Chapter 2 God's Glory And Man's Shame

I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting (Isaiah 50:6).

Our Lord referred to this prophecy as soon to be fulfilled in Himself when He said to His disciples in Luke 18:31-33, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished. For He shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death.” The only possible fulfillment of such a prophecy can be found in God’s beloved Son.

Remember His Greatness As God

In Isaiah 9:6 the prophet gives us a cluster of names concerning the Messiah. In the midst is this one—“The mighty God.” In 40:9 he has the forerunner crying, “Behold your God!” Then in our Lord’s coming into our humanity it was said of Him by the angel of the Lord: “They shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

Then in 50:2-3 Isaiah has these words from Messiah’s own lips: “Behold, at My rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness … I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.” These are works which only God can do. And it was this same mighty God, the high and holy One who inhabiteth eternity, who created all things, who became flesh to dwell and converse with men on earth. He was God in our nature—God manifest in the flesh. Without ceasing to be God, or laying aside any divine attributes, He became a true and proper Man and “dwelt among us.”

His Godhood was wonderfully displayed in His Manhood. He did the works of the Father, and those works bore witness of His Deity. The glory of His Godhood broke forth at times when He raised the dead, commanded the winds and waves to cease their raging, and knew what was in man. All divine attributes, perfections, and excellencies were displayed in His wondrous Person. All shone out resplendently in the days of His flesh as “the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His Person.” The glory of God was fully manifest and most conspicuous in the Lord Jesus, even though veiled in human flesh.

Remember His Sufferings as Our Substitute

Isaiah 50 is an amazing passage, which turns so sharply from a declaration of His Godhood to the pathos of the words in verse 6: “I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting.” No words could so express the sufferings of our Lord and the miserable condition into which He was brought. It was a state of great humiliation—of sufferings of both body and soul. No tongue can tell, no heart conceive what the Lord underwent. The very deep distress of such sufferings was the more manifest from what He said to His Father both in the garden and upon the cross—sufferings which were intolerable to any other but Himself.

“I gave My back to the smiters.” The lash with which He was scourged was of ox leather knotted with slivers of sheep bone in order to tear away and mangle the flesh. I have heard it said of Isaiah 53:5 that the word “stripes” is really the singular “stripe,” as though His back was so stripped of its flesh that it appeared as one broad stripe.

“My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair.” “His cheeks are as a bed of spices,” says the bride in Song of Solomon 5:13, pointing to her Bridegroom-Lover. It is figurative language to describe the beauty of His face. Our Lord evidently did not have the smooth cheeks so common today, but cheeks with hair growing upon them, suggested by the metaphor, “bed of spices.” His looks were graceful and majestic. It is strange that the Roman Church so often presents Him as an infant in a woman’s arms, whereas He was in His full Manhood when He suffered in our room and stead.

Hair on the cheeks once expressed manliness and courage, prudence and gravity, nobleness and majesty. And it is plain to see that our Lord, having hair on His cheeks, was grown to man’s estate. But to have this hair plucked out must have caused excruciating pain and probably accounted for the marring of His visage. “His visage was so marred more than any man” (Isaiah 52:14).

“I hid not My face from shame and spitting.” There is no more shameful act than to spit in another’s face. Our Lord did not hide His blessed face from such shame. As He gave His back voluntarily to the smiters, so also He gave His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. Remember who He was— the One who covered the heavens with blackness, which He does at night in the natural world, and which He did over the whole world when on the cross, as though to hide the shame of man.

But he did not hide His face at such insult. What profanity—to cover the blessed face of the Altogether Lovely One with spittle! Hell must have been at its hottest in such men. It would be a dastardly act to spit in any person’s face, but to spit in the face of God’s beloved Son is shame beyond description. It is man at the moral bottom of hell’s dark pit.

Remember His Comfort as Our Saviour

When we gather round His feast of remembrance, how cooling and comforting is His lovely presence in the midst of His adoring and worshiping people. What comfort His sacrifice has brought to our souls! The blessings of grace, which He has procured for all who believe, which have removed the fierceness of divine wrath, when powerfully applied to the heart by the Spirit of God bring the greatest comfort and refreshment.

He comforts best who suffers most. Who would seek comfort from a proud and haughty spirit? There is nothing which can overtake us that our blessed Lord has not suffered, and therefore He comforts best. It is He alone who can comfort those who mourn, who are in deep distress with afflictions, who languish in prisons, who suffer scandal and slander, who have to endure great physical pain.

And shall we mourn and repine when He so willingly gave His back to the smiters? Shall we hide our witness and testimony when He hid not His face from shame and spitting? The Lord Jesus is not only set before us as our Lord, Saviour, and Mediator, but also as our Example. His sufferings on our behalf are to encourage us to endure suffering for His Name’s sake. Men spit only here on earth. They cannot now spit in His face, for He is where revilers will never come. Nor will they spit in ours save for this short time here on earth.

The cloudless day is nearing,
When Thou, O Lord, wilt come,
Thy radiant beauty wearing
To take Thy people home!
Bright hosts on hosts around Thee
Shall catch Thy living rays,
And all who once have found Thee
Breathe out new songs of praise.

But how shall I then know Thee
Amid those hosts above?
What tokens there will show me
The object of Thy love?
Thy glories, all excelling,
In pure effulgence shine,
But GLORY in Thee dwelling
Will ne’er proclaim Thee mine.

The wounds, Thy wounds, Lord Jesus,
Those deep, deep wounds will tell
The sacrifice that frees us
From self, and death, and hell!
These link Thee once forever
With all who own Thy grace;
No hand these bonds can sever,
No hand these scars efface.