October 10, 2011
Sorrowful unto Death
“My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death. Tarry ye here and watch.”
Centuries earlier, a forlorn, grieving prophet sat surveying the ruins of a once great city. From his lips arose words familiar to us all: “Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me.” (Lam 1:12). Jeremiah could not imagine a grief greater than what he was enduring as a result of God’s “fierce anger” against His city.
But Jeremiah’s sorrow was surpassed by another. Moving in the shade of Olivet, in the Garden, with the shadow of a cross looming over, a greater than Jeremiah said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful.” Exceeding what? What did His sorrow exceed? It was greater than any other sorrow that any other man had ever known.
Why do we grieve? Why do we feel sorrow? It is usually linked with loss. The greater the object treasured, the more valuable the possession or person lost, the greater the sorrow we experience. What was He about to endure? What was He about to lose? The cross would mean the interruption of the enjoyment of a fellowship known eternally. Would it be exaggerating to say that the most precious thing to the Lord Jesus was the fellowship He enjoyed as a Man with His God and as a servant to His Master? Nothing was so precious to His heart. Yet as He faced the cross, He was fully conscious of what He was about to endure. Measure His enjoyment of that relationship and you will begin to have a standard against which to measure the extent of His “exceeding sorrow.”
1. “Sorrowful unto death.” What do you think this means? Is the Lord Jesus saying that the grief He was experiencing would have led to death in a natural man?
2. What other contrasts can you find between the sorrow which Jeremiah knew in Lamentations 1, and the sorrow of the Lord Jesus Christ?
3. The word, “exceeding” can mean “to be surrounded on every side.” Think of the sorrow the Lord Jesus knew in every “direction.” From His disciples, His family, His friends, His nation, the Gentiles, and then from His God.