By the time of Jeremiah, the people of Israel and Judah have seen more than their fair share of bad kings, who have ranged from the merely lousy to the downright diabolical. With a few notable exceptions such as David, Hezekiah, and Josiah, their leaders excel in their unfaithfulness to God and their shocking treatment of the people. These developments don’t surprise God. Back in 1 Samuel 6 when the people had clamored for a king like the nations around them, God had warned them of a king’s likelihood of exploiting them. God mentions that by asking for a king, they are rejecting God as their true king. At the people’s insistence, God grants the demand.
In today’s verses God expresses anger and dismay with the kings who have so thoroughly failed their people. Rather than saying, “I told you so” and leaving them to their own devices, God promises to intervene, removing these bad leaders and appointing good ones in their place. God will send kings who, like David, will rule like shepherds rather than tyrants. The “righteous Branch” of David will tend the people with compassion and justice. He will not seek his own comfort at the people’s expense; instead, he will “execute justice and righteousness in the land.” This king will create a safe haven for the people. Most importantly, he will faithfully serve the God who has appointed him king.
Of all the images that God chooses as a descriptor in the Bible, that of shepherd speaks the most comfort. How does the image of God as shepherd speak to you today? How are you in need of God’s tending, care, and compassion? Invite God to shepherd you today.

Lord, remind me of your shepherd’s heart toward me; help me recognize the good pastures into which you lead me; and give me wisdom to tend with compassion and justice those you’ve entrusted to me. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 23:33-43

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Lectionary Week
November 14–20, 2016
Scripture Overview

Each of the passages for this week addresses the ends served by divine power. Jeremiah characterizes king- ship by wisdom, justice, and safety. The exercise of kingly power is on behalf of God’s people rather than against them. The read- ing from Colossians praises the cosmic dimensions of Christ whose exaltation is not an end in itself, for the task of Christ is one of reconciliation. The goal of Christ’s kingship moves to center stage in the passage from Luke. The bystanders and one of the criminals executed with Jesus know what it means to be a king, so they taunt Jesus with the demand that he use his power to save himself. For Jesus, however, a king is not one who saves himself but one who saves others.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Jeremiah 23:1-6. What experiences do you recall of leaders in various arenas not being wise shepherds of the people and the people’s resources?
• Read Luke 1:68-79. The song of Zechariah is this-worldly and political. In what ways does the song encourage you to view the baby in the manger in a different light?
• Read Colossians 1:11-20. How has Jesus revealed himself as your king this past year?
• Read Luke 23:33-43. Jesus came as a different king, a dif- ferent kind of messiah than people expected. Recall a time when God’s response in a situation differed

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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