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Capital Campaign: Building Beyond Walls

Man of Sorrows

By Zach Dietrich

“Man of sorrows.” What a name for the Son of God who came! When we hear or sing that prophetic description of Jesus from Isaiah 53:3, we usually picture Jesus’ final hours and the cross. We reserve that title for the passion of Christ—the beating, the cursings, the crown of thorns, and the cross—while we associate joy and celebration with his birth. However, ”man of sorrows” is a fitting description of the entirety of his earthly ministry. As Calvin said, Jesus’ whole life was “a perpetual cross.”

See the man, no—the babe—of sorrows in the feeding trough. The all-powerful God wraps himself in fragile, tender skin. He cries. He is hungry. His birth brings great joy. But he is acquainted with grief even as a babe when Herod orders him killed. He escapes, but others do not. Weeping and great mourning fills Bethlehem.

See the man of sorrows minister throughout Israel. He never hides from our sickness but touches it. He touches the leper. He touches the hand of a fever-ridden woman. He touches the lame and the blind. He casts out demons and takes our sickness upon him. His friend Lazarus dies. He weeps. He weeps even though he can raise him from the dead because death is always terrible. He is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He sees more than just our physical suffering. Day after day, Jesus endures our filth: our grumbling, disputing, lust, hatred, and murder. In all of this, he does not sin. Even when Jesus rides into Jerusalem upon a donkey, he looks out upon the city and grieves the hardness of their hearts. He is acquainted with our grief.

See the man of sorrows hanging on the cross, “bearing shame and scoffing rude.” His friends desert him. Crowds jeer at him. On top of the cross and the thorns, Jesus also experiences the awful but forgotten torture of a dry mouth. So in a simple expression of his humanity, he says, “I thirst.” More than physical pain and shame, Jesus bears the greatest weight, the cause of all sickness, the sin of the world.

When you read “man of sorrows,” remember that Jesus was not hidden safely away from sorrow most of his life. He experienced it. Jesus knows all our sorrows. But his grief is not impotent. Isaiah tells us, “Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… by his wounds we are healed.” Jesus grieves, but Jesus also heals. Jesus’ pain brings us life. His sorrow brings eternal joy. How? Jesus Christ took upon himself more than our sorrows. He bore the very cause, our sin. And he cured not just the symptoms but the source of all sorrow.

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