Pentecost 24 – Thursday Devotion

Readings:  Jeremiah 38:1-28 and Matthew 27:57-66

Additional Reading:  Jeremiah 39:1-44:30

Jeremiah 38: 7-10:  When Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, a eunuch who was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern—the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate—Ebed-melech went from the king’s house and said to the king,  “My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they did to Jeremiah the prophet by casting him into the cistern, and he will die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.”  Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, “Take thirty men with you from here, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.”

Matthew 27: 57-61:  When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.  He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.  And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock.  And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

 

“Out and In—then Out Again.”

The contrast between our readings is astounding!  Both men begin in the womb of their mothers then they come out at birth.  Later, the king puts one man into a place of confinement but later releases him; another Man dies and they lay Him in a place of confinement.  One has rescue; the other?  We wait and see…

Jeremiah was one prophet who did prophecies with illustrations.  He would ‘perform’ those prophecies in order for those who would hear and see it to remember it.  It was a visual prophecy, much like what our Lord Jesus Christ would do in teaching by parables.  The story Jesus would tell had earthly elements but would teach heavenly truths.

Imagine someone putting you in a cistern to die!  A cistern is a hole in the ground maybe deeper than a man could stand.  The purpose of a cistern was to collect the ground water which could be brought up by a well.  In arid climates, these cisterns would often dry up, leaving a hole in the ground.  No water—no life.  It’s that simple.

Ask Joseph about his stay in a cistern before slave traders took him away to Egypt.  Now Jeremiah is in a similar confining situation with no water.  He would die unless rescued.

But God’s grace rescues Jeremiah from his confinement.  An Ethiopian hears of his plight and sends thirty men to rescue him.  Not so for Jesus, thirty pieces of silver betrayed Him into the hands of sinful men who nailed Him to the cross to die.  Then His lifeless body was placed in a confining tomb.

But no slave traders or Ethiopian guards could rescue Jesus from His tomb.  It would take the glory of the Father to raise Jesus from the dead on the third day.  The stone protecting His body had served its purpose.  It is removed and Jesus walks from the tomb alive!  Thanks be to God!

We also, by baptism, await our day when we will exit the confinement in which death places us.  Again, no slave traders or Ethiopian guards can remove us from our tomb.  Jesus will give the command to open our tombs on the Last Day raising us to new life.  

Out of our mother’s womb, but then put in the tomb, but then out we will come!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  The Easter greeting is as valid today as it was earlier in this Church Year.  We shout it again in the face of this virus and death and the grave.  Thanks be to God who gives us this victory!  

 

Let us pray:   Gracious Lord, we praise You for Your humble birth, Your gracious teaching, Your patient suffering and death.  We thank You for the forgiveness of our sins and the life everlasting You have won for us.  Teach us to be patient in our days of suffering, that when we face the confining days of this earth, we look forward to the release to the joys of salvation in heaven with You.  Grant healing to those who suffer the hurts of this world, the pain of their virus and disease, and the abandonment of family and friends.  Give them grace and sustain their faith through their trials and tribulations.  We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Our Father…

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way.  The Lord be with you all.  2 Thessalonians 3:16