Sermon prepared by Nick Clay for Sunday, November 15th. See the activities update for that date.
The Christological Implications of Lamentations 3
I. The prophet is experiencing God’s wrath (1-9). The prophet in the first 18 verses is really just giving his personal perspective of the trouble going on around him. The feelings the prophet has are comparative to the feelings that Jesus felt on the cross as He experienced the wrath of God for man’s sin being poured out on Him. 2 Cor. 5:21 says that Jesus was made sin for us so that we could stand righteous before God through him (see also 1 Pet. 2:24). Isaiah 53:10 says that it “pleased God to crush him.” That is, it was his perfect will and purpose to do so. Jesus sought God out in Gathsemene to take the cup of darkness and affliction from him (Luke 22:42). It is obvious that Jesus suffered immense physical pain on the cross, this is only further captured through his cry of thirst (John 19:28) and his escape is only blocked through the implication of God turning his face away (Isa. 59:2; Matt. 27:46).
II. The prophet feels that God is personally targeting him (10-18). Jesus was flogged, given a crown of thorns, spit on, mocked, and beaten (Matt. 27:26-31). Unable to carry his own cross, the Roman soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross (Matt. 27:32). Even on the cross, the humiliating trophy case of the Roman civil governance, Jesus continued to bear the mocking and insults of passerby’s, including the taunts of the two men who were crucified alongside of him (Matt. 27:38-44). Just as the prophet, Jesus was given bitter herbs (vinegar) and gall (hyssop) to drink (Mat. 27:47-49; John 19:28-30), and His splendor (NIV) was stripped from Him (Matt. 27:28-29; John 19:19-21).
III. The prophet remembers the Lord’s great love (19-36). The prophet remembers and considers his pain, but he comes to a realization that his hope is greater than his pain. His hope transcends the physical and looks to a greater fulfillment that is, the coming of His Savior Messiah and a resurrection of life. His confidence is in the faithful fulfillment of covenant-promise (Jer. 32:40). He will not be consumed, but will wait patiently for the Lord who is His portion (Psa. 37:7; 1 Thess. 1:10; Titus 2:13). The prophet sat in silence and turned his cheek to his oppressors as did Jesus (Isa. 53:7; Matt. 27:12-14).
IV. God’s love does not negate the necessity of repentance (37-45). Interestingly enough Jesus addresses this same point in Luke 13:1-5. The prophet says in Lam. 3:37-38 that both calamities and good things come from the mouth of the Most High, and so we shouldn’t complain when punished for our sins. In Luke, Jesus is asked if the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices were worse sinners than other Galileans because they suffered the way they did. Jesus strongly affirms the negative, but instead points to the fact that we don’t know when we are going to die, therefore we should hasten to repent or else there is greater future judgment.
I also established that the relationship believers have with God is a relationship based solely on faith in the finished work of Christ (John 19:30). That is, Christ’s life (Phil. 2:6-8), death (John 3:16-17), burial (1 Cor. 15:4), and resurrection (Rom. 6:5) provide a way to eternal life for those who trust in this plan of God. Justification is a legal term that biblically implies the declaration of one’s righteous standing before the holy God. Only those who by faith trust the plan of salvation through Christ can achieve this righteous standing (John 5:24; Rom. 3:28; 4:5; 5:1; Gal. 3:24; Eph. 2:8-9)
V. Even the Righteous will experience suffering on account of sinful man’s unrepentance (46-54). The biggest Christological correlation in this section lies in the understanding of the doctrine of Justification by Faith. I considered in the previous point that we should examine ourselves in light of this doctrine. That is, if we see good in our life, we should examine why we have this good, and if we find that we are in sin, we should confess our sins and repent. However, I also pointed out that it is not always the case that we are sinning if troubles come our way. The Bible, especially the New Testament, clearly indicates that the godly will suffer in Christ Jesus and that our suffering is preparing us for a better future (Psa. 34:19; 119:71; Matt. 10:38; John 16:33; Rom. 8:35ff, 2 Cor. 4:17; Phil. 3:10; 2 Tim. 3:12; James 1:2-3; 1 Pet. 3: 18; 4:1; 4:13; 4:19; etc.).
VI. God’s judgment is perfect and final (55-66). The future is bright for those who are in Christ Jesus. God has heard our prayers for the longing of Christ’s second coming, and we eagerly await the consummation of all things in Christ (John 14:13; Col. 1:15-20; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). Even the creation groans for the return of Christ and the restoration of all things (Rom. 8:22). Christ comes to silence all fears (Rom. 8:14-17; 1 John 4:18), wipe every tear (Rev.21:4), take up the case of the Righteous (Isa. 26:21; Jer. 51:36; Rom. 12:19), redeem our life (Psa. 34:22; Jer. 50:34; Eph. 1:7-80), pay the wicked for their deeds (Psa. 28:4; Jer. 51:6; Isa. 13:11; Ezek. 18:20; 2 Pet. 2:9), mock and laugh at them (Psalm 2:4-6), and just as the prophet felt God was pursuing him, Christ will come to pursue and destroy those who afflict the prophet, as well as those who afflict the righteous (Psa. 35:6; 2 Pet. 3:10-12; Rev. 19:11-15).