A Man of Sorrows

“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”

Isaiah 53:3

What a picture of the relationship between our Saviour and His creation. Rejected by all, despised and mistreated, we did not even recognize the greatness of the One who stood before us. Isaiah pictures not only Jesus at His first coming and the way He was treated by the children of Israel, those on whom He had poured out His love, but also how mankind was to treat Him to this day.

He is a Man of great sorrow. He is also a Man of great love. The scriptures say that God is love, and the reason for His sorrow is because of His great love for us! “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8. We may not have esteemed Him, but He esteemed us enough to endure the cross of Calvary. His grief came from the fact that He knew most of these dear people whom He loved would not love Him back. They would not recognize Him as the King of the universe, the Most Holy God, the Creator of all that exists. He was grieved by the knowledge that one day they would be burned up and destroyed forever, that even after His great sacrifice, most would not submit to His authority, choosing rather to die loving their sins. Oh, how this grieved our Saviour to the depths of His soul.

The Son of God—a term that we use, but do not understand, for we are but mere mortals with a limited understanding of the things of heaven. We will never fully understand God for He is so far above us that it will take an eternity to really know Him. Yet if we were to take the time to try to know our Lord, He would open the treasures of heaven to bestow on us knowledge for the saving of our souls. Jesus came “that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10, last part. That life of abundance was not only a life on this earth, but the life of the new earth that would be recreated for us so that we would finally have a true abundant life. “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:13. Our life of abundance is the richness of being combined with Jesus, or “yoked” with Him.

The Bible records two times that Jesus wept. Neither time was for Himself. The first time was for His dear friend Lazarus. He did not weep for him so much as for the sorrow of his sisters. He also wept because of the unbelief of those around Him. The death of Lazarus was designed to show all the power of God that dwelled within Him naturally. He knew the agony that Mary and Martha were feeling, and He could relate to them. As He looked around at His disciples, Jesus also saw their bewilderment at why He had tarried and not gone immediately to Lazarus’ side when He had heard of his sickness. He was a Man of sorrows because He was surrounded by unbelief.

The death of Lazarus was to show in a marked manner that Jesus was the Creator of all life. So, in John 11:35, it simply says, “Jesus wept.” All the sorrow that was felt by everyone around Him affected the Saviour. He was a Man of great sympathy. He went back with Mary and asked where they had laid Lazarus. No one, not Mary, nor Martha, nor His disciples, understood what Jesus was about to do when He ordered them to remove the stone that covered the tomb. He was about to relieve their sorrow. “Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ ” Verse 43. Jesus understood their grief and their sorrow because He was a Man of sorrow and grief also. He can “sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15. He loved Lazarus as He loves all of us, but Jesus had a special relationship with Lazarus. He spent much time at his home when He needed solitude from the crowds. He was not worried about the death of Lazarus because He knew He had the power to raise him up at that time and again at the end of the world at the resurrection of all His faithful disciples.

The second time Jesus wept was when He was about to enter Jerusalem. Here were a people that He had carved out of the world. He had rescued them from Egypt. He had fed them in the wilderness. He had witnessed their apostasy repeatedly. He had born long with them and loved them. They were His chosen people. He had given them much instruction and had given them in Moses a type of Christ or saviour. He endured their treachery when they killed His prophets, and in love He rebuked them. Now as Jesus stood looking down at Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit impressed upon Him that most of His beloved children would reject Him. Some would even seek to kill Him. Again, He did not weep for Himself. He knew that He was about to be betrayed, rejected, mocked, and scourged, and eventually crucified on the cross. His thoughts were not on this as He looked at the people. His sorrow was because so many would be lost.

Jesus came to save the lost. “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Matthew 18:11. He is the Great Shepherd who came to save His lost sheep. But as He looked at the great city of His people, He saw that they did not know His voice. They wanted a great king to deliver them from the yoke of the Roman Empire, but they were not willing to wear the yoke that joined them with Jesus. He lamented over Jerusalem for He knew He was about to lose most of them forever. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one 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, but you were not willing!” Matthew 23:37

Even as they gathered on the street to welcome Him in His triumphant entrance, their expectations were for a conquering king, not a meek and lowly Saviour. The hardest thing Jesus endured was not the cross, but the rejection by those who said they loved and followed Him. Today, He is still sorrowing over all who will not hear His voice. If we as mortal beings can mourn and weep over the loss of a loved one, how much more understandable is it for the Creator to mourn and weep over the loss of billions for whom He sacrificed His life to make eternal life possible for them. Yet, just as the children of Israel of old esteemed Him not, we as His new children do not esteem Him as we should. We call on His name in our agony, in our sickness, in our distress, but then forget about Him in our joy and in our successes. Throughout this world’s history, so many people have forgotten about Him in their peace and happiness, but call upon His name when tragedy strikes.

He is a Man of sorrows because His people are no more faithful today than they were in the days of ancient Israel. Even the most devout Christian might be holding something back from God deep inside themselves. The Pharisees were devout and studious. They were the leaders of God’s professed people. They had an outward showing of piety and holiness, but Jesus called them whitewashed tombs. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” Matthew 23:27. They had the appearance of godliness, but lacked the power of a changed life. Are we “whitewashed tombs,” but inside have not given ourselves to Jesus? It is a question each of us must ask of ourselves. Are we causing Jesus to sorrow over us as He did over Jerusalem?

There is nothing exciting about Jesus to make a person want Him, except the words He speaks to our hearts. He has no beauty like a movie star; there is no glamour in His appearance. “He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” Isaiah 53:2, last part. His power is in His character. We are told that we should have His character, which is His glory. We can partake of His glory if we esteem Him more than the things of this world. “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:4. He will not win our hearts through His good looks as man judges. His character is His beauty, and if we do not possess the character of Jesus, then we will not have the right to His kingdom.

“To Moses, the character of God was revealed as His glory. In like manner, we behold the glory of Christ by beholding His character. Paul says: ‘We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory [from character to character] even as by the Spirit of the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 9, 296

“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground.” Isaiah 53:2, first part. Jesus was vulnerable. His heart was soft. He loved much. He grew up in Nazareth, a pretty rough town, yet He loved and cared for all the people. He was not always treated nicely, yet never was there a spark of anger or hatred to be found in Him. He was a “tender plant” that God continued to water with His Spirit, just like He will do for us if we submit to Him. Jesus was the Root. Without a strong root, a plant cannot grow and survive. Jesus is the strong Root to which we can be grafted. Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1. He is the strong vine root that goes deep into the ground. He does not get His strength from mankind because He was planted in dry ground. There was no support for Him in this world. The ground around Him—the spirituality of the people on this earth—was as dry ground. His strength came from above just as our strength can come from Jesus, our example.

The good news is that Jesus did not let this deter Him. He did not let the world lead Him; He led the world by His example. He was smitten for our salvation. “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4. Jesus bore our grief, our sorrows to the cross. The Father in heaven sacrificed His precious Son to be beaten, cursed, spit upon. He allowed Him to be afflicted by whips and a thorny crown. God allowed Him to be humiliated and, ultimately, to die for our sake. All this was allowed by the Father for our salvation. Sometimes people wonder why loved ones die or get sick or are lost in senseless killings. The Father in heaven can see the end from the beginning. He knows all things and what is right in all cases. On the other hand, we cannot understand how He allows things to happen for our salvation; any more than we can understand how He allowed His own Son to suffer.

If Jesus had turned from His mission, all would have been lost and Satan, the great deceiver would have won the battle. But Christ overcame the world and the devil, and cast down all arguments that could be made against the Father of righteousness. The reason Jesus became the Man of sorrows was because of His great love for us, and for our benefit to enable us to reach out and grasp salvation in His name. He said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23. Jesus bore the cross for our salvation so that we can bear our spiritual cross to follow Him. Self is one of the hardest sins to overcome, but with Jesus, He has offered us unlimited power to be successful.