By John C. Carpenter
The old testament prophet, Isaiah, prophesied regarding the conditions and experiences of the sufferings, crucifixion, and death of Jesus Christ, Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he [Christ] shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not (Isa 53:1-3). These prophecies concerning the sufferings and death of Christ are mentioned specifically in reference to His atoning work of salvation, which He made available to all who believe in Him. The experiences of suffering and death of Christ resulting in our salvation are certainly worthy of discussion, but that is not what this article is about. This article is about the Christ-like suffering of Christians, and the relationship of that suffering to its' purpose in Christian faith.
Clearly, it was prophesied by Isaiah that, during his sufferings, crucifixion, and death, Jesus Christ would be both physically, spiritually, and emotionally damaged and rejected by men. Christ had no “form,” meaning he was considered physically unattractive, nor “comeliness,” meaning he appeared to others to have no magnificence, beauty, glory, or majesty. There was no “beauty,” meaning Christ did not have a favored form and appearance, and therefore was considered undesirable, meaning no one delighted in or coveted his appearance. Christ was “despised, meaning He was looked down upon with contempt and complete lack of respect. He was not reverenced in any manner, considered to be of small or no worth, as well as considered physically and emotionally repulsive. Because He was considered insignificant, weak, and undesirable by others, he was “rejected” in all ways. Scriptures also tell us that Christ was not only “a man of sorrows,” meaning He often emotionally experienced anguish, affliction, grief, and pain, but that He was “acquainted with grief,” meaning He experienced disease of body or mind, deep distress or misery caused by major misfortune or loss, and extreme, debilitating sorrow and sadness. “We hid as it were our faces from Him,” meaning others refused, literally or figuratively, to make contact with Him, visually and otherwise. Isaiah explained that Christ was “despised,” meaning “a feeling of contempt for what is considered beneath one, to reject vigorously and angrily, and to be considered of no value and repulsive.” Others simply and completely considered Him of no value, a vain thing, and had no regard for Him, as a result. When the prophet prophesied regarding Christ that “there is no beauty that we should desire Him,” Isaiah was summarily making two statements about Christ: Christ was considered by others to be unattractive in all ways, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and that no one desired anything about Him. What rejection, suffering, and pain, of all types, He experienced.
However, the sufferings of Christ were not considered by Christ, nor His Heavenly Father, to be in vain. That suffering had a purpose, the salvation of the whole world. Suffering for salvation could be fulfilled by Christ only, and was necessary only once: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12), For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now [suffered] once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Heb 9:24-26), For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit... (1 Pet 3:18).
There are many in the Christian church today who are experiencing the same, or similar, sufferings of Christ. Have you experienced deformity, mistreatment, or physical injury, and therefore felt physically unattractive? Have you been treated by others as if you were not handsome or beautiful? Were you physically smaller than others, and others picked on you or mistreated you unfairly; and because of your size or look, your appearance was not delighted in by others? Have you felt physically, mentally, or emotionally despised by others, and looked down upon with disrespect, or even contempt? If so, you have experienced the sufferings of Christ.
Have you believed that others considered you to be physically or emotionally immature, repulsive, insignificant, weak, or undesirable, and were therefore rejected by others? Have you felt deep mental and emotional sorrow, anguish, affliction, grief, and pain, or experienced extreme sorrow and sadness due to major disappointment, misfortune or loss? Have you experienced others ignoring, turning or looking away from you, and therefore felt unappreciated, invaluable, rejected, and hurt? Have you experienced others treating you as if you were beneath them, of no value, worthless, and repulsive, a vain thing? If so, you have experienced the sufferings of Christ.
We have all experienced these types of sufferings, and these sufferings are always difficult to endure. In fact, we often feel as if we will not (or don't want to) survive them. However, true believers in Christ should always remember and be encouraged one thing: the suffering we experience should not be surprising, but expected, even welcomed and rejoiced in. The apostle John clearly taught that Christians, who are not greater than Christ, should expect to suffer, as Christ suffered: Verily, verily, I say unto you,The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him (John 13:16), then later added, Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me (John 15:20-21). The apostle Peter, referring to all types of sufferings for the sake of Christ when he wrote, Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy (1 Pet 4:12-13). Christ Himself clearly taught, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12). According to Scriptures, believers in Christ should not only expect persecution and suffering for the sake of Christ, but should, in the words of Peter, “rejoice, in as much as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings."
Leading up to His death, Christ clearly suffered. Isaiah makes that abundantly clear. But, we should ask the question, “why?” Why did God the Father will it that Christ should suffer such things and die on a cross? Paul gives us the answer when he wrote believers in Rome, What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered [surrendered, entrusted, bring forth to, recommend] him (unto suffering and death) up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Rom 8:31-32). Christ was delivered unto suffering and death by His Heavenly Father for the salvation of “us all.” The prophet explains in detail: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isa 53:4-6). In these verses, Isaiah explained that Christ suffered and died for our griefs, our sorrows, our transgressions, our iniquities, our peace, our healing, for all of us who have gone astray, for all of us who have turned to our own way, and for all of our iniquity.
The apostle John also summarized why and who Christ died for when he wrote,My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2). Holy Scriptures also instruct us, But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man (Heb 2:9). The suffering and ministry of Christ was and is certainly directed to the whole world, “for us all.”
As mentioned earlier, the suffering and death [and later resurrection] of Christ was a ministry of salvation that only Christ could fulfill, and a ministry that needed fulfilling only once. No man other than Christ could have fulfilled that world-saving ministry, but this does not mean that your sufferings are not a ministry to the entire world and do not serve a purpose. Your suffering is a ministry to and for Christ, does have a purpose, and is also, like the ministry of Christ, “for us all.” Your suffering is not a pointless, vain thing which just happened to you, something which you could not seem to avoid. Your suffering was allowed and placed in you by God to serve a purpose, God the Father's purpose in your life, a purpose and way that is sometimes difficult to comprehend and accept. Paul defends this mystery of Gods' working: O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (Rom 11:33). Christ instructed His disciples, and all of us, to...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), instructions which certainly bring suffering, but, instructions which, nonetheless, should be carried out to the best of our ability, with power, courage, conviction, and joy.
The apostle James wrote, Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience (James 5:10). Paul”s words should also encourage us: Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong (1 Cor 16:13), and Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Eph 6:10-13). Paul also encouraged Timothy in his discouragement, Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Tim 2:1-3). Spoken through the author of the letter to the Hebrews, God the Father encourages us when he says, Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me (Heb 13:5-6). Fulfill the calling and ministry that God the Father has given you, “for us all.”  AMEN.







                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of
grace, that we
may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time
of need"
(Heb 4:16)

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