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Study Notes for the Sunday Mass, November 24, 2013

 

Isaiah was a prophet to the Southern Kingdom of Judah shortly after the Northern Kingdom (called Israel) was conquered by Assyria in 722 BC.  Isaiah brought a dire message to Judah that God was going to use a foreign nation to judge them, like what had just happened to Israel. 

He also proclaimed a message of hope and restoration including a promise that a Messiah would come to restore all that would be taken from God’s chosen people.  He said regarding this future Ruler, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (7:14).  He continued, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6).  Isaiah’s Book then moved onto the near term prediction about the coming invasion by Babylon.

 

Isaiah is one of the most important prophets because of all of the information he provided regarding the coming Messiah.  Chapter 53 is one of the books that present day Jews are prohibited from reading. After you read this section, you will understand why because it provides some profound insights into the nature of Jesus. 

1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.  (Isaiah 53:1-6)

Jesus, Isaiah said, would be a man of plain appearance (v. 2), a person well acquainted with the trials of life (v. 3).  He said that the Messiah would bear the sorrows of the people (v.4) and be “pierced for their transgressions” (v. 5a) and the Lord would cause Him to atone for all of our sin (v. 6c).  Later in this same chapter Isaiah gave more intimate details about how Jesus would die.  He said, “Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors” (v.12).  Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that Isaiah said that 1. Jesus would be proclaimed “great” on that day (a sign was hung over His head stating that He was the King of the Jews), 2. His possessions would be divided, and 3. He would be killed alongside of others.  How remarkable is it that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled to the exact detail, as we will see in the Gospel reading today. 

Moving from Isaiah’s predication about the events at Calvary let’s take a look at what Saint Paul had to say to the Colossians in the second reading today.

12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.  Colossians 1:12-20

Paul provided some deep truths about the nature of our relationship to God as believers in Jesus Christ.  These truths are so profound that it’s hard to comprehend all that Paul said in this short section.  He said that “we have been delivered from the devil’s kingdom” (v.13), which is Satan’s empire (Matthew 4:9) into which we became citizens when were born.  However, after we were born from above (John 3:3) through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9) God forgave our sins and transferred us into His holy kingdom (Col 1:14).  God created everything for His own purposes (v. 16) and He is the Head of the Church, the preeminent One (v.18, also John 3:16 “the only begotten Son”).  It was through Jesus’ death on the cross as the sin bearer that He made peace with us through His precious blood that was poured out for us (v.20).  The peace that Jesus earned for us extends not only to the earth but to the entire universe including heaven (v. 20).  

These truths about our new life in Christ are so deep that it reminds me of the words of the Christian hymn “How Great Though Art” of which verse three reads as follows. 

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,

Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;

That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,

He bled and died to take away my sin.

Jesus bore our burdens on the cross.  He did it gladly knowing that through His finished work there He would take away our sin and disarm the powers of darkness (Col 2:15).  With these truths in mind let us move into the Gospel lesson. 

In the Gospel this week in Luke Chapter 23, we jump forward to the Good Doctor’s account of the crucifixion of Jesus.  This is a sudden turn of events since last week in Chapter 21 Jesus gave a prediction of the destruction of the temple and looked forward to the time of His second coming.  Read the lesson for today and pay particular attention to the insights that you picked up from Isaiah 53.

32 And two others also, who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death with Him. 33 And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. 34 But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. 35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One." 36 And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, "If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!" 38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS." 39 And one of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." 42 And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" 43 And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."  Luke 23:32-43

It played out exactly as Isaiah said it would.  Jesus had his possessions divided (v.34), was crucified with others (v.32), and proclaimed to be a King (v.38).  Yet even at the hour of His death Jesus showed compassion for others. First, Jesus prayed to God the Father to forgive the people that were bringing about his crucifixion.  He said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (v.34a).

Second, when one of the criminals on the cross expressed repentance and faith in Him (v.42) Jesus told him, “today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”  Isn’t it amazing that this criminal’s simple faith resulted in Jesus’ promise of eternal life with Him in heaven in spite of the fact that he wasn’t baptized and had never gone to church or synagogue? 

What is the relevance and importance of Luke’s teaching for us in our lives today?  First, we can be reassured that like the repentant thief on the cross since we too have repented of our sin and trusted in Jesus’ finished work on the cross that we will be and are saved.  Second, we can trust that we won’t receive what we deserve for our deeds but will instead receive rich blessings from God purely as a result of His grace and not as a result of anything that we have done to earn it (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Since Jesus already entered His Kingdom these blessings will come to us in both the present time and also in the future when we meet Jesus face to face.  “And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,

Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in.  How great Thou art!”

Bottom Line: Questions for Reflection

1.  Read and reflect upon Paul’s Letter the Colossians, Chapter 1 verses 13-14: 

“For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

What are the some practical implications of what these verses mean in your life as a believer in Jesus?  Answer this question in light of the following contexts:

- When I am feeling afraid

- When I am feeling that evil people are encompassing me

- When I feel that I need to try harder to be a better person and not miss Mass


Readings for the Week  

Note: For a listing of readings for the Roman Catholic Mass visit this web site: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112413.cfm   Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading 2 Samuel 5:1-3 (plus skipped verses 4-5)

2 Samuel 5:1-5 NASB 1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, "Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. 2 "Previously, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and in. And the LORD said to you, 'You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel.'" 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the LORD at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. 5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah.

Second Reading Colossians 1:12-20

Colossians 1:12-20 NASB 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Gospel Reading Luke 23:35-43 plus skipped verses 32-33

Luke 23:32-43 NASB 32 And two others also, who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death with Him. 33 And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. 34 But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. 35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One." 36 And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, "If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!" 38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS." 39 And one of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 "And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." 42 And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" 43 And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."

Source(s):

Online Scripture verses for most Bible versions can be found at:  http://www.biblegateway.com/

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

 

About the Author:
Jim Hill
Author: Jim Hill
Jim Hill lives in Winona Lake, Indiana and is married to Dr. Christy Hill. He is employed in the software industry for a firm that develops and sells document scanning and forms processing software. His wife Christy is a professor at Grace Theological Seminary. Jim has earned a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Grace Theological Seminary, a Master's of Business Administration from the University of Detroit - Mercy, and a Bachelor's of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Western Michigan University. He was born in a loving Catholic family and faithfully attended the Church for the first 35 years of his life. His desire is for Christians to study the Bible and this is why he writes the Sunday Mass Study Notes each week.

Tags: Thief on the cross, isaiah 53, how great thou art, col 1:12_20, luke 23:32_43

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For a listing of readings for the Roman Catholic Mass visit: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB
Online Scripture verses for most Bible versions can be found at:
http://www.biblegateway.com/