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 despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.Isaiah 53:1-3 NIV
This suffering servant, whom people found so appalling in appearance; this one who would shut the mouths of kings and sprinkle many nations—who can believe such a message?
How could this be the one to rescue God’s people?
The Lord continues his message through the prophet Isaiah by going back to the beginnings of the One to come, for even that held no special distinction:
- He grew up like a tender shoot, like a root out of dry ground. Jesus would be born into the humblest of homes, not to mention that Mary gave birth to him in something even lower—a stable, a place worthy only of animals, not men. His earthly parents had nothing to offer him in way of wealth or privilege. He was born into the dry ground of a mere carpenter, who would eek out a living with his craft.
Who could believe the Messiah, the Savior, would come from such a place in society? From Nazareth, even?
- He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him; he didn’t stand out with his physical looks. If Jesus walked this earth today, could we pick him out from a crowd? Were people drawn to him in his day because of his looks? Hardly. Only when he started performing miracles and teaching with authority did others take notice of him. Thirty years he lived among the people of Nazareth, travelled with his parents to Jerusalem for feasts–thirty years, and no one knew or saw in him anything special.
Who could believe such a common-looking person could be the Sent One?
- Instead, he was despised and rejected by men. He knew suffering and pain. Even with the miracles, people turned against him. When Jesus spoke of his flesh as the bread of life and that his blood would be drunk be those who believed, many of his own disciples stopped following him. What pain this must have brought him to know that he had come to his own, but they did not receive him. Ultimately, it would be the pain he knew while standing before the crowds, those who had earlier shouted, “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord,” now shouting “Crucify him!”
Who could believe in one who had been rejected by so many, who allowed himself to be led to the cross without a word in defiance?
- People hid their faces from him then, and people hide their faces from him now. He was despised then, as he is now. His name is taken in vain and cursed.
If this is the supposed Savior, how can anyone believe that God would allow him to take such abuse, scorn and shame?
“Man of Sorrows,” what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim
Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Grace and Peace
Man of Sorrows: Lyrics and Music by Philip Paul Bliss (1838-1876)