TODAY’S READING: JEREMIAH 18-21
“And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war.” – Jeremiah 21:8-9
Jeremiah prophesies that there are two ways we can go – the way of life or the way of death. These two ways are polar opposites. They have nothing to do with each other.
The way of death is to stay in the city and die by the sword, by famine, or by pestilence.
The way of life is to go out of the city, surrender to the enemy who is persecuting you, and gain your life as a prize of war.
These are the words of Jesus!
In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” In this verse, Jesus presents to the two ways. One is the way of Satan, which is to kill and destroy and is therefore the way of death. The other is the way of Jesus, which is to give life and is therefore the way of life.
In John 10:17-18, Jesus elaborated on what the way of life looks like, saying, “For this reason the Father loves me, because i lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”
In Matthew 16:25, Jesus presented us with the choice of the way of life or the way of death. He said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Looking back to Jeremiah, to save your life was to stay in the city, in Jerusalem, to fight for your earthly kingdom, your rights, your possessions, etc. But, to stay in the city and fight, which is what the Jews wanted to Jesus to do, is to die at the hand of the enemy by the sword, famine, and pestilence. If you try to save your life by fighting, by war, by the way of the world, then you lose your life. You will die spiritually.
But, if you lose your, then you will find it. Based on what Jesus said in John 10:17-18, to lose life is to voluntarily lay it down. Losing your life means you give up your earthly kingdom, your rights, your possessions, etc. You voluntarily lay it all down. But, in this case, you spiritually come to life.
In Jeremiah, losing your life is going out of the city and surrendering to the enemy. Therefore, notice what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Where was Jesus crucified?
Outside the city. Jesus went outside the city and laid down his life. He surrendered to the enemy. But, this was the victory of Jesus because he had both the authority to lay down his life and pick it up again.
And, Jesus asked us to follow him. He asked us to follow him outside the city and take up our own cross. Jesus asked us to voluntarily surrender to the enemy and lay down our lives.
How else can we love our enemies but by surrendering our lives to them?
Why don’t we do this?
Because we fear that by surrendering our lives – our pride, our will, our kingdom, our rights, our possessions – we will die. We fear we will end up with nothing.
Paul explained clearly that there is no need for this fear that if we voluntarily surrender to the enemy that we will die. In fact, Paul said it was just the opposite.
“For if we have been united with him in a death life his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus did not crucify himself. He surrendered, willingly, to his enemies, and was crucified by them. But, he was resurrected.
We are to do the same. We are to follow Jesus and be united with him in his death. We are to lay down our lives, to surrender to the enemy. We don’t crucify ourselves, but we are crucified with Jesus. And, if we die a death like Jesus’, then we will certainly be raised in a resurrection like his too.
In Jeremiah, it says that those who outside the city and surrender will gain their life as a prize of war. In the Hebrew, “a prize of war” is just one word. It means booty, spoil, goods that have been plundered.
Jesus said in Matthew 12:29, “Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.”
Jesus, has fought the strong man, the enemy, the Sata. Jesus won that war on the cross. By winning the war, Jesus freed us from our bondage to Satan. And, Jesus plundered the goods, our very lives, that were in Satan’s house, Satan’s kingdom.
So, there is the way of death, the way of killing, which is the way of Satan. This is the way of fighting for what is ours. This way leads to death.
And, there is the way of life, the way of dying, the way of surrendering, which is the way of Jesus who is the way and the truth and the life. This is way of voluntarily surrendering everything we have to be united in the death of Jesus so that we can live a resurrected life like he lives.
This is when the last enemy, death, has been truly been defeated.