By Tim Frank
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Carthage
I recently received a text from a mother whose daughter is facing open heart surgery. A friend, whose own child had been operated on by the same surgeon just two weeks prior, had contacted her. The friend said of the surgeon, “He did our son’s surgery. He is the best of the best. Please tell him we are doing okay. He is a praying man.” The words brought great comfort and relief to the mother who had texted me.
When facing a crisis, or struggling in suffering, it is helpful to share with someone who understands and can give a word of hope and encouragement. In the passage for this lesson, we see that God really does understand our suffering. He comforts us in unique ways through the first-hand experience of Jesus, our Suffering Servant.
Jesus understands our suffering because He suffered with us. Isaiah 53 shares the prophetic description of the suffering of the Messiah, more than 600 years before Jesus was born. In verses 2-4, we read of His suffering with people. He was despised and rejected by men. To many of the people of His day, He was nobody from nowhere. John 1:46 records the first reaction of Nathanael, later one of Jesus’ disciples, as he said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” The religious leaders opposed Him and plotted His death. Even His closest disciples denied Him, betrayed Him, and forsook Him. Jesus understands and can sympathize with our suffering.
Jesus understands our suffering because He suffered in our place. In Isaiah 53:5-9, we read of Jesus’ suffering on our behalf. He was wounded, bruised, chastised, and whipped for our sins. He went beyond sharing in our sufferings as He received the punishment which our sin deserves. Jesus willingly endured horrific pain and excruciating agony in our place.
He did not offer a defense nor a plea for mercy. He suffered, He bled, and He died for your sins and mine. In II Corinthians 5:21, the apostle Paul describes the greatest exchange in history as Jesus, the sinless Son of God, became sin for us so that we, the sinful creatures, may become completely righteous before God through Him. Jesus understands our suffering because He received the punishment we deserve for sin. That punishment was death on the cross (Romans 6:23). Death and the grave belong to the wicked as punishment of sin. He received them both as our substitute.
Jesus understands our suffering because He suffered for our benefit. It was in the eternal plan of God, before the foundation of the world, that Jesus would be the ultimate sacrifice for sin (I Peter 1:17-21).
He became the offering for sin. He brought pleasure and fulfillment to the righteous judgment of God. His work of salvation was finished for all mankind (John 19:30). His suffering accomplished the justification of all who will believe in Him by faith (Romans 3:21-26). The greatest injustice, Jesus’ death on the cross, became the greatest work of exaltation, His resurrection from the dead! He will see His spiritual descendants as He lives with the redeemed for eternity. One day every great leader and every strong champion will kneel before Jesus. He is, and forever will be, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
In your suffering, please know that God does understand. He loves you and cares for you as only One can who has shared in the same suffering. He is the God of all comfort.