Based on: Jeremiah 20:7-13
What is it with all these movies about super heroes? Over the past 20 years there have been movies about Superman, Batman, the Incredible Hulk, and Spider-Man, to name just a few. Since 1989 there have been at least five Batman movies and there is another one coming out this summer. Why do we have this fascination with super heroes? Do you think that people recognize the need for something or someone bigger than themselves? Deep within each one of us is that understanding that there is evil in this world and that we on our own cannot overcome it. The world needs a hero. We need a hero.
That is precisely what Jeremiah was talking about in our first lesson for today. Jeremiah needed a hero. Jeremiah lived at a time when people ignored God’s word. In Jeremiah’s time God had the told Israel that he would punish them for not following his Word by sending the Babylonians to take them into captivity. There were many people who claimed to speak for God and said, “No, God wouldn’t do that. God is going to protect us. After all, his temple is right here in Jerusalem.” They made up their own message and passed in off as something coming from God. God would punish them.
It was Jeremiah’s job to tell them that God would punish them if they did not repent. You can imagine how he was treated by the people for this message. He actually complained to God because of the way he is treated. He says, “O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long.”
When Jeremiah proclaims the message God gave him to proclaim he is abused and ridiculed. In fact, in this section right before this lesson Jeremiah was beaten and put in the stocks for proclaiming God’s word.
So why is Jeremiah complaining? If he doesn’t like the results of proclaiming God’s Word then why not keep quiet? Jeremiah tried that. He says, “But if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding in; indeed, I cannot.”
You see Jeremiah’s dilemma. If he proclaimed God’s word he suffered for it. If he kept quite he suffered for it. He could not escape suffering. He needed a hero and he found his hero in the Lord. He said, “The Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.” The Lord was his hero to protect him and to defend him.
Does Jeremiah’s experience apply to us? Look at the world around us. Do people still ignore God’s word and instead promote their own ideas? Yes, they do. Just consider this. The central message of Scripture is that each one of us is a sinner who deserves God’s wrath, but Jesus Christ suffered God’s wrath for us, and now we have peace with God and eternal life. This is at the center of everything God wants you to know and yet when we listen to what many church bodies teach and preach you will hear very little of that message.
Because of the way the world treats God’s word, we also suffer that same dilemma that Jeremiah experienced. God calls us his children and through baptism he placed in us a new man, a perfect creation that wants to do God’s will, but what happens when this new creation tries to live as a child of God?
What happens when we have to tell a family member that what they did are doing is wrong, that for them to live together with their boyfriend or girlfriend before getting married goes against God’s will for human relationships? Usually it turns out that they will want to avoid us. They don’t want to hear that what they’re doing is wrong. They don’t want to hear that message and they don’t want to change even though for their own soul’s sake they need to hear that message and even though God would bless them if they would only follow his design for marriage.
Or try encouraging one of your fellow Christians to be in the Word, to attend church more regularly if they are not, to come to Bible class more often or to read their Bibles at home. That is the best thing you can do for the eternal well-being of your brothers and sisters in Christ, and yet, how often does that comment get ignored?
Or maybe you tell a friend or neighbor about your Savior Jesus Christ and that person looks at you as if there is nothing between your ears but air.
For us, the consequences of living as children of God is a type of emotional persecution. Perhaps sometimes it even becomes something physical, but in any case if you live your life as a child of God you can expect to suffer for it.
We can try what Jeremiah did in and hold it in. We can try to blend in with the world and not live as children of God, but then our conscience would bother us. We know the things that we should do. It’s in the back of our minds. We think, “Yes I really should tell them that what they’re doing is wrong.” It might go through our minds, “I blew it. There was a large open door where I could have shared as Jesus with someone and I missed it.”
Perhaps we are more successful at controlling our urge to live as children of God than Jeremiah was at sharing the message God had commanded him. Perhaps over time we have dulled our conscience so that doesn’t trouble us as much anymore when we live more like the rest of the world than we do as children of God. If so, it is to our shame.
What a wretched condition we are in. If we live as we should, then we suffer. If we try to hold back then we are sinning against God, and we still suffer. We are trapped. We need a hero.
We have a hero. Our hero is Jesus Christ, the mighty warrior that Jeremiah spoke of. He is greater than any super hero this world could think of. When you or I fail to live as children of God, when we allow Satan into our own lives, this hero reminds us that he has already strapped on his armor, taken up his weapon and defeated not only our sin, but our enemy Satan. This hero, this mighty warrior, lived a perfect life we could not live, deflecting everyone of Satan’s temptations, and then he bore on his shoulders God’s punishment for all sin.
He will continue to conquer and defeat every one of our enemies. Just as Jeremiah says, “My persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.” Those who ridiculed us for not joining in with their indecent talk or immoral behavior, those who considered it stupid to think that God created the world in six days and told us about it, those who may even cause us physical harm because we live our lives as children of God, one day their disgrace and their dishonor will be obvious to all.
As for all those other super heroes – Superman, Batman, or whoever else in might be – even in the fictional realm of the movies and comic books they have their weaknesses. Our hero, our champion, Jesus Christ is the only real and living hero. He is our hero.
“Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.”