Isaiah 53:1-3 “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was a man despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.”
This prophecy, written some 700 years before Jesus was born, speaks to Jesus’ life as a man who was familiar with suffering. Of course we are familiar with the crucifixion account and the tremendous physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering Jesus underwent during the last few days of his life, but this prophecy indicates that Jesus was a man familiar with suffering. This causes us to dig a little deeper into Jesus’ life and see if there are any other scriptures that speak to the general “suffering” Jesus was familiar with. By looking at how Jesus dealt with consistent emotional pain, we can learn from him the correct way to deal with it.
Hebrews 2:17-18 “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Jesus, being fully man, was tempted to sin, just as we are. He faced real choices where choosing the way of the world was easier than choosing the righteous path. Let’s think about what kinds of things Jesus would have been tempted with. We know the devil tried to tempt Jesus with lust, pride, and materialism (Luke 4:1-13 ) but it is likely that the consistent “suffering” Jesus felt, in regards to temptation, was deeper than just a result of self-denial of these types of sins.
Think about the burden he carried throughout his life – he consistently poured out his heart to others in an attempt to help them get to know God and gain salvation. Remember that Isaiah 53 said he was “despised and rejected by men.” The constant weight of giving, giving, giving, and being rejected and despised by a majority of people must have been almost unbearable. Imagine if your teenage son or daughter was going through a rebellious stage and was being selfish, hurtful, and mean-spirited. Think about the pain you would feel at the rejection, because you have so many dreams and high hopes for your own flesh and blood. This was what Jesus felt when he was rejected by men. He wanted so badly for people to get to know God, and these people who were rejecting him were in a very real sense his brothers and sisters who had been lost to sin. The temptation of Jesus to give up this eternal struggle so that he didn’t have to deal with this emotional weight on a daily basis must have been great.
Hebrews 5:5-7 “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered, and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, and was designated by God to be a high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
How did Jesus overcome the temptation to not carry the eternal burden? He consistently wrestled with God in prayer and, through the suffering, allowed God to mold his character to the point where he could handle, not only the cross, but the ongoing hardship of being the Messiah. It’s hard to believe that Jesus’ character needed to be molded, but that is what this scripture very clearly implies. If Jesus’ character needed molding, how much more ours? And if Jesus overcame suffering through consistent prayer and the submission of his will to God’s, why would it be any different for us?
Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
We are to be patient in affliction. This is the path Jesus took – throughout the suffering, he patiently gave himself over to God. He didn’t look for the quick fix or the easy way out. He patiently allowed his character to be molded so that he could accomplish God’s will. Let’s imitate Jesus’ as we face life’s daily struggles.
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