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You seduced me, Lord

by davesandel on March 3rd, 2021

Wednesday, March 3, 2021                (today’s lectionary)

You seduced me, Lord

Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah.

In today’s language, “We need to troll this guy.” If you can’t beat him, kill him. Walter Brueggemann points out that, “like the opponents of Jesus, the leadership takes counsel. The triad mentioned represents the power structure, the knowledge industry and the religious authority of the establishment.” In our secular society, substitute “political” for “religious.” All this sounds eerily familiar.

Let us destroy Jeremiah by his own tongue; let us carefully note his every word.

Brueggemann says, “This probably means taking the prophet to court and filing public charges, with the hope of marking him as an enemy of the state.” Go for it, guys. Using too many big words, Brueggemann writes, “The plans of Jeremiah’s opposition are an embodiment of the recalcitrant autonomy against which the prophet speaks.” In other words, when he calls them out, they double down on their big lie. Yahweh is not pleased, and he insists that Jeremiah tell them so over and over.

But Jeremiah was just a kid. He first heard from the Lord and thus became Yahweh’s prophet, when he was what, maybe 15 years old? I think immediately of Bob Dylan. Come gather round people, wherever you roam …

Jeremiah protested. I’m too young for all of this! But God didn’t budge. “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you. I have put my words in your mouth. Now look … what do you see?” Jeremiah opened his eyes, then his mouth, and God knew he had picked the right guy.

Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.”

So for fifty years, Jeremiah spoke God’s words. At first he was ignored, then he was persecuted. But over time, the civil authorities began to protect him from his religious opponents. The problem for Jeremiah was that he became a man without a country. Jeremiah has been nicknamed the “weeping prophet” for good reason. He married, but his wife died. He had little time for his friends, although some of them were faithful to their friendship and pulled him from a pit where he was intended to die. His natural enemies protected him from those who should have been his natural friends.

Sometimes he sounded pretty upset with God.

You seduced me, Lord, and I was seduced. You were too strong for me, and you prevailed. Now all day long I am an object of laughter, and everyone mocks me. (Jeremiah 20:7)

But Jeremiah listened to God anyway. Bob Dylan, after a three month stint with the Vineyard School of Discipleship, settled on one of Jeremiah’s more hopeful statements for the liner notes of Saved, his 20th studio album. “Behold the days come, sayeth the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31).

Long before Dylan (2000 AD) and long before Jeremiah (700 BC), young David (1000 BC) fled from Saul in the desert, where alone and feeling forsaken, he wrote what we know as Psalm 31:

I hear the whispers of the crowd as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life. But my trust is in you, Lord. In your hands is my destiny. Into your hands I commend my spirit. You will redeem me, O Lord, O faithful God.

Jeremiah knew this psalm. And Jesus knew not only the psalm but also the words of Jeremiah. Jesus was pretty much in the same boat, accused and attacked by the same triad of power.

The Son of Man will be handed over, and the chief priests and scribes will condemn him to death, and he will be mocked and scourged and crucified.

But Jesus took us beyond what took place in the past of David and Jeremiah.

And he will be raised on the third day …

O death, where is thy sting? Be like me, Jesus told his friends.

Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life, as a ransom, for many.

After Jesus’ resurrection, we the people began marking time from that moment. Before Jesus, and after Jesus. Before the Resurrection, and after the Resurrection. We want to be like you, Jesus. Lead us into everlasting life.

(Jeremiah 18, Psalm 31, John 8, Matthew 20)

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