Message Notes by Pastor Ewings on a sermon based on Jeremiah 38:1-13
In today’s Gospel, Jesus told His disciples that if they wanted to come after Him, they must take up their crosses and follow Him. As we read the account of Jeremiah, a man of God who was tossed into a pit and left to die for proclaiming the Word of the Lord, we have to ask: how heavy was his cross? At the same time, as we look around at our lives, we have to ask ourselves the same question: how heavy is mine? Have your feet sunk into the mud with the prophet?
While we might not find ourselves in the bottom of a pit, struggling in the mud and muck to survive, each one of us bears a cross. The pain and suffering that mark our lives identify us as followers of Christ. Yet, the devil wants to take us down, down, down to his level. Satan doesn’t just want you to get your feet a little dirty with the filth of sin; he wants you in over your head. He wants to sink you deep into the mud and the muck of the sin of this world. He tries to twist your worldview to make good seem evil and what is godless seem pious. So which way are you going?
When you find yourself in these spiritual depths, there is no other escape than to run to the Lord for rescue. He washed you from the filth of the world in the pure waters of baptism. You are His Own dear child! His Son Jesus’ death and sufferings cover over your wrongs. With your sins forgiven and guilt removed, He pulls you out of Satan’s hell and lifts you up with Him. Jeremiah surely remembered that when he was in that cistern. Sunk deep into that muddy pit, he was on firmer ground than anyone else in Israel. He knew that when he was firmly grounded in the Lord, no one could take him down. The Lord lifts His people up with Him.
Jeremiah made it out of the cistern but his cross bearing days weren’t over. What could be worse for a prophet of God than to have to tell your people, give up, God has forsaken you? Jeremiah had to watch God’s prophecy fulfilled before his very eyes. Jerusalem was destroyed. Many of God’s people were cut off all because they refused to take His Word seriously. Yet it is there when you might expect Jeremiah to have abandoned all hope in God. But we see a completely different attitude. Jeremiah sat in its ashes and penned Lamentations – found just a few pages later in your Bible. Among his sighs, cries and lamentations, we read:
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
When there was literally nothing left for Jeremiah, that is when he must fully rely on God. Is there a better place to be? He shows us how dear and wonderful life as a cross bearer is. Jesus sends crosses to you because He wants to hold you close today and for eternity.
Lesson 1: Jeremiah 38:1-13
Lesson 2: 1 Peter 4:12-19
The Gospel: Mark 8:24-35