The deepest desire of God, as seen throughout the Prophet Jeremiah, is that his people would “know” him. In Jeremiah 2:8, the LORD mourns, “The priests, who are supposed to know me, do not know me.” In Jeremiah 2:13, he mourns, “My people have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters.” This is expressed clearly in our Lenten meditation text, Jeremiah 8:7, “Even the stork in the heavens knows its times . . . but my people do not know . . .” In the next chapter also God goes on to mourn, “they have grown strong in the land for falsehood, and not for truth, for they proceed from evil to evil and they do not know me.” (Jeremiah 9:3)
The prophet Jeremiah makes it clear that when people do not seek to know the LORD, they will always come up with false religions, which would create systemic forms of injustice. This was the problem in Genesis 3. The primeval parents, Adam and Eve, did not seek to know the Lord. Instead they chose to observe a spiritualist religious practice, which we read about in Mesopotamian religious texts. They sought to become gods by sitting under the fig tree and mystically partaking of the fig fruit. When human beings do not seek “to know” the LORD, they eventually come up with false religions which subjugate others, and causes them to fall into a state of sinfulness. The prophet Jeremiah mourned this.
In the Gospel reading, John 8, there is a poignant reminder of the results of the utter lack of the knowledge of God. When there is no knowledge of God, even his word is grossly misinterpreted. The religious leaders, in this text, bring “a woman who had been caught in adultery.” They do not bring the man. They do not ask the questions which would lead them to the reasons behind deep systemic evil in society that lead to things like sexual immorality and crimes against women. Instead, they just seek to kill the woman, who may have been raped by many men in her life. Jesus says that the root cause of this problem is, “You do not know me, nor the Father who sent me.” (John 8:19). Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).
During these days of Lent, may we desire to truly “know” the Lord. May we truly come to the Light, so that darkness of injustice and evil around us may be dispelled. This is the only antidote to avoiding the pitfalls into which the religious leaders during Jeremiah and Jesus’ day fell.
Rev. Dr. R. Boaz Johnson, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies