Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry.” Esther 4:1 KJV
When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly. Esther 4:1 NASB
The book which bears the name of Esther has long fascinated Bible students. Its story tells of the sovereignty of God, a God seemingly absent but active. It recounts the bravery of a young and beautiful woman, Esther. But it highlights the story of a remarkable man, Mordecai. In many ways, he reminds us of the Lord Jesus. One of those ways is as a Man of Sorrows.
The Source of His Sorrow
We are all familiar with the evil machinations of Haman which grew out of his personal hatred and hostility toward Mordecai. He orchestrated the edict which went forth for the Jews to be slain. Shushan was perplexed (3:15), but Mordecai was devastated. The evil of Haman would mean tremendous sorrow and loss to the nation. Did he look down the corridors of time and consider what it would mean to the promise of a coming Messiah? We do not know. But he did know that the genocide planned would lead to sorrow for the nation.
Hearing the news of the future destruction of his people, he rent his clothes, wore sackcloth, and took up his bitter lamentation. In so doing, we are reminded of another who moved amongst the nation and saw the results of sin on the lives of men. But He saw also the result of sin depriving God of the love and worship of His people. He stood on Olivet and beheld the city and the mechanical worship in the temple and sobbed (Luke 19:41). The plight of the nation moved Him to genuine tears of intense sorrow.
The Ignorance and Misunderstanding of His Sorrow
Esther, despite all the good things which can be said about her, is indifferent to the grief of Mordecai. Cloistered within the confines of the palace, she is unaware of the source of Mordecai’s sorrow. In fact, when she learns of his attire and actions, she sends out a change of clothes with orders to remove the sackcloth.
In a coming day the nation will own, He was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief … yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted” (Isa 53:3, 4). The nation viewed Him in His sorrow and grief and thought it was the judgment of God against Him. In their ignorance, they did not discern that His grief was because of their sin and their coming judgment. They viewed Him as being the object of God’s displeasure and censure.
The Lord Jesus Christ was marked by depths of sorrow and grief at the presence of the effects of sin; but His sorrow intensified when He became the bearer of sin on the cross for those six long hours. There as well, the indifference and ignorance of men failed to appreciate the source and the severity of His sorrow. He looked for some to “take pity and there was none; and for comforters” He did not have anyone (Ps 69:20).
Look at the other occasions when the Lord Jesus wept or expressed sorrow and notice how He was misunderstood and alone in His grief.
Jeremiah lamented over the indifference of all that passed by to the destruction of the city (Lam 1:12). Look at all the responses to men who passed by the cross.