Lent Devotion for March 29
"He Committed Himself to God."
Reader: "You are my strength."
Response: "Come quickly to help me.”
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 22:19-22
19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 23:44-46
44 By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. 46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.
Reader: “The word of the Lord."
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Certainly, in all of our lives, there are times when we are engaged in a fierce battle. That warfare can take many shapes, but all are real and very tough. Such was the case for David in this psalm. He asked for deliverance from the sword. Apparently, his enemies were actually trying to kill him. The dogs* were a pestering annoyance. The lions* were terrifying and deadly. The wild oxen* were fierce animals of tremendous strength. The last verse is quoted by Jesus as recorded in Hebrews 2:12. Jesus clearly knew this psalm. As in all the psalms, God is addressed in a very personal, intimate manner. David spoke very openly as if God were sitting on the ground beside him. In Luke, the darkness symbolizes judgment and sorrow. The entire land was filled with great sadness. Stating that the light from the sun was gone, was another way of intensifying the heavy hand of God’s judgment. Into this darkened moment, God acted again with a very powerful statement. In Matthew’s gospel, he writes as Jesus spoke His final words, the curtain ripped. In Luke, notice the tear, then Jesus spoke these words, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” At that moment Jesus died, having finished His mission for the redemption of the entire created order. The curtain in the Temple was torn from top to bottom, from heaven to earth. Have you ever thought what that indicated? Yes, the way into the Holy of Holies, into God’s presence was opened, but there is something even more significant. The tear revealed God’s acceptance of His Son’s sacrifice. That acceptance by God continues to this day. What happened so many years ago is as up to date as the seconds it takes to read this sentence. You are not reading ancient history, you are reading current events of March 29, 2017. Don’t be fooled!
*They were likened to dogs, lions, and wild oxen.
Fix thou our steps. O Lord, that we stagger not at the uneven motions of the world, but steadily go on to our glorious home; neither censuring our journey by the weather we meet with nor turning out of the way for anything that befalls us. The winds are often rough, and our own weight presses us downwards. Reach forth, O Lord, thy hand, they saving hand, and speedily deliver us. Teach us, O Lord, to use this transitory life as pilgrims returning to their beloved home; that we may take what our journey requires, and not think of settling in a foreign country.
–John Wesley 1703-1791