Date: Friday, Mar 31
Contributor: Kathy Ackerman
Today’s theme is “rescue.”
Jeremiah was a prime example of Jesus’ comment in Mark that “a prophet is not without honor except in his hometown.” Jeremiah was constantly running afoul of local authorities for preaching against the establishment. In fact, just prior to today’s reading in the book of Jeremiah, the prophet had been beaten and put into stocks by a rival. In that passage, Jeremiah says God is “like a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble and they will not prevail.”
Psalm 18 is a cry to the Lord to be saved from “the breakers of death,” the “torrents of oblivion” and “the cords of hell.” It’s worth noting that even though Psalm 18 is one of the longest in the book of Psalms, we only get the first 7 verses of the Psalm in today’s reading. The rest of the Psalm speaks of God’s highly dramatic deliverance of the Psalmist, and is well worth the read.
Then we have the Gospel passage where John depicts Jesus being confronted by an angry crowd who are preparing to stone him for “making yourself God.” After telling the crowd that “believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” And, just as they are about to go after him, he simply leaves, which was more amazing than it sounds. Jesus was surrounded at “Solomon’s Colonnade” (John 10:23), which is a walkway with the Temple on one side, and a steep drop or solid wall on the other. He literally had no way of escaping that crowd. But God does rescue Him, leaving the angry mob behind. (Interesting to think about their reaction to THAT!)
Rescue is an odd concept to be thinking about during Lent, which to me has always been about preparing for the grief of the Passion and then the joy of the Resurrection – what Greek Orthodoxy calls the “season of bright sadness.” That sense of oddness increased for me when I realized that these sets of readings are placed two days before Palm Sunday, when we read not only about the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, but also the dark story of the Passion. Palm Sunday isn’t about rescue – whether it was dramatic, like Jeremiah or the Psalmist – or quiet, like Jesus’ evasion of an angry mob in John. Jesus doesn’t get rescued this time – at least not physically.
But upon reflection, it’s really not so odd after all. These readings point out that God’s rescue – in the form of the Resurrection – is on its way. Jeremiah, the Psalmist and Jesus all believed in the power of God to rescue them from dire situations, and their faith carried them through. Where and how does God rescue you?