One of the reasons I love Jeremiah is that he has a servant’s heart. He whines about it a lot, but eventually he gets it and does the right thing. I like Jeremiah because he reminds me of who I am, and who I need to become. I whine a lot about doing what I know needs to be done, but I do it, usually. I also like the fact that he isn’t afraid to show how his heart is breaking for his people at the same time that they are driving him to maddening anger: I love them, but why don’t they get it? I know that I am no prophet, but there are times when I, too, feel like everyone is out to get me. He reminds me of David in many ways, constantly second guessing God: “Should good be repaid with evil?” Jeremiah feels like he isn’t getting what he deserves, but really we don’t deserve any of this—every good thing is a gift from God. I love it, too that Jeremiah feels like he needs to stand in front of God and remind [Them]: “Remember that I stood before you and spoke in their behalf to turn your wrath away from them,” but he is really trying to incite God’s wrath on the Israelites. He is sort of saying, remember that last time you wanted to kill them and I stuck up for them, well I’m sick of it—do whatever you want to them. Good guy, that Jeremiah.
The interesting facet of the role of the prophets is that they foreshadow Jesus as the Messiah. We see Jeremiah shying away from his role as the intercessor for and disciplinarian of the Israelites. In Matthew, we get a glimpse of what it really means to be a servant in Jesus. It means that when I want accolades, I look for more opportunites for service. When I think I want to look good in front of people, I reach inside myself and find a slaves heart. When I want to be served, I tie on an apron and serve others. And I don’t whine about it, Jeremiah.
I think the positioning of these two stories in Matthew is amazing: first we learn that Jesus is going to be sacrificed, and immediately after the disciples learn about his fate, two of them start fighting over who gets to sit next to him in His kingdom. We just learned that you are going to die, but we want to sit next to you. They are essentially saying the same thing the prodigal son said when he asked for his inheritance: I like you, but I want your power/riches/authority, and I am going to say so before it’s too late.
Have I ever been so short sighted? Am I today?