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Investing Against All Odds

Houses, fields, and vineyards
will again be bought in this land.
Jeremiah 32:15

In Jeremiah 32, we read that the Lord instructed Jeremiah to purchase an ancestral property in his hometown of Anathoth, just outside Jerusalem. The timing could not have been worse for a real estate transaction. The King of Babylon was even then besieging Jerusalem, and no one had any doubt about his future success. Nevertheless, Jeremiah obeyed and redeemed the land from his cousin. As God instructed him, he had the documents of purchase placed in a clay jar so they would be preserved through the years. The reason for preserving the deed was God’s promise that “Houses, fields, and vineyards will again be bought in this land” (Jeremiah 32:15).

Jeremiah bought the field on the eve of destruction and plunder. He redeemed his family land to hold the title in hope against the years of exile. Sealed in a vessel of clay, the title to a piece of the promised land would endure until the age of forsakenness ended and a glorious restoration ensued. A foolish investment in the short term, Jeremiah made a pledge for the future in trust that God would be as good as his word.

In the incarnation, Jesus bought the field of our f lesh. He purchased the redemption of humanity and bore the surety of that redemption in a vessel of clay. In his Ascension in the f lesh, Jesus holds now for us in heaven the hope of a glorified humanity against the ravages of mortality we endure in the world. Surely to the powers and principalities that strut their authority in this present age, this retention of humanity appears as foolish as a field bought before all land is swept up by a mighty king. We suffer here the pressure of foreign occupation. We often stare stunned as all we hold dear is plundered and we wander confused in a strange land whose very language sounds alien to our ears. Worse yet, we may begin to believe that Babylon is all there is, with the memory and hope of Jerusalem far receded. Yet the Ascension, rightly and boldly taught and preached, calls us to a magnificent hope. Jesus holds title to our humanity as a pledge of future restoration. He maintains our flesh through his continuing incarnation. While we are pilgrims through a barren world, we sojourn with the knowledge that the Promised Land is held in trust in the very nerves and sinews of the still incarnate Christ.

These images rescue the church from mortal despair and an over-identification with the world. The sight of the ascended Jesus dawning in our hearts through the Holy Spirit transforms the church. When we live and serve in this hope, the desert valley of the world turns to a place of springs as we pass.

Gerrit Scott Dawson is the author of Jesus Ascended: The Meaning of Christ’s Continuing Incarnation (London:…Clark, 2004, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2004) and is pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This meditation is adapted from Dr. Dawson’s book and is reprinted here by the kind permission of Continuum International Publishing.