Lent Devotion for March 29, in Holy Week
We will see you tonight at 6:30 PM in the Sanctuary for the Maundy Thursday service with the Lord’s Supper, Scripture, and the Chancel Choir. Rev. Tanner Fox will give the meditation.
Reader: "He was counted among the rebels.”
Response: "He interceded for rebels.”
SCRIPTURE: Judges 16:23–30
23 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”
24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying,
“Our god has delivered our enemy
into our hands,
the one who laid waste our land
and multiplied our slain.”
25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.
When they stood him among the pillars, 26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.”27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other,30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
Read Matthew 26 as well.
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Though the opening response is from the New Testament, it is appropriate for this passage in Judges. Samson was clearly a kind of rebel most all of his life. In some ways, he could never quite get it together. But at the very end, he prayed and God heard his prayer and granted his request. The 3,000 revelers don’t seem quite so strange to us today. It is easy to imagine that many people ridiculing Christians today. Yet God brought final judgment to them swiftly. How often the people in our world today look at a situation and read it according to their understanding. As they saw the situation, their god, Dagon, had given them the victory and delivered Samson into their hands. In truth, God enabled Samson’s personal circumstances of injury and handicap to work for God’s glory. I think how often people, alien from God, in our world, read a situation exactly backward. It’s as if seeing Jesus walk on the water, their conclusion would be, “Apparently Jesus is not able to swim!”
The ultimate example of this occurs tonight, Maundy Thursday, and tomorrow night, when the religious leaders thought they had finally caught and finished off this “religious irritation” in the person of Jesus. The Philistines misread Samson and died. The Pharisees and Sadducees misread Jesus and their world as they saw it, died. Those that could see the Law fulfilled, entered a whole new, transformed world and discovered life as they saw from God’s perspective.
"Ubi Caritas” by Maurice Durufle, Eric Whitacre Singers (Watch on YouTube)
Translation of Ubi Caritas:
Where charity and love are, God is there
Christ’s love has gathered us into one
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him
Let us fear, and let us love the living God
And may we love each other
With a sincere heart. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, who on that treacherous and awful night, did display unending, unconditional love and proclaimed the fulfillment of a New Covenant of grace, we can find no words to express our love and gratitude for the difference your action makes in our lives today so many years later. We are nourished by the bread and the cup, your life-giving body. We live into that holy night rejoicing in the power unleashed by the Holy Spirit. You lived servanthood to the fullest. You live servanthood even now as you intercede before the Father on our behalf. Receive this our prayer through Christ our Lord, who reigns with you, the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end, forever and ever. Amen.
- Daniel Sharp