Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Way of the Cross (37)

Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look and see
if there is any sorrow like my sorrow,
which was brought upon me,
which the LORD inflicted
on the day of his fierce anger
(Lamentations 1:12)

Those words are uttered by one on the receiving end of the judgment of God, the punishment of the Almighty. The judgement has fallen, yet many continue on their day-to-day life, unconcerned, unaffected, unmoved.

The words were first uttered by the devastated inhabitants of Jerusalem, when that city finally fell to the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. The Lamentations (which we probably don't think enough about - it probably doesn't fit into our happy-clappy always high Christianity) are an extended meditation and cry of lament; pouring out pain to God. Jerusalem fell, and the surrounding nations were glad - Edom threw a party. The people of God, however, turn to lament.

These very words could be on the lips of the Lord Jesus as he dies on the cross (indeed, they are used with powerful effect in Stainer's Crucifixion). We're told that the place where Jesus was crucified was on the highway, many people were passing by and could see what happened to rebels and criminals. Yet they regard it as a spectacle, something to enjoy and revel at, rather than something precious, amazing, powerful.

No wonder that the lights were dimmed, the sky turned black and there was darkness for those three hours of intense suffering on the cross, as the LORD inflicted his fierce anger, his wrath towards sin, on the sinless substitute.

The same question rings out today - is it nothing to you? Think of the many people who care nothing about the cross, or the one who suffered on it for our sake. Perhaps a cross is used as a piece of jewellery, but with no thought to what it meant.

Can we make nothing of it as Christians? Do we imagine that once we've been a Christian for a while we don't need to think about the cross any more? That we're somehow making ourselves worthy and can earn our place in heaven once we've been given a jump start? Forbid it that we should ever think nothing of the cross. Rather, as Paul writes:

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)

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