Lenten Midweek Worship

Pastor Beck from Faith Lutheran will lead us in worship this Wednesday evening.

Mark 15:33-34

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Lenten Devotion: Not Yet – But Soon

…(Jesus said) “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us'” (Luke 19:14).

Read Luke 19:11-27

Jesus’ choice to stay with the chief tax collector Zacchaeus divides the crowd. Some are upset Jesus is associating with such an open sinner. Others think God’s kingdom will appear at once when He reaches the Jewish capital Jerusalem. Jesus tells a parable that answers both ideas.

The people have no trouble picturing His story of a nobleman traveling to a distant country to have himself proclaimed king. That was the way the Roman Empire worked. Herod the Great left the land of Palestine and travelled to Rome before Emperor Augustus proclaimed him king. Only then could he return to rule.

Jesus pictures Himself as that nobleman-the great Son of David and Son of God. Instead of beginning His reign when He enters Jerusalem, He will be murdered by His enemies. But after His resurrection He will leave the earth, ascending into heaven where the Father will proclaim Him King. Then on the Last Day-and not until that Day-Jesus will return to reward His faithful servants and establish His kingdom on the new earth.

Now Jesus turns to His enemies. He has shown great patience, humility, grace, mercy and love toward them, but they have hated Him, without cause. He warns that the time of judgment is coming. He will return with His angel armies to capture His enemies and slaughter them.

To our ears that judgment sounds harsh. But Christ your King has given you fair warning. If you will not bow your knee to Him in faith, you will forfeit your life and suffer eternally in hell.

THE PRAYER: Almighty God, You have established Your Son as the Ruler of all things in heaven and on earth. Break through my rebellious heart that I may love Him and serve Him now and through all eternity. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Devotion: Where’s My Host?

…”Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5b).

Read Luke 19:1-10

Jesus’ final week is just a few days away. He has come to Jericho to spend the night, but His host is not home. So Jesus passes through town to find him.

Zacchaeus is a chief tax collector and extremely wealthy. But he left his tax office when he heard Jesus had come to town. He knew Jesus’ reputation-while the Jews and their leaders despised tax collectors as traitors and thieves-Jesus was known as a friend to tax collectors. Rushing to the far edge of town, he climbed a tree to see the Lord.

Jesus comes right up to that spot, stops, and looks up into the tree. Calling Zacchaeus by name, He tells him to come down quickly. Jesus wants to spend this night in his house.

Zacchaeus scurries down and receives Jesus with great joy. The crowd hears this and is terribly scandalized. How could Jesus choose to stay in the home of a notorious sinner? What they didn’t know is that Jesus had already begun to change Zacchaeus’ heart. The chief tax collector was repenting of his sins and planning to make amends for his past wrongdoings.

Jesus points out that Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham just as are those in the crowd. True children of Abraham share Abraham’s faith in God’s promise to send the Christ or Messiah. Zacchaeus knew Jesus had given him a great honor by staying in his house. But did he know His Lord had chosen to spend one of the last precious nights He had on earth with him?

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, with amazing grace You sought out the despised chief tax collector Zacchaeus and honored him by staying at His house that night. Help us appreciate the honor You give us, by promising to remain with us always. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Devotion: A Lone Voice

…And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. … (Luke 18:38-39a).

Read Luke 18:35-43

Jesus is approaching Jericho. It’s one of His last stops before Jerusalem. Along the road sits a blind man begging. Hearing a loud commotion passing by, he asks what’s going on. Someone from the crowd answers, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

Immediately, the beggar begins shouting at the top of his lungs. He knows Jesus is somewhere in that crowd, which is shuffling past him. But unlike the stranger from the crowd he doesn’t call Him “Jesus the Nazarene.” Instead, he calls him, “Jesus, Son of David.” He is convinced that Jesus is the promised Messiah, David’s Son.

Jesus indeed is the King marching on to save His people from their enemies. Some in the crowd try to silence the blind man, but he shouts all the louder to get Jesus’ attention. That is the character of faith: the more people and circumstances rise up to silence us, the louder we cry for our Lord to be merciful to us.

We might expect Jesus to be so preoccupied with His approaching death that He wouldn’t notice a lone voice, crying out to Him in the midst of the clamor of the crowd. But His ears are attuned to cries for mercy from His faithful ones. Now that He has accomplished His mission and won complete forgiveness, we can be confident He hears our cries for mercy and pity too.

The man is blind no longer. He rises and follows Jesus on His way.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, even as You were journeying toward Your bitter death, Your ears were wide open to the pleas of the blind man. Give me confidence that You hear my prayers for mercy too. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Devotion: Holding Nothing Back

…For He will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging Him, they will kill Him, and on the third day He will rise (Luke 18:32-33).

Read Luke 18:31-34

Jesus has left Galilee in the north and is on the road to Jerusalem with His 12 disciples. The crowds are excited by everything Jesus is doing, and the disciples are swept up in their hopes and dreams. Jesus tells them everything recorded in the Old Testament prophets concerning Him will be fulfilled in Jerusalem. They expect Jesus to announce His glorious earthly kingdom, but Jesus paints a very different picture.

Twice before, Jesus has announced His coming death and resurrection. Both times He veiled the details behind the words, “The Son of Man must suffer many things.” Now, however, He spells it out. He doesn’t disclose Judas’ upcoming betrayal, but He does reveal that the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, will deliver Him into the hands of the Gentiles, namely, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.

The Roman soldiers will mock Him, treat Him shamefully and outrageously, spit upon Him, flog Him, and then kill Him. The details are stunning. Jesus knows exactly what He is walking into-and He goes willingly.

This is not at all what the disciples expect or want to hear. But when those words are fulfilled, they will have no doubt that Jesus foresaw it all — and went through it all — for them and us.

THE PRAYER: Almighty God, Your Son knew all He must suffer to save us from our sins, and yet He took that path willingly. Give me a thankful heart that I may joyfully follow whatever path You choose to set before me. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Devotion: Herod’s Death Threat

…”Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill You” (Luke 13:31b).

Read Luke 13:31-35

Each day the danger increases for Jesus. Today, some Pharisees pass along an alleged death threat. If Herod did make this threat, it was more of a bluff to drive Jesus out of the region. Later, he’ll have his chance to kill Jesus in Jerusalem, but he will hand Him back to Pilate instead. He doesn’t want to anger his Galilean subjects by killing yet another popular prophet, executing John the Baptist had already cost him enough.

Jesus refuses to be intimidated. His time in Galilee is growing extremely short, and He will reach every person He possibly can before He must move on toward Jerusalem. Jesus gives them a message to take back to Herod, “Tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.'” If demons and diseases cannot stop Jesus from carrying out the work the Father has set for Him to do, no earthly ruler will either.

He must go up to Jerusalem. And it is there-like so many prophets before Him-that Jesus must die. Like a bird that spreads its wings to gather its chicks and shield them from danger, Jesus reaches out to His people, but they turn their backs. On the cross His arms will be stretched out for them also, but they will pass by with sneers, insults and mockery.

This brings tears to His eyes. But they are not for Him; rather, they are for the people of Jerusalem He so desperately wants to save, but they are unwilling. This unwillingness will lead to their destruction at the hands of the Roman legions in another 40 years.

THE PRAYER: Almighty God, so many times You reached out to Your people, yet they kept turning their backs on You. Heal my stubborn heart, so I may know Your peace and joy through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.