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As a faithful pastor, Jeremiah’s heart was broken because of the woeful condition of God’s Church. The sorrows of Jerusalem were truly his sorrows. The people for whom and among whom the prophet of God labored so faithfully had rejected his counsel and despised him. The man of God, who brought God’s Word to them, they cast into a pit, and chose to hear false prophets who spoke smooth things in their ears. By their own rebellion, sin, and unbelief, the sons and daughters of Abraham brought the judgment of God upon themselves. Yet, they were Jeremiah’s beloved people still. His heart broke for the very people who had cast him into that deep, dark dungeon. As he beheld the ruins of the city of God, the prophet wept in bitterness, identifying himself with the people who despised him, taking their crimes to be his crimes. He wept with great bitterness and cried, — “See, O Lord, and consider; for I am become vile. Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.”
But if we interpret these words to be only the words of Jeremiah, we must conclude that he was mistaken. If Jeremiah here speaks only as Jeremiah, in the anguish of his circumstances, the prophet must have exaggerated his grief. If we hear none here but Jeremiah, we must conclude that his words are not strictly accurate and true. That, you and I know, cannot be. We are reading the Word of God, inspired, infallible, precise, and inerrant in every word.
Without question, in this portion of Holy Scripture, Jeremiah the weeping prophet spoke as a typical representative of our blessed Savior, the Man of Sorrows, the only man who could ever truthfully use these words in an absolute sense. — “Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger”
Hear those words falling from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ, and you hear them as the Spirit of God intends for us to hear them.
“O Lord, behold my affliction: for the enemy hath magnified himself…See, O Lord, and consider; for I am become vile. Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger. From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made me desolate and faint all the day. The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand: they are wreathed, and come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall, the Lord hath delivered me into [their] hands, [from whom] I am not able to rise up.”
That was God’s work done to his darling Son when he made him sin for us. It was his Father’s rod that afflicted him. By his Father’s hand he became vile! It was his Father who sent fire into his bones, who spread a net for his feet, and turned him back! The yoke of his transgressions (our transgressions made his) was bound by his Father’s hand, wreathed, laid upon his shoulders, and made to pierce his heart, until at last he cried, “My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?”
Picture the Lord Jesus Christ hanging upon the cursed tree. There hangs the Son of God, suffering all the agonies of his Father’s righteous wrath and strict justice. He hangs yonder on Calvary’s tree as the sinners’ Substitute. He is dying the Just for the unjust that he might bring us to God! How many times have I passed by this place, “the place called Calvary,” and gone my way unmoved, unaffected? — God forgive me! Give me grace never to do so again.