Isaiah 53:7 - He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.
Not long ago, the evening news told of a man who had spent a year hitchhiking from coast to coast.
The young man, who was trying to "discover the real America," came away from the experience with a number of stories which he hopes to cobble into a book. In his interview, he spoke of seeing communities which were cold and those which went out of their way for a stranger. His thoughts seemed to center on the kind, the caring, and the compassionate of America's citizenry.
Although he had planned on mooching rides as he made his way from the West Coast to the east, there were times when rides were scarce and he had to hoof it. "Those were the lonely times," the young man reflected. Still, the part of the interview I remember the most was when he was asked "What was the most difficult thing you had to endure?"
His reply surprised the interviewer (and me).
I thought he would say his greatest problem had come in the thin air of the mountains or the hot sun of the deserts. Those items were never mentioned. He did recall how, during a three-day period, when nobody had given him a lift, he had felt some degree of loneliness. So, what was the biggest difficulty he had endured? What was it that bothered him most?
"The biggest pain I endured," the young man said, "was caused by the small stones in my shoes. Given a chance those small things could become painful discouraging big things."
I wonder what Jesus would say was the hardest thing for Him to endure as He walked this earth?
* Most certainly, the six hours He spent on His Black Friday cross would appear on the list. To endure the mockery coming from the mouths of those He was dying to save had to have been most painful.
* Then there was the time He had spent in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane. Feeling the weight of the world's sins would have been almost overwhelming, even for the Son of God. But that was not the only hurt He felt. He had asked His disciples to pray with Him and they fell asleep. Soon they would desert Him and flee into the dark. One of His hand-picked disciples was about to betray Him, and before the night was over, another would three times swear He had never met the Savior.
* Yes, those times had been painful -- painful in the extreme. But I wonder if the small stones in his sandals might not have been just as painful. You know, the small stones of not having nine of the lepers offering up thanks for their healing or the Jerusalem crowds which would welcome Him on Sunday and call for His death on Friday.
The truth is I don't know the biggest pain Jesus endured. I don't know, because He never said. Isaiah had it right. From start to finish, Jesus never opened His mouth in complaint. Little stones and big boulders were all endured. Why? He was, as the Baptizer had said, the Lamb of God who was taking away the sins of the world (see John 1:29).
THE PRAYER BEFORE THE CROSS: Lord Jesus, I give thanks that You endured many things which no individual should suffer. This You did to win my forgiveness and salvation. No matter what stumbling stones show up in my life, may my days be a song of unending praise. In Your Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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