Jeremiah 20: 7-9; Romans 12: 1-2; Matthew 16: 21-27
If Jeremiah were around today, we’d probably consider him one of those guys who faces a continues mid-life crisis. As much as he would love to go with the flow, he simply can’t! For some reason, God had called him to much more in life and from the very beginning of the call, he fights God and digs in hard. He just doesn’t want to accept this gift that he can see what others cannot see and no one wants to listen to him! It’s the plight of the prophetic voice that has been raised up by God.
We see, first hand today, the interior crisis that he faces. You duped me can really be translated as seduced. He’s been seduced by God, and yet, because of his love for God and this interior burning, he can run, and does, but cannot hide, from what God had placed within him. He struggles greatly and deeply, as we hear today. The people are on the brink of war and exile. Destruction has been predicted. The world appears to be falling apart around them. They are losing control. And then there’s Jeremiah. Jeremiah is there to deliver the bad news, to announce where they are heading.
Jesus, too, although more than a prophet, certainly was that voice of God, a conscience to the world. He too tries to tell the disciples today where they are heading, and like people Israel, they really don’t want to hear it. He even goes as far as to call Peter, Satan, in the gospel today. They don’t want to hear it. They are quite content with the status quo or, if anything, complaining about it all. Then there’s this voice that points in a new direction. This prophetic voice warns that the cross is to come. Sacrifice and death is approaching, and even if they don’t want to hear it, it will come. Yet, the prophetic message of Jesus is that there is something beyond the Cross. The vision for humanity is through the cross to new life. Something will have to die, but new life will follow.
That’s where Jeremiah stands as an example, that, despite his struggle and difficult time in dealing with this call, yet, he remains faithful to the call. He grows weary holding it in. It becomes like fire burning in his heart, imprisoned in his bones. At the moment that he can finally begin to let go of himself, die to self, and accept the prophetic message not only as one for the people but for himself, he finally accepts the call that God has given.
Do not conform yourself to this age, Paul tells us today in his letter to the Romans. Don’t become lulled into believing the lie of the world that you can have it all. Don’t be lulled into believing the lie that you are the center of the world and that your gift is your gift. What profit is there to gain the whole world and yet forfeit life? All the prophetic voices that we encounter in scripture today point us in the same direction. Even though the Cross was not known to Jeremiah, his life still points in that direction. It goes beyond words to the way he lives his life. They all point us in the direction of the cross of Jesus and the cross within us. We must die to self and our illusion of self in order to live.
Today we pray for the courage that these prophetic voices have shown. In a world that appears as it did in the time of Jeremiah, to be falling down around us, prophetic voices are needed. It takes great courage to be that voice. It takes great courage to not only deliver the words but also to live it. It takes great courage to stand up to the world, knowing the reality of death that comes. Yet, these voices were proclaimed and people did it and today we pray for that same courage to be that voice of the will and vision of God in our lives, our community, and our world, and maybe just importantly, to hear it when it is proclaimed to us!