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…
To all God grants some dim vision of what He intends man to be. The holiest men have had the clearest glimpses of that character. One nation was separated to keep the ideal before the world. The majority corrupted the representation, but some prophets saw it clearly.
I. GOD'S IDEAL FOR MAN, AND ITS REALIZATION IN CHRIST. The majority thought He would be another Solomon, David's greater son. The prophet saw that He would be a Sinless Sufferer; what it had been intended that the nation should be, that the Suffering Servant would be. The voice of God, which set forth the ideal by the lips of prophets, now speaks through our own highest desires.
II. THE WORLD'S RECEPTION OF THE REVEALED IDEAL. Pilate has brought Him forth that His suffering may excite their pity, but His pure and loving life has made them relentless in their hate. There is no beauty that they should desire Him. Barabbas, the bold and reckless, is the people's choice. While boon companions crowd round him, cold looks and scornful smiles are reserved for Christ. Christ had headed no revolt against the powers that be, and therefore He was not popular. Political emancipation is more popular than spiritual. The path of righteousness ends on Calvary; its crown is one of thorns, its throne a cross.
III. THE MEANING OF THE REVELATION OF THIS IDEAL. The world says, Blessed are the wealthy, the powerful, the great, and the wise. Christ says, Blessed are the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, the meek, the mourners, the persecuted. At first we pity Christ, and reserve our indignation for His persecutors. But He was the least pitiable of all that group. Pilate was a pitiable victim, the people were pitiable because carried away by passion, and the priests by desire for revenge. The greatness of apparent weakness is here revealed. Yet we despise weakness. Here is a dramatic representation of weighty decisions made every day in human hearts. When we choose ease and worldly glory in preference to holiness and self-denial, we despise and reject Christ. Here our choice is seen worked out to the bitter end. This is a revelation of the meaning of sin.
IV. THE EFFECT OF THIS REVELATION. The world can never forget that spiracle. In the dark ages, when the Bible was a hidden book, a representation of this scene was to be found in every church. Though obscured by superstition, the ideal was still held up, and was still moulding the minds and stimulating the holy endeavours of men. In an open Bible we have the ideal more truthfully set forth. The love there revealed has been the constraining motive which moved apostles to preach, martyrs to suffer, missionaries to forgo the joys of home, and humble men and women to labour in countless ways to advance the interests of Christ. His patience shames our murmuring: His burning love to us kindles our love to Him.
(R. C. Ford, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.