From The Lessons of Jeremiah’s Prophecy (ca. 1560)
Jeremiah accomplishes a remarkable thing that surpasses every human way of thinking. In contrast to all previous stories of great leaders and prophets, he persuades the king and the people to surrender, and in this new he predicts that the kingdom, the cult, and the people will be saved. Moreover, he preaches against false worship and other sins, and indeed the people are finally saved through him.
What is Jeremiah doing in the meantime? Forty years he wanders around like a deserter, he is ridiculed as a fool, put in jail, released, and imprisoned again. Unlike Isaiah, Elijah, or Elisha, he performs no glorious, unexpected miracles. Rather, he appears weak because through him God will do great things and save the elect.
By considering this example carefully, we learn that the church is governed by God’s wisdom and direction alone, not by our own, and we should take our hardships in good part and not let the power of our enemies cause us to despair…
Jeremiah’s prayers contain passionate complaints and manifest a keen awareness of divine wrath. Through their trials true prophets taste the sufferings of Christ, which the attacks on Jeremiah also signify. They know well the wrath of God against sin, how God is provoked to horrible anger by the idolatry of the people and by the audacity of hypocrites, who were teaching lies and boasting that they were divinely sent prophets… In the midst of these torments, however, the Spirit yearns for help, “with sighs too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26), and it prevails…
When Judaea was laid waste, a remnant did remain, and thus we know that remnants will now be saved when the coming grave devastations occur… Let us stir up ourselves to repentance and call upon God.
Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) was a German Lutheran priest and theologian, the first systematic theologian of the Reformation. He worked closely with Martin Luther, and was the primary author of the Augsburg Confession, an irenic text is that is the foundational document of Lutheran confessionalism. His commentary on Jeremiah is based on exegetical lectures delivered at Wittenberg. This translation is from Scott Hendrix, ed., Early Protestant Spirituality (New York: Paulist, 2009), 62-74.