“A man of suffering, familiar with pain.”
You would think that being the God-man would mean that Jesus was always joyful. Like a well overflowing with joy that splashed on to those around him. And I think we could make a case for him being that person much of the time, at least for those who loved him, those who were drawn to him because of the living water contained within himself.
But he knew suffering too. And I suspect Isaiah isn’t only speaking of Gethsemane, although that seems to be his darkest hour. To know that your agonizing death is close at hand, to feel the combination of all the horror, the racking pain his body would endure- but more than that. To know the cup was going to be much much deeper than physical pain. The grief and suffering of every man, woman and child who would ever live, and all their sins placed on his head, along with the thorny crown- no wonder he asked if he could bypass this cup of sorrow!
But he must have suffered earlier too. Did you ever notice that ignorance often really is bliss? A baby with a full belly and a clean diaper has nothing to worry about. Innocent of how hurtful, how sad and how broken this world is, one can find it a very pleasant place to live. You might say that that’s naive, but so what? Is being naive so bad if it brings you joy?
Jesus, however, knew so much, so young. He was teaching the teachers in the temple at twelve, so he obviously knew more about the Torah then they did, which was no small feat. At ten years of age Jewish boys were able to recite the Torah (The first five books of our Bible) by memory! Of course, to know the Torah was to know the broken and sinful history of the human race, and Jesus knew it better than anyone. he knew exactly what his Father had offered these people, and how they had abused it. And if it sounds like I’m being anti Jew, the sinning started long before God chose Abraham, and the other tribes of the world were worse yet.
We don’t really know if Jesus was aware of his divinity as a small child, but surely he must have understood it by his teen years. To live everyday with that burden would have had to bring both sorrow to his human self and joy to the Divine, because of the hope he was bringing to the world.
He knew too much to always be joyful. And maybe you think I’m assuming too much, making him too human, but he was as much fully human as he was fully God.
And we humans don’t like to suffer. If he couldn’t identify with your suffering, your questioning, your skepticism, your temptations and struggles and grief… with the days that you wake up feeling down and trudge through the day, discouraged at the state of the world, if he had not felt your pain, your chains, then he could not be your Savior.
And an excellent sermon reminded me that Jesus spent 40 days being tempted in the wilds. It’s easy to breeze by that. What’s 40 days to God, right? Well as we’ve covered, he was fully human , and 40 days is over a month, without any comfort food. Without any food at all, while being nagged by Satan, a tormentor who he could not get rid of. All to prepare to bring God’s kingdom into the world… All to prepare to offer salvation to you.
Are you miserable? Frustrated? Sick to death of being on lockdown? Unable to work? Unable to provide an income for your family? Are you flat out ticked off at the government for restricting you? Drowning you in unpayable bills?
Jesus knew misery. He knew the feeling of unfulfilled cravings in the belly. He knew anger at his tormentor. He knew loneliness, total solitude in the wilderness. Yes, even though he could still pray, the total unity of the Trinity had been disrupted by his new humanity.
He knows what you are suffering because he’s been essentially where you are. You want something to hold onto in this new normal everyone keeps talking about? This tearing asunder of the important threads of your life?
Hold on to this: he’s been there. A human who knew suffering and pain intimately, and he overcame that for you, to prepare you to be an overcomer.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.