Pentecost 24 – Tuesday Devotion

Readings:  Jeremiah 33:1-22 and Matthew 27:11-32
Additional Reading:  Jeremiah 34:1-36:32; 45:1-51:64

Jeremiah 33:10-11:  “Thus says the LORD:  In this place of which you say, ‘It is a waste without man or beast,’ in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man or inhabitant or beast, there shall be heard again the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD:  “‘Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!’  For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the LORD.”

Matthew 27: 20-23:  Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.  The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”  Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”  They all said, “Let Him be crucified!”  And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?”  But they shouted all the more, “Let Him be crucified!”

 

“Destroyed in order to Be Restored”

Two men stood before Pontius Pilate.  Their lives hung on his decision.  Who will Pilot set free?  The crowd would voice their demand.  While the truth would set Jesus free as He had done nothing deserving of death, Pilate releases Barabbas and sentences Jesus to die for Barabbas’ sins.  The crowd goes home.  The rest of Good Friday focuses on Jesus’ death and burial.

As we conclude the Gospel of Matthew’s Passion account, we again see what Jesus endured for the sake of fulfilling His Father’s will to forgive the sins of all people.  We often hear this account during the season of Lent, then tuck it away as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and break out the Easter hymns.  Yet aren’t we called to eat His body and drink His blood of the forgiving Sacrament ‘in remembrance of Him?’  The Passion of our Lord is something we would read each month!

The destruction must come before the restoration.  Jesus’ body would see destruction and there would be weeping instead of the joyous sounds of a wedding. God showed Jeremiah that some 600 years before the time of Jesus’ death.  But what does God promise?  “I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first.”  

Restored.  That’s a good word for our times today, isn’t it?  We would love to have things restored to the way things were before the Coronavirus and the pandemic and the political upheaval of our day.  We yearn to sing “Let there be peace on earth.”  But we know that earthly peace is easily destroyed.  It is so fragile.

God’s peace is eternal.  We may pray at the conclusion of our meals:  “O give thanks to the LORD for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.  Amen.”  We sing those words after receiving the precious Lord’s Supper, don’t we?  But have we considered praying that same prayer whenever we have received restoration of health?  Or receiving our paycheck or purchasing groceries at the store?  Or receiving an unexpected greeting from a friend by mail, email, or phone call?  

We may sheepishly grin and agree we should.  God offers His restoration in more ways than we can count.  To the Children of Israel God was promising restoration of the land that had been overturned and burned by the Babylonians. To the Church of Christ Jesus offers forgiveness of sins through His shed blood on the cross.    

Today, when we hear the Words of our Lord in the Gospels, it refreshes and restores us.  We hear our loving Lord’s words that give consolation and hope.  Jesus told His disciples that even after being handed over to be crucified, “on the third day the Son of Man will be raised.” Restored!  For you!  

 

Let us pray:  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with your free Spirit.  Amen.  (Ps. 51:10-12)

Our Father…

The LORD will keep you from all evil;
The Lord will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.  Amen.  (Psalm 121:7-8)