Lamentations 1:12 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?
It is hard for us to imagine the depth of Jeremiah’s feeling as he writes this literary piece about the Fall of Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Throughout his prophecy he reminds us that all this is really the LORD’s doing, and that it had an important purpose in his dealings with his people whom he loved.
But Jeremiah’s concern was that the people themselves would live through all this devastation and MISS the whole point of the divine purpose of the great suffering it involved! God was angry with them for their sin and the punishment was intended to have a therapeutic component at its core.
We see a clear foreshadowing of the suffering of Jesus, not for HIS sin, but for OURS. And as Jesus bore all the wrath of God’s fierce anger in order to protect us from it, God’s people ‘passed by’ and thought ‘nothing’ of it! The world whom God loved so much that he sent his only Son, has been doing the same thing for 2,000 years, and we could well say to them: ‘Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?’
Do we feel the same pain Jeremiah felt? Should not we feel it even more?
Wesley’s great hymn has been resurrected in my head:
All you 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. For what you have done his blood must atone: the Father has punished, for you, his dear Son. The Lord, in the day of his anger, did lay your sins on the Lamb, and he bore them away. 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. He dies to atone for sins not his own; your debt he has paid, and your work he has done. You all may receive the peace he did leave, who made intercession, “My Father, forgive!” 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. My pardon I claim; for a sinner I am, a sinner believing in Jesus’s name. He purchased the grace which now I embrace: O Father, you know he has died in my place. His death is my plea; my Advocate see, and hear the blood speak that has answered for me. My ransom he was when he bled on the cross; and by losing his life he has carried my cause.
– Bruce Christian