Isaiah 50:4-9a1NIV New International Version Translations
4 The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. 5 The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away. 6 I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. 7 Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. 8 He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! 9 It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who will condemn me?
In chapter 50, we find the following:
- Those to whom God sends His messenger to are justly charged with bringing all the troubles they were in upon themselves because of their own willfulness and obstinacy. God would have helped them had they been worthy of deliverance, Isa. 50:1-3.
- He who God sends produces his own commission (Isa. 50:4), and states his own readiness to submit to all the services and sufferings he was called to in the execution of it (Isa. 50:5, 6), and assures himself that God, who sent him, would stand by him and bear him out against all opposition, Isa. 50:7-9.
- A message about life and death, good and evil, the blessing and the curse, comfort to desponding saints and terror to presuming sinners, Isa. 50:10, 11.
- Now all this seems to address two groups:
- To the unbelieving Jews in Babylon, who quarreled with God for his dealings with them, and to the prophet Isaiah, who, though the dead long before their captivity. Yet, by prophesying so plainly and fully, God saw fit to produce Isaiah’s credentials and to justify what Isaiah had been saying.
- To the unbelieving Jews in our Savior’s time, who by their own fault were rejected. Christ himself, having preached much to them and suffered much from them all while being supported by God’s divine power.
The contents of chapter 50 is telling us that Christ shows that the dereliction of the Jews is not to be blamed on Him or His ability to save them, by His obedience in the work He came to do, and by Christ’s confidence in divine assistance from God. Isaiah thus concludes with an exhortation to trust in God and not in ourselves.
Here ‘tongue’ refers to Isaiah’s authority to speak God’s message. He qualifies to be God’s messenger, because God has taught him what to say (see Jeremiah 1:9. Ezekiel 3:27). Moreover, God had comforted Isaiah so he can also speak from personal experience (see Isaiah 40:1-2). Isaiah must listen carefully. That is, not only to hear God’s words, but also to understand God’s meaning. Isaiah is willing to suffer for God. To pull out the hairs of a man’s beard was not only painful. It was the traditional way to bring shame upon a man (see Isaiah 7:20; Isaiah 15:2; Nehemiah 13:25). Because Isaiah trusts God and knows that God will help him, shame and insult cannot hurt him.
That is why makes his face as hard as stone. Flint, was considered the hardest known material in Isaiah’s day, even harder than steel. So Isaiah challenges his listeners and says: I know that nothing and nobody can cause me shame. My defender is near me. He will prove that I am innocent. Let my accuser dare to meet us in court. Let him bring his evidence against me. Because God will help him, nobody will be able to say that he is guilty. Isaiah has complete confidence in the God’s judgment. Even though they will attack Isaiah, the attacks of those who oppose him will be too weak to succeed.
Items for Discussion
- When you give someone advice about God, how do you know you are giving a truthful message?
- What are we to take from verse 7 – Another way to look at this is how are we to act when sharing the gospel’s message with others?
- What were the qualifications that Isaiah listed about himself?
- How does suffering for your opinion or beliefs strengthen your message?
28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” 41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
We are given the story of Palm Sunday in these verses. The story has two components: Christ enters Jerusalem on a colt, a young donkey (28-40) and Christ laments over Jerusalem. (41-48). This story of His triumphant entry into the city often overshadows the short lament that follows. William Barklay, a noted theologian, offers this insight. Christ sees into the future of this beautiful city (70 A.D.) when the Roman General Titus will lay siege to Jerusalem. Josephus, mayor of the city at the time of the siege, documents that 1.1 million people were killed of which a majority were Jewish and that 97,000 were captured and enslaved. The city was physically destroyed and looted. Prior to the siege, prophets cautioned city leaders about staying in the city stating that God wanted the people to escape to the mountains. Leaders ignored this advice and most of the deaths were due to starvation because all Titus had to do is park his army outside the city walls and wait until all of the provisions ran out. Aside from Christ’s impending death, Christ carries the burden of seeing what punishment is about to impact the Jewish nation.
Verses 28-40 – We have here the same account of Christ’s riding in some sort of triumph (such as it was) into Jerusalem which we had before in Matthew and Mark. Christ was coming forward and willing to suffer and die for us. Christ is entitled to a dominion over all the creatures, and may use them when and as He pleases. So Christ sent others to fetch an ass and her colt from their owner’s and master’s crib when He needed them. He did so because all the beasts of the forest are His. Because Christ has all men’s hearts both under His eye and in His hand, He could influence those to whom the ass and the colt belonged to so they would consent to their taking them away.
When Christ came to Jerusalem, God put into the hearts of the whole multitude of the disciples, not only of the twelve, but many more, that were disciples at large, to rejoice and praise God (v. 37), and the spreading of their clothes in the way (v. 36) was a common expression of joy, as at the feast of tabernacles.
Pharisees would silence the praises of Christ, but they cannot gain their point; for as God can out of stones raise up children for Abraham, so he can raise out of the mouths of those in Jerusalem perfect praise.
Verses 41-48 – The great Ambassador from heaven is here making his public entry into Jerusalem, not to be respected there, but to be rejected. Christ knew what He was throwing himself into and yet we see here instances of His love for that place and His concern for its future.
- The tears He shed for the approaching ruin of the city (v. 41): When He came near, He marvels at the city, and then weeps over it. Probably, it was when He was coming down the descent of the hill from the mount of Olives, where He had a full view of the city, the large extent of it, and the many stately structures in it, and His eye affected His heart, and His heart His eye again.
- There is a time of fellowship when those things which belong to our peace are known by us, and known to be good. When we enjoy the means of grace in times of plenty, and have the word of God powerfully preached to us—when the Spirit strives with us, and our own consciences are startled and awakened—then is the time of fellowship with Christ which moves us to grow in faith.
- With those that have long neglected the time of their fellowship with Christ, if at length, if at last, in this their day, their eyes are to be opened and all will be well. No one is to be refused who come into the vineyard at the eleventh hour. But we are cautioned here. It is the amazing folly of multitudes that enjoy the means of grace, but it will be a fatal consequence to them if they do not improve their opportunities. While the things of their peace are revealed to them, their minds are not transformed. They hide their eyes from Christ’s message as if He was not worth taking notice of. They are not aware of the accepted time and the day of salvation, and to let it slip and perish through mere carelessness. None are as blind as those that will not see; nor have any the things of their peace more certainly hidden from their eyes than those that turn their back upon them.
The sin and folly of those that persist in a contempt of the gospel’s message of grace bring a great grief to Jesus, and it should the same to us. Christ looks with weeping eyes upon lost souls that continue in their sinful ways and run headlong into their own ruin. Christ rather that they would turn and live than go on and die, for He does not want any to perish.
Items for Discussion
- The imagery of a king riding into a conquered city on a young colt symbolizes that the king brings peace. Why do you think that the same people that welcomed Christ as a king would let Him die a few days later?
- Why were the people of Jerusalem so easily led astray by poor leadership?
- Do these risks remain in our society today?
- What does Jesus’ compassion for the city of Jerusalem tell you about Him?
- If the definition of “piece” means a portion of an object or of material, produced by cutting, tearing, or breaking the whole, what do you think we should be doing with our own journeys’ in life? Hint: it also has been used as a slang expression to mean far, going further than one imagined, traveling beyond the imagined distance.
- How do we teach our communities and nations about both the gospel’s message of hope and message of risks of failure – failure that is to transform ourselves, our hearts, into offspring of Christ?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations