Are you Acquainted with Suffering? Are you Acquainted With Jesus?
Isaiah 53:10 says “He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, and familiar (acquainted-KJV) with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not.” (NIV84)
This is such a precious and lovely verse. Chapter 53 of Isaiah contains some of the most beautifully written word pictures in scripture. Of course the Holy Spirit inspired all of scripture, but working with the personality of the writer, He communicates the words of the gospel. I would venture to say that perhaps this passage could only be compared with John 1:1-14 as the most beautiful in all of scripture.
When we talk of what Christ did for us, these words are beautiful, but if we dare challenge the modern Christian to be a disciple of this way, that idea won’t sell a whole lot of books. “Despised … Rejected … Sorrows … Suffering … Despised … without Esteem” – My Savior? Yes … Me? No Thank You.
But this is just the way of salvation, right? It isn’t the way of a disciple is it? Well don’t tell the Apostle Paul that. In Philippians 3:10 he says “I want to Know Christ …” . I am with you Paul, I want to know Christ too … But the Word, ginosko, means “to learn, to understand, to be familiar with” i.e. “to know by experience”. There is a physical tactile component to this. It doesn’t happen by accident. It happens by intentional action. So Paul says, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming LIKE HIM in his death.”
Want to be a disciple? Take up his cross and follow him (Luke 9:23). Fellowship (koinonian) commune with him in suffering (passion) of Christ. This same word for “suffering” or passion is in Romans 8:18 when it says “our present sufferings are nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed.” Becoming “like him” (symmorphizo – similar in form) to his death.
We like Philippians 3:12, “press on to talk hold … forgetting what is behind … straining for what is ahead”. But Paul is talking about the previous image of being conformed to his death. And so he says “I’m not there yet, but I’m pressing forward to share in his suffering. Forgetting what is behind, forgetting accolades, forgetting accomplishments, forgetting station achieved, forgetting failures, I press onto fellowship with him in suffering. This doesn’t mean needless suffering, nor self-inflicted suffering, or self-serving suffering, but as Isaiah says “suffering that brings peace”.
Jesus was Despised (contemptible, thought lightly of), Rejected (made detestable), Sorrows (pain), Acquainted with (familiar, experience, recognize), Grief (sickness, suffering, disease, affliction), not Esteemed (think about value, considered)
Are we willing to be thought lightly of, made detestable, have pain, experience suffering and afflictions, to be under valued, not even thought of, in order to follow Christ? Well, how badly to you want to be a disciple?
Oswald Chambers in “My Utmost for His Highest”, (June 23) says “we are not acquainted with grief in the way in which our Lord was … We endure it, get through it, but we do not become intimate with it”
Yet, fellow traveler, it is, and has been the way of the disciple of Christ for every generation. The Apostles knew it, the Martyrs knew it in the Colosseum, St. John of the Cross knew “The Dark Night of the Soul”, Martin Luther knew the isolation of the Castle in Eisenach as he hid away from a death threat while translating the New Testament into German. Calvin, Wycliffe, Huss, all knew suffering. Isaac Watts penned the most poignant hymns in history because of a life of suffering and physical pain. Every Generation of Christian disciple has known. Missionaries like Jonathan Goforth (no relation) knew suffering, sickness, imprisonment. Lottie Moon also in China refused to eat giving her food to those she served with the gospel. Martin Luther King knew the Birmingham Jail, that he might have a dream.
Walking with Christ is to Fellowship with his Suffering, Conformed to his Death.
Do I want to be a disciple or just a scholar, a student? Oh there is nothing wrong with knowledge but head knowledge without experiential knowledge does not make a disciple. I disciple must follow in the footsteps, and the footprints of Jesus walked the via Dolorosa, the way of suffering.
“I want to know Christ” – The Frightening Prayer of a Disciple