Wednesday 1st April
3rd Station Jesus Falls for the First Time
“Cornerstone” Sieger Koder
Isaiah 53: 5-7
But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
As you look into the sleep-deprived face of the father who is burying his child he asks the question you fear the most, “Why has God allowed this to happen?”. There is no answer that will satisfy that question, heal that soul in torment, or bring peace where there is no peace. The only honest response is “I do not know – and I dearly wish I did”.
But here in Isaiah we hear an answer to a related question “where is God when suffering happens?” – for Isaiah tells us that the servant of God is right at the heart of the suffering – wounded, crushed, bruised, oppressed and afflicted. God’s servant bears the burden of all that is wrong with the world, and somehow heals God’s people.
And when we read this description we think of Jesus and the suffering he bears.
Sieger Koder’s painting seems to show Jesus not only bearing the weight of the cross-piece on which he will die, but also weighed down by the people in the upper part of the painting – who seem to be indulging in every vice imaginable. Jesus is bearing the consequences of every sin, he is the victim of every torment, he is the ultimate suffering servant.
God does not protect us from suffering. But he does not abandon us to it either. In Jesus Christ, God takes our suffering, shares it, shoulders it and ultimately transforms it through the power of resurrection.
We do not understand this bearing of our sin and our sorrow, but we given thanks to God for it. It is the gift of grace and the only thing that makes the pain of life worthwhile, and brings eternal life and peace.
God of grace, When we cry out to you in our pain Help us to hear the whisper of Jesus our Lord: “ I am here beside you”. Lend us your strength, we pray Shoulder our burden, our sin, our pain and transform it through your undying love. Amen.
The Rev’d Ruth Whitehead, Moderator, South Western Synod & member at Taunton URC.