“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces. He was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” (Isaiah 53:2-3)
So begins the song of the Suffering Servant, a prophetic description of the promised Messiah. Hundreds of years later Jesus would arrive to fulfill the words of the prophet. These words: despised, rejected, familiar with pain, low esteem. Jesus was nothing like a storybook hero or like the muscle-strapped characters in the Marvel movies. Brute force or a show of power was not the way God would save. His experience was a lot more like a homeless man. And the Bible puts all our hope on his despised and rejected shoulders, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering…and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). This Easter week we will be sharing five meditations on the suffering of Jesus and how it is hope similar to and hope for those experiencing homelessness today.
“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”
We live in a winning-obsessed world. From childhood we are trained to do whatever it takes to stand on top of the podium, claiming our place as number one, or at the very least get as close we can by climbing the ladder of success and beating all challengers. Since this is what we value, we would assume if God were to visit that he would probably showcase his once-and-for-all superiority. God would be the ultimate winner.
If God visited in this way, homeless kids would have a hard time believing he was a God who loved them. Many of our kids have experienced so much loss that our culture of winning just seems like a constant state of rejection.
In Isaiah 53 we are introduced to the song of the Suffering Servant. The sufferer in the song is Jesus. It is a prophetic word telling how God would come and live among us. Jesus chose to experience life from the perspective of someone who is always rejected, never picked, never winning, and hurting deeply. And when Jesus finally gave up his life in exchange for the life of the world, people were embarrassed by him and looked away.
How many of us have turned away from the hurting? When we are tempted to turn away from the hurting or not sit near the smell, remember that God embraced the hurting and the smell. Jesus lived fully among us. He experienced all our loss, so that by faith we might be included in all his victory—life forever in his home.
– by Daniel Frederick, Community Development Director at The Coffee Oasis
God, we confess with sadness that often we have turned away from those in poverty because it makes us scared to be close suffering. Give us the courage to love those experiencing homelessness with a love that goes beyond words. Teach us to live with open hands and open homes. Teach us the hospitality of Jesus, who made room at meals for everyone to eat with him. Help our hearts understand that we can look with love on all people, because you have looked on us with love.