In his sermon, “The Man of Sorrows,” nineteenth-century preacher Charles Spurgeon expressed faith-filled amazement that Jesus was fully God and fully man: “He who was ‘despised and rejected of men’ was beloved and adored by angels. And He, from whom men hid their faces in contempt, was worshipped by cherubim and seraphim. Man of the substance of Your mother, You art also essential Deity! We worship you this day in spirit and in truth!”
The Messianic prophecy in today’s reading depicts Jesus as a Suffering Servant. This title was certainly not expected by the Jews of Jesus’ day. They expected a king who would release them from Rome’s rule and sit on the throne of David . . . certainly not a servant! They desired victory, not suffering. Yet that is exactly how Isaiah’s fourth servant song presented Jesus, as “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (v. 3).
Christ’s suffering was for our atonement. We deserved what He endured in our place. “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (v. 5). Though He “was assigned a grave with the wicked” (v. 9), He had committed no sin. He suffered and died for our sake—though death would not be His end (v. 11)—and He did so willingly, choosing freely to suffer the punishment we deserved (vv. 4, 12). He did not protest or fight back (v. 7), as we see in the Gospel accounts of His unjust trials. His was silent by choice, not due to powerlessness.
This costly redemption was ordained by God the Father (Acts 2:23). “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). “It was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer . . . the Lord makes his life an offering for sin” (v. 10).
As followers of Christ, it is our privilege to “share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Rom. 8:17). Many believers around the world are suffering today. Let’s pray for the persecuted church in countries such as China, North Korea, and Pakistan. Prayer guides are available at websites such as Voice of the Martyrs.