Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows...
One of the reasons we follow Jesus as Lord is because he goes first. What I mean is this: what Jesus commands us to do as his followers, he does first for us. The apostle Paul tells us that bearing one another's burdens is fulfilling the law of Christ (Galatians 6.2).
In the context of Galatians 6, bearing another's burden is to seek to restore another, who is caught in a transgression. The word “restore” is used to describe the mending of fishing nets. Restore is to repair and bring back to proper function. When we restore another, who is caught in a transgression, we will be required to sacrifice our time for them. But it may also require a sacrifice of our finances or other personal resources.
In gentleness, we share our lives, time, resources, energy and strength, to help another be restored to God in Jesus, and living in grace and truth. As we are called by Jesus to bear one another's burdens by restoring others, a complaint can emerge in our hearts. The objection is,"She got herself into this mess; she needs to get herself out.” There is an element of truth to this. We share burdens; we don't take on the full burden of someone else's restoration. But this objection also needs to be corrected by the gospel, by Jesus' leadership.
What I mean is this: when we see another caught in a transgression and needing restoration, we see a reflection of ourselves. We see what we are like apart from Jesus working in us. Though we are called to help share another's burden, Jesus didn't just share our burden, he shouldered the whole thing. Jesus has done for us, what he calls us to do. But Jesus has done more for us than he calls us to do. Jesus has completely borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. In bearing our griefs, he took the whole load of our sins and sorrows upon himself and he carried them completely for us. The Man of Sorrows, fully and completely bore our sin. He didn't sin, but he was punished as if he was the worst of sinners. Yet, he did this for us. He went first.
If (and when) we are tempted to turn away from carrying another's burden, let us take our eye off the size of the burden we are helping to carry. Instead, let us fix our eyes on the one who bore our griefs and sorrows. Let us fill our hearts with worship of Jesus, our burden bearer.
Jesus carried our full burden. And our great Lord and Savior calls us to love one another as he has loved us.