The Suffering King

Veronica Burlock, Worship Pastor, Wheaton  | March 19, 2024

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. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
Isaiah 53:2-4

In today’s Scripture, the Holy Spirit had spoken to Isaiah and told him all that was to come. This passage is what we would call a Messianic Prophecy, meaning that it foretold the eventual arrival of the Messiah, King Jesus. What’s interesting is that when Jesus does finally arrive on the scene—some 700 years later—everyone was looking for Him to be the kind of king they were accustomed to— powerful and flashy, with riches and silver and gold—impressive in the worldly sense, a cynosure for all to see. That’s how they would recognize a Messiah. 

Yet He was born of a young virgin and grew from infant to toddler, then through adolescence and awkward teenage years, to young adulthood. Finally, when he was 30 years old, his ministry began. His life, up until His ministry began, wasn’t too different, at least in all outward appearances, to others in His time. It was rather unremarkable. 

When He finally began His ministry—healing, resurrecting, and performing miracles—He was met with rejection, accusations, mockery, and pure hatred. The long-awaited Messiah really was a man of suffering. He was much like Isaiah said He would be. 

I often think of how I didn’t get to live in the days when Jesus walked the earth. I didn’t get to sit and talk to him and share meals with him. I don’t know how His laugh sounds or what facial expressions He made. I sometimes even wonder if I would’ve been a different, even a better person if I at least got to hang out with Jesus face to face. Maybe I would better understand that He knows exactly what I am facing because He faced the same things… Maybe I would more easily accept His grace and love when I am feeling rejected or ashamed because I got to ask Him how He felt when He experienced those things. 

But the truth is, while I may not have witnessed Him experiencing those very things,  in my quiet time with Him, reading His word, and through prayer, I do know and see how He understands intimately the experiences I have because He had them first.

So, while the people of His time expected a different kind of King—and I think I understand why—I am eternally grateful we got the King that gets us. 

Next Steps

Take a quiet moment and tell Jesus what you want Him to know about you.  As you sit in the stillness, listen with your spirit for a response.  

Head to Psalm 139: 13-18 to see what God says about you.  Do your thoughts of yourself match the truth of Your Creator?