He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief; and like One from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or esteem Him. But He has borne our griefs, and He has carried our sorrows and pains; yet we assumed that He was stricken, struck down by God and degraded and humiliated.
Anyone reading about what Jesus endured in his life might be tempted to ask what He did to deserve such treatment. In fact, the great issue prior to his death was whether his crucifixion could be carried out as a just punishment. For the authority at the time to allow his crucifixion, procedure had to be followed. The religious leaders argued behind a veil of blasphemy although their reasons for crucifixion were otherwise. Those removed from his story but witnessing this spectacle might have assumed that He deserved this fate. After all, a criminal hanging on a cross must be guilty of something, right? The truth, however, is that the guilt lies with us. He was afflicted for our sake.
Jesus died between two criminals who suffered for their guilt. Meanwhile, Jesus suffered for our guilt. People watching his crucifixion and death might have viewed him as stricken, but we are the ones who were stricken. What Jesus did was take on our punishment, our sorrow and our condition so that we could be free of them. He who knew no sin became sin that we might live in liberty. The sadness in this lies in the fact that many witnessing his death, and even awaiting the Messiah to free them, saw only a criminal on a cross. They did not understand what He was doing and why. Some even spit on him and cursed him when all He did was make a way for them to be saved. He carried our pain and sorrow, and we responded with anger and rejection. He has been and continues to be despised by those whose afflictions He came to bear.
In many ways Jesus was not what He seemed. When He was born a poor child among the animals with no place to lay his head, no one would have thought that He is a king. And when He died as a criminal in the eyes of the religious leaders and by the authority of the governmental leaders, it seemed like He was anything but the perfect Savior his persecutors claimed they were waiting for. Even today, people look at what He endured and posit that the real Son of God surely would have saved himself from such suffering. But He had to endure that so that we could be free, and He chose to give us that freedom. Father, thank You for giving your Son to bear our pain, sorrow and sin so that we might be free.