Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
Jeremiah 18:18-20 and Matthew 20:17-28
“Should good be repaid with evil? Yet they have dug a pit for me.”
“Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
Leading up to Jeremiah 18:18-20, the prophet Jeremiah called upon the people to repent. Jeremiah shared with the Lord that false prophets have rebelled against Jeremiah’s message, saying, “Let’s attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says.” Jeremiah questions his treatment, asking the Lord, “Should good be repaid with evil? Yet they have dug a pit for me.” This, despite Jeremiah having spoken previously on their behalf before God. In asking, “should good be repaid with evil,” Jeremiah lamented that he was praying for the people, seeking only their well-being and turning the Lord's wrath from them. Yet they turned on Jeremiah and gave Jeremiah only evil in return for all the good that he had done.
Matthew 20:17-28 is about Jesus’ third prediction of his death. On the way to Jerusalem, he told the 12 disciples, “…the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life.”
Matthew (although Mark tells a slightly different tale, according to the Internet) goes on to describe how the mother of James and John, two of the disciples, came to Jesus to ask that her two sons be seated to his right and left. In response, Jesus turns to James and John and asks, metaphorically, if they are able to drink from the same cup, meaning, can you endure all that I am about to in sacrifice to all that is good? “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
Jesus asks James and John, as well as the other disciples, if they can make the same sacrifice as he did for the good of all. Jesus put his whole life at our disposal so that every person should experience liberation and fullness of life. We are called to take part in the same mission. If push comes to shove, I ask myself, can I drink the cup?
Two questions to ponder. In the spirit of John Cleese, a recent guest speaker hosted by Schulze School of Entrepreneurship, I encourage all of us to find “tortoise mind” – a time to put your feet up on your desk, think, question and reflect – before the Easter celebration. Ask yourself: Should evil be done unto those who commit evil? What is the point? And, would I ever be able to drink the same cup that Jesus drank?
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