He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
Imagine, if you will, your most embarrassing moment. I am not talking about some small thing like your cell phone going off in church and everyone hearing the embarrassing song that is your ring tone (by the way, you know who you are). No, I am asking you to think about a moment of deep embarrassment. Maybe the one that comes to mind is not your own but someone else’s that you witnessed. It may have been public, but it also might have been private. No doubt, it involved great rejection, suffering or humiliation.
Whatever you are thinking of right now, I think I can safely guess that you generally try NOT to think about it – except when someone asks you to, like I am doing right now. If you are fortunate, no one caught it on camera. If they did, you find the files and delete them. Or maybe what you did, or what was done to you was so shameful that the records are permanently etched onto your mind. You don’t need a photograph. Regardless, none of us want to relive these moments of rejection, pain and embarrassment.
But Christ is different. He loves to celebrate the Supper with us and yet, if you ponder it for a moment, this was His worst moment. He was shamed. He was abused. He was rejected. He was abandoned. He was tortured. He was stripped. He was mocked. And, all this was done in public so that people could watch as His dignity was peeled off of Him. Sure, for us, the Supper is a delight since it signals our release. But one would think that a great King like Jesus would want to play down such a humiliation. Someone in heaven’s public relations department should quiet this down, we might think.
But, Jesus has called us to remember it – to remember it regularly – to memorialize His humiliation. And, it is clear that in doing so, He is not getting even with us. He is not primarily calling us to the Supper to remind us that we are responsible, although we are of course. Rather, He is calling us primarily to come and eat with Him. The command is not, “Come and see what you’ve done.” Instead the command is, “Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you.”
How unbelievably loving this all is – that Jesus would spread the feast and serve us even while we memorialize His humiliation. We work tirelessly to avoid rejection and shame. Jesus calls attention to His. It is a badge of honor. How can He delight in the memory of all this? First, He delights in it because it is the will of His Father. Jesus is not driven by man’s acceptance but by the will of His Father.
But is it not also because of His great love for us? Only the best of friends would glory in personal shame if it meant good for the friend. He is the Church’s true Husband, and He is the Friend that is better than a brother. He will joyfully spend the feast with us this Sunday. So come and wonder at His love this Lord’s Day as we come to the Table.
Pastor Matthew Fisher