It is asked whether this scripture is descriptive of the Lord's sufferings on the cross. The slightest examination of the chapter, and the recurrence of the names Judah, Zion, and Jerusalem, will show that what the Spirit of God had in view, in speaking through Jeremiah, was not the cross, but the desolating judgments which were about to be poured out upon the holy city through Nebuchadnezzar. God had borne, with much long-suffering, the grievous sins and rebellion of His people; but, as the last chapter of Jeremiah shows, wrath without remedy was finally their portion. Lamentations 1 depicts the effect of this; and hence we read, "Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits. The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness." (vv. 3, 4.) Such, in our judgment, is the interpretation of this scripture; but, when this is held fast, an application may often be made in other directions, and with edification. Thus it is true that there was no sorrow, and never could be any sorrow, like unto the sorrow of our blessed Lord and Saviour, both in Gethsemane and on the cross; and it is also beyond doubt that His surpassing and unequalled sorrow (we speak now of His atoning sufferings alone) sprang from the fact that Jehovah afflicted Him, as we read, indeed, in Psalm 88:7, "Thy wrath lieth hard upon Me, and Thou hast afflicted Me with all Thy waves." There is no difficulty, therefore, in using the passage in Lamentations as an illustration of our Lord's sufferings.
John 6:53-57; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
The question is, if there be any connection between these scriptures. There is no reference to the Lord's Supper in the former, while the latter deals exclusively with it; and yet both alike relate to the Lord's death. In John it is a question of entering into the enjoyment of eternal life and what is connected with it. It is the will of the Father "that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life; and I," said the Lord, "will raise him up at the last day." (v. 40.) There is therefore the sovereignty of grace in the gift of eternal life in and through the Son, and there is also the title to its possession, viz. faith in the Son. When we come to verse 54 we have another thing, and that is the way in which the believer appropriates, so as to enjoy, this heavenly blessing, eternal life. And this, as we read, is by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of man. There is no question but that the flesh and blood express death; this all accept. It only remains, therefore, to point out that eating and drinking signify the appropriation for ourselves of the death of Christ as here presented. It is, indeed, the acceptance through faith of the judgment which fell upon Him as our due; so that we put ourselves under, so to speak, the stroke of judgment which He endured. We thus become identified with, and morally assimilated to, His death; and we find in this the doorway into the possession of eternal life, inasmuch as we pass out of this scene through death, accepted and morally known, and enter into the circle of heavenly things, where fellowship with the Father and with the Son is enjoyed. In 1 Cor. 11 the eating the bread and drinking the cup are expressly connected with the remembrance of Christ, and showing, or announcing, the Lord's death. (vv. 24-26.) No doubt that it speaks to us also of communion with His death; but the word "remembrance" signifies an active recollection, or calling to mind. It is therefore the Lord's death we celebrate in the supper. This, in brief, will suffice to show the difference between the two scriptures.*
*Acts 9:19, which was also quoted in the question, must surely be taken to refer to natural food, for it says in v. 9 that Saul was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
It does not seem, in our judgment, that the apostle had debts in his mind in writing these words. Indeed, this verse flows out of the exhortation in the preceding one - "Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." Then, summing up every possible variety of obligation, and generalising the principle on which the believer should act, he proceeds, "Owe no man anything" (this will necessarily include every form of indebtedness), "but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." Love therefore, if the word may be used, is an obligation (see 1 John 3:16) which is never discharged; and, moreover, it is the "fulness" of the law. As another has expressed it in few words, "By the conduct which flows from love, the law is already fulfilled before its requirement is applied." It is, then, in the activity of love (of the divine nature) in the believer that his conduct is to be regulated in every relationship; and hence he gives to all their "dues" expecting nothing in return, even if he encounter, like our blessed Lord, little but ingratitude and hatred. We thus read, in the passage already cited, "Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." Such is to be the Christian's path amongst his fellow-believers, and through a selfish and loveless world.
The addition of a single word, omitted in the received text, and consequently in the authorised version, renders this scripture much more intelligible. It should then run, "that we through patience [endurance] and through comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." If, moreover, we take the word "comfort" to mean, as it often does, "encouragement," it will be a further help. What we have, then, in this passage is as follows: The apostle has been citing from the Scriptures, to show that even Christ did not please Himself. He then says, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning" (instruction), and to the end "that we, through endurance," as following in the footsteps of Him who encountered reproaches on every hand because of His immovable fidelity, "and through [the] encouragement of the Scriptures," that is, through the encouragement which God ministers through His word to His tried and faithful servants, "might have hope" - hope in the ultimate issue of present trials, even in the glory of God Himself. The reader may be interested in noting the large place which hope fills in the Epistle to the Romans. In chapter 5:2, the justified hope in the glory of God; in verse 4, it is the result of experience, proving what God is, in our journey through the wilderness; in chapter 8, "we are saved" (not "by," but) "in hope," inasmuch as we are still waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. In chapter 15 also, the Gentiles are said to hope (not "trust," as we read) in the Root of Jesse; and in the very next verse God is termed the God of hope. This is similar in its connection with verses 4, 5; for immediately after mentioning "patience and comfort," the apostle speaks of God as the God of patience and consolation (the same word as comfort, or encouragement). We learn from both that whether it be hope, or endurance, or encouragement, God is the blessed fount and source, and that He alone can produce these things, these graces, in the soul. Whatever, therefore, He desires to be in us, He alone can produce; and we are thus dependent upon Him for everything. And it may be added that, if Paul prays that the Christians at Rome might be filled, by the God of hope, with all joy and peace in believing, it was to the end that they might abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.