A Man of Sorrows
James Smith, 1860
"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Isaiah 53:3
Or whom does the prophet speak? Of himself, or of some other man? Not of himself — but of his Master. The inspiring Spirit led his mind forward, and represented by him the sufferings of the Messiah. He speaks of Jesus. Of Jesus the Son of Mary. Of Jesus the Son of God. Of Jesus the great sufferer, who bore our sins and carried our sorrows. O to have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings, and to be led into a knowledge of his heart-breaking sorrows! With more force and propriety than Jeremiah, he could say, "Behold and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, with which the Lord has afflicted me, in the day of his fierce anger." O Savior, your sufferings were astonishing, your sorrows were indescribable — may my soul be deeply and properly affected with a sense of them!
The cause of his sorrows, was his having assumed, or undertaken, the office of Mediator. He had agreed in the everlasting covenant, to come between a righteous God, and unrighteous sinners — and effect a reconciliation. He therefore was to do what they left undone, and to suffer what they deserved. On the principle of grace, in accordance with law and justice — he was to reconcile man to God, and to lay a foundation for an honorable and everlasting friendship. He became Surety for his people, undertaking to discharge their obligations, and bring them back to holiness and God. In order to this, he became their Substitute, and undertook to answer for them, and honorably secure their discharge from all the demands of law and justice. He had therefore to suffer, in order to put away their sin, to endure the curse of God, to satisfy the claims of justice.
In doing this, he had to endure sorrows — dreadful beyond description or conception. His Father hid his face, and left him alone in his dying agonies on the cross. His disciples abandoned him. His foes insulted and reproached him. Satan and his hosts harassed, tempted, and distressed him. And the state of sinners excited his deepest sympathy, and filled his bosom with the keenest anguish. Sorrow flowed into his heart from every quarter — and he became a reservoir of woe. Floods of bitter anguish descended on his holy soul. If all the sorrows, endured by all sinners, had been squeezed into one cup — it would not have equaled the sorrows of the Son of God. His was a baptism of woe.
Nor were his sorrows confined to one period of his life, though they became more terrible toward the last. As soon as he could, he began to suffer, and his sorrow accumulated as he went on, until all its waves and its billows went over him; and he was laid in the lowest pit, in darkness, and in the deeps.
His was a life of suffering. Pain, grief, and sorrow, were his companions by day and by night; they accompanied him, increasing in strength and intensity, until they expired with him on the cross. O to be properly affected with a sense of my Savior's sufferings and sorrows, seeing he endured the whole for me!
His sufferings were intensely great, being inflicted on both body and soul. They were varied — coming from all quarters. They were lasting — enduring through life, and only ending with his death. They were meritorious — being endured by one who was independent, being under no obligation to suffer them — but who voluntarily engaged to do so, to honor the moral government of God; that so God might be just, in justifying the ungodly. They were sufficient — more could not be exacted, or be justly inflicted. They were therefore satisfactory — so, that as believers in Jesus, as represented by him, and as saved through him, penal sufferings can never be inflicted upon us.
Jesus was the great sufferer — he is now the great sympathizer. He knows by experience, all that his people endure, he can therefore support them, console them, and deliver them — and he will do so.
Blessed Jesus, may I, whenever in pain of body, or enduring sorrow of mind, think of you, turn to you, and have fellowship with you. At most, I do but sip of the cup of woe — but you have drained it, and drank its very dregs! May I be willing to suffer for you, to suffer with you, and having done so, expect, O blessed expectation! expect to sit down with you in your kingdom, and enjoy your love, and share in your joy forever!