The Suffering Servant
“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)
This was how Isaiah describes Jesus some 600 years before his birth that first Christmas: the “Suffering Servant.” Have you ever wondered why God did it this way? Why not the “Victorious Servant” or the “Popular Servant?” Why the manger and cattle and shepherds instead of a palace and noble entourage?
Here’s what I think. Because of our sin and our sinful world, suffering is part of the human experience. We needed a Savior, not only with a solution for sin, but one who could relate to us…someone “familiar with suffering.”
Three times we know from the Scriptures, human suffering drove Jesus to tears. In the most famous, he wept for his friend Lazarus when he died: “Jesus wept (John 11:35).” This should give us strong insight into how Jesus feels about our friends and family members who die. God grieves for us as we go through difficult times.
Another time, Jesus wept as he looked out over Jerusalem and pondered that city’s fate: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! She who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, yet you were not willing (Matthew 23:37)!” When Jesus cried over Jerusalem, he was grieving the city’s coming judgment. God grieves over us as we go our own way instead of following him.
Finally, we see Jesus weep in Hebrews 5:7, “During His earthly life, He offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence (Hebrews 5:7).” Here we see Jesus struggling with his own fate, grieving with us.
It is one thing to empathize with someone, but it is something completely different to do something about it. Jesus joined us in our suffering, leaving heaven for a manger…for a cross. As John reminds us: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).”
Join us Sunday as we study Isaiah 53 and examine the question, “Does God Care?”