The Way of Sorrows – February 24, 2023
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.
Isaiah 53:3 KJV
Devotion based on Isaiah 53:3 KJV
See series: Military Devotions
There is a path marked out in the city of Jerusalem that is said to be the route on which the Roman soldiers led Jesus from the judgment hall to Golgotha. It is called the Via Dolorosa—“The Way of Sorrows.”
While that path may not be exactly accurate, since many years have passed since that dark Friday, the name of the road is most fitting. The Way of Sorrows was walked by the Man of sorrows.
His story is the saddest one ever told. It is a story of grief beyond human description. It begins near the dawn of time.
The one called Jesus is the Son of God who was there at creation. He made a perfect universe with perfect people who were to live in perfect joy. But the perfection was lost, and the heart of the Creator was grieved.
His lament is recorded. “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain” (Genesis 6:5,6).
The consequences were horrendous. The Giver of life said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.”
We have read of natural disasters. We have seen the pictures. We feel sorry for the people caught up in them. But nothing compares to the flood in Noah’s day when the waters kept rising and rising, when housetops, treetops, and even mountain tops offered no escape from drowning.
Such a tragedy! No one was even left to grieve—except Noah and his family—and except the holy God who was heartsick over sin.
It brought the Lord of glory no pleasure to see the suffering and the dying. He tells us, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:11)
Jesus was indeed a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
The Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows, began long before a Pontius Pilate was born, long before Jesus was betrayed, and long before his first cry as a baby.
But it all could have been avoided. It would have been so easy for the Son of God to skip the sorrow. It would only have been natural, and fair if humans had been left to go down the path they had chosen.
That’s what had happened to the rebellious angels. Why shouldn’t it happen to humans?
Those who sin should pay the price for committing sin. Why should it be any different?
Sin brings shame. Sin brings pain. Don’t believe it? Just wait. Just watch. Just learn.
And then turn. Turn to the one who takes away the shame and the pain. Turn to the Man of sorrows who is acquainted with grief.
The road to Golgotha began at the east side of Eden where cherubim and a flaming sword flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24).
There was no hope for us in Eden. The tree of life growing there would only lock us into a never-ending existence of futility and hopelessness.
The path to life led to a different tree—a dead tree, a deadly tree.
There, the Lord of life would hang until he died.
The Man of sorrows had to walk the Way of Sorrows all the way to his death.
This was our only hope. This gave us life. This turns great sorrow into great joy.
We still have sorrows in our lives. Sometimes they bring us great grief. But they are only temporary. We are traveling through life as if on a train. Sometimes, we run into bad weather and bad times. The train rocks and jerks as we move along life’s track. But this train does not stop. It does not drop us off in the desert of desperation. It will carry us along to the place it is destined to reach.
An old song contains the words, “This train is bound for glory, this train.”
It seems to fit our situation.
Our Savior God walked the Way of Sorrows so we could ride the train to glory.
Something to think about as we watch the season of Lent pass by.
Prayer: Jesus, Savior, lead us through this vale of tears. Take us home. Amen.
Points to ponder:
- How does it affect us to learn that our Creator is grieved over our sin?
- Why do the pains of life tempt us to think our God does not care?
- Is Good Friday a source of sorrow or joy? Why?
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Stillwater, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.