Listen to today’s devo!

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. (Isa. 53:4)

Christians interpret this text as very specifically about Jesus’ death: he experienced the pain and suffering of the cross so that we will not eternally bear the painful consequence of separation from God. This is no doubt the primary meaning of the text. But the text does not specifically say that the suffering is caused by sin.

Perhaps the text is also showing us just how human Jesus became: He took on human pain when he did not have to; he bore human suffering when he could have chosen not to. This text reminds us of Jesus’ choice to be Emmanuel, God with us. He chose this pain and took it up, and yet all around others considered him to be cursed by God.

We too take up our cross and follow Christ. For this reason we also can choose to suffer with others when we don’t have to. We can choose to live a life of renunciation in grand ways or in small ways. We can choose to leave a life of comfort to live with the poor and show solidarity with them. We can choose to serve our friends with cancer, dementia, or other diseases we dread, walking with them through the valley of death. We can do this—and much more—because we follow a God who willingly took up our pain.

Imitate Christ and step into the suffering of others.

Michael Jordan is the dean of the chapel at Houghton College (New York), where he also serves as chair of the department of biblical studies, theology, and philosophy.

© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.