The Man of Sorrows

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:3

I’ve been very fortunate in my life. I’ve always been, for the most part, a happy kind of guy. Yes, there have been the inevitable moments of sadness, such as when my grandparents died, but I’ve always managed to bounce back from these brief periods. I’ve also been very fortunate to have had a wonderful group of friends around me. I have two close friends who I have known forever, and a group of old school friends who I am still very close to, plus the usual work colleagues and people I’ve met through various activities I’ve been involved with. It’s been a pretty good thirty years!

In our current Mark Marathon passage, Jesus challenges Peter to say who he thinks he is. Peter replies that Jesus is the Christ, and he is of course correct in this. He has the wrong understanding of what the Christ is, however. Yesterday, we saw that it is possible to get a picture of an all-powerful messiah from the Old Testament prophecies. What we have today, though, is radically different. Far from the picture of the all-powerful conquering hero, we have a vision of a “man of sorrows,” a man, who unlike me, is all too familiar with sadness. We have the image of a man who was “despised and rejected,” who had few friends he could call upon who were loyal and trustworthy. This prophecy tells us that the messiah was familiar with suffering, was despised, and not held with the esteem he deserved. This is far from the vision of the messiah we saw yesterday, and far from Peter’s view of the messiah.

Both are true, of course. Jesus is all-powerful. He is God. Yet he chose to become like the lowliest of men, and to experience loss, pain and suffering like most of us have never, nor will ever experience.

Why did he do this? He did this for you and me. He did this so that we can be reconciled to his father, to our heavenly father, despite our sin. Never has anyone done as much for me as Jesus has. He died for me on the cross, dying in the most painful way imaginable.

He also experienced the very worst of life here on earth. When we complain to God, he knows how we’re feeling, because he has experienced it – and even more than we have.

Love like that demands a response. We should seek to honour God in all that we do. We should seek to live according to his rules, and to shine as a beacon of God’s love for everyone to all around us.

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