TODAY’S READING: JEREMIAH 31-32
Speaking of the time after Jesus’ crucifixion, God says in Jeremiah 31:14 that “my people shall be satisfied with my goodness.”
Why is it at this time that we will be satisfied by God’s goodness?
In the Old Testament, God is depicted as both good and evil. Yes, we see many good and wonderful things associated with God. But, we also see many evil things – wholesale destruction of cities, commands to rip babies out wombs, etc. – ascribed to God.
So, will we be satisfied with God’s goodness because he will stop doing those evil things and only do good things to us?
Will God do this – satisfy us with his goodness – because we believe the right way? That Jesus is the son of God?
But, if we don’t believe the right way, then we won’t be satisfied with God’s goodness because we will experience God’s wrath as he burns us in hell forever? In other words, we will get God’s evil side again?
The answer to these questions is no. We will not be satisfied with God’s goodness because he stopped doing evil to us – or even allowing evil to happen to us – because we believed the right thing.
The reason will we be satisfied with God’s goodness is because after the crucifixion of Jesus we will see God for who he really is. We will be satisfied with God’s goodness because we will finally know him as good and only good. We will be satisfied with God’s goodness not because he changed – now doing just good instead of evil – but because our perception, our understanding, our knowledge of God changed. That is, the veil that Satan used to block our understanding of God will have been removed so that we can see God clearly for who he truly is.
This – that God is good and only good – is exactly what Jesus came to reveal to us.
Jesus was asked by a rich, young ruler, “Teacher what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” In Matthew 19:17, Jesus answered, “Why do you ask about what is good? There is only one who is good.”
The man wanted to know about what is good. Jesus told him to forget about what is good. Instead, Jesus told the man to know that there is one, and only one, who is good. The question should not have been what is good but who is good.
Of course, Jesus was referring to God as the one who is good. God is good. In order for God to be good, the very essence of everything that is good, then he cannot be evil. Otherwise, God would not be good.
Because God is good, he can only do good. Therefore, in Matthew 5:44-45, Jesus says, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute yo, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
God doesn’t do good to the good and evil to the evil because that is what each deserves. No, God only does good. And, his goodness falls equally on the good and the evil, the just and the unjust. Go outside and you cannot stop the sun shining on or the rain falling on you. These are unavoidable. And, so is God’s goodness.
In Matthew 6, in the same sermon, Jesus tells us to look at how God takes care of the creation, that the birds are fed and the lilies clothed. Jesus says that God takes care of the creation with his goodness. And, if God takes care of the creation with goodness, then how much more will he give his goodness to us? Therefore, just seek to know God.
Then in Matthew 7, again in the same sermon, Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
We are evil. Yet, in spite of our evil hearts, we seek to give good things to our children. Jesus says this to contrast our evil hearts with God’s heart, which is good and only good. And, if our evil hearts know to give good things to our children, then surely God, whose heart is good, will give good and only good to his children.
This is what Jesus said over and over again during his ministry on the earth. Not only did he say it, but he demonstrated it as well. Jesus was continually healing and feeding all those that came to him. Acts 10:38 says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
This must have been particularly mind blowing for the Jews because Jesus even healed non-Jews – the centurion’s son and the daughter of a Canaanite woman. The Jews viewed these people as evil and wicked. (Side note, what should that say to us today about how God treats the people we view as wicked and evil?)
But, the ultimate expression of God’s goodness towards us is the cross. Here, Jesus put on full display that God is good and only good. Even while we were killing Jesus, God in the flesh, we received only goodness from God. For from the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
If there was ever a time for God to something, anything, evil towards us, then Jesus’ crucifixion was that time.
But, it is this ultimate display of God’s goodness that can finally awaken us to the reality that God is good and only good. And, when Jesus Christ crucified does awaken us to the reality that God is good and only good it is then that we are satisfied with God’s goodness. It is then that we are filled with the knowledge that God is good. Period.