Once flogged as ordered by Pilate, Jesus’ “form does not resemble a human being.” “His appearance is so disfigured that He does not look like a man.” (Isaiah 52: 14)
Jesus “does not have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him.” (Isaiah 53: 2) Instead, Jesus “is despised and rejected by men.” He becomes “a man of suffering who knows what sickness is.” People turn away from Him, and do not value Him.
Nevertheless, Jesus “bears our sicknesses, and He carries our pains.” And, while He is “pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities,” we think He is “stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53: 4, 5, 4) He is punished by God “for the iniquity of us all” because “we all go astray like sheep; we all turn to our own way.” (Isaiah 53: 6)
Jesus heals us “by His wounds.” (Isaiah 53: 5)
A gift of God Himself is our deliverance through belief in His Son, Jesus Christ. A portion of that gift is suffering for Him.
Reading of the lives of Christians recognized as “saints” either by the Roman Catholic Church or by the many Protestant Churches, we understand that some of us suffer more than others. Some only suffer the slight derision of family and friends. Others suffer torture and death.
One saint – recognized by the Roman Catholic Church – is placed in a cage with a wild boar three times, each time being wounded and near to death but not dying. After the third attempt to persuade the man to deny his faith in Jesus Christ, the tormentors tie a stone to his ankle and throw him into the sea where he drowns.
Hard to imagine that this man’s tormentors and murderers are not convicted as they watch him sink to his physical death.
Therefore, Paul tells us to “live [our] lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ… not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your deliverance — and this is from God.” (Philippians 1: 27, 28)
Paul tells us to “be strengthened by the Lord.” Our strength is not our own, but comes from “His vast strength.” We are to “put on the full armor of God” in order to withstand “the tactics of the Devil.”
This armor is to be taken up, carried; and consists of: truth, righteousness, readiness for the gospel, faith, salvation, the Word of God — and is sustained through prayer in God the Holy Spirit.
God sustains us; He strengthens us and enables us to stand. Through Him, we persevere.
The Christian walk is akin to a marriage, says Paul. We are Christ’s bride, and He is our husband. As husband, Christ loves His wife, the church, the body of believers. He keeps His bride safe. He enables her to stand victorious. If she falls, He picks her up in His mighty arms and washes her face; He cleans her, and sets her on her feet once again. If she should fall again, again He rights her. He has a love for her that no one fully comprehends. After all, He died for her. Why should He leave her? Never! She belongs to Him, for He paid an enormous price to call her His own. She is His, and His alone.
“Chris loves the church and gives Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the Word. He does this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5: 25 – 27)