New Years day and this is what you preach, the institution of the Lord’s supper? Mark 14:22 – 42

Yeah, I know, burning your bridges gives you limited access back across the river, and that, unfortunately, is where some of the humans are, but I have done just that on several occasions. One of the problems this act creates is that I lose access to new material. What do I mean? It is in conversations and or, in listening to a sermon, that the Holy Spirit gives me new stuff to about which to write. This last Sunday morning was one of those.

The sermon title, as listed on the clean note sheet we were handed was “Happy New Year.” That makes sense because it was January 01, 2017. However, the scripture passage that I assumed would be the main topic source was Mark 14:22 – 42. This is where Jesus tells the guys, “I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of

The hands of Jesus holding wine cup, symbol of communion

The hands of Jesus holding wine cup, symbol of communion

God,” and, where Peter, as Eugene Peterson’s Message states, “Even if everyone else is ashamed of you when things fall to pieces, I won’t be.” I find neither of these scenarios to be motivators for some immediate happiness.

I cannot stand people who through rose colored glasses, try to get you to ignore the pain enveloping you and look to the future goal as your constant source of feelings. If there was a person qualified to do that it would have been Jesus. Seeing as Jesus, the creator of eternity, the one who knows the end from the beginning, was standing there in front of them, and He did not say anything like that then maybe just trying to divert people from their momentary reality is not the answer. He tried to cheer them up knowing full well the anguish He was feeling in his soul, and we see the evidence of that anguish a few minutes later when He takes the three with him into the mount of olives.

Jesus, being greatly distressed said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them and fell to the ground.

New Year’s day, and this is what you preach?

We did take Communion this morning, and that being significant could well have played a role in theme, Happy New Year. However, communion was also one of the things we find Jesus doing with the disciples in Mark’s gospel, but none of this engendered happiness in them. Jesus, well aware of the forlorn looks on their faces tried to cheer them up a bit with this:

John 16:6-7 NASB “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7) “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.

But this did not and would not bring hope to their hearts, for none of them understood what was happening. They anticipated Jesus taking a commanding role in overturning the rule of the Romans. So the sorrow and grief filled the faces of every one of them as they were faced with the thought of losing the best thing that ever happened to them. In that moment looking to a future hope, you do not understand borders on the impossible. Where is the happiness in this?

I point this out, and yet pastor spent more time focused on Jeremiah 29:10,11 than anything else. As I read the words of Jeremiah, over and over that morning, the pastor was acting out how excited (and presumably happy) he believed Jeremiah might have felt as he heard these words. That prompted me to make some quick notes so I could do a little background investigation on Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 29:10-11 NASB “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. 11) ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

These words, “When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place,” may not have had the exciting impact we presume. Why would I say that? While it is possible that Jeremiah understood the threat that Assyria and the Babylonian empire posed; Israel, it would seem, had yet to be taken into Babylonian captivity. Allow me to demonstrate with this timeline.

Jeremiah's-time-frame

Jeremiah’s-time-frame

As you can see Jeremiah, born before 630 BC, did not experience the reign of Nebuchadnezzar until somewhere around 605 BC, some twenty-five years later.

What then would Jeremiah have had that would have given him “a world view”?

This catch phrase “world view” came into my hearing several years ago as I began to pay attention to apologetics teachers. Focus on the Family – a radio ministry, has this definition for world view:

A worldview is the framework from which we view reality and make sense of life and the world. “[It’s] any ideology, philosophy, theology, movement or religion that provides an overarching approach to understanding God, the world and man’s relations to God and the world,” says David Noebel, author of Understanding the Times. For example, a 2-year-old believes he’s the center of his world, a secular humanist believes that the material world is all that exists, and a Buddhist believes he can be liberated from suffering by self-purification. Someone with a biblical worldview believes his primary reason for existence is to love and serve God.

Lacking nonstop televised news and high-speed international travel we could be surprised to find that Jeremiah believed the world was anything other than flat. Fortunately, news, travel adventures, and history were passed along by mouth (oral history.)

One of the people who lived at the same time as Jeremiah and may have played a huge role in Jeremiah’s formation, is Jonah, a man with an intense hatred for the Assyrians, most specifically the Ninehvites and their king. Nineveh was the city God had told Jonah to go to with a message of absolute destruction should they not repent. Sadly, as far a Jonah was concerned, they did repent; therefore, God relented – no he did not forget but set aside his judgment temporarily, and they were spared destruction.

Now mind you this is merely a logical speculation but it has potential; and, it is intended to make you think differently about the human side of Godly events.

So again, what did God say to Jeremiah?

Jeremiah 29:10-11 NASB “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. 11) ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

What of this though?

“When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.”

To put this in perspective we need to consider the captivity that we were in prior to accepting Christ. Some aspects of this life as I understand it, is:

  1. There are wealthy people in the world, and even though there is no apparent Christ in their lives they have little comprehension of captivity. Why is that? In spite of the pain, which is great – although they will never openly tell you that; the pleasures they seek are never enough. They can never be satisfied, and that alone brings them a captivity.

  2. Many, followers of Christ, neither have nor will they have anything other than the misery they live in (we see so much of this in third world nations and the Middle East.) Our considerations of this are horribly tainted by the various worlds we live in. I will use myself as an example: Having never lived in a third world nation I have no idea yet (I say this because the global agenda to bring all nations down to the same level) what it is like to scrounge through the trash piles hoping to find something to eat. Because of this I only comprehend the discomfort of others by watching it on television while stuffing my face with cheesy chips. Hopefully, you get my point?

If you had been a captive and received this word as Jeremiah did, you may have had reason to rejoice or be happy. And yet there is that phrase “when seventy years have been completed” to put a damper on your rejoicing and happiness, because, at this point, we have no idea how long Jeremiah had been a captive if that was the case. However, there is another way of looking at this prophecy which says, you will be going into captivity, and it is going to last for seventy years. This conclusion probably brings no joy with it. Let me point out (the prophet) Daniel. It is alleged that he was taken captive at a time when he should have been getting married; the prime of life, so to speak. Once a decision was made as to what to do with him, he would have been castrated – a strong demotivator in your decision to attempt to return to the girl of your dreams. By the time Daniel figured out that Israel only had a short period left in captivity, he was already an old man. Keep in mind that Daniel ascertained this information by reading the scroll/prophecy of Jeremiah.

Are we captives?

If I accept Christ’s life in me, and the understanding that my act of faith moves me immediately into His kingdom and family, then I affirm that I have been released from (Satan’s) captivity.

What is the scriptural backing for our being released from captivity?

Revelation 5:9 ESV (b) … for you were slain, and by your (Jesus) blood, you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

Acts 20:28 ESV (b) … the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

In visualizing this ransom scenario – something I constantly do with scripture, I see an old picture from American history of slaves on an auction block. Jesus, having the one resource that meets all the demands, pays the price and sets all civilization free – past, present, and future. And yet it seems we are still captive, while others come off as though they have no clue about what I am saying. People were never meant to be items for trade, and yet, through the act of choice, Adam made us all slaves. In CS Lewis’s book, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the White “witch”/ ice queen refers to all of the humans as “Sons of Adam.” Why? Because the damage it seems was a genetic predisposition to act selfishly.

This release is entirely independent of feelings and circumstances and is fully wrapped up in God’s promises and His ability to carry them out. Plainly stated, placing our lives in Christ has removed us from captivity, no questions asked. Are there those still trapped in the grasp of Satan’s captivity; certainly, but only because their actions caused addictions and habits. We will always be responsible for our actions while we are here on this earth. It is only by God’s mercy that we occasionally escape due punishment. To recognize God’s mercy and grace in my life brings me great joy and happiness.

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