Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Lent Devotional - Feb 23, 2023

Hymn: “Savior, When in Dust to Thee” (LSB #419, v. 2)
By Thy helpless infant years,
By Thy life of want and tears,
By Thy days of deep distress
In the savage wilderness,
By the dread, mysterious hour
Of the_insulting tempter’s pow’r,
Turn, O turn a fav’ring eye;
Hear our penitential cry!
        What do we offer before God? We cry out in penance, but what is the penance that we offer? What is the token which we give to God that will sway Him? How can you have God’s favor?

        Perhaps you offer Him your heart. Isn’t that what God wants? But Psalm 19 is quick to say that the heart is deceitful above all things. Your heart, your mind, your will lies to you. It will look like a wonderful thing to offer, but in the next moment be outpouring with sin. The mouth one moment speaks blessing to God and in the next whines and complains about a neighbor. The heart is a black hole of sin so deep that you and I do not know how dark and deep it truly is in sin.

        God has His back to sin and therefore to sinners. What will turn Him back to us? What do we offer Him to catch His fancy? Only what Jesus Christ gives. What does Jesus give? Our hymn tells us.

        By His helpless infant years. For our sake Jesus did penance. Jesus emptied Himself. He became helpless for your sake. He gave not just a moment of time or a few pieces of coin to pay for you. He poured Himself out for your sake.

        By His life of want and tears. Jesus was a man of sorrow. He was anointed and burdened with our sin. Jesus plumbed the depths of sin that only God knows. “A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” Isaiah calls Jesus. By His stripes we are healed. We all like sheep have grown astray, and God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Jesus Himself told those who would follow him in Luke 9 that while animals have dens and nests to rest in, Jesus was homeless in order to pave the way home for us. His want becomes our treasure. His death becomes our life.

        By His days of deep distress in the savage wilderness. Jesus is no stranger to suffering. Jesus stripped Himself of all luxury and was exposed and left for dead as He fasted in the wilderness with fell beasts and haunting devils seeking to cause His fall. The wilderness of our failure and sin, Jesus lasted through. When we could not pass the parched land, Jesus endured. He leaned on God His Father and was faithful…all for us.

        Of the insulting tempter’s power. The devil mocked Jesus. If you are God’s Son. If God does love you. If you really love God. All these taunts the devil threw at Jesus. They are the same ones that he throws on us but which we fail. Jesus endured. He bested the devil during temptation’s hour. He endured the scorn and the mock. Jesus did this not because He needed to win God’s favor, but because He wanted to win God’s favor for you.

        Turn a favoring eye to us and hear our cry! What we offer to God the Father is what Jesus Christ gave for us: Himself.
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