Year B – Lent – 5 – Jeremiah 31:31-34

“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt–a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord.  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”

Summary – As we draw near to Passion Week, the lectionary texts become increasingly more focused on Christ’s death for our redemption and forgiveness.  This week’s selections do just that, and forgiveness of sins is the theme that runs through all four.  This passage from Jeremiah is the key to so much of the Bible, especially New Testament, as it falls in the context of the later and increasingly more evil kingdoms of Judah and Israel, especially during over-rule and some captivity by the Babylonians.  Jeremiah, seeing this bleak situation, prophetically looks to the future and to the coming of the Messiah who would initiate the New Covenant.  Of note, too, is the fact that this passage is fully quoted in Hebrews 8; the longest unbroken quote of the Old Testament in the New Testament.

Insight – I remember when I was 4 or 5 years old playing at a family reunion and one of my 2nd cousins told me he was eleven.  ELEVEN!  Wow, that seemed so old and grown up to me.  I had no idea what it would be like to be eleven, or if I would ever make it there, it seemed so far away.  Now of course, looking back, it is hard for me to imagine being less than eleven.  I’m sure most of you have had something like that–maybe a birthday you were looking forward to–where you knew it was coming, but had only a small picture of what it would be like.  For us, it seems so obvious and normal that Jesus has come to earth to die for us, but for those who lived before He came, it was not so.  They related to God partly through anticipation of His coming work, while we think more in terms of recollection of His past work.  Their covenant was founded on commandments carved into tablets while ours is written on our hearts; they had to learn to “Know the Lord” through sacrificing animals which gave them a picture of who Jesus would be while we know Christ because He has come and made Himself known to us, from the least to the greatest.  They anticipated the forgiveness He would bring; we now share in that actual forgiveness!

Child Catechism – How do you know God?  Because He sent Jesus to Earth for me.

 Discussion – What are some other ways the Old Covenant was different from the New Covenant we live in today?  What are some ways that they are the same or similar?

Prayer – Thank you Lord for remembering your promises.  You promised your people in the Old Testament that you would forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.  Now you have proven yourself truly faithful as you have fulfilled your promises in Christ.  In His Name we ask for faith to believe your promises as we remember your faithfulness to us.  Amen.

-JHerr

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