“No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
I am indebted in the following to an article by my friend Prof. James Nestingen for background on the texts for Lent.
These words of the prophet Jeremiah were addressed to the people of the northern kingdom one hundred years after God’s jugment resulted in their defeat at the hands of the Assyrians. They have been a colony of a pagan empire ever since, cut off from all other connections. Hope has not merely been diminished by their experience, it has been shattered.
Despite the wishful thinking of those who trust in progress the endless round of history shows us that this world is as much the land of the dying as it is the land of the living. The world is a graveyard. Where is the basis for hope?
Into the ancient despairing community – and ours – Jeremiah speaks tenderly of God’s promise. All that now separates will one day be destroyed. Sin will be forgiven, not even remembered.
Until that Day when Christ restores all things to Himself, Jeremiah’s words remain for us words of hope and promise. Easter and Good Friday are inseparable. The Risen Christ bears His wounds. Until the new age drives the old into passing, God’s friendship with us will bear the marks of the cross, and Lent, as any other day in the life of faith will be a time of repentance. God’s idiom – His unqualified commitment along with His ruthless way of shaking His people right to the limit – will expose all of our attempts to make do without Him even as it shows the way to the freedom that establishes the way in Christ.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”