Come to Earth to Taste Our Sadness
I have a new favorite Christmas carol this year: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus. Though I've sung this one for years, the incomparable Good Shepherd Band has introduced me to a lesser known verse of this hymn written by Charles Wesley. Most hymnals, and even Wikipedia, that fount of knowledge, only list two verses, though some split them up so they appear as four stanzas. But Wesley's original included at least two more verses. (The first and last are the common ones, with the one in bold the extra one that the GSB band includes:)
Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
Joy to those who long to see thee, Dayspring from on high, appear;
Come, thou promised Rod of Jesse, of thy birth we long to hear!
O’er the hills the angels singing news, glad tidings of a birth;
“Go to him, your praises bringing; Christ the Lord has come to earth.”
Come to earth to taste our sadness, he whose glories knew no end;
By his life he brings us gladness, our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.
Leaving riches without number, born within a cattle stall;
This the everlasting wonder, Christ was born the Lord of all.
Born Thy people to deliver, born a child, and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever, now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine own sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne.
This hymn speaks to so much - Jesus is the long expected Messiah, the one who fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies. He came not only for those of Israel's race but is also the "hope of all the earth," and the "dear desire of every nation." But this carol also speaks of the life that Jesus brings to those who acknowledge Him as the "joy of every longing heart" and "Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend." He is the King who reigns over all, but by His Spirit He also rules in individual hearts of His children.
Recently I'm finding myself increasingly overwhelmed with the amount of sadness and suffering all around - in the lives of friends and family near and far, in our church body, and right here in my own wretched heart. Sin, both our continual daily sin, and the effects of the curse from Adam's first sin, messes with every single aspect of life from our physical bodies to relationships with those we live intimately with. So this picture of Jesus coming to taste our sadness has been a very real comfort, and one I find myself returning to again and again.
After I started looking, I saw this thread in other Christmas carols. Here are a few:
O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer/Our spirits by Thine advent here;And drive away the shades of night/ And pierce the clouds and bring us light!Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel (O Come, O Come, Emmanuel)
And ye, beneath life's crushing load/ Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way/With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours/Come swiftly on the wing:
O rest beside the weary road/ And hear the angels sing. (It Came upon the Midnight Clear)
Jesus is our childhood's pattern/Day by day like us He grew;He was little, weak, and helpless/Tears and smiles like us He knew:And he feeleth for our sadness/ And He shareth in our gladness. (Once in Royal David's City)
No more let sins and sorrow grow/Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessing flow/ Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found/ Far as, far as, the curse is found. (Joy to the World)
What a joy to know that Jesus, while without sin himself, tasted our sadness, and then went on to make the sacrifice to bring us healing from the destruction and penalty of sin. Yes, one day, He will "wipe away every tear from (our) eyes, and the death shall not be any more, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor shall there be any more pain, because the first things did go away" (Rev. 21:4).