Jump Start # 3037
Isaiah 53:3 “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”
Our verse is Isaiah’s Messianic picture of Jesus upon the cross. The language is harsh, raw and uncomplimentary. It ought to make us feel bad. Despised. Forsaken. Men hide their faces from Him. They wouldn’t look at Him. He was not esteemed. He was a man of sorrows and one acquainted with grief.
The word “acquainted,” means accustomed to, familiar with, or something that one is used to doing. When one drives the same roads over and over, nearly every day, he becomes familiar with that route. He is acquainted with it. When one understands a sport, he is familiar with the rules and how the game is to be played. He is acquainted with that sport. One doesn’t have to explain the concept of the game to him.
I golfed with a guy once who was not familiar with the game of golf. In fact, it was his first, and probably only time he ever played. He thought the higher the number on the irons, the farther the ball would go. So, when he needed a 3-iron, he was reaching for his 9-iron. I was trying to help him, but it was a long day that seemed to keep getting longer. He simply was not acquainted with the game of golf.
Back in our verse, Jesus was acquainted with sorrow and grief. He knew sorrow. Sorrow wasn’t something new to Him. He was familiar with sorrow.
Consider some thoughts:
First, even before Jesus left Heaven, He knew the sorrow of sin. The universe was lost. Sin had wrecked lives. The relationship between God and His creation was severed. Jesus was sent to be the salvation and the hope for all of us. He came, Luke’s Gospel says, “to seek and save that which is lost.” This wasn’t to be a vacation from Heaven. This wasn’t a pleasure trip. No souvenirs or postcards from earth. He came to suffer sorrow for the sorrow that we caused.
Second, the world Jesus came into was filled with sorrow. Soon after His birth, Herod ordered the slaughter of boys around the age of two. How many homes grieved that night when the henchmen of Herod came to do their evil deeds? Tears flowed. Little, innocent babies died. Sorrow filled the streets.
Third, Jesus saw the sorrow of wicked hearts that wagged their tongues at the things He did. The bent over woman was told to come another day to get healed, not on the Sabbath. Which day? And, just who would do this healing? The synagogue official was unable to help her all those years. A young ruler came to Jesus wanting eternal life. When Jesus told him what was necessary, he left. He walked away sorrowfully. He did not hear what Jesus was saying.
Fourth, as Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus, knowing what He was about to do, He still cried. We know it as the shortest verse in the Bible, ‘Jesus wept.’ Sorrow because of broken hearts and the tears that come with the death of one that was loved. Not only did Jesus understand sorrow, He experienced it Himself. He wept.
Fifth, as Jesus looked over the mighty city of Jerusalem, on the eve of His arrest and coming death, He said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you are unwilling” (Mt 23:27). How sad this made Jesus. Help was there. The answer they needed was there. The best example. The best words. The best sacrifice. Forgiveness. Freedom. Reconciliation. All of that was awaiting them, but they were unwilling. You can’t help people who do not want to be helped. An addiction can be overcome if a person is willing to get help. Bad habits can be stopped and changed if a person is willing to do that. But, for Jerusalem, they were “unwilling.” Christ was there, but they didn’t want His help.
From all of this, a few thoughts:
First, I may not understand the depth of your sorrow or grief, but Jesus does. He was familiar with sorrow. He knew sorrow from several different standpoints. So, the one who can help you the most is Jesus. Jesus has tasted sorrow so often that He was acquainted or familiar with it. Sorrow was not some new experience for Jesus. He knew it all too well.
Second, you and I may go through something once, but that doesn’t necessarily make us familiar with it. For Jesus, He had become familiar with pain, grief and sorrow. The sorrow that Jesus experienced wasn’t just one kind nor from just one source. Mental strain. Emotional sorrow. Physical loss. And the pure, raw sensation of actual pain. Jesus knew all of these. And, on top of that, He traveled down those long, dark valleys not because of the things He did wrong, but because of the things He did right.
Third, you and I do all that we can to avoid sorrow and pain. The shelves are filled at the drug store of “Pain-Relief” medicines. We don’t do pain. And, we don’t like sorrow. Give us joy. Give us laughter. Give us comedy. We sign up for those things. We have our medicines. We have our support dogs. We have our network of friends. We have a fellowship. All of these serve as buffers to keep the sorrow and pain away from us. Not Jesus. He was familiar with it. The Isaiah passage, our verse today, was written 700 years before Jesus came. Jesus came, knowing what He was coming to. He came knowing what He was signing up for. He came knowing that pain, sorrow and grief would be so abundant, that He would become acquainted with them. I find that it is amazing that He still came. It’s one thing to have a day filled with trouble, but you didn’t know what the day would be like. But for Jesus, He knew. He came anyway. He came because He loved. He came because it was the only way to bring joy, peace and forgiveness to our lives.
Familiar with sorrow. Recently, a friend asked for some advice about a funeral he was to conduct. He was wanting some verses and ideas. You have done a lot of funerals, he said to me. That’s true. I have. But I am still not acquainted with sorrow. I don’t do sorrow well. Jesus is.
What a friend we have in Jesus…