As I sat at dinner last night, celebrating with my oldest grandson his twelfth birthday, my youngest grandson wanted to tell me what he had written in his journal at school yesterday. As he spoke, it become apparent to me this little guy was actually listening in his Sunday School class! I am not going to do this justice, but here is pretty close to what he wrote: "Jesus died on the cross. Jesus died on the cross and was buried in a grave. Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the grave to separate us from our sin and death." Those aren't the exact words, but he was so articulate, not veering one word as he restated it from family member to family member around the table. Obviously, this little guy got the message - we are no longer separated from God because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ!
So he was despised and forsaken by men, this man of suffering, grief’s patient friend. As if he was a person to avoid, we looked the other way; he was despised, forsaken, and we took no notice of him. Yet it was our suffering he carried, our pain and distress, our sick-to-the-soul-ness. We just figured that God had rejected him, that God was the reason he hurt so badly. (Isaiah 53:3-4 VOICE)
I re-read passages in scripture which come to new life for me on occasion - the above passage was that moment for me this morning. As I frequently do, I look at scripture in different translations, simply because there can be a kind of "freshness" to the same passage. A couple of things really stood out to me from this passage:
- Jesus was grief's patient friend. I don't know how you handle things which bring you grief in life, but on more than one occasion I have simply walked away from them. Whatever it was became "too much work" for me to continue to "nurse along", so I just gave up on it. It may have been a hobby - like when I tried to learn to play the flute. It could have been that second language I endeavored to master - like when I tried to learn Spanish while driving to work in the morning. These things brought me more "grief" than I actually wanted to endure. Grief is often something which brings us discomfort - so we want to avoid it at whatever cost. Jesus was grief's patient friend - he may have wanted to turn his back on the pain he felt repeatedly when his purpose and plan was rejected by mankind, discovering just how deep man's hatred could be toward others in their place of deepest need. Yet, despite the pain of grief, he endured - not because he "had to", but because his love is so intense toward us that he "wanted to".
- Many took no notice of him. In some areas of my community, there are homeless lining the streets, often just "hanging out" with their carts and belongings in tow. Some lounge on grassy areas, keeping cool under the boughs of an elm or just enjoying the shade afforded by the shadow of a building close by. Others sit on benches at the local bus stops, no intention of catching the next bus, but simply lounging their to catch a few moments of rest. I am caught by the stark reality of just how many pass by in their cars and trucks, oblivious to their existence, their intense need never even crossing the minds of these passers-by as they make their journey from one place to the next. Sometimes it is easier to "take no notice" than it is to actually pay attention to those God brings across our path. I wonder how different it would have been for Jesus had some who "took no notice" actually stopped long enough to deeply consider what he said, how he acted, what he was doing?
- It was our suffering he carried, our pain and distress, our sick-to-the-soul-ness. He didn't just carry his own pain and distress over being rejected and despised, forsaken by mankind. He carried OUR pain, OUR distress, OUR sickness of soul. I don't know many in this world who step up to carry the burden of another without thought to the intensity of their own burden they are also carrying. He wasn't put off by our pain. Our distress of mind, emotion, body - none of it kept him from picking up that burden and carrying it as his own. Our soul-sick, sin-full, and stubborn spirits - he carried them all. Herein is the example of love we can emulate - to carry the burden of another, even when the weight outweighs anything we have carried before.
WE were the reason he hurt - though we might want to have shifted that blame to God - something we do all too well. If we ever doubted God's love for Jesus in allowing him to die on the cross those many years ago, think again. It was his intense love for us that allowed him to die in our place, but it was also his intense love for Jesus (and us) which allowed him to not remain in the grave! Just sayin!