Jeremiah's career as a prophet was filled with pathos. Apart from the few joyful years of the restoration of the faith under the young King Josiah, Jeremiah faced unrelenting opposition of one kind or another. In this passage, we hear of his suffering for his fidelity to the proclamation of God's word. The leaders own the people have put them on a path to destruction. Rather than doing God's will, those leaders imagined that they could manipulate great empires and buy themselves deliverance. Jeremiah announced the verdict of the Lord on their foolish hubris and he was accused of betraying the people - sapping the resolve of Judah's soldiers in the fight. Of course, we know who the real traitors are in this narrative. They attempt to put Jeremiah to a terrible death - one that recalls the treatment of Joseph by his treacherous brothers - and yet the Lord delivers His prophet and vindicates Jeremiah's trust.
Psalm 40: 2, 3, 4, 18
Psalm 40 combines a personal expression of thanksgiving with an individual prayer of lament. In this case, the usual order of these two prayers is reversed. The lament may allude to a custom of trial by ordeal - thus the supplicant prays not only for deliverance but that his tormenters may be turned back and disgraced. The supplicant also emphasizes his fidelity to the Lord and that he has only spoken the praise of the Lord.
This passage from Hebrews includes a curious combination of elements from traditional Jewish interpretation and an allusion to the popular culture of the wider Greco-Roman world. The letter has been profiling great figures from the OT, highlighting their fidelity in the face of hardship and suffering. Now the letter offers the ultimate model that of Christ. And in describing the fidelity of Christ in his suffering, the letter alludes to the popular races of the day. The Greco-Roman world, like our own, was obsessed with sporting competitions. On both counts, the message is the same - the Christian disciple is to likewise endure and remain faithful.
Ironic, but true, the achievement of peace often requires conflict. This passage from Luke forms part of a larger instruction to the disciples. We have been hearing from the same lengthy address these last weeks. All of the sections touch on the need for fidelity and total commitment in the life of discipleship. And here the emphasis is on the potential for rejection and conflict even as the disciple strives to live in right relationship with God and neighbor.