It’s Jesus, Not Me
In the popular series of British children’s books Where’s Wally? (or, as it’s known in North America, Where’s Waldo?), readers find themselves scurrying all over the page looking for a funny-looking fellow wearing red-and-white striped clothes who nonetheless is hard to spot in his suspiciously similarly-colored surroundings. In a similar manner, when we read our Bibles, we can find ourselves doing a comparable exercise, only instead of searching for a man in a red-and-white striped sweater and glasses, we ask ourselves, “Where am I?” We wonder which character we are like, or how a verse speaks directly of us and about us.
Yet the real question we should be asking is “Where’s Jesus?”—for He is the primary focus of the Bible.
The truth is that if we really want to find ourselves in Scripture, we will discover that a large part of the story is about us. Yet that part is not very flattering. The Bible reveals us to be wretched sinners, who need a Savior. This is why we must train our eyes to look for that Savior when we read our Bibles. As has been said, in the Old Testament Jesus is expected, in the Gospels He’s revealed, in Acts He’s preached, in the Epistles He’s explained, and in the book of Revelation He’s anticipated.
When we read Lamentations 3 with Jesus as our focus, seeking Him rather than looking for ourselves, we will discover that He is clearly present. The chapter opens with the prophet Jeremiah declaring, “I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath” (Lamentations 3:1). Who is more fit to utter those words than Jesus? On the cross, Jesus bore the wrath of God so that those of us who rightly deserved God’s condemnation might be saved through the judgment that He endured in our place. That’s the story of the gospel: another has done for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. In truth, then, as you read this verse, you do not see yourself here at all, even though you should—for you do see Christ here. He “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). Whatever trials you face as a Christian in this life and however inexplicable they feel, of one thing you can be sure: God is not punishing you in His wrath. All that was poured out upon another, on the cross.
As you read of God’s persevering faithfulness to His downtrodden people in Lamentations 3, remember that “he who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” is also the one who will “graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32). And as you read of the man who saw affliction under the rod of God’s wrath, rejoice that this verse speaks not of you but of Him.
17and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
23When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic.4 But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,
“They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”
So the soldiers did these things, 25but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
The Death of Jesus
28After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
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