“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53:3, NIV).
Jesus was God’s great offering to mankind, gift-wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger. He forfeited his Heavenly home to take on the flesh of man, to live a life of example, and to die a criminal’s death. Through it all, Jesus would bring salvation to the world, eternity to humanity. Yet collectively we despised and rejected him.
Such behavior was evidenced within the first years of Jesus’ life, yes, even before his birth. From the Bethlehem innkeeper’s proclamation of “no room in the inn” to King Herod’s attempt to eliminate Jesus and any perceived threat he posed, rejection, time and again, would be Jesus’ lot in life. As an adult, Jesus would face harassment from the supposed religious leaders of the time. His message would often fall upon spiritually deaf ears and hardened hearts. Even his closest of allies would leave him to fend for himself in his dark and final days. “Crucify him” would be the rallying cry of humanity, and Jesus would suffer the ultimate fate of death on a cross.
Yes, Jesus was, as the words of Isaiah proclaim, “a man of suffering” who was “familiar with pain”. And certainly, such suffering and pain was brought about by the cruelty of the crucifixion – the lashings and beatings, the nails that were driven, and the crown that was worn. But perhaps Jesus’ greatest suffering and pain was brought about by our rejection of who he was and what he came to do.
It would be inaccurate to say that such dismissal and rejection, such disdain and hatred directed at Jesus are merely something of the past. For whenever we fail to recognize the gift he offers, salvation and life, it’s as if we are crucifying him anew. Whenever we yield willingly to sin, or when we reason that we can somehow earn our way without him, the proverbial nails are driven over and again.
Jesus came to Earth so that we could attain Heaven. He died so that we could live. Let’s therefore accept the gift and so honor the giver.