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Man of Sorrows

“Man of Sorrows,” what a name

For the Son of God who came

Ruined sinners to reclaim.

Hallelujah!  What a Savior!

This is the first verse from one of our favorite hymns, “Hallelujah! What a Savior!” by Philip P. Bliss.  This verse alludes to Isaiah 53:3, which says of Jesus, “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”  The message of this Scripture and the thought of this hymn are profound, for they express the piercing truth that the Son of God undeservedly suffered for what we have done.  As the song demonstrates, a full apprehension of this truth leads us to proclaim, “Hallelujah!  What a Savior!”

Let us consider carefully why Christ was called “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”  The Hebrew word translated as “sorrows” in Isaiah 53:3 is also translated as “sufferings” and “pain” in other passages of the Old Testament.  It refers to both physical and mental suffering.  The word translated as “grief” is variously translated as “sickness,” “illness,” and “disease.”  The description “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” means that when men thought of Jesus, they associated Him with sorrow, pain, suffering, sickness, and misery.  Jesus was such a man because He went to the downtrodden, sympathized with the sick, commiserated with mourners, suffered with the poor, had mercy on sinners, and died in misery on the cross.  It was His ministry to sinners in particular that gave Him the name “Man of Sorrows,” for Isaiah says, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried…He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (Isa. 53:4-5).

 “A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” is quite a description for the Son of God, and it was counterintuitive to man’s expectations.  The Jews anticipated that their Messiah would be a glorious warrior-king who would conquer the nations and return Israel to glory.  Instead, they received a humble son of a carpenter from the despised city of Nazareth in the detested province of Galilee.  Rather than leading them in battle over their enemies, He taught them how to become citizens of the kingdom of heaven through peaceful, spiritual means.  Because they did not recognize Jesus as Christ, He was rejected, which only multiplied His sorrow.  Near the end of His ministry, as He entered Jerusalem just days before His crucifixion, He wept for the city, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!  But now they have been hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42).

Today, the Man of Sorrows is still misunderstood.  Those who are ignorant of the Scriptures do not comprehend the sorrow and grief that are still associated with Christ.  Even now, He is grieved by the sins of the world, and it is only when we share His grief for sins that we can be saved through His sacrifice.  Notice 2Corinthians 7:10-11 – “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”  The Lord cares about our pain, mourning, and distress in this world, but He died to save our souls from the punishment for our sins.  If we see our sins for what they truly are (offenses against God Almighty), then we will be crushed with godly sorrow (Ps. 32:1-5; 38:1-22; 51:16-17) and impoverished in spirit (Matt. 5:3), and we will repent of (turn away from) our sins.  It is only through this experience of godly sorrow that we can learn the joy of Christ.  No one who bypasses godly sorrow and repentance can share in His joy.

Thankfully, the Man of Sorrows has brought joy to the souls of His faithful ones.  Through His sacrifice, the source of all sorrow and grief is abolished forever.  Consider the words of Christ to His apostles about His crucifixion in John 16:20-22:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.  Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.  Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”

The enduring joy that we receive through obedient faith in Jesus Christ is the forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven.  In the new heaven, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem, God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain” (Rev. 21:4).  This is possible only through Jesus Christ, the Man of Sorrows – what a name!  Hallelujah!  What a Savior!

Stacey E. Durham




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