What was once a story of high drama—unauthorized sermons at the temple and the burning of scrolls—ends with understatement and no discernible resolution. Jeremiah and Baruch produce another scroll that contains much of the same inconvenient truth as the previous one. We’re to believe that it will find its way to the king, and that is that. The story and the chapter come to a close.
This would be confusing if we assume that the point of the story is to show how this defiance fares for the king. But we already know that answer: not well.
The point of the story, then, seems to be less of what we’re to learn about the king and more of what we’re to learn about God. This is probably true for most, if not all of the stories in the Bible and how we tend to read them. We assume they’re primarily about us, who we are, and what we’re supposed to do. In reality they’re primarily about God, who God is, and how this God works and reveals. Who we are flows from who God is, not the other way around.
And this is hard for us, because we think we’re the center of every universe and the protagonist of every story. In one of his Sabbath poems, “IV: Amish Economy,” Wendell Berry writes about an Amish friend whose life exposes this same hard truth. His friend is confused by the wider culture’s pursuit to “find oneself.” In his friend’s understanding of life and faith, the goal is instead to lose oneself. Only in the losing of oneself do we find we’re part of something much greater.
All that time we thought we were reading one story and it turns out we were reading another. Isn’t that what resurrection is about?
What is one thing I know about God that shapes what I know about myself?
Alpha and Omega, help me to find my place in you. Amen.