A Man of Sorrows
“Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53: 4)
The culmination of Jesus’ sorrows on earth took place on the Cross. He cried, “It is finished”; He was satisfied that He had carried out His Father’s will. He suffered an ignominious death – scarred, scourged, spurned, spat on, bloodied, wounded and insulted. He offended the religious leaders by doing good. His words made such an impact on His listeners that when soldiers were sent to arrest Him they returned without Him and said, “Never man spoke like this Man.” (John 7:46). His words of wisdom and power and love drew large audiences that incited the envy of His detractors, the rabbis and those who thought themselves to be important.
His acts of mercy and kindness annoyed them, not only was it not in their nature to be kind and merciful, but they saw that He had power that was above that of human origin. His healings alone gave testimony to this. Yet, their envy blinded them to the fact that only God could have given Him such power and so they permitted His righteousness to upset them, because it showed up their self-righteousness, their unrighteous behaviour, their false beliefs. ( Mark 7:8) “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do." Their criticism of His healing on the Sabbath was an excuse to make Him appear unworthy, to lessen His popularity with the people. Jesus was saddened by the heartlessness of these people who professed to be holier-than-thou, walking about parading themselves with their tassels at the hem of their robes. “But all their works they do for to be seen of men; they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.” (Matt. 23:5). .
Jesus wept over Jerusalem with the realisation that those He came to bring the good news to, “the lost sheep of the house of Israel”, not only spurned His efforts but were plotting to kill Him and get Him out of their way. How often He would have covered them like a hen protects her brood of chicks (Matt. 23:37). His divinity allowed Him to see the hearts of men and it was with sorrow that He spotted the wickedness in Judas’ heart that caused Him to comment that one of you will betray Me, the one who dips his hand in the sop with me (Matt. 26: 21-23). Peter’s denial of knowing Him was all part of the sorrow He bore, but this He also knew before-hand as He warned Peter that he would deny Him three times before the cock crowed twice (Matt.26: 69-74).
His human sensibilities caused dread to enter His heart when confronted with the task of saving mankind from its sins. The challenge was so great that if it were possible He wished the ‘cup’ to pass from Him, but accepted that it was the Father’s will and not His (Matt. 26:39). The Amplified Bible states In Hebrews 5:7 “He was heard because of His reverence towad God (His godly fear, His piety, in that He shrank from the horrors of separation from the bright presence of the Father.”) On the Cross, when darkness spread across the land, Jesus experienced extreme loneliness, cut off from His Father as He bore the sins of the world. He cried out, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1) His sorrow was so great, so deep-felt, so immense, so overpowering, as disquiet at being separated from His Father entered His being. He knew the Jews were very well acquainted with Psalm 22 and that it pointed to the Messiah. It was His way of directing their minds back to this Messianic psalm.
Psalm 22: 6 states “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. (7) All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying. (8) He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. (13) They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. (14) I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. (15) My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou has brought me into the dust of death. (16) For dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. (17) I may tell all my bones; they look and stare upon me. (18) They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” These acts have been fulfilled in the death of Christ (Matt. 27:28-35).
In verse 16 “dogs” is a term the Jews used when referring to the gentiles. They being acquainted with this psalm should have been able to see a correspondence between its words and the manner of His death. However, they blinded their minds and their thoughts with their hatred and so remained obdurate in the evidence of truth. This Man of Sorrows, startled the world with incredible joy to many and unbelievable anguish to others by His resurrection. However, His resurrection gave rise to Christianity, and very many, through His apostles, became followers of Jesus Christ, becoming members in the Christian Faith. Many are still turning towards Him up to this day.