We are told in this reading how long Jeremiah will remain a prisoner. No more wondering if there will be a jail break! When Zedekiah’s eleven-year reign ends with Babylon conquering Jerusalem, Jeremiah will be free for a while. We know the circumstances that prompt Jeremiah’s freedom, but we don’t know how far into the king’s reign we are in this moment.
Do you think Jeremiah was feeling any hope at this special summons from the king? Jeremiah was certainly blunt and to the point when the king demanded the truth. “Jeremiah said, ‘If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.’” Did Jeremiah’s boldness surprise you in how he addressed the king?
Were you surprised that the king called out God, showing a hint of honor and respect? He also wanted Jeremiah to be totally truthful, even if the truth was messy and frightening. This turned into a “secret” meeting.
“So King Zedekiah secretly promised him, “As surely as the Lord our Creator lives, I will not kill you or hand you over to the men who want you dead.” The king did two surprising things. He acknowledged the LORD as creator, and also voiced his desire to protect God’s chosen prophet from hands set on killing him. In that moment, I warmed up a little toward the king realizing he wasn’t going to kill Jeremiah.
In fact, because the king didn’t want the contents of their discussion to get out, I immediately thought of another secret meeting. You may recall a very important, well-respected Pharisee came to speak to Jesus in cover of night. His name was Nicodemus. As a religious leader, he had to keep a low profile in any association with the “rebel” Jesus.
It strikes me that Nicodemus felt pressure from his peers to disregard Jesus. Jesus presented a huge problem for them. If only they could truly recognize who was standing before them. The very Messiah they had been waiting for for generations had arrived and was in their midst. How could they not see him?
I sometimes think we don’t see Jesus when he is standing right before us. We can let the messages of the world blind us to the truth. Jesus is the truth. There is no other truth, as you hear these days “my truth” or “your truth.” That’s simply another way of saying, “my opinion.” For some reason, the word “opinion” has lost favor. Replacing it with “truth” seems almost sacrilegious to me!
Nicodemus was seeking truth. He found it in Jesus’ words. One of the most loved and memorized verses is from that encounter in the gospel of John. John 3:16 says, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” What follows in verse 17 is also powerful, “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
The king was also seeking truth, and Jeremiah delivered it. King Zedekiah was not facing good options here in his opinion. If he stayed, he perished. If he surrendered, he’d also fear for his life. The king woefully admitted, “But I am afraid to surrender for the Babylonians may hand me over to the Judeans who have defected to them. And who knows what they will do to me!”
The king’s admission tells us he has some enemies among people who used to be in his kingdom that are now in captivity. In a position such as his, he would have opportunity to have many adversaries. I think of people in authority today. There is no ruler who satisfies everyone. And in some countries, like Mexico, it’s quite dangerous to be in politics.
These are my reflections. What message does God have for you today?
Let’s pray … Lord, your brilliance continues to astound me. My brain can’t wrap around your majesty. Your word is so alive! Both stories of seeking truth have reminded me that you are my #1, the one that I seek with all my heart and soul. Thank you for sending Jesus to be the true and living way to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.