The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms of the earth under his dominion and all the peoples were fighting against Jerusalem and all of its cities: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. You shall not escape from his hand but shall surely be captured and delivered into his hand. You shall see the king of Babylon eye to eye and speak with him face to face. And you shall go to Babylon.’ Yet hear the word of the Lord, O Zedekiah king of Judah! Thus says the Lord concerning you: ‘You shall not die by the sword. You shall die in peace. And as spices were burned for your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so people shall burn spices for you and lament for you, saying, “Alas, lord!”’ For I have spoken the word, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 34:1-5 ESV
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:18-21 ESV
There is a joke about some business executives who were having a meeting, and one of them was making a report. He said, “I have bad news and good news. Which do you want to hear first?” Everyone one said that they wanted to hear the bad news first. The business executive said, “The bad news is that we’ve lost almost all of our customers.” The other people asked, “What’s the good news?” He answered, “The number of complaints has gone way down!”
The good news really wasn’t very good for that business, was it? The prophet Jeremiah had some bad news and good news for King Zedekiah, and the bad news was very bad. The siege of Jerusalem would end in defeat for him, and the city of Jerusalem would be burned down. The king would be taken captive and be taken to Babylon. This was terrible news, not news that would make a king at all happy. But God did have a little bit of good news for Zedekiah. He would not be killed in battle, but instead he would die in peace, as kings had died before him. People would burn spices to honor him and mourn his death. Through all the hard times the king would have to live through, God would take care of him and help him. That really was good news.
The worst bad news of all for everyone is that we are under the power of sin and death, and we have no way to free ourselves. We would have been lost forever, but God sent Jesus to be our Savior. Jesus obeyed God’s law perfectly for us, and his righteousness covers our sin. God looks at us through Jesus and sees us as righteous because of what Jesus has done for us. He died on the cross to defeat the power of sin and death in our lives, and God forgives all our sins every day. We are God’s children forever, and will live forever in his heavenly kingdom. That’s the best good news there ever will be!
Dear Jesus, thank you for being our good news, and for loving and forgiving us. Amen.