Jeremiah 31:31-34 -Lent 5

Sunday March 21, 2021

Trinity – Creston/Mount Ayr

Grace, mercy, and peace is yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our text for today is the OT Lesson from Jeremiah 31 that was just proclaimed.

Dearest Jesus: Send your Holy Spirit to remind us that the love of God is written upon our hearts. As his redeemed children we are moved to love others. Amen.

Dear Fellow Redeemed in Christ:

All of us know in our heads what it means to suffer a broken heart . . . and most of us probably know in our hearts as well. Sometimes a broken heart is a result of unrealistic hopes or expectations—as when many a young man sets his heart on a young lady who never returns the affection.

Sometimes a heart is broken by death—losing a loved one. But the most deeply broken heart may be a result of broken promises; a fiancé or even a spouse has promised love and then breaks the covenant of engagement or marriage.

When covenant promises like that are broken, it probably takes an awful lot of love for a heart ever to love again.

Some of us have surely suffered that kind of broken heart, that kind of pain. So has the Lord. And if we’ve found it difficult to love again, well, thank God that even in his own pain he’s loved us so very, very much.

His love can repair our broken hearts, even enable us to love again, because, as he declares to us today through Jeremiah the prophet, he pours his own love into our hearts. By the promises of his Word,

The Love of God Is Written upon Our Hearts.

I. God’s people had broken the covenant God made with them . . . and consequently had broken the very heart of the Lord himself (vv 31–32).

A. In our text, Jeremiah proclaims to God’s people, “The days are coming” when God will “make a new covenant” with his people. Why? What was wrong with the old covenant?

B. Certainly nothing on God’s end. The Lord had established the covenant with his people and had always been faithful to them.

1. He had brought them out of slavery, out of the land of Egypt. He had freed them from the hand of Pharaoh.

2. In the wilderness and then in the Promised Land that he gave them, God had been a “faithful husband” to his people—providing for them freedom, providence (manna, quail, and water), and protection from their enemies (victory).

C. Yet the people refused to acknowledge God with faithfulness to him. They had broken the covenant.

1. They had been unfaithful in keeping the Law—by empty sacrifices to him, by worshiping other gods, by cruel and evil dealings with each other.

2. Their breaking of the covenant broke the very heart of God, who loved them so dearly and poured his whole self into caring for them.

3. And for these sins God’s people now found themselves suffering. The Lord had cast them far from his love, into exile and captivity in Babylon. It broke God’s heart to do this too!

D. God’s heart breaks over each one of us as well.

1. He aches when we suffer broken hearts. Those times when someone we thought loved us betrayed us, a spouse, parent, co-worker, or classmate.

2. But we also break his heart when we break his covenant—perhaps even when we break others’ hearts by our sins. When we fail in our duties as friends, spouses, teammates, co-workers.

The times when we’ve put “me, myself, and I” over the needs of others. The times we’ve failed or cared to provided needed help, encouragement, been unfaithful.

When we’ve failed to physically or emotional provide for othes.

II. Still, God promises to “remake” his covenant with his people and to be their God by having his “law” written upon their hearts forever (v 33).

A. Jeremiah’s prophecy and the gracious promise of God was that the exile apart from the land would end. God would ultimately return his people to the Promised Land and bring them new and complete blessings.

1. The new covenant (promise) will come “after those days,” after the days of suffering, in other words—after seventy years.

2. After the time of exile in Babylon, the “new” covenant will take hold, and a transition for God’s people will occur. They will be allowed to return to the Promised Land, to resume life and begin again to live as the faithful people of God.

The normal life would be restored, a life of worship, sacrifice, service, and prayer.

B. The new covenant includes a new relationship with God, in which the “law” of God, the willingness to live as God’s people, will be instilled in their hearts.

1. This reality comes not immediately but finally in the incarnation of God’s Son in the person of Jesus Christ.

2. By his presence in the flesh (nativity), he enters our world, and by the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) he lives in the hearts of his people, the Church.

C. Ultimately, the fulfillment of God’s new covenant is completed only in the eternal kingdom of God’s glory (heaven). Christians today may see this time of Lenten reflection on sin and repentance as the captivity of sin, which will ultimately give way to the Passiontide of reflection on Jesus’ victory over sin, death, and the forces of evil in the world.

III. The heart upon which God’s “law” is written is a heart filled with God’s love—and again able to love (v 34).

A. The “law” written upon our hearts as Christians is the Good News and saving message that Jesus has become our victorious Lord and has broken the chains of sin, death, and the power of the devil so that we may live in a “new” relationship with God our Father—one of freedom (liberty), provi­dence (blessing), and protection (eternal grace).

B. This “law” may then also be seen as Luther’s third use of the Law, in which the believer desires to live life guided and directed in all thoughts and deeds by the love of God in Jesus Christ and his sacrificial act upon the cross.

1. Having been so loved by God—after our hearts have been broken and after we have broken others’ hearts—we do love again!

2. This “new” covenant through Jesus Christ and his cross, his forgiveness, and his love motivates the Christian to live in faith and trust, acting according to the “law” written upon our hearts and displayed in daily living of love and service to our neighbor.

God has made a “new” covenant promise with his people through Jesus Christ, his Son, our Lord. The promise is one of forgiveness and love.

Through the atoning sacrifice made upon the cross (the Passion of Christ), our broken hearts have been remade and restored to a right relationship with God.

We live now and will live forever with the message of his love written upon our hearts. Amen.

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.