Today's Reading: Isaiah 49:8-13
Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted. (Isaiah 49:13)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Most people think of Lent as a time of "affliction." We have to make ourselves suffer because, well, Jesus suffered. So people give things up or do things that seem to take the fun or joy out of their lives for a while. They afflict themselves with burdens of guilt at having any joy.
But what Lent is really about is the suffering and death of Jesus. And that's wonderful good news! Isaiah says it right there: The Lord is all about comforting His people and having mercy on those who are afflicted. Jesus didn't come into this world to judge and condemn but to give His life to save us. Jesus came to be the Suffering Servant, the Lamb of God, the Door, the Bread of Life, the Vine. He's the Christ and Messiah and Savior.
Once again, we need to repent of our notions of God that the default mode is judgment and we somehow have to qualify for His mercy. No, Christ has taken away the sin of the world. He has taken away your sins. He has given you that forgiveness from the cross by the water and Word and Body and Blood. You'd really have to work hard to put yourself outside of Christ. Unbelief is awful! Rejecting Jesus' salvation is silly and sad!
But this salvation is yours because God is a God of comfort. When you are afflicted by your sins, troubled by the things you've done, and worried that you might not be a Christian, then listen to the earth and heavens breaking forth into song and declaring the works of the Lord, that He has taken away the sins of sinners and made them righteous in God's sight.
What sort of God is God? He's the God who knows what you need and does it. That's what Jesus is all about. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Here we have a firm foundation, Here the refuge of the lost: Christ, the Rock of our salvation, Is the name of which we boast; Lamb of God, for sinners wounded, Sacrifice to cancel guilt! None shall ever be confounded Who on Him their hope have built. (Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted, LSB 451:4)