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Man of Sorrows

C Jones, Cardiff

Rejected

The blessed Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ is eternally the delight of God His Father (Mt 3.17; 17.5; Prov. 8.30), but when He came to earth the majority of the Israelites found no delight in Him. He lived in humble circumstances and dwelt in Nazareth, a place which was regarded with contempt. The Lord moved among a people who, despite their privileges, had disobeyed God and turned their backs on Him. The Lord grew up before God like "a root out of a dry ground" (Is 53.2).

When the Lord came to Israel as the Messiah, He did not come as the people would have expected Him to appear. He did not come as a majestic conqueror. There was nothing in the outward appearance of the Perfect Servant, who was made "in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Rom 8.3; Phil 2.7), that would attract the nation to Him (Is 53.2). The Lord was despised and rejected by the majority, who had a low opinion of Him. He was not esteemed (Is 53.3). He "came unto his own, and his own received him not" (Jn 1.11). Even those few who loved Him sometimes saddened Him by their sinful behaviour and unbelief.

Sorrows

The Lord, the source of all true and lasting joy, became "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Is 53.3). In that chapter we see details, written hundreds of years before He came, of what the Lord was to suffer. The Lord is eternally God and yet He became truly man, possessed of a holy humanity, being holy, harmless, undefiled and undefilable (Heb 7.26). His experiences as a man were real, and He knew tiredness and pain.

Sin was abhorrent to Him and He grieved for suffering people. He knew "what was in man" (Jn 2.25), and knew the evil things men were thinking about Him and about other men. Despite all this, He loved them with a holy, eternal, self-sacrificing love. He was a Man of Sorrows throughout His life. The Lord knew the results of sin and its awful consequences, both in this life and in eternity. He was full of love, grace, mercy, sympathy, and compassion. We never read of the Lord laughing, but He knew joy (Jn 15.11; 17.13), and we read of Him rejoicing (Lk 10.21). Three times it is recorded that He shed tears. These tears were shed because of the sorrow and sadness caused by sin. He wept at a grave (Jn 11.35); over a city (Lk 19.41), and in the Garden of Gethsemane where He was "exceeding sorrowful" (Mt 26.38), and prayed to be saved "out of death" (Heb 5.7, JND).

The Lord was treated with contempt and malice and was persecuted by many. How their sin and wickedness must have grieved Him. He endured great "contradiction of sinners against himself" (Heb 12.3): there was so much opposition and hostility against Him. In addition to these things, the Lord always knew every detail of the sufferings which lay ahead of Him when, on the cross, He would glorify God and make possible our salvation. He bore our sins on the cross. He bore them alone with none to comfort. He was forsaken by the nation (Jn 19.15), by His disciples (Mt 26.56), and ultimately He was forsaken by His God (Mt 27.46; Ps 22.1). The Lord was forsaken so that our sins could be forgiven, and so that we would never be forsaken (Heb 13.5) but be with Him eternally.

Before being nailed to the cross the Lord was tortured, spat upon, mocked and insulted. He suffered all this in dignified silence. The sinless Lamb of God (Jn 1.29), of whom it had been said, "Never man spake like this man" (Jn 7.46), "(opened) not his mouth" (Is 53.7). In Lamentations 1.12 we read, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow". How these words could be applied to the Lord’s sorrows as He hung on the cross, and the soldiers, religious people and others watched Him. God, His Father, "laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Is 53.6). All though His life on earth the Lord was perfectly and absolutely obedient to the will of God, His Father (Phil 2.8), whom He loved (Jn 14.31), and glorified (Jn 17.4). We see love, grace, meekness and patience displayed by the Lord during His trials and torture, and when He was on the cross. He cried, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Lk 23.34). He showed such love for those who added to His suffering, and for us whose sin caused His sorrows.

Each believer can say that He "loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal 2.20). It was only the Lord Jesus Christ who could make atonement for our sins. He was made "to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor 5.21). Although some would think that God was punishing the Lord for His own sins, He was, in fact, suffering for the sin of the whole world (Jn 1.29; l Jn 2.2). He was pierced through for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and the punishment He endured obtained peace with God for us (Is 53.4-5; Rom 5.1; Col 1.20). The precious blood He shed made possible the forgiveness of our sins (Heb 9.22). His soul was "an offering for sin" (Is 53.10). The offering referred to is the Trespass Offering which required restitution of 120% of the thing stolen (Lev 6.5). Through the wonderful, holy life and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, God received more glory and honour than He lost through man’s sin. Concerning the sacrifice and suffering of the Lord on the cross, we read, "They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head…then I restored that which I took not away" (Ps 69.4). He died the accursed death of the cross (Gal 3.13), and bore, as our substitute, the wrath of God against sin. Now, those of us who have been saved by grace through God-given faith in the Person and work of the Lord are "justified by his blood", and "shall be saved from wrath through him" (Rom 5.9).

The Lord, in becoming a dependent Man, walking a sinless path, was entirely pleasing to His Father. He learned what it was to suffer. Son of God though He was, He learned "obedience by the things which he suffered" (Heb 5.8). The Lord, the Perfect Servant, learned through experience the cost of obedience. He became a Man of Sorrows, and in so doing was made the perfect Saviour and "the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Heb 5.9). His holy Being was revolted by sin, and by the agony entailed in suffering the wrath of God against sin, and yet He said, "not my will, but thine, be done" (Lk 22.42), and bore "our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness". By His stripes we have been healed (1 Pet 2.24).

The majority of people still despise and reject the Lord, saying, in effect, "We will not have this man to reign over us" (Lk 19.14). His rejection by the majority only serves to emphasise the grace by which believers come to know Him as Lord and Saviour.

Satisfied

The Lord knew before the world was created (1 Pet 1.20; Eph 1.4) that He would come to earth as God manifest in flesh (1 Tim 3.16), live in poverty, become a Man of Sorrows, and suffer, bleed and die on a cross as a substitute for lost sinners. What was it that could cause the Lord to leave the joy and bliss of heaven, where He was loved, honoured, worshipped and obeyed, to come down to this sin-ridden world? The Lord came to do the will of God, to obey, honour and glorify His Father whom He loved, and to make possible our salvation, for He "loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Eph 5.25). It was the will of God that He should come, and God sent Him into the world (Gal 4.4). The Lord’s will was His Father’s will, and He delighted to do His Father’s will (Ps 40.8). He did all things well (Mk 7.37), He always did the things which pleased His Father (Jn 8.29), and He finished the work His Father had given Him to do (Jn 17.4).

The Lord "shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied" (Is 53.11). He endured the cross and despised the shame for the joy that was set before Him, and the risen Lord is now seated on the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12.2). He looked beyond the cross to the glory that would follow (1 Pet 1.11). His joy comes from glorifying His Father, doing His will and seeing sinners saved. The Lord will be satisfied when He sees the results of His sufferings, sorrows and agonies. He will present us "faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy" (Jude v.24). His redeemed will be with Him eternally, enjoying the glory He had with His Father before the world was (Jn 17.5,24). Well might we sing, as often we do:

"Man of sorrows!" what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

Father, Thy Son is All To Thee;
Thy heart for ever joys in Him.
Thou, above all, His Beauties see;
How bright they shine and never dim.
Endless His Glories stand supreme;
His Worth is heav’ns eternal theme.

His Love for Thee, Thy love for Him;
To understand, is out of reach.
Angelic hosts and cherubim,
Face, too, a height they cannot breach.
And yet Thy love, to us - the same !
O, how we praise Thy holy Name.

Concluded.

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