Skip to content

The Plot Thickens

September 17, 2018

“Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth. Strangers are attacking me; ruthless men seek my life—men without regard for God.”  Psalm 54: 2-3.

All of the themes in great literature are found in the Bible—love, lust, betrayal, jealousy, greed, pride, murder, etc.  These themes are present in mysteries as well.  I have been an aficionado of mysteries my whole life.  I started devouring Nancy Drew mysteries in third grade and graduated to Sherlock Holmes in middle school.  Later, I broadened my mystery reading to G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown and other mystery writers.

In this week’s Scripture texts[1]the plot thickens for three Biblical heroes—including Jesus, the divine Superhero.  Even though murder plots are revealed against our three heroes, we know that they all ultimately prevail.

King Saul led the way in the plot to kill David, but others joined in the hunt for his blood: “Save me, O God, by your name; vindicate me by your might.  Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth.  Strangers are attacking me; ruthless men seek my life—men without regard for God.  Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. Let evil recoil on those who slander me; in your faithfulness destroy them” (Psalm 54: 1-5).  Through the grace of God, David was spared from death at the hands of these murderous thugs and he continued to turn to God for help and protection throughout his life.

Jeremiah preached under Judah’s last five kings.  The nation was on a descent to destruction, which ended in its capture by Babylon in 586 B.C.   Jeremiah’s warnings and pleas to the people to return to God fell on deaf ears.  The Lord told Jeremiah that some people from his hometown had hatched a plot to kill him because of his preaching.  Their motivations to kill him included greed (his preaching hurt the idol-makers’ businesses); politics; religion; and hatred for showing them that they were wrong.  Jeremiah turns to God and pleads with him: “But you, Lord Almighty, who judge righteously and test the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause”(Jeremiah 11: 20).  God rescued him and Jeremiah lived.  Even though other murderous schemes and persecutions followed,  Jeremiah was faithful to the end. He is a great example of courage in the face of injustice and opposition.

In this week’s Gospel text, Mark records that Jesus told his disciples of the plot to kill him for the second time: “He said to them, ’The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.  But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it”  (Mark 9: 31-32).  Maybe they didn’t pose any follow-up questions because Jesus scolded them the first time he told them.  More likely, they didn’t ask questions because they were too caught up in their own selfish ambitions to begin to comprehend what he was saying: “’What were you arguing about on the road?’  But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.  Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last and the servant of all’” (Mark 9: 33-35).  Clearly, they still did not understand the sacrifices ahead.  And while Jesus continues to try to get through to them, they argued about who should be Vice-President and Secretary of State when Jesus comes to power.

James warns against such selfish ambition: “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such ‘wisdom’ does not come from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice.  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:14-17). Remember Jesus’ instruction to be a servant to those who cross your path.

As plots thicken in your life—when temptations, ambitions, jealousies, and betrayals swirl around you–follow David’s, Jeremiah’s, and Jesus’ examples.  Turn to God and  confess your sins.  Look to him for comfort, refuge, and protection against those who are threatening to harm you.  Look to the one who can protect you from life’s vicissitudes.  Fall into Jesus’ arms when you are being pursued. Whatever happens, he will be with you.  He is your fortress and rock.  And a mighty fortress he is.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1]The Scripture texts for next Sunday are Jeremiah 11: 18-20; Psalm 54; James 3:13-4: 10; Mark 9: 30-37.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: