THE SORROW OF THE DIVIE

BY THE REV. J. R. P. SCLATER
" He is despised and rejected of men ; a man of sorrows, and
acquainted with grief ; and we hid as it were our faces from
Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not."-
ISAIAH LIII. 3.
I SUPPOSE that there is scarcely a verse of Scrip
ture that we feel to be more akin to our thought
of the human Jesus than this. It has been set to
music which has developed the poignancy and the
pathos of it ; and the words and the music together
have so wrapped themselves in our minds, that the
verse has become almost to us a lengthened name
for Christ. The Man of sorrows, the despised
and rejected of men, have passed into our common
speech as seemly, reverent names for the Son of
God.
But think of what that means. The Son of
God, the elder brother of humanity, the Man of
Love ! Who should be more blessed than He ?
When old religions portrayed Gods or the Sons of
God, happiness was the chief note of the portrayal.
(85)
86 THE SOEEOW OF THE DIVIE
But when the Son of God does, in actual fact, come
upon the earth, He who should be the most radiant
of all, is the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief.
What drearier light could be thrown upon the con
dition of the world into which He came ? It is
true that in the deeps of Jesus heart there was a
great calm. And that calm, that restfulness, per
vaded all His consciousness, when His mind was
turned solely to His Father. But when His mind
was focussed upon the men He loved and would
have saved, then, at times, waves akin to desolation
came over His Spirit. It is we and our fellows
who have turned the serene Son of God into the
Man of Grief. That fact may display to us vividly
the depths and the desperate strength of human
sin.
The truth is simply this, that Jesus was the
Man of Sorrows because He was the Son of God.
His grief was the penalty of His greatness in such
a world as this. It was, in the first place, the
penalty of His purity. ow and then it happens
to us to come across one of God s good men or one
of His good women, and we may notice this about
them that the evil and the base positively hurt
them. They have, as it were, a sensitive spiritual
ear to the music of goodness. Evil longings and
doings jar with a sudden blare and discord. Folk
like these are very near to God. They have come
to the state of heart in which their desire is toward
THE SORROW OF THE DIVIE 87
Him. They have not only retained the power of
their childhood s innocence of being shocked at
sin, but they have added to it, by companionship
with Christ and by a developing knowledge of
the separation from Him which evil implies, until
distaste and dislike and revulsion have turned into
positive hurting. We may have seen the shadow
of it sometimes in a good woman s eye.
That emotion relates itself to grief in this way.
When such a man sees evil, by itself, as it were, he
suffers ; when he sees living men and women de
lighting in it, he sorrows. Jesus and those who
follow Him are not mere moral aesthetes. In good
men there is always a sense of brotherhood, and
a social sorrow develops when those who are
bound up with them in the bundle of life are
delighting in the hateful to God. The purer the
eyes, the sharper the pain ; the sharper the pain,
the deeper and more honest the grief. When it is
such an one as Jesus that is concerned, how shall
sinful human hearts, even the most pure of them,
understand the sadness that held Him ? All that
we can say is for we have no stronger words
He was acquainted with grief !
In the second place, His sorrow was the penalty
of His enthusiasm. Whatever else you will say
about Jesus, you will surely say that He was a man
of a great Passion. His whole life was marked by
a devotedness. He passionately believed in the
88
Kingdom of God ; He passionately appealed to men
to hear and to enter. He was a man on fire. ow,
a note of enthusiasm is generally urgency. The
cause which such an one has at heart dominates his
scheme of importance. It holds his mind, masters
his desire, controls and directs his energy. He
cannot conceive any man giving it a lesser place
than he himself does. Even supposing that he
can afford to wait and to plod on for its accomplish
ment, if another shall treat it lightly, a something
akin to desperation seizes him. But the case is
worse, when, in any respect, he cannot afford to
wait for its accomplishment. Such, in some aspects,
was the lot of Jesus. His kingdom would come
indeed, but not for those to whom He spoke unless
they listened then. The passing of time meant
everything to His hearers. Save they hearkened
and responded, their day would pass. one of us
can read the teaching of Jesus and fail to notice the
urgency that marked many of His utterances. It
is an aspect of His work that we are prone to
neglect, but it is not well for us to neglect it. Jesus
evidently considered that, in each man s soul, the
king s business required haste ; and that there
were dangers dangers of a deep and genuine
gravity in delay. His appeals for hearing and
His sudden emphasis had behind them the thought
put into specific words to-day, is the day of
Salvation .
THE SOEEOW OF THE DIVIE 89
It is not needful to press the thought that a man s
sole chance of Tightness with God may pass with a
single, light-hearted moment of carelessness and
heedlessness ; although, let me say, that it is not a
thought which we can light-heartedly reject. There
are facts queerly stern in life ; and we can say that
some men seem curiously to have settled into a
spiritually petrified state, although they were open
enough to spiritual influences once. It looks really
as if nothing could break that crust, or breathe life
into that spiritual deadness, where once the pros
pect was fair enough. But we must not push the
thought too far. God s grace is sovereign. At the
same time, these facts are there to give us pause.
But there was sufficient ground for urgency apart
from that great, dread possibility. There was the
urgency of the loss of the best, and of the absolute
finality of the loss of to-day.
There is one great sternness in life, which we
should all do well to face, that, however many new
chances, opportunities, God may give us, this chance,
this opportunity, never comes back ; and that the loss
of it colours all our future possibilities and chances.
Into the world, through Jesus Christ, a great
word has come. It is the word, whosoever will .
But, apart from Him, and even with Him, a word
of a very different sort is clear in all human life.
It is the word never-more . The days spent
away from Christ are lost from Christ s companion-
90 THE SOEKOW OF THE DIVIE
ship for ever. In one sense, not God Himself can
restore the years that the locust hath eaten. This
hour of fellowship that might have been is gone.
The chance of that deed of Christ-likeness is gone.
Ah ! if one word is clear from our experience, it is
that saddest of all words, never, never-more.
Moreover, that is not the whole of the penalty.
The past is, so far, the future in germ. The neglects
of the past determine, so far, the possibilities of the
future. We all, in greater or less degree, here at
any rate, because of our own silly neglect of God s
call, have to be content with God s second-best.
ow, Jesus knew that well. Wherefore, He
pleaded passionately with men. Clear and strong
rang out His verily, verily : grave and arresting
came His he that hath ears to hear let him hear .
And did men hear, think you ? One or two, and a
woman here and there. But the multitude went
heedless on their way, letting each day place a new
grave-stone over another might-have-been. And
still more earnestly He pleaded, till, at the end,
you remember, they met Him with jeers.
Let us try to conceive something of what this
meant to the heart of Jesus. He spoke of eternal
urgencies and men laughed at Him, or treated Him
with that practical indifference which gives the
sorest wounding to an ardent heart. When there
was a dream of a kingdom, they followed Him.
The diseased came to Him. But scarce a man
THE SOBKOW OF THE DIVIE 91
hearkened to His spiritual teaching. Still less had
they ears for His immediacies. * To-day ! Why
to-day ? To-morrow is a better day than to-day.
Let us eat, drink and be merry. And the heart
of Jesus was torn, when men, in their heedless-
ness, blinded themselves to the things that be
longed unto their peace.
In the third place, His grief was the penalty of
Love.
It is an unquestioned fact of life that our noblest
is inextricably woven with our pain. We are at
our highest when we love. Therefore, when we
love we are most susceptible to sorrow. Once
names are graven on our hearts, our hearts are
open to the pangs and stabs of bitterness, when
death or disgrace shall come nigh unto those that
are dear.
ow, once we believe the All-wise to be the All-
loving too, we are permitted to infer from human
love at its height to the heart of God. Conceive
the case of a father who watches his child debasing
himself, refusing the best, refusing the aid of all
the sacrifice and what stint would there be to it ?
that the father would give to save that child s soul
alive. The thing happens. o greater grief comes
to a good man. It comes solely because he is good
and because he loves. After such manner was the
experience of Jesus. He really did love men. I
think He was the only one who ever lived who
92 THE SOKKOW OF THE DIVIE
could be truly said to be possessed with a love of
humanity. And the plain fact was that He was
despised and rejected of men. He was despised
and we esteemed Him not. Ah ! I think Jesus
could have borne that, if only men had turned to
righteousness. He would have been content to go
out alone, unknown and to be forgotten, if only
His word had been heard, and men had lived on
it, responding to its call. But His rejection was
the rejection of His message ; and that cut Him,
broke His heart, because He cared enough for men
to die for them.
Purity, Sacred Fire and Love dwelt together in
the heart of Christ, and they brought Him tears,
they brought Him a broken heart. And think not
that this is of the past alone. The grief of Christ,
His travail, can scarce be ended yet. Daily we
wound the Gracious, if we are content with less
than He would give us. Still, there walks in our
streets, and by our sides, a Man of Sorrows, ac
quainted with grief. It is our slowness, our poor
response, our sin that bring Him to us in that
guise. Why should we treat Him so ? For He
cares enough and has done enough to stir us to the
humble yielding, which changes the grief of Jesus
into the gladness of a Deliverer who has set free,
and into the joy of a Friend who has saved His
friend.
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