Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter March 2012

Surely He has borne our griefs  And carried our sorrows

– Isaiah 53.4

Dear Friends,

About a year ago, as I sat at home seeking to prepare a Bible Study, I wanted to compare some different Bible versions to see how a particular verse was translated in each one. I reached for a copy of a version I rarely ever use, which I had picked up second-hand. As I took it down, a card fell out of it. The text laid out above was beautifully handwritten on the front of it, and on the inside was a note from one Christian lady to another. The author of the note asked an important question:

‘This verse is very familiar, but do we really believe it?’

I want to ask you the same question. You might reply ‘of course I believe this, Jesus is my Saviour and He has paid the price for my sin!’ Well, that is a good answer and it is indeed a wonderful truth that if we repent of our sin and believe in Christ and all He has done for us, He has died for our sins.

But there is more than ‘just’ salvation in this verse. If you like, alongside the pure gold of salvation there is another precious jewel. Isaiah says of the Lord Jesus ‘He has borne our griefs’ – which means, literally, our diseases and sicknesses. Most versions of the Bible keep the word ‘griefs’ – perhaps the verse is just too familiar to change – but this word makes us think of grief as an emotion – which is actually covered by the other word used – ‘sorrows’. This word ‘griefs’ means something different.

In Matthew’s gospel we read of how the Lord Jesus ‘healed all who were sick’ on one particular occasion, (Matthew 8.16-17) and Matthew tells us that this was a fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy which we have quoted. Here is our jewel to lay alongside the pure gold of salvation – that there is immense comfort and power at the Cross of Christ for all who suffer in life.

This is not, as some foolishly claim, power that brings guaranteed healing for all (of course, we do not deny that the Saviour has power to heal us as He wills). Rather, there is something even more wonderful for us to meditate upon. As we go through life, we may be called upon to suffer. Some of us undoubtedly suffer more than others – but here is what you need to know – that in what the Lord Jesus Christ has done on the cross, He has borne your sicknesses!

At the Cross, every consequence of Adam’s sin, of the fall, was laid upon Him. He has faced it, and borne it. He understands it. He has overcome it, and yes, He has the power to heal you of it also. But what I want to leave with you this month is the thought of the completeness of the Cross.

At the Cross, every human need is met. We need to take hold of, and own, this truth. It is not just that my sins are forgiven, but that all I need for life has been won for me. He has borne, has carried, your cancer, your arthritis, your MS, your ME, your Parkinsons disease (to name some specific examples). And not just your sicknesses, but your depression, sorrows, and grief also.

The Cross is not just the place where redemption is accomplished, but the place where all the world is set in order. All of this broken and ruined paradise will one day be perfectly restored, because of the Cross.

Think on this, dear friends. Your Saviour has experienced your pain, and He has dealt with it decisively. He will be with you and help you to bear it. He has not forgotten what He bore that day when the Sun was darkened. And note that the text says ‘He has borne your griefs’ – it is a matter of certainty, not of doubt or conjecture.

As we approach the time of year when it is traditional to especially remember our Saviour’s death and glorious resurrection, I hope that you will be personally encouraged and enabled to live for Christ and to bear with the trials of your life – knowing, without doubt, that He has already borne them all Himself, and that it will not be long before they are all at an end, and we see Him face to face.

May God bless you all.

(Jonathan Hunt) Pastor

Our fellow-sufferer yet retains

A fellow-feeling of our pains

And still remembers in the skies

His tears, His agonies, and cries.

In every pang that rends the heart,

The Man of Sorrows had a part;

He sympathises with our grief,

And to the sufferer sends relief.

Michael Bruce, 1746-67

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