Author: Ron Graham
Man of Sorrows
This lesson comes from what may well be regarded as the chief chapter of the book of Isaiah. Chapter 53 is the prophecy of the suffering servant.
We'll begin where the chapter should really begin, at the words, "Behold my Servant..." (Isaiah 52:13), and continue through all of chapter 53. We won't attempt to glean everything these 15 verses offer, but will concentrate on the key statement, He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3).
This statement refers to Christ’s suffering on the cross, where "his appearance was marred more than any man..." (Isaiah 52:13-14). Our passage ends with the statement, "He poured out himself unto death and was numbered with the transgressors —yet he himself bore the sins of many and interceded for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12).
- Christ suffered death to atone for our sins. Atonement means to make “at one” with God those who are separated from him by sin (1John 2:1-2).
- He rose to intercede for us as our great High Priest who ever lives. Intercession means being our advocate with God, representing us before God. (Romans 8:34 Hebrews 7:25-27). This is the focus of our lesson.
Man of sorrows acquainted with grief
In the hearts of unbelievers, Christ "has no form or majesty... that we should be attracted to him". As believers, however, he does attract us, because like us he is "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief". The very thing that makes some people despise him, makes us turn to him, because he understands our struggles and hurts and sorrows.
In him we see God not as a remote and incomprehensible Being, but as "a man..." who is truly one of us. Moreover, as "a man of sorrows" he has been through the same sorrows and temptations as we experience and therefore is able to understand sympathise with us (Hebrews 4:14-16).
1 He has power to overcome tribulations
Christ is pictured as one who "bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. This is more than just understanding and being acquainted with our sorrows and griefs; it's shouldering those troubles and lifting the burden from us. When Matthew points to the fulfillment of this prophecy, he shows Jesus healing the sick and casting out demons. Jesus has power to overcome tribulation. (Matthew 8:16-17).
We can come to Christ not only for understanding but for overcoming. He'll listen to our troubles and be sympathetic; but better still he'll empower us to overcome and conquer.
2 He dealt with our deepest needs
It's bad enough that life is so uncertain, and ever so short —death comes to us all, and always too soon. But worse still, we have sins to condemn us when death thrusts us before our Maker.
Oh for a way to make death not the end of life but the beginning of a far more wonderful life that never ends! Oh for a way to get rid of our guilt and make us worthy to enter into that life! There is such a way, and Christ is it (John 14:2,3,6, Romans 3:23-26).
The prophecy "He shall see seed, he shall prolong days" speaks of the everlasting life and joy that Christ gives us because he became "a guilt offering" on our behalf (Isaiah 53:10).
3 He set us an example to follow his steps
The manner in which Jesus lived, and died, causes us to follow him. If we would walk in someone’s steps, we can have no better example and shepherd than Jesus. "All we like sheep have gone astray". He who himself was "led as a lamb to the slaughter" is able now to be our shepherd. He'll be our spiritual guide along the right path and lead us to green pastures of eternal life (1Peter 2:20-25, Psalms 23).