"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
It always amazes me how easy it is to choose one verse and quote it without the surrounding context. Jeremiah 29:11 is one of those verses. It is important to remember the LORD is speaking to people who have been removed from their homes and are now captives in Babylon. False prophets are telling them "Don't worry this will not last long. Do not make this your home. We will be returning to Jerusalem soon." But God told them to make their home in Babylon because they would be there for seventy years.
Often this verse is quoted as if that was all God said. Rarely do I hear the rest of His statement "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." So man has a responsibility in God's plan. Man must call, come, pray and seek God with all his heart. Then I will let you find me, I will restore your fortunes, and I will return you to your land. Jeremiah 29:11 is often used as if those who quote it have no responsibility. God is just going to accomplish this promise whether He is called upon or not. Much less whether or not He is sought with a whole heart.
It is important to remember God has made unconditional and conditional promises. In Genesis 12:1-3 God made an unconditional promise to Abram when He promised to bless him and all the families of the world through him. Jeremiah 29:11 has conditions attached to it.
Ezra and Nehemiah provide the names of those who, after seventy years of captivity, return to the Promised Land. When you examine the lists in these two books, the number the LORD restored to their home is not very large. It appears those who benefited from the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 was not necessarily all who heard or quoted the passage.
LORD God, please forgive us for taking such liberty with Your Word. Holy Spirit, teach the Father's children His Word is complete. It is not to be taken in part but the whole.
It is interesting to study Jesus' responses during the illegal trial before the Sanhedrin, Pilate, and Herod. His response is primarily to questions related to His identity. The exception is when Annas, the high priest, asked Jesus about His disciples and teaching in John 18:20-21. Jesus never replies when challenged to respond to the charges made against Him
Mark 14:62 provides Jesus' response to the Sanhedrin's question of His Messiahship, "I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds." He was much more succinct to Pilates question of His kingship in Mark 15:2, "You have said so."
Jesus' response in the Gospels:
Sanhedrin: Matthew 26:64, Mark 14:62, Luke 22:67-70.
Pilate: Matthew 27:11, Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3, John 18:34-37, 19:11.
Herod: Luke 23:9 (Jesus refused to answer Herod's many questions.)
Jesus never backed down from His claim of being the Messiah, even in the face of persecution and death. At the same time, He refused to defend Himself.
Peter tells us Jesus is our example when we face persecution. In 1 Peter 2:19-23, he explains how we are in good company if we suffer for doing good. He goes so far as to say "For to this you have been called." In verse 23, Peter addresses Jesus' lack of response to the accusations made against Him. "When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly."
Lord God, may I, like my King, never back down from claiming You as the Christ even if I face persecution and death. Holy Spirit, please teach me how to respond to questions about my Savior in a manner that glorifies Him. May I be like Him, by entrusting myself to the only One who judges justly.