RK Harrison in his commentary on Jeremiah helpfully introduces our chapter for today this way:
‘Poetry and prose alternate in a dialogue between God and Jeremiah in which the prophet intercedes earnestly for Judah.’ P101
The scene is harsh – severe drought devastating the land and lifestyle of the people. -dead bodies are not being buried. -false prophets spreading lies
While Jeremiah is aware that these chosen people are again ignoring God, worshipping man-made gods and are pleasing themselves, he continues, in the tradition of Abraham – (Genesis 18:23-33) Moses – (Exodus 32:11-13) and Samuel – (1Samuel7:5-9) to vicariously confess their failure to follow God and to plead for their forgiveness. He knows that confession leads to forgiveness and longs for God to have mercy and for the people to turn back to God.
However Jeremiah is forbidden to intercede on their behalf because judgement is set.
Our own society is God-forgetful and wilful so let us, like Jeremiah, pray for our people and seek God’s mercy for us all.
Today’s passage from Matthew’s account of the high drama leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion has many challenges for us. Personally we are finding it hard to read this momentous event in little snippets, though this way has enabled time to focus on each event leading to the ultimate crucifixion.
Today we we look in on Pilate, the Roman governor’s encounter with Jesus. He is at a crossroad – does he free an inocent man? He has plenty of support for this action
-his own ‘gut’ feeling
– the conflicting & false charges
– his wife’s warning
Pilate really has a dilemma – to free Jesus, he will incur the wrath of the people whom he is in the land to govern OR
convict Jesus and betray himself.
He takes the way that I fear that I would also have taken and sadly may be tempted to do in similar situations today –
He washes his hands. I am innocent. You do it. It is your fault.
Do we find it easy to speak up for Jesus and for people who have been wronged by others OR do we too leave it to others and keep ourselves safe?
The other dilema is that the purpose of Christ’s coming was to die to secure salvation. So from our perspective 2000 years later and with the resource of the Bible freely available to us we know that this death was a deep love-act for humanity and was always God’s ancient purpose. However, that does not excuse Pilate’s action but could strengthen our will to speak up for Jesus and also for people suffering injustice.
Peter and Elizabeth.