explaining the sacrifice on the cross and being born again, I'm listening, and I'm thinking from God's perspective, not a good deal.

This is not a good deal. God is not getting a good deal. In the "Art of the Deal," God's getting a bad deal. He's going to give up His Son. He's going to let His Son suffer like that to get me? Not a good deal for God, but a great deal for me.

And I'd be stupid to pass it up, so I didn't. I needed a substitute, and I knew it. I knew I wasn't good enough. I knew I needed someone to stand in for me.

Let me relay a story to you from 1946. I wasn't even alive then. But here in New Mexico, up at Los Alamos in 1946, they were going through what they called the Manhattan Project. And one of the physicists by the name of Louis Slotin was part of that experiment.

He wanted to determine how much Uranium 235 it took to start an atomic chain reaction. Scientists call it critical mass. So they take two hemispheres, or they did take two hemispheres of uranium and bring them close together, just until they're about to reach critical mass, at which point, the scientist would separate those two hemispheres of uranium. I'm using my hands as an illustration, but that's lethal. So they did it under careful circumstances using a tool, a long kind of like a screwdriver, to pry the two hemispheres of uranium apart.

Well, on one day in 1946, as Louis Slotin and others are in the room, the two hemispheres were brought close together. And just as the tool was being put in to pry them apart, the tool slipped, and the two hemispheres of uranium came together, and the room filled with a bluish haze. Critical mass had been reached.

The physicist instinctively and knowingly reached with his bare hands and grabbed with his fingers the two hemispheres of uranium, pulled them apart. He knew the consequences. Nine days later, he was dead, lethal dose of radiation, but in doing that, seven other people in the room lived. 2,000 years ago, Jesus stepped into the most concentrated form of radiation, critical mass, stopping the chain reaction that sin brought to humanity by taking all of that punishment on Himself.

He was slaughtered so I could be saved. He became a substitute. This is the atonement. This is substitutionary atonement.

If you think about it, the essence of sin is man's substituting himself for God. It's the essence of sin, but the essence of salvation is God substituting Himself for man. He paid the debt that I did not owe.

[CLAPPING]

But there's another thing I want you to see here, another characteristic, and that is, through it all, He was silent. He is a silent servant. Look at verse 7, "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth.

He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth." Now Isaiah is writing this 680 years before Jesus ever experienced that in real time, but that's exactly what happened. He's brought before the chief priests, the high priests, and the Sanhedrin. They hurl accusations at Him that were not true.

We are told that Jesus kept silent. He was also in that trial brought before Herod, who questioned Him with many words, we are told, but Jesus answered him nothing. He even stood before Pontius Pilate.

He had had some words with Pilate. He had told Pilate that He is a King. He had told him that He has a kingdom, and He had told him that He had come for the sake of the truth.

But there came a point where Jesus said nothing. And when Pilate asked Him more questions, we are told, "But Jesus answered him not one word." At that point, it says, Pilate was astonished. Why was he astonished? Because he had seen many prisoners go to a cross before, but none of them were silent.

They were all talking. They were all yelling, saying, I'm innocent, I don't deserve this. You got the wrong guy. He had heard all of that before. Never had he seen someone peppered with questions and accusations, and He's silent.

Now silence can be intimidating. It can, can't it? It's like, oh, this is getting kind of awkward.

You're having a conversation with somebody, and you're talking. And all of a sudden, they look at you right in the eye, and they're completely silent. You're wondering, what are they thinking? Would did I do wrong?

What are they going to say? Oh, oh, you're all freaked out about silence. But at the same time, silence is when you can think. And could it be that Jesus said nothing to Pilate because He had said enough already for Pilate to think about.

Maybe He wanted Pilate to process that before He did anything. And the reason I bring that up, because some of you worry when you say, God isn't speaking to you. You say, I'm experiencing the silence of God.

God is not speaking to me. Could it be that God's silent so that you can think about what you already know to be true before you act on something? Just a thought. He was the silent servant.

Sixth, and finally, and I'll close with this, he's a saving servant. The good news found in verse 15 of chapter 52 is, "So shall He sprinkle many nations." That's a Levitical term. That's when the priest used to sprinkle the Mercy Seat in their ceremony of cleansing with the blood of a lamb, signifying cleansing in that system.

That's how He saves. He will sprinkle many nations. Go down to verse 11 in chapter 53, "He will see the labor of the soul and be satisfied. By His knowledge, my righteous servant shall justify many."

There's that word again. He'll sprinkle "many" nations. He'll justify "many" people. But it's a troubling word, because "many" means "not all."

Not all will be sprinkled. Not all will be saved. Many will, but by virtue of the fact that there are many, many won't. And why is it that many won't?

Many won't because many won't allow Jesus to be their substitute. Many won't admit that they're sinners. Listen, God has a big eraser, but you've got to admit that you've got some smudges for those things that get erased.

And as long as you say, I'm good enough. I'll take my chances when I stand before God. I've done a few good things in life, He'll let me in. Foolish as that is, that's how many people live their life.

They just don't see that they need a substitute for their sin. They don't admit that they have a sin that's big enough, that's bad enough, or wicked enough, so they live their life that way. They don't allow the servant to be the substitute, which would indeed bring salvation.

Well, I want to close on a lighter note. This is from a newspaper, a classified ad in Pretoria, South Africa, was taken out. Now there's a mistake in it.

But they didn't catch the mistake till the next day so it went to print. And it read thus, "The Reverend AJ Jones has a color TV set for sale. Telephone 555-1313 after 7:00 PM, and ask for Mrs. Donnelly, who lives with him cheap."

[LAUGHTER]

You caught the mistake. Next day, the paper printed the correction. And they said this, "We regret any embarrassment caused to Reverend Jones by the typographical error in yesterday's editions. It should have read, "The Reverend AJ Jones has a color TV set for sale cheap. Telephone 555-1313 and ask for Mrs. Donnelly, who lives with him after 7:00 PM."

[LAUGHTER]

Twice they blew it. The next day, the paper put, "The Reverend Jones informs us that he received several annoying phone calls because of incorrect advertisement in yesterday's paper. It should have read, 'The Rev. AJ Jones has a color TV set for sale, cheap. Telephone after 7:00 PM, 555-1313 and ask for Mrs. Donnelly, who loves with him.'"

That's three days, that's three strikes, right. So on the fourth day, the dear old Reverend put this in there. "Please take notice that I, Reverend Jones, have no TV set for sale. I have smashed it. I have not been carrying on with Mrs. Donnelly. She was until yesterday my housekeeper."

Now the moral of that little story is that it's awfully embarrassing to be thought of as guilty when you're not. But you know what's worse? To not think that you are guilty when you are. It's far worse, and that's how vastly the human race lives under the sentence of guilt and death unknowingly, and they will not admit I need a stand-in. I need a savior.

Isaiah 53 answers the most important question and issue ever asked. The most important question ever asked, more important than who's going to win the next election, more important than will my taxes go up, more important than who am I going to marry, more important than what am I going to be when I grow up, what school am I going to go to. Far more important than any of those questions, the most important issue in the world is dealt with in Isaiah 53.

And by the way, I should say, the most avoided question, that is, how can a sinner be made right with God so as to escape eternal punishment and live in eternal heaven. That's the question. That's the pressing question. It's answered here by a stand-in, by a substitute, by the sinless servant of God, Jesus Himself, taking by His suffering and death, the punishment for our sin, dying in our place so that we could be sprinkled, justified.

But until you admit that you have a need and ask him to do something about it, you're under the guilt sentence, the death sentence. And just like this little want-ad, I don't want there to be any miscommunication. You only get to heaven by one thing only, and that is your faith in a single person, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ.

[CLAPPING]

Let's just bow together. Father, we don't know what to say. We're humbled, we're humbled by this great love. We realize in just briefly skimming this text, without even going deep, You don't hate us.

You're not against us. You're for us. And as the apostle said, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" And my answer is, who cares who's against us if God is for us?

And if you're for us, Lord, it's my prayer that we would cooperate with the love that You have directed toward us in this elaborate plan You have staged in history in sending at the right time Your Son to do this act, this service, this act of a servant in going to the point of death being a bondslave, taking the death penalty on Him so that we could trust in that work as done, finished, and receive the benefits. And the benefit is salvation. The benefit is security. The benefit is joy, it's peace.

As our heads are bowed, could it be that you don't personally know the Lord? You've heard about Him. You've heard messages about Him. You live in a family that talks about Him.

But you have never personally asked Jesus to be your Savior and your Lord. You need to do that. If you are unsure at all about where you stand with God, you need to do that. If you are uncertain about where you go when you die, you need to do that. If you've wandered away from God, whatever commitment may have been there in the past, you're not walking with Him today, you need to do that.

Our heads are bowed, our eyes are closed, my eyes will be open. If you are willing and ready to say yes to Jesus as your Savior and your Lord, I want you to raise your hand up in the air, just raise it up so I can see it. Keep it up, if you don't mind, for a moment just so I can acknowledge you.

Thank you, I see your hands in the back, God bless you, on my left. Anybody else, would you raise those hands up, yep, couple of you right up here in the front. Anyone else? Come back home to Him or for the first time come to Him.

In the balcony, awesome, awesome. Right there in the middle, yes, thank you. Anybody else, anyone else? Raise that hand up.

If you're in the family room, yep, I see your hand, thank you. There's just glass separating us, that's all. Just raise that hand up. In the back.

Father, we want to thank You for this awareness that has brought to the human soul of need and the hope that that need will be met in the Lord Jesus Christ. It's such a good thing. It's so wonderful.

We're honored to be a part of that. We love seeing new life. We love seeing new commitment. It spurs us on.

It makes us want to invite more people, to share the good news in a firmer more excited fashion. But I pray for these, Lord, who've raised up the hand and admitted, I have a need. And I want God to touch that need.

I want Him to come into my life and sit on the throne of my heart and take control. Lord, I pray for them. I pray you bring a whole new spring in their step after today.

Reveal Yourself to them, walk with them through life, be their provider, the lover of their soul. May they never have a lonely night again like they've had in the past. In Jesus' name, amen.

Would you please stand to your feet? As we sing this final song, I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hand, even if you're in the family room, you can go through that door up front to the right, wherever you are, balcony, you can come down the stairs. I'm going to ask you to get up from where you're standing and come stand right here, where I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.

Jesus called people publicly. He said, if you confess Me before men, I'll confess you before My Father in Heaven. If you deny Me before men, I'll deny you before My Father in Heaven.

So we want to give you this opportunity. You come, and I'll lead you in that prayer, just stand here. It'll take just a moment.

[CLAPPING]

(SINGING) If you come to the end of yourself, do you thirst for a drink from the well? Jesus is calling. Now come to the altar, the Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ.

Maybe you're outside and you're listening on the loudspeakers or you're in the hub next door, and there's pastors in both of those areas. Right where you are, you could raise your hand in either of those two overflow areas, just let your hand go up, let them see it. They're going to walk you over here to join those who have come.

Won't you come and do that. I'm going to give just a few more moments. I know sometimes it takes a while to process things and think about it. So I want to give you that opportunity to do that.

(SINGING) The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Oh, come to the altar, the Father's arms are open wide.

Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Oh, Jesus Christ, oh, come, oh, come to the altar. Come as you are, come as you are.

Oh, oh, come to the altar. The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

[CLAPPING]

Oh, oh, oh, come, oh, come, oh, the Father's arms are open wide. Oh, come to.

I want you to know that nobody up here is better than anybody out there or up here. Look, we all need God. We all need forgiveness. We all need His work on our behalf.

[CLAPPING]

That's all we're admitting. We're admitting that. It's humbling to admit that you need help. But it's so, it feels so good. Doesn't it feel right that you're up here right now? It feels like the right thing to do, and it is.

And I just remember when I, when I experienced that myself, it's like, yes, yes. So there's a God in Heaven who loves you. He's for you. He's not against you.

He wants you to admit that and to receive what He has for you. And I just know that sometimes with people, it's just some will hear it and immediately do it. Others hear it a second time, and they'll do it. I know people who have listened and heard the message of the gospel for years, and then they finally say yes.

Is there anybody else? You've heard it for years. You need to come and receive His work on your behalf.

Nothing you could ever do is good enough to get you into Heaven. Nothing. Being religious won't get you into Heaven. Being personally good won't get you into Heaven.

Only Jesus can, so we receive His work and His person on our behalf. Anybody else? I'll just throw the net out one more time. Anybody else? Get on up here.

(SINGING) Oh, come to the altar. Oh, oh, come, come to the altar. The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

[CLAPPING]

OK, can I get you to scoot in here a little bit up front. Come on over this way. So I'm going to lead, those of you who have come, I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to ask you to pray these words out loud after me.

Say them from your heart, mean them. You're saying these to God. You're giving Jesus your life. You're asking Him to take your life and to be the master of you.

So as I pray, you say these words from your heart. You say them to God. OK, let's pray. Say, Lord, I give You my life.

Lord, I give You my life.

I know that I am a sinner.

I know that I'm a sinner.

Please forgive me.

Please forgive me.

I believe in Jesus.

I believe in Jesus.

That He died for me.

That He died for me.

That He shed His blood for me.

That He shed His blood for me.

That He rose again.

That He rose again.

That He's alive right now.

That He's alive right now.

I turn from my sin.

I turn from my sin.

I turn to Jesus as my Savior.

I turn to Jesus as my Savior.

And my Lord.

And my Lord.

Help me.

Help me.

In Jesus' name.

In Jesus' name.

Amen.

Amen.

[CHEERING]

Jesus was the perfect servant of the Father in dealing with sin, the most serious problem of the human race. Did this message strengthen your relationship with Christ? Let us know.

Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Albuquerque.

Additional Messages in this Series

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1/8/2017
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Against All Odds
Luke 24:13-35
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In this series, we examine together the remarkable nature of predictive biblical prophecy. The odds of one person in history fulfilling the precise prognostications of Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah are nothing short of staggering. One of the first groups to ever be wowed by it was a few of the disciples after the resurrection of Christ. Their experience went from sorrow to joy in a single afternoon. A similar examination of prophecy will do the same for us.
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1/15/2017
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Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
Matthew 2:1-9; Micah 5:2
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It was the Methodist preacher Phillips Brooks who gave the world the Christmas hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” He was visiting the Holy Land, on road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, when inspiration struck. Bethlehem was where King David was born and where his descendant Jesus Christ would be born. Because of Micah’s prediction made 700 years before Jesus’ birth, four details were anticipated.
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1/22/2017
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The World's Most Unusual Birth
Matthew 1:18-23; Isaiah 7:14
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We've seen how God repeatedly makes specific predictions about a coming Messiah throughout the books of the prophets, adding layers of details that exponentially decrease the odds of any success of their fulfillment. It's one of His unique traits (see Isaiah 41:21-24). Today we come to a prediction that is simply off the charts—the prediction that the Messiah would be virgin-born. We explore a bit of why the virgin birth is not an incidental but an absolute necessity.
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1/29/2017
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Messiah on the Run
Matthew 2:13-23
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Very few events from Jesus’ childhood are even mentioned in Scripture. Much of His upbringing is simply not known. However, three events from Jesus’ early youth are given comment by Matthew because they fulfill prophetic Scripture. These predictions and their subsequent fulfillment tell a larger story and paint a grim picture—and that is the general response of the world to God sending His Son to save.
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2/5/2017
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Why Did Jesus Come?
Matthew 12:18-21
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The prophets of the Old Testament gave hundreds of predictions over 1,500 years about the coming Messiah: where He would be born, how His birth would be different, where He would move to, and where He would be raised. They also predicted events and unique features of His life and ministry. But Matthew shows that Isaiah foretold His character and His conduct. He not only came to this world against all odds; He lived among people against all expectations.
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2/19/2017
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Learning to Tell Time
Galatians 4:3-5; Genesis 49
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We have been examining the amazing prophecies of the Old Testament and how Jesus Christ has fulfilled them. The prophets predicted His lineage, extraordinary birth, places of His residence, and character of His ministry. But why did Jesus come at the time that He did? Why not earlier? Why not later? Were there any indicators that pointed to His timely entrance into the world? Let me suggest there were five things that were just right.
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2/26/2017
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Believing the Miracle-Making Messiah
Matthew 11:1-6
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We have discovered that the evidence that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah as predicted by the ancient prophets was compelling and even overwhelming. Yet not everyone believed in Jesus. And even Jesus’ own forerunner, John the Baptist, struggled with doubts. How can that be? And what evidence is helpful in reasoning through those doubts? Jesus indeed fulfilled Old Testament prophecies, but not all of them…yet! Let’s look together at how Jesus’ miracles provided solid evidence of His identity.
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3/12/2017
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The Visitation
Luke 19:28-44
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What do you suppose the odds would be of someone showing up exactly 483 years after it was predicted he would come? Then add to that the prediction that he would come riding a donkey. Then add to that the prediction that he would not be accepted but rather rejected and subsequently killed. Sound far-fetched? It isn’t. It happened and it’s astounding. Today we continue our series Against All Odds as we consider the stand-alone event Jesus referred to as "the visitation."
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3/19/2017
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The Long-Expected Traitor
John 13:18-19
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We have learned that Jesus’ whole life, ministry, and atoning sacrifice were foreseen and expected by the Old Testament writers. But did you know that His betrayer was also expected and anticipated? The prophets predicted him, and Jesus announced him. Judas had no idea he was fulfilling the Scriptures by being the turncoat—but he was. Let’s also ponder what Jesus knows about us and how we can be a joy and delight to His heart.
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3/26/2017
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Cross Examination
Psalm 22
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Today we begin to examine the cross in light of Old Testament prophecy. Even though the expectation of the Jews at the time of Christ was for a conquering Messiah, the Scripture also paints a picture of a suffering and dying Messiah. This means He would need to come two separate times. In their rejection of Jesus, the people were actually fulfilling the very Scriptures they denied as referring to Christ. Today let’s stand at the foot of the cross and not only examine the event, but also examine our hearts.
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4/16/2017
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An Empty Tomb; A Full Life
Acts 2:22-32
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We have spent twelve weeks examining the remarkable nature of predictive prophecy. We’ve considered the chances of one person in history fulfilling the precise forecasts about the then-coming-Messiah made by the Old Testament prophets. The chances of over 300 predictions all coming true in one individual defies all the odds and challenges the willful unbelief of any detractor. Today, on this Easter Sunday, we especially rejoice that death has been conquered by the same predicted One whose life, death, and resurrection set Him apart from anyone else.
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There are 11 additional messages in this series.