He is scorned and given no heed by men;
A Man of sorrows and intimate with anguish.
And as one from whom we avert our faces,
He was despised—and we regarded Him as nothing.
~ Isaiah 53:3 (author)
Some Bibles render Isaiah's description of Jesus as "a Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief."
"Grief" doesn't fully capture the essence of the Hebrew chŏlîy, which literally means "sickness." It can mean a disease, an infirmity or weakness of health, or sickness of heart because of anguish.
The translation "acquainted" doesn't work for me at all. The original Hebrew word, yâda', occurs nearly a thousand times in the Old Testament. While it can include the meanings of "to learn, to perceive, to discern, to experience," yâda' is most often translated "know," and never requires the translation "acquaint." Yâda' is the word used to describe the most intimate knowledge possible among humans, of sexual intimacy between a man and woman.
To say that Jesus was "acquainted" with grief or anguish implies a passing encounter. The Bible is filled with references to Jesus' intimate experiences with suffering, in both body and soul. He weeps more often than the noted instance at the grave of Lazarus. His anguish in Gethsemane is more intense than the Bible describes anywhere else. And a strong case can be made for Jesus' death resulting not from crucifixion, but from a broken heart. (See the post "Broken"; also see Wikipedia's article on "Takotsubo cardiomyopathy" ['broken heart syndrome'])
And when He had sent the multitudes away, [Jesus] went up on the mountain by Himself to pray... Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.
~ Matthew 14:23-25 (NKJV)
At the end of that very long day, after Jesus fed the 5,000, He finally obtained solitude. He surely had much anguish to discuss with His Father that night, between the news of His cousin John's beheading and the widespread conflict and rejection He would face the next day. As long day of people became long night of prayer, I imagine a weary and grief-stricken grief Jesus making the pre-dawn walk of nearly four miles across the sea to His disciples.
If my heart is broken, may it be to hear the good God—Who is both love personified and Man of Sorrows—depicted as indifferent to human misery; may my heart bleed to think of how my Savior suffered at Calvary and is grieved even this day for my sin; may the greatest ache in my soul be for the scorn and rejection our precious Lord has suffered throughout all of human history, by even His own.
May I never draw back from fellowship with Jesus in suffering.
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Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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