Sermon on Jeremiah 26:8-15
Text: As soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the LORD had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, “You must die! 9 Why do you prophesy in the LORD’s name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?” And all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.
10 When the officials of Judah heard about these things, they went up from the royal palace to the house of the LORD and took their places at the entrance of the New Gate of the LORD’s house. 11 Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, “This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!”
12 Then Jeremiah said to all the officials and all the people: “The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. 13 Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you. 14 As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. 15 Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”
“The apple never falls far from the tree.” “Like father, like son.” These are some common sayings that people use to describe similarities in members of a family. It might be in likes and dislikes, mannerisms, the way that people speak or whatever. In a family, there will often be similarities. Jesus, in speaking with his disciples told them of the difficulties they would face as they lived for him. By way of proof, he pointed to how he was often treated and then went on to say, “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master.” (Matthew 10:24) In other words, Jesus is telling his disciples, ‘Don’t be surprised when people treat you the same way that they treated me.’ We get a picture of this as we study this portion from the book of Jeremiah. We see LIKE SAVIOR, LIKE SERVANT. 1. Both Came With God’s Message. 2. Both Met With Opposition. 3. Both Trusted The Lord. 4. Both Carried Out Their Mission.
Jeremiah was called to be a prophet for the Southern Kingdom. He served for a longer time than many of the other prophets. He was called upon to preach during the reign of godly King Josiah. He also was called to proclaim God’s message under two evil kings, Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim. We find reference to Jeremiah’s preaching in verse 8, “Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the LORD had commanded him to say.” Jeremiah did not go out on his own. These were not his own particular ideas or notions. This is what the Lord commanded him to say.
We can also see this in the life of Christ. As Jesus walked about on this earth during his 33 years, he proclaimed what the Father wanted him to proclaim. Early in Jesus’ ministry, we read that “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:15) While Jesus was on the earth, we hear of him, time and again, taking every opportunity to teach others about his heavenly Father.
You would think that everyone who heard Jesus’ message would be enthralled with it. They would gladly listen to him and follow him. However, such was not always the case. As a matter of fact, we read in the gospels of continual and increased opposition to the message that Christ proclaimed. When Jesus spoke of the forgiveness of sins, those who were opposed to him accused him of blasphemy, daring to speak as God. When Jesus spoke in love to the social outcasts of his day, many people were disgusted that he would even acknowledge that sort of people. Ultimately, Jesus spoke to them, as well, but not always in the most complimentary fashion. He called them “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” and so forth. You might think, ‘Well, of course they were opposed to him. Look at the way he talked to them.’ However, realize that, when Jesus was talking this way to them, he was preaching the Law to them in the hope that they would turn from their sins and back to God in faith. Because of Jesus’ message, he often faced opposition.
We read of this exact same thing happening to Jeremiah. As soon as Jeremiah finished his sermon, we read, “The priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, ‘You must die! Why do you prophesy in the LORD’s name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?’ And all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD . . . The priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, ‘This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!’” (Verses 8-9,11) Jeremiah’s message did not exactly make him popular. He told the people that “this house (namely, the temple) would “be like Shiloh.” Shiloh was the place where the ark of the covenant was lost to the Philistine army in the days of Samuel. The presence of the Lord was taken from them. How dare Jeremiah say to this “religious” nation that their beloved temple would be destroyed?! How dare he say that Jerusalem, their capital, would be “desolate and deserted?!” In reality, the charge against Jeremiah was not so much false teaching, as it was treason and blasphemy. If these charges were substantiated, the penalty was death. This is exactly what the priests and prophets called for. “This man should be sentenced to death.”
Yet, in the face of opposition, Jeremiah remained calm because he had placed his trust in the Lord. As they spoke of putting him to death, Jeremiah said, “As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing” (Verses 14&15) Jeremiah was not afraid to die. If that was the Lord’s will for his life, then so be it. God had promised him some twenty years earlier that he would be with Jeremiah all the days of his life. Thus far, God had kept his promise. There was no reason for Jeremiah to question whether or not God would continue to be with him. Even if they should take his life, Jeremiah knew that he would be in heaven. So, in Jeremiah’s mind, it was a win-win situation as he trusted in the Lord for help, guidance and protection.
We can also see the trust that Jesus had in his Father, especially in the days we now call Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, knowing full well what lay ahead of him, prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) When he was falsely accused and lied about in the courts of the high priest and Pontius Pilate, Jesus said nothing in his defense. As the death sentence was pronounced and ultimately carried out, Jesus did not curse his accusers or executors, nor did he use his almighty power to escape. Instead, the last words that Jesus uttered from the cross were ones of complete and total trust in his Father. He said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) Jesus trusted in his Father all the way throughout these horrific circumstances. With his dying breath, Jesus proclaimed his trust in the Lord.
Death was not in God’s plans for Jeremiah just yet. The officials made this pronouncement after our text, “This man should not be sentenced to death! He has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.” (Jeremiah 26:16) They realized the source of Jeremiah’s prophecy. It was not of his own doing, but came from the Lord.
What did Jeremiah do after this? Did he now keep quiet, lest he offend someone with his prophecy? Not at all. Rather, he continued to proclaim the message that God gave him. Even if it meant that people were going to hear what they did not want to hear, Jeremiah continued to proclaim God’s message. Nor was this the last time that Jeremiah got into trouble for speaking God’s prophecies. He was opposed, imprisoned, and had his life threatened at different times during the rest of his ministry. Yet, even to the end, Jeremiah was faithful to his calling. He continued to carry out his mission, to, as he said in verse 15, “Speak all these words in your hearing.”
Our Savior also carried out his mission, namely, to free the world from sin’s clutches. This meant that he had to come down from heaven and become a human being, with all of the hurts and sorrows that come with our humanity. He carried out his mission of saving the world by, first of all, living a perfect life. He followed all of his Father’s will. Ultimately, as Jesus carried out his mission, it would lead him to suffer at the hand of human beings. His mission would lead him to suffer at the hands of his heavenly Father, as well. As Jesus suffered and died on the cross, he was being punished for all the sins of the world. We also know that Jesus completed his mission. He himself triumphantly cried out from the cross, “It is finished.” To show that he had completed his mission, he rose from the dead on Easter morning. He showed that his sacrifice was complete and that he had won the victory over sin, death and the devil. Since his mission was successfully carried out, he returned to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. There he rules the earth for the good of his Church. Jesus successfully carried out his mission to save all people.
Because Jesus successfully carried out his mission, that means that, not only is the entire world saved but, more specifically, you have been saved. When Jesus suffered and died on the cross, he paid for all of your sins and my sins, our sins of lying, selfishness, anger, gossiping, and whatever other sins we may have committed. Jesus paid for every one of them. We received the benefits of Christ’s completed mission when the Holy Spirit created faith in our hearts. When we were brought to faith, we became members of God’s household and have the opportunity to serve him.
One of the opportunities that we have to serve God is to tell others God’s Word. This will mean speaking the Law to some people, even those who are close to us, perhaps even within our own families. To be sure they will not always be happy to hear what we have to say. There will be the temptation to keep quiet, lest we make waves. However, rather than keeping quiet, we are encouraged to trust in the Lord as we carry out his great commission to go into all the world with the Word. Should we face opposition for speaking God’s Word, we do not want it to be because we are obnoxious or overbearing or superior in our attitude. When we speak the Law, we want to do so in love. We want that person to see that what they are doing is wrong and that if they continue down that path, they will spend their eternity apart from God. When they are brought to repentance, then we have the wonderful privilege of telling them that this sin was also paid for on the cross. This is a way that we serve our Lord, as we thank him for all that he has done for us.
Dr. Martin Luther once described the life of a Christian as being “little Christs.” Obviously, this does not mean that we can in any way save ourselves. Rather, he was saying that, as Christians, we will have the same attitudes and actions of our Savior. This is not something that we can do on our own, but only comes through the strengthening of the Holy Spirit. We follow Christ’s example in carrying out our mission to speak God’s Word. When we face opposition, we are encouraged to trust in the Lord. What great honor can be spoken of us than “Like Savior, like servant.” Amen.
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