Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4).
The Season of Lent is known for its sadness. Much of its traditional music was written in the minor key. It creates a melancholy sound. It is fitting for a season of sorrows.
Some wonder why we subject ourselves to such a sentiment. Why has the liturgical Christian Church chosen to spend 40 days pondering that which causes grief? Think of the days before Christmas, when we already begin to celebrate the coming of the good tidings of great joy.
Should not the days before Easter be filled with the anticipated happiness over the words, “He
Our Christian forefathers designated this time as a season of sorrows. We may follow them, knowing the sorrow of Lent does not dilute the joy of the empty grave. It enhances it.
To understand the victory over sin, death, and the devil, we must consider the battle that was fought to achieve it. The young teenager may give little thought, with less appreciation, for what American Forces did at Iwo Jima or Fallujah. However, those who were there, and those who look in closely at what happened there, come away with amazed and grateful hearts.
Those who look in at what happened in a garden called Gethsemane and a hill called Golgotha do the same. But they must bow their heads in sorrow before they can lift them in joy.
As a gift from the Holy Spirit, Isaiah was able to look in at those scenes some 700 years before Jesus sweat blood in prayer and dripped blood in pain. He set forth the reason for the sorrows of this season:
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” This is personal. This talks about us. These were our griefs. They were our sorrows. What happened to Jesus was because of us. How can we not feel sorry about that? He was struck with a whip, stuck with thorns, pierced with nails—and then a spear. He was, indeed, stricken
He was hit with rods, with spit, and then, with a death sentence. He was, indeed, smitten. He endured
That has to affect us. The prophet tells more of what he saw: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…” But worse than what we see through these words is what we did: “And we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).
There we have it. Though he suffered all this for us, there have been times—many times— when we ignored him. When others laughed at him, despised him, we—too often—stayed silent. Sometimes we actually became ashamed of him.
For that, we are now ashamed. We feel sorry for what Jesus had to go through. We feel sorry for what we have done. It is the season of sorrows.
But Easter is coming! We pray for forgiveness, Lord!
We pray for mercy. But most of all, we pray that we may never forget what you did for us. You are the one who changes all our sorrows into joy. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military