The Redeeming God: Lent 5B

God promises the people in exile a new covenant, a better relationship with the loving and forgiving god of their fathers. We are right to seek this, because God is gracious and merciful, and even after we have gotten the consequences our actions deserve, we can trust that God will restore us back to a right relationship. Even those far away from the land of promise -- and even we gentiles -- are right to trust in this God, who draws us together with all things into the glory of the divine Name in Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah 31:31-34
The post-exilic new covenant will not be Mosaic. It will not lay down a way of life as an external standard. It will not instruct the people in ways they can forget or forsake -- ways they can hold over one another in the process of missing the point and falling into injustice. The love of God will not be carved as a command on doorposts or enclosed in phylacteries. The forgiving God will place it in the living heart of the people.
The oracle of YHVH:
"Observe the coming days: I will cut a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, one unlike the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day when I took hold of their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt -- my covenant, which they violated though I took them to myself as my own wife. Indeed, this is the covenant that I will cut with the house of Israel after those days: I will set my guidance in the midst of them; I will engrave it upon their heart. I will serve as their god, and they will serve as my people. No longer will one teach another, his kindred, saying, "Know YHVH!" All of them will know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. I will pardon the guilt of their iniquity and I will no longer remember their failure."

Psalm 51:1-12
The consequences of our rebellious failures in relationship with God are sure to come, and we earn them -- but God is gracious, loving, and merciful, and restores us into the joy of divine love so that we may continue to act as the people of God in the world.
Show favor to me, O God, to match your faithful mercy;
as you have abundant compassion, wipe away my rebellion.
Wash me thoroughly, like a garment, from my guilt,
and from my failure cleanse me.
I know that I am a rebel,
a conspicuous and perpetual failure.
I have failed you, you alone,
and done what is evil in your sight;
therefore you are just in your sentence,
and justified in your judgment.
Look: I was birthed as guilty,
and as a failure in my mother's womb.

Look: you delight in trustworthiness in hidden places,
and you have caused me to know secret wisdom.
Asperge me and I will be clean;
wash me like cloth and I will be whiter than snow.
Make me hear exultation and rejoicing,
that the bones you have crushed may rejoice.
Hide your face from my failure,
and wipe away all of my guilt.
Create for me a clean heart,
and repair and make ready the spirit within me.
Do not cast me out from before you,
or take your holy spirit away from me.
Return to me exultation at your deliverance,
and support in me a willing spirit.

Hebrews 5:5-10
A minority report, from a cultic perspective that we've basically lost, in which Jesus is not one of the prophets, or a king of the line of David, but a priest of the line of Melchizedek. A system of salvation in which Jesus is an archaic priest of the time of Abraham, a priest who needs no Temple for a world that has no Temple left in it. The one who prays directly to God -- the sole intermediary for our salvation by God, because we cannot stand before God ourselves and live.
And in accordance with this, the Messiah did not glorify himself, becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him, "You are my son; today I have begotten you," glorified him -- just as in another place God said, "You are a priest in perpetuity according to the lineage of Melchizedek" -- who in the days of his bodily life offered up requests and appeals, with loud cries and tears, to the one who could save him from death, and who was heard because of his reverence. And yet, being a son, he learned obedience from what he experienced, and was made perfect, and became the source of perpetual salvation for those who are obedient to him, having been designated by God as high priest according to the lineage of Melchizedek.

John 12:20-33
Even the pilgrims from Greece have heard of Jesus. And what an answer they get!
Now, there were some Hellenic Judeans among those who came up to worship at the feast [of the Pesach]. They then came to Philip (the one from Galilean Bethsaida) and asked him, saying "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." Which Philip went and said to Andrew, and then Andrew and Philip went and said to Jesus. And Jesus answered them and said, "This hour has come so that the Son of Humanity shall be glorified. I swear to you that if the kernel of grain that has fallen to the ground does not die, it remains alone -- but if it dies, it bears much fruit. The one who loves his life will lose it -- but the one who hates her life in this world preserves it for eternal life. The one who wants to wait upon me must follow me; that way wherever I am, my attendant will also be there. The Father will honor anyone who waits upon me.

Now my life has been shaken -- and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But I have come into this hour because of this: 'Father, glorify your name.'" Then a voice came from the sky, "I glorified it, and I will glorify it again." Then the standing crowd, having heard it, said that there had been thunder -- though others said that an angel had spoken to him. And Jesus responded and said, "This voice did not come because of me, but because of you. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up, will draw all things to myself."

Now, he said this to signify what sort of death he was about to die.

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