Friday, June 5, 2015
Friday, 5 June 2015 Jeremiah 1-2; Matthew 20:17-34 ~ Elizabeth
Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Jeremiah 1-2; Matthew 20:17-34
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Jeremiah 3-5; Matthew 21:1-22
Jeremiah presents credentials for his authority to speak and for his claim to be heard. He is the ambassador of the Lord God, who shapes the lives of individuals and determines the destiny of nations. He introduces himself and the historical context of his ministry. God sent prophets like Jeremiah to convict His people of their sin so that they might repent and return to Him. In mercy, God patiently waited, providing ample time for repentance. He is likewise patient toward you, whom He calls to repentance and true faith in Christ. Consecrated to the prophetic office before he was born, this youth was neither a wide-eyed visionary nor a self-appointed rabble-rouser. God commissioned Jeremiah to speak His words, charged with the power to destroy whatever opposed the kingdom of God and to build whatever would promote its coming. It was only natural for the timid, inexperienced young man from a country town to stand aghast at the worldwide results his ministry was to produce. The Lord therefore reveals to Jeremiah that he is simply to announce what is to happen; the responsibility for bringing about the threats and promises belongs to the Lord Himself. He records the details of his call to the prophetic ministry, including two visions and God’s promises to be with him. Through Jeremiah, God would warn His people of impending judgment for their sins. Idolatry and immorality eventually bring disaster upon sinners God wants His people to repent and turn back to Him, averting disaster and receiving God’s mercy.
Further evidence of Israel’s defection was their trust in foreign alliances with godless nations rather than in God Himself. This foolish policy caused the Northern Kingdom to fall prey to the Assyrians, to whom King Ahaz earlier had appealed for help. Negotiations with Egypt would also be as disastrous as they had been in the past. Israel’s sin of faithlessness would condemn them to matter which foreign nation they turned to for relief. At Carchemish in 605 BC, the combined forces of Egypt and Assyria could not repulse the Babylonians from marching into Israel. Revolts against Babylonian domination, inspired by promises of help from Egypt, also proved futile. The struggle for supremacy between the world powers, represented by the Euphrates in the northeast and the Nile in the southwest, would end in the subjugation of Israel and Judah.
In our Gospel reading, we find that serving the Lord’s kingdom is a privilege and labor of love, not something undertaken to gain a reward. When we begin to think that God’s kingdom needs or depends on us, we get it completely backward. We need and depend on it! Through forgiveness and the renewing work of God’s Spirit, we can indeed be used by God for vital service in His kingdom. For a third and final time, Jesus predicts His Passion. Ironically, Jesus’ three predictions match the number of Peter’s denials. The depth of humanity’s sin is such that only the death of God’s Son can atone for it. No one took Jesus’ life from Him, as His Passion predictions make clear. Rather, He willingly laid down His life in order to save us.
Jesus continues to convince His disciples that in His kingdom, humility and service, not acclaim and power, are most highly valued just as it was among the Twelve, so also today the lush for power and control over others continues to be a problem in the Christian community. Though may things make Jesus great-among them His role in creating and preserving all things-it is His sacrificial death that is most wonderful for us. Though the nearness of the crowd and His own impending death weigh heavily on Him, Jesus is not too preoccupied to help two men in desperate need Like the people in Jericho who tried to silence the two blind men, we also may tend to treat persons in need as nuisances. Yet Jesus painstakingly extended His ministry to all in need, showing care and concern for them. We, too, have received His grace.