Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Lent Devotional - March 2, 2023

Hymn: “Jesus, Grant That Balm and Healing” (LSB #421, v. 3)

If the world my heart entices
With the broad and easy road,
With seductive, sinful vices,
Let me weigh the awful load
You were willing to endure.
Help me flee all thoughts impure
And to master each temptation,
Calm in prayer and meditation.

        We have before us a choice between what is right and what is easy. What the world offers is an easy way out. When I think of “the easy way out,” I always think of the devil during the temptation of Jesus. One of the temptations that the devil offered Jesus was an easy way out. The devil told Jesus that it was not necessary to suffer and die for the sins of the world. That sounds painful and hard. All Jesus had to do was bow down and worship the devil. Do that, the devil had said, and all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor shall be yours. It was a trap of course. Submission to the devil would just make the devil an extended lord to a fallen Christ. However, Jesus did not take the bait, and He remained true. The path Jesus knew He had to follow was the overthrow of the devil’s kingdom and not submission to it. The path to take it was the cross. This was not easy and came at a great and terrible cost.
        The world tries to entice our hearts with broad and easy roads too. They present to us what would appear to be a solution but are highways leading to you know where. The world tells the Church to just stop speaking the truth and just ignore sin. If we did, the unspoken promise is that people would come flooding into church. That is the temptation. But with no sin, there is no Savior. Churches turn from embassies of God’s Kingdom to being another volunteer organization needing people to keep the bottom line going. The cost for speaking the truth with love will be high, but our Lord paid the cost already.

        The world also attacks us individually and in our families. Can you imagine the peace in our own homes if we did not badger our loved ones about what was right and wrong? A brother pastor a few years ago told me of the time when a parent of one of his confirmands said that they would no longer work on the Small Catechism at home because all it did was produce fighting and tension in the home to get it done. To stop doing it produced peace in the home. But my brother pastor said he was proud of himself because he said nothing but sat silent staring at the member until the parent finally said, “I will try again.” Peace comes at the cost of salvation. Jesus himself said he did not come to give peace but a sword that will divide families along the lines of belonging to Christ and not. The broad and easy road is to settle.

        “Strive to enter the narrow door” is what Jesus tells us. “Take up your cross and follow Me.” Jesus knows the cost, but He also knows the victory. The salvation and peace that we do desire will not be achieved through easy means, but they will be achieved through Jesus Christ. As we weigh the cost, let us consider the awful load should we follow the broad and easy way that many find. Instead, let us look to Jesus, the One who endured the price of faithfulness on our behalf. Jesus did not want the easy way. He wanted His Father’s way which was for us and our salvation.
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