April 15, 2014
Today’s Lenten devotional at the Trinity School for Ministry, by MDiv student Rebecca Osborn is really excellent. I know all too well how easy it is to seek some distraction or comfort to keep me from examining and confronting my sin and the state of my heart… May the Lord help us all in these remaining days of Holy Week to come to Him and bare our hearts and let Him burn away all the dross that is dulling His life, His righteousness, His glory within us.
God’s grace through judgment is a major theme in the Old Testament. We are used to the idea of grace by gentler means, but we must not miss that God’s grace often takes the form of hardship to get the attention of his stubborn children. In Lent, we enter that hardship voluntarily, so that our hidden sins might be exposed and judged, and our new humanity in Christ might be a little more freed.
I don’t know about you, but I’m terrible at fasting. Food, in addition to being the good sustenance that keeps us alive, is also a comfort to hide in. When I am comforted in my physical body, it is easy to ignore an uneasy spirit. Whether I am uneasy because of pain or guilt or isolation, it is easy to escape those unpleasant feelings in a snack or other compulsion. Take away that habit and the emotion is exposed. It is in such a state that I can say, with the dejected voice of Jerusalem in Lamentations 1:19-20a:
“I called to my lovers, but they deceived me; my priests and elders perished in the city, while they sought food to revive their strength. Look, O Lord, for I am in distress; my stomach churns; my heart is wrung within me, for I have been very rebellious.”
Lamentations 1:17-21 is the distress call of Jerusalem in judgment. She has hit rock bottom. Many times in our Christian walk, we stand before the cross admitting our weakness. The path to wholeness in Christ is long. While we must be willing, our will alone is not enough to change us.
But unlike the woman Jerusalem, we are not without comfort (v. 17). We know that the worst of the suffering has fallen on the servant, of whom Isaiah tells us, “A bruised reed he shall not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:3). Through the fasting of Lent, we take our faintly burning wick to Christ, trusting him to bring forth justice in the fire of union with himself.
April 15, 2014
I *REALLY* like Pastor Scotty Smith’s prayer today at Heavenward. Yes. How amazing that Jesus wept for those who would crucify Him, and how thankful I am that He shows the same love and compassion to me as marred and scarred and broken by sin as I am.
As he [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42
Dear Jesus, everything about Holy Week reveals the depth of your compassion for sinful, broken people, like me. The tears you wept coming into Jerusalem, and even the passion you showed driving the moneychangers from the temple—every encounter, parable, and action gives staggering clarity to Paul’s words,
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6-8).
Paul was writing about me. I’m one of the powerless, ungodly sinners for whom you died—demonstrating God’s incomparable, irrepressible love for the ill deserving. I wasn’t an impassioned seeker; I was God’s enemy when I received the gift of reconciliation (Rom. 5:10). I have peace with God only because God made his peace with me, through you.
I would still be blind to what alone brings us peace, if you hadn’t opened my eyes to see my need and your provision. The gospel would still remain hidden from my eyes unless you had given me sight to behold you as the Lamb of God, who took away my sin. I have no claim to salvation… no boast, no hope, no assurance of sins forgiven and righteousness received, apart from sovereign grace.
How I long for the Day when I will no longer even be tempted to look for peace anywhere else, but in you, Lord Jesus. I yearn for the Day when we will see you as you are and we will be made like you (1 John 3:1-3).
This is my great hope—until that Day, keep healing the eyes of my heart of all spiritual myopia, astigmatism, or anything else that keeps me from seeing the magnificence of your glory and the full measure of your grace. So very Amen I pray, in your tenacious and tender name.
April 15, 2014
Desiring God has a nice Holy Week devotional today: The Escalating Conflict: Tuesday in Holy Week, by Justin Taylor and Andreas Köstenberger.
Here’s the beginning:
It is now Tuesday morning, March 31, A.D. 33. The disciples point to the withered fig tree that Jesus had cursed the day before. Jesus gives his disciples a simple lesson from it: have faith in God. In particular, he says, if they have undoubting faith they can throw even the mountains into the sea.
Now if the disciples had ears to hear they would recognize that Jesus is talking about more than seemingly magical powers that can curse trees and crumble mountains. He is talking about realities bigger than this.
Note that he closes this mini-lesson on mountain-moving, undoubting faith by saying, “whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). Jesus is reminding them that failing to forgive looms as a bigger obstacle to answered prayer than a mountain. The disciples will soon face great challenges to their faith and their ability to forgive. Will they remember this withered tree on the road from Bethany?
As they approach the Holy City, the events from the day before could not have been far from their minds. As Jesus enters the Temple Mount, crowds gather to hear him teach (Luke 21:38), and the chief priests, scribes, and elders waste no time in making their move. They will try to lay four traps to ensnare their adversary.
Read the full entry here.
Note: This is the third post in Desiring God’s 2014 Holy Week series “The Final Days of Jesus,” inspired by the new book of the same title by Justin Taylor and Andreas Kostenberger. Holy Week illustrations provided in partnership with Crossway Books and Adam Greene. Previously in the series:
April 15, 2014
Three times in the last 500 years there has been a tetrad of four total lunar eclipses associated with a solar eclipse and with the Jewish feasts:
1493-1494 expulsion of the Jews from Spain
1949-1950 Israel’s War of Independence and the Ingathering
1967-1968 Six Day War, Jerusalem back in the hands of the Jews after 1900 years
We are now entering another such tetrad in 2014-2015, last night being Passover and the first of four lunar eclipses–Passover, April 15, 2014; Tabernacles, October 6, 2014; Passover, April 4, 2015; and Tabernacles, September 28, 2015.
Psalm 122:6-9 Young’s Literal Translation
6 Ask ye the peace of Jerusalem, At rest are those loving thee. 7 Peace is in thy bulwark, rest in thy high places, 8 For the sake of my brethren and my companions, Let me speak, I pray thee, `Peace [be] in thee.’ 9 For the sake of the house of Jehovah our God, I seek good for thee!