Wednesday Bulletin (4/1/20)
Weekly Devotions (3/29/20)
Laache - Lent 5 Judica Selections
Hymn 291:1,6,11 – Lord Jesus Christ, My Life, My Light (text)
St. John 19:28–30
Then Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to His mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished,” and He bowed his head and gave up His spirit.
Dear Fellow Redeemed:
In our isolation in our homes it has been easy to lose track of Lent a little bit. We have to be reminded, don't we, that all of these weeks have passed since Ash Wednesday, and that Palm Sunday is in a few days?! This time has flown by with us experiencing something we might never have, in our lives, thought we’d experience. Did you ever think you would drive up and down US1 and see almost everything closed, not because of a catastrophic storm (which we have seen, of course); but because of an illness out there that can bring death? A month ago this seemed like stuff from the middle ages, right?
Meanwhile, we are in the season of Lent. Jesus dies in our text. In John’s description of these last moments, he notes one last order of business before the end; Jesus must be given a drink in fulfillment of the words in Psalm 69: for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.
Our text wasn’t the first time Jesus had asked someone to give Him a drink. He had asked it of a Samaritan woman at a well (John 4). Within the conversation, Jesus had told the woman that He had a certain living water to give that would cause a person to never be thirsty again. It would become a spring of water welling up to eternal life. The woman had asked Him to give her this water.
In our text it says that Jesus knew that all was now finished. Soon, He would say those very words; It is finished. He would give up His spirit (He would die) having finished everything.
What He had finished is what should have our attention this evening.
Jesus had demonstrated to the Samaritan woman her sins that were very evident to God. You and I have confessed our own sins earlier in this service. Each of us thinks of different things when we’re doing that together, don’t we? You might have become aware of sins that are unique to this time that we’re in now.
You might have become aware, if you are a parent of children who are home, that your patience has grown thin. You have reacted too harshly to them. Children might be aware of their unwillingness to obey their parents in this trying time. You might have become aware of resentment toward authorities that keep you in your home, maybe even preventing you from working (which makes the future uncertain). You might have resented God for allowing this uncertainty.
There’s a whole new set of ways in which to be resentful and unloving toward people in this time, isn’t there? They buy too many of the things at the store, that you need, leaving you without; you stare at empty store shelves in resentment. They get too close to you, potentially putting you in danger of catching the virus. There was a story of an elderly woman who was pushed to the ground, ultimately to her death, because she wasn’t practicing social distancing adequately enough. You might have seen this story and been shocked at the cruelty, even as you recall that you, yourself have had the same resentful thoughts and feelings that brought it about.
We think of our sins that are many. And we think of death that frightens us - the curse that our sins have brought about. The curse is every bit as ugly and terrifying as it seems. Listen to the way the Savior is described in Psalm 69 as He is in the midst of taking the curse upon Himself:
20 Reproaches have broken my heart,
so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none,
and for comforters, but I found none.
21 They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.
He can barely speak after three hours on the cross. We might imagine Him choking even to try to swallow a few drops out of the sponge that has been lifted to up to Him. Here’s the thing that we must recognize in this text:
In His thirst, Christ has chosen to receive the bitterest drink of death so that He can give you in your thirst, the water that wells up to eternal life.
He is the One Whose love never gave way to resentment, or harshness, or cruelty. His patience was perfect patience. His gratefulness remained in every circumstance. But He puts all of your sins on Himself so that He might taste the fullness of God’s wrath and punishment in your place. He drinks God’s wrath so that you have His forgiveness.
In the process, He has transformed what death is for you. It isn’t any longer the gateway to everlasting punishment for sins. It now receives into His eternal kingdom, those who have been adopted into God’s family through faith. It receives you, who have been baptized into Christ, who’ve become His heirs through faith in the message of Christ. It receives you into God’s gracious hands, made spotless through Christ’s righteousness.
As we continue to exercise the utmost caution during this time, out of love for our neighbor, God be praised that the Christ took upon Himself the sting of death so that it leads for us, only to life eternal. Finished is the devil’s hold over us. Finished, his reign of fear and dread. Let us pray:
Lord God, strengthen us in this time of trial. Bless those who are suffering. Bless those who are putting their own lives in danger in order to serve their neighbor. Provide the things that are necessary for care and protection. Help all to see your grace and glory even in the midst of suffering. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.