A Man of Sorrows
(Isaiah 53:1-6, Luke 12:49-59, 1 Cor. 11:18-19, Phil. 3:10)
We have just passed through the time of year where we remember Jesus’ death and resurrection. And many of us are familiar with the passage from Isaiah. I often think of Jesus going through life with the increasing awareness of His destiny. He learned obedience by the things He suffered, by all the experiences of His time here in mortal flesh. As I read those words of the prophet, recorded for us, the words of vs. 3 and 4 struck me. He is despised and rejected and a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. It is present tense. He is still rejected and despised by many. And many still hide their faces and do not want to know a suffering savior.
Before we go on, I would remind us of His joy. Jesus was going to the cross to know again the glory He had with our Father before the world was. Wow. For the joy set before Him, He endured immeasurable pain and demonic and hellish horror. The joy was to be released to His Father and to have us with Him, one with Him in Spirit. And He wanted our joy to be full. All this He prayed as recorded in John 17. When we receive Him, He rejoices with all heaven. For years when I heard, the joy of the Lord is my strength, I thought it meant my joy toward Him. As years went on, I realized it is His joy over me that gives me strength. He rejoices over us with singing. Isn’t that amazing? He is glad when we know Him as Father and come to Him..
Life here in this present evil age is not all joyful. We have trouble. We suffer loss. We allow abuse as we grow in love. The full evidence that we belong to our Father is that we love our enemies, that we bless those who use and abuse us. The Lord will not allow it forever. He does bring release from the situations that oppress. Back to vs. 3 and 4. Some considered Jesus’ crucifixion as a judgement of God on Him. It makes me think of Job’s friends. Those who were supposed to be Jesus’ own people hated Him and wanted Him out of the way. Yet God gave Him the twelve and the women who traveled with them. They were friends but none really understood. He knew loneliness and so would slip away to commune with His Father. He knew where He was going and had the strength of spirit to press through to the end.
We rightly follow acts of faith and obedience including baptism. Without belaboring our understanding, it is about immersion and we ought to comprehend it signifies our death and resurrection. And Christ alone baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire. Consider Jesus own final baptism. I refer to the passage in Luke. He first mentions that He sends fire on the earth. Then He mentions this baptism He has before Him and He is distressed till it is accomplished. In the words of the old King James, He says, “How I am straightened till it is accomplished”. How he is pressed in, even narrowed, to fulfill His calling, the purpose for which He was sent. He knew the time of His cross was drawing nearer. As the son of man, He overflowed with the life of the Holy Spirit. And it was by the strength of that Spirit, He went through and endured the cross.
So Isaiah spoke that He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. He appeared to be suffering and distressed, and He was! Only He understood what was happening as He walked on in perfect union with our Father. As we are misunderstood, as we see ourselves walking a separated life that even family members do not understand, we begin to share in His suffering. And as Jesus says in the passage from Luke the fire upon the earth brings divisions. So Paul writes to the Corinthians and addresses the divisions among them so that those who are approved may be evident. In 1 Cor, 11:19, the word translated as factions is actually heresies. Hear this, Paul does not say factions should exist, but they do. He says heresies exist. The approval of God is with those who hold the truth while heresies exist. Heresy simply means what is false. The church has false teaching because we hold to our own understandings. I, with the Spirit, plead that we drop our own understandings and traditions and cleave to all the truth which is in Christ. Agree with the Father and the Son, by the Spirit, who is the anointing of wisdom and understanding. That is the stream of life which is ever flowing and will flow out of every one who truly believes and trusts in the uniquely born Son of God. May we grow into the truth which is in Christ alone.