He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows

On this Good Friday I urge you to read and to meditate upon that astonishing prophecy of Christ’s Passion and His redemptive work in Isaiah 53.  In doing so, consider these words:

Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his stripes we are healed.

We are familiar with the notion that Christ on the Cross bore our transgressions and our iniquities, though we can never plumb the depths of that truth.  But we don’t hear much about how He also bore our “griefs” and our “sorrows.”  What does that mean, and what difference does that make in our lives?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    Isaiah is so full of references to Christ and the cross. I’m currently attending an in-depth study of Isaiah and was struck by this passage, Isaiah 22:20-25:

    “In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honor for the house of his father. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots—all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.
    “In that day,” declares the LORD Almighty, “the peg driven into the firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down.” The LORD has spoken.

    When you think about the imagery here, it’s really a “wow” moment. There’s just so much there – he’s clothed like us (human) but has our authority. One might think that a “key to the house of David” could be kept in a pocket – unless that key were a cross, in which case it would be placed on a shoulder. Driven like a peg into a firm place? Hmm? A place that is a “seat of honor for the house of his father”? Is this theology of the cross, or what? Family glory “hangs” on him? And, at the end of the day, “the load (read: our sin) hanging on it will be cut down.” Wow. Good Friday.

    I don’t know that we know too much about this fellow, Eliakim. I’m not aware that we ever get much more information on him. There are plenty of biblically astute contributors to this blog who might know more about that. But Phillip showed the Ethiopian eunuch how to read Isaiah – as being about Jesus and this particular passage is one in which Jesus fairly explodes out of the text.

  • Pete

    Isaiah is so full of references to Christ and the cross. I’m currently attending an in-depth study of Isaiah and was struck by this passage, Isaiah 22:20-25:

    “In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honor for the house of his father. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots—all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.
    “In that day,” declares the LORD Almighty, “the peg driven into the firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down.” The LORD has spoken.

    When you think about the imagery here, it’s really a “wow” moment. There’s just so much there – he’s clothed like us (human) but has our authority. One might think that a “key to the house of David” could be kept in a pocket – unless that key were a cross, in which case it would be placed on a shoulder. Driven like a peg into a firm place? Hmm? A place that is a “seat of honor for the house of his father”? Is this theology of the cross, or what? Family glory “hangs” on him? And, at the end of the day, “the load (read: our sin) hanging on it will be cut down.” Wow. Good Friday.

    I don’t know that we know too much about this fellow, Eliakim. I’m not aware that we ever get much more information on him. There are plenty of biblically astute contributors to this blog who might know more about that. But Phillip showed the Ethiopian eunuch how to read Isaiah – as being about Jesus and this particular passage is one in which Jesus fairly explodes out of the text.

  • SKPeterson

    Jesus eternally stands before the Father as our great High Priest, our Advocate. Not only does He bear our sins, but He also brings forth our grief, our fears, and our sorrows and lays them before the Father, Who sends the Holy Spirit as Comforter through Word and Sacrament.

  • SKPeterson

    Jesus eternally stands before the Father as our great High Priest, our Advocate. Not only does He bear our sins, but He also brings forth our grief, our fears, and our sorrows and lays them before the Father, Who sends the Holy Spirit as Comforter through Word and Sacrament.

  • Dennis Peskey

    The griefs and sorrows we experience come from our alienation with God; it is a direct result of our choice to sin. If we commend our being to Christ alone and trust in his righteousness, we have nothing to fear, including death which He defeated on the Cross. But when we wander away from our good shepherd (or choose to follow our own path), we experience the horrible consequences of a creation corrupted by sin. We become no different than Adam and Eve, cowering in the Garden, apart from the Creator. What we see causes true grief and sorrow for the wages of sin is death. This was the source of the greatest agony bore by Christ on this day; to be cut off from the Father – forsaken and alone. I would prefer a life centered on Psalm 23; that Jesus fulfilled Psalm 22 for me (and you) is my greatest source of comfort.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    The griefs and sorrows we experience come from our alienation with God; it is a direct result of our choice to sin. If we commend our being to Christ alone and trust in his righteousness, we have nothing to fear, including death which He defeated on the Cross. But when we wander away from our good shepherd (or choose to follow our own path), we experience the horrible consequences of a creation corrupted by sin. We become no different than Adam and Eve, cowering in the Garden, apart from the Creator. What we see causes true grief and sorrow for the wages of sin is death. This was the source of the greatest agony bore by Christ on this day; to be cut off from the Father – forsaken and alone. I would prefer a life centered on Psalm 23; that Jesus fulfilled Psalm 22 for me (and you) is my greatest source of comfort.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • George A. Marquart

    I suspect that the “griefs” and “sorrows”, in this case, were not ours, but His. Grief and sorrow, in the Jewish mind, were considered signs of God’s special disfavor and punishment for sin. Paraphrasing the verse, one could write:

    He suffered sickness and pain the same way we do; He was no different from us;
    But we judged Him to be punished by God as if His sickness and pain were more deserving of punishment than ours;
    Yet it was not for His sins that He suffered, but for ours.

    As to what it means in my life, I need to say that it isn’t always about me or us. Every nuance and detail of our Lord’s life does not have to have a particular effect on my life. It is about God and the infinite unconditional love and mercy with which He bore the sins of the whole world, and then, having declared the criminal innocent, “He opened the Kingdom to all believers.” Within that Kingdom He provides for us so completely that we no longer need to be concerned about constantly trying to become “better” so that we can please Him more. Even as He did what He did without thought for Himself, He sets us free in His Kingdom, so that we can become servants of the least of His bretheren without being concerned about ourselves.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    I suspect that the “griefs” and “sorrows”, in this case, were not ours, but His. Grief and sorrow, in the Jewish mind, were considered signs of God’s special disfavor and punishment for sin. Paraphrasing the verse, one could write:

    He suffered sickness and pain the same way we do; He was no different from us;
    But we judged Him to be punished by God as if His sickness and pain were more deserving of punishment than ours;
    Yet it was not for His sins that He suffered, but for ours.

    As to what it means in my life, I need to say that it isn’t always about me or us. Every nuance and detail of our Lord’s life does not have to have a particular effect on my life. It is about God and the infinite unconditional love and mercy with which He bore the sins of the whole world, and then, having declared the criminal innocent, “He opened the Kingdom to all believers.” Within that Kingdom He provides for us so completely that we no longer need to be concerned about constantly trying to become “better” so that we can please Him more. Even as He did what He did without thought for Himself, He sets us free in His Kingdom, so that we can become servants of the least of His bretheren without being concerned about ourselves.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I guess I don’t see a great distinction between my griefs and sorrows, on the one hand, and my transgressions and iniquities, on the other.

    Does anything cause me grief that isn’t from my, or someone else’s, sin? Isn’t sorrow a recognition that things are not how they should be?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I guess I don’t see a great distinction between my griefs and sorrows, on the one hand, and my transgressions and iniquities, on the other.

    Does anything cause me grief that isn’t from my, or someone else’s, sin? Isn’t sorrow a recognition that things are not how they should be?

  • Joanne

    Actually we do hear it in the Messiah by Handel. In fact, I was trying to find the version composed by Karl Heinrich Graun, the kapellemeister of Friedrich II, the great, in Berlin, but all I could find when I searched on the first line was the Messiah piece.
    Anyway, here is the link to the Graun version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxSyvgGPNJE
    We sang this during lent and holy week in the choirs at St. John’s College at Winfield, Kansas, an LC-MS school. I thought it was incredibly beautiful and obviously have never forgotten it.

  • Joanne

    Actually we do hear it in the Messiah by Handel. In fact, I was trying to find the version composed by Karl Heinrich Graun, the kapellemeister of Friedrich II, the great, in Berlin, but all I could find when I searched on the first line was the Messiah piece.
    Anyway, here is the link to the Graun version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxSyvgGPNJE
    We sang this during lent and holy week in the choirs at St. John’s College at Winfield, Kansas, an LC-MS school. I thought it was incredibly beautiful and obviously have never forgotten it.

  • Dan Kempin

    Happy easter, everyone!

  • Dan Kempin

    Happy easter, everyone!

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