THE 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. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
INTRODUCTION Today is the day when we commemorate Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem during His ministry lifetime. As He entered the city, the people spread palm branches in front of Jesus as was the custom for royalty. The event is recorded in all four Gospels, which shows us the importance of the event. John’s is the only Gospel writer who mentions palm branches. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, a time that records the best of times (triumphal entry, and the worst of times (arrest, abandonment, trial, death on a cross). The procession begins with joy and ends in sorrow.
Today, we are going to hone in on the perspective of sorrow. Sorrow, as much as we desire for this to be untrue, is a part of life. Everyone has experienced varying degrees of pain and have known sorrow. Someone once said that life begins with a cry and ends with a sigh. However, the good news of the gospel is that Christ came to bear our sorrows. Just like every human, Jesus experienced sorrow. Because this true, He is able to comfort those who are sorrowing. Join me in examining the sorrows of Christ.
- REJECTIONS PORTION OF SORROW(v. 3)
One of the designations that we identify our Lord is seen in His title, “man of sorrows.” Jesus is identified by the great prophet as such precisely because of the level of suffering Jesus endured. Jesus suffered on multiple levels. First, Jesus suffered as He left the glories of heaven and entered the sufferings of our human race as a man, one of us. Second, Jesus suffered everything that everyone suffers. Finally Jesus endured the unbridled wrath of God as the bearer of our sin. This final area of suffering must have been the most acute pain Jesus endured because of His perfect, sinless nature. It is impossible for us to ever understand the depths of what He suffered as He lived among fallen humanity.
The prophet says that He is despised and rejected of men. History shows us that Jesus was betrayed by the Hypocritical. During Jesus trial, we are told that “Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them” (John 18:5). Judas was one who served in the company of Jesus. Judas shared in the fellowship of His disciples, but now Judas takes his stand among the enemies of Jesus, thinking Jesus had changed the course of His ministry and was doing things differently than what Judas had committed to following, and lends his influence towards His downfall. “Woe unto you hypocrites.” From the accolades of the masses to the rejection of His inner circle, all in the course of a week.
Psychological studies reveal that when we are rejected, rejection produces the deepest levels of sorrows. This is why divorce is more painful than death. Turning to Jesus, His love was rejected by the crowning glory of His creation. The creature rejected the creator’s love. Jesus self-revelation of truth was rejected, I am the way the truth and the life.
The kingdom was rejected as the people turned away from the King that they had so powerfully accepted. He was rejected by His people. John tells us that He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him (John 1:11). Jesu was rejected by His home boys in Nazareth (Matthew 13:57-58). Jesus was rejected by the religious and political leaders of His day (Sadducees and Pharisees). The crowd rejected Jesus at the cross (Matthew 27:39-43). Let me ask the question, have you suffered the sorrow of rejection? Jesus knows how you feel, and relates.
- GRIEFS PORTION OF SORROW (v. 3)
Every one of us are acquainted with grief. The shedding of tears is a common practice among people. Maybe you suffered the grief that follows the shattering of dreams. Maybe you have endured the grief of a broken home. Or maybe you have been impacted by the grief that suffering inflicted by the betrayal loved ones brings. Maybe you have felt the pain of the grief through losing a loved one that death brings. As a man of sorrow and grief, Jesus understands.
Even though Jesus carries the title “man of sorrows,” Jesus was neither morose or doleful. In other words, Jesus wasn’t an A.A. Milne Eeyore. He was a Tigger. Just like everyone else, Jesus endured moments of sadness. But Jesus rejoiced in His sufferings because He focused on the objective, the final outcome. Jesus modeled for us the truth that our worst day can never strip un us our best day, the day that the overcoming power of God became our inheritance through Christ finished work of the cross. The author of the book of Hebrews identifies Jesus as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus endured hardship, pain, sorrow, and sufferings, still He kept His eyes on the final joy of completing God’s purpose of redeeming His lost sheep.
Yes, we have seen grief. And yes, Jesus was “acquainted with grief.” One of the areas where Jesus experienced grief was in being denied by the Cowardly. Think about Simon Peter. Peter suffered the indignity of being charged with being one of His disciples, he denied it, and said, I am not (John 18:25). The cause of Christ continues to suffer through the cowardly behavior of His professing followers, those who should be the purveyors and guardians of the gospel’s truth. Peter’s actions of denial are not the only ways we can deny Christ. Peter used his voice; we may deny Jesus with our feet, or by out general conduct of professing Jesus with our mouths, but failing to act upon our profession. Look at the past two years to see this truth demonstrated. When the act or behavior is more in keeping with the enemies of Christ than with His Word and teaching it is practically a denial of Him. When our self-interests and self-preservation become more important than our calling, we walk the path of betrayal.
What amazes me about Jesus is He never insulated Himself from the pain of grief. If I could do that, I would definitely create an impenetrable shield. Unlike Charlie Brown, I don’t think grief is good. Think about the tears Jesus shed at the grave of His friend Lazarus (John 11:30). Or His tears for Jerusalem as He looked over her prior to His grand entrance on a foal (Luke 19:41-44).
The beauty of all this is captured for us as we consider how Christ enters into our grief. Thomas à Kempis, a Medieval contemplative writer once wrote, “O truly blessed Cross of Christ, which did bear the King of Heaven, and which did bring to the whole world the joy of salvation! By you the devils are put to flight; the weak are cured; the timid are strengthened; the sinful are cleansed; the idle are excited; the proud are humbled; the hard-hearted are touched; and the devout are bedewed with tears. Blessed are they who daily call to mind the Passion of Christ, and desire to carry their own cross after Christ.”
We can bring our deepest grief to Him. He waits at the throne of grace. He provides grace to help in the time of need (Hebrews 4:16). His grace is sufficient for our grief (2 Corinthians 12:9).
- LONLINESS PORTION OF SORROW (v. 3)
It was Jesus’ willingness to endure suffering and sorrow in a world of suffering and sorrow that ultimately rescues all who trust in Him from the very presence of any suffering and sorrow. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
“We hid as it were our faces from him.” Jesus walked that lonely road for you and me to make a way for our deliverance from the struggles of this world. The accolades of triumph gives to the solitude a lonely garden as Jesus entered Gethsemane’s depths to pray alone (Luke 22:44-46).
It was in the bowels of a garden party witnessed by God and the holy angels where Jesus accepted the bitter cup of obedience. This is where we find Him, “Saying, Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but Yours, be done (Luke 22:42). It was here in the lonely and secluded garden where Jesus accepted the Cup that contained the sins of humanity. This Cup would become the decisive moment where its acceptance would take the life of Christ, as the sin of the human race would prove to be a poisonous cocktail for the Christ. As bitter as this cup may be, it had to be drunk, as it represented the justice of God. If its bitter poison had not been tasted, we would never had been enabled to taste of the mercies of God.
From the press of the crowds adulation to the alienation that would accompany Jesus arrest as His disciples left Him alone (Matthew. 26:56). The loneliness would extend further as Jesus stood alone before the high priest (Luke 22:63-71), and it didn’t stop there, as Jesus was tried before Pilate alone (Luke 23).
All this separation and conflicted emotion saw a cumulative effect as Jesus was forsaken on the cross (Matt. 27:46). The cross led to Jesus being shunned by the self-righteous. Then they led Jesus, into the hall of judgment. They themselves did not enter into the judgment hall, as they did not want to be defiled, so that they could eat the Passover (v. 28). Anything or any place was good enough for Jesus, but they insisted on upholding their (assumed) traditional holiness. You could call this straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel. Maybe we can be so crass as to call this “putid hypocrisy.” This is the bane of self-righteous bigots, seekers of the blessing without seeking out the Blesser. These men were going to have Passover without the person whom Scripture identifies as THE Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7). May we never become like these men, crying for light and closing their eyes to the sun. Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
CONCLUSION Must we suffer sorrow, rejection, grief and loneliness? No. We get to live in the truth that He will never leave us alone, for lo, I am with you always(Matthew 28:20). Regardless of the rejection we may encounter from people, we will never suffer abject alienation, as Jesus promised I will not leave you comfortless (John 14:18). Indeed, Jesus promised that I will never leave you, nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). JESUS CARRIED OUR SORROW AND HE COMFORTS OUR HEARTS.