My first message in about a week and a half, went on family vacation, and I unplugged and recharged. Actually started this last Friday, I’m finally ready to share it with you…
“Woe is me because of my hurt! My wound is grievous. But I said, “Truly this is an affliction, and I must bear it.””
Jeremiah 10:19 ESV
Pain in the great equalizer in life. Pain comes to us all, unwanted and uninvited. It puts us on an even playing field. It comes to us all. It comes to the rich and the poor. Black and white. Educated and uneducated. Powerful and weak. Religious and irreligious. In a broken world, pain is inevitable.
Jeremiah’s pain, Woe is me because of my hurt!, was the pain of watching his country be invaded and fall to the Babylonians. Jeremiah was a prophet in the southern kingdom called Judah. At the time they were being ransacked by the Babylonians. His pain was the pain of watching his countrymen captured and carried off to Babylon. The pain of watching his city, the holy city of Jerusalem, being burned and ransacked, with the holy temple of Jewish worship being destroyed by a pagan army.
Jeremiah was able to put to words the pain we have all felt. We’ve all felt pain, but sometimes in those painful moments we just can’t find the words to express the hurt you feel. Maybe the wound is more than you can bear.
Jeremiah’s pain was the pain of a nation falling. Maybe your pain is the physical pain from some disease or malady. Maybe you feel the emotional pain of someone you have loved who has hurt you. Maybe it’s the hidden pain of abuse. Maybe it’s the stinging pain of loss through death. Maybe you know the shameful pain of personal failure.
For many of us, it’s the pain and regret and sorrow of lifelong struggles with with addictions that cause us to hurt other people. How many examples have we seen of the saying hurt people hurt people. We who have been wounded and have been hurt, end up hurting others. How many deep wounds have we seen and felt that we have tried to self medicate with sex, alcohol, gambling, drugs, but we just can’t. We end up, out of our hurt and wounded-ness, hurting the people we love. We tell our stories, we tell of our lies, we tell of stealing from those we love, we abandon them, we break our relationships apart. Truly this is an affliction, and I must bear it.
Jeremiah, living in a time when the southern kingdom and Jerusalem itself were being laid bare, had in mind the words of Isaiah. Jeremiah became the weeping prophet, carrying the wound of the fallen Jerusalem. But one hundred years before Jeremiah, God had sent to Israel the prophet Isaiah both with a warning and a message of hope. Isaiah opens the second half his book of prophecy with these words – “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord ‘s hand double for all her sins.” Isaiah 40:1-2 ESV. One hundred years before Jeremiah and his wounds and his hurt, Isaiah prophesied that a day of new creation was coming to Israel. There would come a day when Israel would flourish, where they would build houses and plant vineyards, and have babies and lots of babies and grand-babies and have big kosher BBQs and the family would all be together. One hundred years before Jeremiah’s pain there was this great prophecy that there would be a time of flourishing and this time of new creation when God would come and dwell with his people again.
Then there was this promise that Isaiah gave – “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.” Isaiah 65:25 ESV. The hurt Jeremiah felt compelled to hold onto (ever been there?), he would not have to hold onto any longer. There was coming a time of new creation where in God’s rule and reign they would not hurt or destroy anymore. Isaiah prophecies this yet one hundred years later there was the fall of Jerusalem and the people watched as the wolves and lions from Babylon came devouring…
Yet a promise remained from Isaiah. Even at this point in Israel’s history, God had not forsaken them, he had not given up. There was coming one called the anointed one, the Christ, the Messiah. There was one coming who would come to bring God’s kingdom, God’s rule and reign, to the earth. Remember, when we speak of the kingdom of God, we are not talking about a place but a power. The church is not the kingdom of God, but rather the witness to the kingdom of God. We are the servants of the kingdom of God. But the Kingdom of God is God’s rule and reign on the earth. So there was this prophecy that even through the destruction of the temple there would be a day of new creation and that Messiah would come.
Isaiah tells us that when Messiah would come he would be a suffering King, that he would take all the hurt, pain and sorrow of Israel away. In Isaiah 53 it tells us “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4 ESV. Jeremiah is carrying this wound, this hurt, this pain, yet he has the promise that Messiah would come and be a suffering king.
Five hundred years (God does move slowly, doesn’t he?) after Isaiah’s prophecy a virgin girl gives birth to her first born son, and they would call his name Jesus, for he would save God’s people from their sins. Jesus came to bring God’s kingdom, his rule and reign, to bring God’s holy mountain to the earth. Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God and show us what God is like.
So what do we see in the gospels that Jesus was doing? He was proclaiming and preaching that God’s kingdom is a peaceable kingdom. There’s not going to be eye for an eye, tooth for tooth anymore (even though sometimes we argue with him over this!). No more hating, destroying and killing of your enemies, that’s done away with. We see Jesus proclaiming a kingdom of peace and we see Jesus healing the sick. And as he was healing the sick, he was demonstrating what God is like, what life lived in the kingdom of God is like.
What do we see about God through the preaching and ministry of Jesus? We see that God is good, full of compassion and mercy, that he’s a God who wants to mend what is broken and heal what is diseased. We see in the ministry of Jesus the promise of Isaiah coming to pass, that there will be a time when people will come under the rule and reign of God. In that place, They shall not hurt or destroy.
So Jesus has come. He has proclaimed the kingdom. And you know how the story ends. At the end of his life, Jesus dies. He goes to the cross, gets executed, and dies. One of his closest followers, Peter, says this about Jesus in his death. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 ESV. Amen.
Jesus came not just to demonstrate what life looks like in the kingdom of God, but Jesus came and he collected, he carried our griefs and sorrows, he carried all sorts of human pain into himself, took it into death, and overcame it in his resurrection that he might offer healing to all. (Amen!) So in his suffering, Jesus was suffering for us, but also with us. Jesus experienced all sorts of human pain. He experienced your pain. He experienced it for you so that he can take it in himself, overcome it, then rise again to offer healing for your wounds. He took your pain and your brokenness so that you don’t have to carry it anymore. So that if you choose to live under the rule and reign of god, then you shall not hurt or destroy anymore.
Have you experienced the pain of rejection? Jesus was abandoned and rejected by all of his disciples at his arrest and execution. Experienced the pain of injustice? Jesus was unjustly tried and sentenced to death. Experienced the pain of bondage and addiction? Jesus was bound and held against his will at his arrest. Experienced the pain of physical abuse? Jesus was slapped, spat upon and beaten before his death. Experienced the emotional pain of harsh words spoken to you in anger? Jesus was mocked, ridiculed, laughed at and scolded as he died. Experienced the shame of sexual abuse? Jesus at the cross was stripped naked, exposed for all to see. Experienced physical pain from disease or malady or sickness? Jesus experienced real human physical pain at his crucifixion. Experienced profound disappointment with God? Jesus at the cross cried out…“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” Mark 15:34 ESV. Experienced the stinging pain of the death of a loved one? Jesus experienced real human death. Jesus cried out at the end from the cross “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.” Luke 23:46 ESV. He breathed his last and went into death.
Jesus took into death with him all amounts human suffering and pain, and he overcame it in his resurrection to offer healing and solace. So when people ask, and they will, why suffering?? Or for those who make it really personal, and when they are hurting or in that moment of pain, ask where is God, why am I hurting?? God thunders back from heaven, saying I entered into that kind of pain, I took it for you, I overcame, so that you may be healed. Jesus Christ became a co-sufferer with humanity.
Where does all this come from? God does not give us the answer, scripture does not give us the answer of why suffering? But God does give us the remedy. He becomes human, suffers with us, and takes all of our suffering within himself so that our wounds may be healed.
Healing for you can begin today. Offer your brokenness to the one who was broken for you. Exchange your empire of dirt for life in the kingdom of God. Enter into the kingdom of God, that place where Isaiah promises that we will not hurt or destroy anymore. Let healing begin…