June 21, 2015

Jeremiah 9-11
I wish my head were a well of water and my eyes fountains of tears so I could weep day and night for casualties among my dear, dear people.  At times I wish I had a wilderness hut, a backwoods cabin,  Where I could get away from my people and never see them again.  They’re a faithless, feckless bunch, a congregation of degenerates....

Therefore, God-of-the-Angel-Armies says: “Watch this! I’ll melt them down and see what they’re made of. What else can I do with a people this wicked? Their tongues are poison arrows! Deadly lies stream from their mouths. Neighbor greets neighbor with a smile, ‘Good morning! How’re things?‘ while scheming to do away with him. Do you think I’m going to stand around and do nothing?”...

I’m going to make Jerusalem a pile of rubble, fit for nothing but stray cats and dogs. I’m going to reduce Judah’s towns to piles of ruins where no one lives!” I asked, “Is there anyone around bright enough to tell us what’s going on here? Anyone who has the inside story from God and can let us in on it? “Why is the country wasted? “Why no travelers in this desert?”  God’s answer: “Because they abandoned my plain teaching. They wouldn’t listen to anything I said, refused to live the way I told them to. Instead they lived any way they wanted and took up with the Baal gods, who they thought would give them what they wanted—following the example of their parents.”... 

A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“Look over the trouble we’re in and call for help.  Send for some singers who can help us mourn our loss. Tell them to hurry—to help us express our loss and lament,  Help us get our tears flowing, make tearful music of our crying.  Listen to it! Listen to that torrent of tears out of Zion:... Mourning women! Oh, listen to God’s Message! Open your ears. Take in what he says. Teach your daughters songs for the dead and your friends the songs of heartbreak....

God’s Message:
“Don’t let the wise brag of their wisdom.  Don’t let heroes brag of their exploits.  Don’t let the rich brag of their riches. If you brag, brag of this and this only: That you understand and know me.  I’m God, and I act in loyal love. I do what’s right and set things right and fair, and delight in those who do the same things. These are my trademarks.”...

Listen to the Message that God is sending your way, House of Israel. Listen most carefully:
“Don’t take the godless nations as your models.  Don’t be impressed by their glamour and glitz, no matter how much they’re impressed.  The religion of these people  is nothing but smoke....Don’t be impressed by such stuff. It’s useless for either good or evil.”

All this is nothing compared to you, O God.  You’re wondrously great, famously great. Who can fail to be impressed by you, King of the nations?  It’s your very nature to be worshiped!  Look far and wide among the elite of the nations. The best they can come up with is nothing compared to you....But God is the real thing— the living God, the eternal King.  When he’s angry, Earth shakes. Yes, and the godless nations quake... it is God whose power made the earth, whose wisdom gave shape to the world, who crafted the cosmos... the Portion-of-Jacob is the real thing. He put the whole universe together and pays special attention to Israel...  

It’s because our leaders are stupid.  They never asked God for counsel,  and so nothing worked right.  The people are scattered all over.  But listen! Something’s coming!  A big commotion from the northern borders!... I know, God, that mere mortals can’t run their own lives, that men and women don’t have what it takes to take charge of life.  So correct us, God, as you see best....  

The Message that came to Jeremiah from God:
“Preach to the people of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem. Tell them this: ‘This is God’s Message, the Message of Israel’s God to you. Anyone who does not keep the terms of this covenant is cursed. The terms are clear. I made them plain to your ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt, out of the iron furnace of suffering.

 “‘Obey what I tell you. Do exactly what I command you. Your obedience will close the deal. You’ll be mine and I’ll be yours. This will provide the conditions in which I will be able to do what I promised your ancestors: to give them a fertile and lush land. And, as you know, that’s what I did.’” “Yes, God,” I replied. “That’s true.”

God continued: “Preach all this in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. Say, ‘Listen to the terms of this covenant and carry them out! I warned your ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt and I’ve kept up the warnings. I haven’t quit warning them for a moment. I warned them from morning to night: “Obey me or else!” But they didn’t obey. They paid no attention to me. They did whatever they wanted to do, whenever they wanted to do it, until finally I stepped in and ordered the punishments set out in the covenant, which, despite all my warnings, they had ignored.’”...

“And as for you, Jeremiah, I don’t want you praying for this people. Nothing! Not a word of petition. Indeed, I’m not going to listen to a single syllable of their crisis-prayers.”

“What business do the ones I love have figuring out how to get off the hook? And right in the house of worship! Do you think making promises and devising pious programs will save you from doom? Do you think you can get out of this by becoming more religious?..  “I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who planted you—yes, I have pronounced doom on you. Why? Because of the disastrous life you’ve lived, Israel and Judah alike, goading me to anger with your continuous worship and offerings to that sorry god Baal.”...

God told me what was going on. That’s how I knew. You, God, opened my eyes to their evil scheming.  I had no idea what was going on—naive as a lamb being led to slaughter!  I didn’t know they had it in for me, didn’t know of their behind-the-scenes plots: “Let’s get rid of the preacher. That will stop the sermons!  Let’s get rid of him for good. He won’t be remembered for long.”....  That sent a signal to God, who spoke up: “Here’s what I’ll do to the men of Anathoth who are trying to murder you, the men who say, ‘Don’t preach to us in God’s name or we’ll kill you.’ Yes, it’s God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaking. Indeed! I’ll call them to account: Their young people will die in battle, their children will die of starvation, and there will be no one left at all, none. I’m visiting the men of Anathoth with doom. Doomsday!”

Luke 24
At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared. They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb, so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn’t find the body of the Master Jesus.  They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words.

They left the tomb and broke the news of all this to the Eleven and the rest. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them kept telling these things to the apostles, but the apostles didn’t believe a word of it,... 

But Peter jumped to his feet and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look in and saw a few grave clothes, that’s all. He walked away puzzled, shaking his head.

That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was....They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend.... 

They said, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him.... But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body.... 

Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.

They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared....

They didn’t waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: “It’s really happened! The Master has been raised up—Simon saw him!”
Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.

While they were saying all this, Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you.” They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, “Don’t be upset, and don’t let all these doubting questions take over....They still couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true.  He asked, “Do you have any food here?” They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes.

Then he said, “Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.”  He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses.  What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.”

He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.  And they were on their knees, worshiping him. 

They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God.