It’s a wonderful thing how plastic surgeons can work on people who have extreme disfigurements to their faces and after surgeries have them looking rather nice. Some before and after pictures show changes that are truly amazing. Some of these doctors with Christian charity go to third world countries and help people who cannot afford any medical care, let alone such expensive surgeries. The love of Christ truly constrains these medical experts as they donate their time and expertise.
Why would Christ motivate these doctors to help people with disfigurements? Could it be that the Lord has a particular interest in people who have been disfigured because He identifies with them in a very personal way? During His suffering, He was beaten and smitten. His beard was roughly pulled off His face. In fulfillment of prophecy, “His visage was marred more than any man’s.” Jesus certainly understands the pain and shame of disfigurement.
I’ve often wondered about how Jesus was marred more than any others. My conclusion is that it is not only the physical visage that was disfigured. Think about the clear countenance of our Lord who had never sinned and always perfectly fulfilled His Father’s will. But then He took on Himself the sins of the world. We thrill at the word of John the Baptist who cried, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Yet when He was on the cross taking those sins, the sight was unimaginable. The sinless, guiltless, clear visage was marred beyond recognition. The Father turned His face away.
At that moment, the words of the psalmist were fulfilled. “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up, and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me” (Ps. 69:9). Those who reproached God by disobeying His commandments, by substituting the tradition of men for the word of God, by refusing the truth, heaped their scorn on Jesus of Nazareth. These unbelievers could not see God to openly reproach Him, but they could see the Son of man. He bore the brunt of their wicked deeds.
Jesus foretold that the same would happen to those who follow Him. “If they do this in the green tree, what will they do in the dry?” He said. And also, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:8). Those who do not serve the Lord will heap reproach on the head of those are His followers. Perhaps this is what Paul’s writings refer to when he said that those who follow Jesus will learn “the fellowship of his sufferings.”
They had raised her to follow Jesus. They had given her God’s word from when she was a child. She married what seemed to be in the will of God. But after some time passed, she left her husband for “greener pastures.” Now this godly couple felt shamed when her name was brought up. With broken hearts, they felt the reproach of what she had done. It had fallen on them as well as on the faithful husband she had left alone.
He had been raised by a Christian couple who had adopted a large number of children from various backgrounds. They were all taught to serve the Lord. He had, for a time. Time enough to get married and have children of his own. But then “she” caught his eye. He disregarded the still small voice that raised a caution. He found “her” too alluring. So he left the wife of his youth and found his delights in this other. And the reproach landed on the parents who wondered where they had gone wrong.
These stories are but two of the many that could be told. The truth is that had the parents not been sincere followers of Jesus, they would not have felt the same reproach. But they suffered. They agonized. They prayed. And they felt a new identification with the sufferings of Christ.
What must The Lord have felt to have the reproach of every wayward son or daughter of Adam and Eve descend on Him? What agony was heaped on Him after he was beaten with many stripes, bruised by many fists, and was nailed to the cross! He was mocked that He could not save. He was ridiculed for His weakness. He was upbraided for His failure. He could have called ten thousand angels to set Him free. Yet He stayed with the cross. He endured the shame. He embraced the pain.
When the shame of others descends on us, we can find help in Christ’s cross. We have a Savior who understands. In a mysterious way we are helping to “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” (Col. 1:24). We identify with His shame on the cross because He has identified with us. Yet our identification with Him falls short. It does so because we are part of His shame. Regardless of how righteous anyone appears, regardless of how broken-hearted they are about the wayward, they have also poured suffering on Christ. All of us have sinned. All of us have brought reproach on the Savior.
None of us has a right to be more judgmental of others than we are of ourselves. “If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who would stand?” Who has the standing to get into an argument with God about whether one or another has any righteousness of his own? None of us would stand. Our only hope is in Christ alone. But that hope is sure and steadfast! Jesus did not suffer indefinitely. He died and was buried. But on the third day He arose, according to the scriptures. He is no longer suffering but is conquering.
When we come with empty hands to Christ and receive His great salvation, we enter into the power of His resurrection. We have been bought with a price. We are no longer merely suffering with Him, but are alive in Him. If He has saved us, He can save others. There is hope! There is as much grace for those for whom we are burdened as there was for us. We need not allow our burdens to obscure our victory. Jesus told us to be of good cheer even in the midst of tribulations. How? “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).
The song writer put it well:
Leave it there, leave it there. Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out.
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.