We continue in our bible study in Luke. This time we walked through Luke 9:1-22. Here is the hard copy if you’d like to follow along at home: The gospel of Luke: A Bible Study.
This is the sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost. The sermon text is: Jeremiah 20:7-13. The sermon theme is: You Deceived Me. Here is the Written Sermon.
You Deceived Me
You lied to me. Those are some of the most painful words to say and to hear, aren’t they? You lied to me. It is painful to have someone lie to you when you don’t know them well. But it’s so much more painful to have someone lie to you who who you know well and trust. In the words we look at this morning we see the prophet Jeremiah speaking those words. But in a very shocking way he is not speaking those words to his friends or family members or even to his enemies. He is saying those words to God. In Jeremiah 20:7 we read: “O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed.” (Jer 20:7 NIV)
In these words Jeremiah was angry with the Lord. And in the words which follow we see exactly why he was angry with the Lord: “7 I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. 8 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.” (Jer 20:7-8 NIV)
All day long people ridicule Jeremiah because he preached and proclaimed God’s word. Jeremiah had a very difficult call and ministry. He was sent to proclaim God’s word to God’s people. But the frustrating fact was that most of God’s people had hardened themselves against God’s word. So instead of preaching comforting words of forgiveness, he had to preach stern predictions of terror and judgement.
And he was faithful to his call. Week after week, month after month he proclaimed to them that the Lord would punish them because of their stubborn rebellion against him. And then what happened? Nothing. From everything Jeremiah could see nothing happened. Jeremiah predicted judgement and nothing happened. And when the people could see that as often as Jeremiah predicted the Lord’s judgement nothing happened, they became more rebellious against God and poured out more ridicule against Jeremiah.
So Jeremiah cries out to the Lord, “you deceived me.” And it’s good for us to look at Jeremiah’s words this morning, for they are the same words we cry out too. We may not cry out with these words on our lips but, at the very least, we cry them out in our hearts. We cry out to God, “You deceived me.” We go through our lives living a Christian life and what happens? The bad guy gets the raise at work and ridicules us for doing things by the rules and by the book. Just as Jeremiah reaches out to believers in churches who were rejecting God’s word, so also we do the same. If you live in this area and get to know people at all you will find people who think that sin really isn’t a big deal and for that matter Jesus really isn’t a big deal. And when you confront them with their sin of despising God’s word, you are the one they ridicule. You are the one they insult. And when this happens we, just like Jeremiah, end up saying to the Lord, “you deceived me.” You told me that following your will and sharing your word would end up good. But it has only ended up bad.
And so, there are times we find ourselves in the same place as Jeremiah. Now, for just a moment, put yourself in God’s shoes. If you were the Lord Almighty, what would you say to Jeremiah? And it’s a good question to ask. Because this is not the only time in the bible that this question is asked. What would you say to Jeremiah? What I find fascinating about how the Lord responds to Jeremiah is that it’s not how the Lord responds to Job. When Job complains about the difficulties of his life the Lord says, “were you there at the creation of the universe? If you weren’t there, then you have no right to question my authority.” And the Lord could say the same to us. And his response is not like the Lord’s response to Jonah. Jonah goes to Nineveh and tells them all that in 40 days Nineveh will be demolished. And then he goes out a safe distance away from Nineveh to see it destroyed. And the Lord tells him, “Don’t you care about these 120,000 people?” And he could say the same to us, couldn’t he? But what is the Lord’s response to Jeremiah’s complaint? We read: “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 it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jer 20:9 NIV)
The Lord responds not with a rebuke and not with a redirection. No, instead he responds by sending his word to strengthen Jeremiah’s faith. God’s word caused him to receive forgiveness. God’s word caused Jeremiah to see that the person who was really being deceived was Jeremiah. And then after that God’s word causes Jeremiah to rejoice in service. He rejoices at the idea of sharing God’s word once more. And that’s an amazing fact when we consider the word which follow: “I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side! Report him! Let’s report him!” All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.”” (Jer 20:10 NIV)
Jeremiah rejoices at serving the Lord despite the many who want to deceive him with their lies about the Lord. And Jeremiah rejoices at serving the Lord in another way: “But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.” (Jer 20:11 NIV)
When Jeremiah preached to his own people, his own people laughed at his words and then forgot them. But my dear friends in Christ, today, who remembers their words? Jeremiah shared God’s word and still to this day what he said and what he shared is handed down from one generation to the next. And that fact is so comforting to us, isn’t it? For if we speak about the things in our lives-our habits and hobbies, those words will be forgotten over time. But when we reach out and share God’s word, those words will not be forgotten. For the Holy Spirit will cause those words to be remembered.
So don’t lose heart and don’t give up. Live your Christian life. Day by day receive the forgiveness for your sins through God’s word. Read God’s word and there see Jesus, your Savior once again. See the Savior who died for and took away all of your sins-even those sins you commit when you, just like Jeremiah, expect God to bring down his wrath in your timetable, not God’s. And then just as Jeremiah did, continue to live your Christian life and share your Christian faith. And at the end of every day and at the end of your lives you will be able to say and sing these words that Jeremiah shares with us: “Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.” (Jer 20:13 NIV)
Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord because he rescues us from our own deception and from the deceptions of others. Amen.