Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me, that the LORD brought on me in the day of his fierce anger? From on high he sent fire, sent it down into my bones. He spread a net for my feet and turned me back. He made me desolate, faint all the day long. My sins have been bound into a yoke; by his hands they were woven together. They have come upon my neck and the Lord has sapped my strength. He has handed me over to those I cannot withstand. Lamentations 1:12-14.
It is not long after 586 BC. Jerusalem lies desolate, and Jeremiah sits and weeps and, as a representative of captive, suffering Israel, makes the lament of which these verses are part. But what strikes me as I read them is their prophetic content. The way they look forward to another Representative of captive, suffering Israel and, indeed, of a captive, suffering world … to someone whose sins (not his own, but those he has freely taken upon himself) have been bound into a yoke that he carries on his neck and shoulders through the narrow streets of Jerusalem to a place called Calvary.
Charles Wesley made the same connection …
All ye that pass by, to Jesus draw nigh:
To you is it nothing that Jesus should die?
Your ransom and peace, your surety he is:
Come, see if there ever was sorrow like his.
He answered for all: O come at his call,
And low at his cross with astonishment fall!
But lift up your eyes at Jesus’s cries:
Impassive, he suffers; immortal, he dies.
For you and for me he prayed on the tree:
The prayer is accepted, the sinner is free.
That sinner am I, who on Jesus rely,
And come for the pardon God cannot deny.
There are more verses but these carry the message of them all: that in Jesus, and in Jesus alone, all sin, failure, defeat, sorrow, pain and suffering finds an answer. Somehow, God brings all the evil in the world from past, present and future, into that singularity we call “the cross” and deals with it there in the death of Jesus. I may not understand what happened at the cross (in the hymn just quoted, Charles Wesley uses several metaphors for what Jesus did there) and I may not be meant to, but I know what happens when I come to the cross — bad stuff leaves me and good stuff fills me; or to put it in the more religious words of another old hymn, “burdens are lifted at Calvary”.
Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me. Help me to live for you, this day and every day. Amen.