Summary: The Messiah has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. What does that mean to us in our modern world? That is the question raised in this study of Isaiah's presentation of the Suffering Saviour.

“Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.” [1]

Christmas has traditionally been a time of festive joy. Families gather to feast and to exchange gifts, friends are invited to share in joyous, even raucous celebration, and offices host multiple parties as employers show their appreciation to employees by hosting a party and gifts are distributed to the workers. Christmas will likely be quite different this year. Provincial health officers and various provincial and federal ministers have determined that we dare not be festive. We must retreat to the inner confines of our houses, wear a piece of cloth over our face so that we can no longer identify one another, and cower in fear that an unseen enemy will shortly kill us all. Rather than considering the grace of God in sending His Son, many of us will be questioning whether we’ll see another year. We’ll sit in silence, wearing the mask of shame as commanded by our power-hungry politicians who appear convinced that they must not permit the populace to be joyful.

Christmas should be a time of reflection, an opportunity to contemplate all that Jesus, the Living Son of God, the promised Messiah, has accomplished on our behalf. Instead, the season had become an opportunity for festive parties, the indulgence of unbridled emotions and raucous celebration. It is impossible for any mere mortal to understand what the Saviour endured on our behalf. Contemplating the affliction of our Saviour is something of a downer, even for Christians.

We wanted to focus on the brightness of the season rather than allowing ourselves to be sobered by thinking of Christ’s suffering. Yet, early in the life of this One who was born a King and laid in a manger, the threat of suffering pervaded His life. Soon after His birth, Mary and Joseph were compelled to flee to Egypt to preserve the Child’s life [see MATTHEW 1:13-18]. When Joseph and Mary took the child to the Temple to fulfil the religious custom of children born into Jewish families, godly Simeon met them. Taking the child into his arms, the old man blessed them before saying to Mary, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” [LUKE 2:34-35].

Now, that is a sobering message from a servant of the Living God! Think about that! “Mary, and you, also, Joseph, are chosen by the Lord … to know incomprehensible sorrow. You will experience heartbreak and grief that is unbelievable; but you will also know the power of the Living God, because He has chosen to use you to bless the world.” That is the way God’s blessing works. We are chosen by Him to do His will, but serving Him can bring pain—unimaginable pain! Serving the Lord God has such rich rewards, but accompanying His rewards is sorrow such as you have not experienced heretofore.

If we actually thought about God’s blessing and the price the world would demand of us because we are thus blessed, I suspect that we would beg the Lord, “Whatever you do, Father, don’t bless me! Let me be; leave me alone!”

In no way do I wish to pile another damper on the festive joy of the Christmas Season; I am as excited as is anyone by the opportunity that is presented by the Season to rejoice. Neither do I want anyone to imagine that I am opposed to parties, or that I am against meals shared with friends and family—I enjoy a good meal as much as anyone, despite restrictions designed to steal our joy imposed by governments. What I do want to accomplish is to remind each of us who follow the Risen Saviour that He is the reason we celebrate. I want to introduce a sense of reason into what we should do during this season, encouraging us to remember why Jesus came. With this message, I especially want us to remember the cost of the salvation Christ brought.

HE HAS BORNE OUR GRIEFS. In Scripture, we read the account detailing Jacob reviewing his life when he had been brought into audience before Pharaoh. He testified, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning” [GENESIS 47:9]. Jacob, whose name God had changed to Israel, stood before Pharaoh and looked back over one hundred thirty years. The old man summarized those years as “few and evil.”

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