The Scripture lessons for September 3 were Jeremiah 15:15-21; Romans 12:9-21 and Matthew 16:21-28. Pastor Krause began his message focusing on Jeremiah and the Old Testament lesson.
Jeremiah didn’t have an easy life or ministry. He is known as the weeping prophet. The popular prophets of Jeremiah’s day were predicting success and prosperity for the nation and people of Judah. Jeremiah predicted the opposite. Jeremiah message called the Jewish people to repent, to turn to God, and warned the people that if they did not repent there were going to be negative consequences.
The Jews of Jeremiah’s day did not want to hear Jeremiah’s message and attempted to shut Jeremiah up any way they could, torturing him, imprisoning him and attempting to kill him. Suffering mercilessly, Jeremiah himself wanted to remain silent, but God would not let him. Regarding his ministry Jeremiah writes:
Jeremiah 20:8-9 “Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”
Jeremiah portrayed God as a broken-hearted God, beseeching, almost begging His people whom He loved to return to Him. We read:
Jeremiah 3:11-15 “The LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. Go, proclaim this message toward the north: ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt– you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’ declares the LORD. ‘Return, faithless people,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I am your husband. I will choose you–one from a town and two from a clan–and bring you to Zion. Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.’”
Jeremiah 3:22 “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.”
Jeremiah’s message, however, was not all doom and gloom for the God, our God, who moved Jeremiah to speak, is a loving God. Our God is a God of promise and of hope. We read.
Jeremiah 29:10-14 “This is what the LORD says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.’”
Jeremiah 31:3-4 “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.’”
In the Gospel lesson for the day we read about Jesus, who, like Jeremiah, would suffer many things:
Matthew 16:21 “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Unlike Jeremiah, however, Jesus willingly embraced His suffering. In Hebrews 12:2 we read:
Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus saw beyond His suffering to the benefit it would bring, and, in love for all humankind, He gave Himself over to it. Later in the Gospel lesson Jesus encourages to do likewise, stating:
Matthew 16:24 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (In Luke 9:23 the word “daily” is added.)
Cross-bearing, as I understand it, is not enduring the misfortunes of life. Cross-bearing in the Biblical sense is something intentionally done, acting in the best interests of another, discounting the cost to ourselves.
1 Peter 2:20-21 “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
Although God does not will or wish our suffering, He will and does use it to accomplish good, just as He used Jesus’ suffering to redeem humankind.
Amen! So be it!!!
My thoughts, I would like to hear yours.
(All passages are taken from the NIV unless otherwise noted)
Chime in with your thoughts and questions in the comment section!