Lent 3 - Supplement to the Reflections

Oculi

Harrison Goodman
Hi, I’m Pastor Goodman. And this is, I guess, the Assistant to the Dean’s List for Higher Things.

We would encourage you to use our daily Reflections as a way to meditate upon God’s Word during this season of Lent. Each day there is a Scripture reading for you, there is a Reflection by Pastor Fenker this season (who is the real Dean of Theology). These are fantastic Reflections that would point to Christ and Him crucified for us sinners.

That’s really important, as we are in the thick of things in Lent. Because it’s so tempting to make Lent all about ourselves. About what we do, how much extra we pray, what we have given up, how sad we feel about Jesus’ passion for us.

But the third Sunday in Lent, in Latin “Oculi” (Again, the first bit of the Introit, but in Latin to be extra fancy-like: “My eyes are ever toward the Lord.”) reminds us that Lent is not about you. Lent is about Jesus...for you. Everything else -- everything else -- fades away.

Pastor Fenker talks about on Sunday’s -- the third Sunday in Lent’s Reflection -- the strong man being bound by the stronger Man. That Jesus binds not only the devil, who has held us captive in sin and death, but He even binds your mouth from self-justification. He binds your tongue to every last boast in what you have done: how much you have fasted, how much you have prayed. He binds your mouth because you are the spoil that Jesus desired. And He chose you. He blood-bought you. He empty-tombed-certaintied you. (Pastor Fenker switches up the nouns and the verbs on us.)

You are baptized, though. And because you are baptized, because Christ has paid for your life with His death, because you are wrestled free from the devil...when it comes to your salvation there’s no room to talk about your works. There’s no room to talk about you, at all. Everything else is bound. Your mouth is bound -- but to confess Christ as Lord, Christ as Savior, Christ...for you. That is all that is left to sing about.

But that is our everything.

It continues throughout the entire week. Our eyes are ever toward the Lord. On Tuesday, we are reminded that, in our own personal efforts, in our works, in our very best efforts, there is still only darkness. We live in the valley of the shadow of death, and it is DARK down here. Not only because of how much awfulness is going on, but because our own deeds are dark. They are full of sin. They are not good enough.

But this is not who you are in the Lord. You are in Jesus, who is the Light of the world. You are in the brightness of God, Himself. You are baptized. And so you are not bound to be carried in darkness. But you are in Christ who is the Light of the world, and this light bears you up.

You see, you don’t have to make light shine into the world by your efforts. You don't have to go out there and make the world a better place. You don’t have to make it any less dark. Take shelter in Jesus, who has already brought light into darkness, that darkness cannot overcome it. The Light is our everything, and you are in that Light. As surely as you are in your Baptism. In your Lord Jesus.

On Thursday, again, Pastor Fenker would point out that this is about Jesus doing all of the work. Not us. Jesus says, “Let the little children come unto Me and do not hinder them.” And He does not invite the little children because they’re so cute, or because they’re so innocent, or because they’re so trusting...or any of the other things that people would say about little children who clearly don’t have them. (I’ve got kids, y’all. They’re not innocent. They’re not all that trusting. They’re sinners.)

The one thing that little children are is helpless. Jesus said, “Let the most helpless of these come unto Me and do not hinder them.” Let the weakest of these come unto Him and do not hinder them. Not because they are something but because they are nothing. They are helpless. They need Jesus. But He will be their help. So, bring them to Jesus, even where He’s found -- at the Font.

This is why we baptize babies. Not because they’re innocent and we pledge them to Jesus. But because they are helpless and we don’t want them to die. And, “Baptism now saves you.” So if you are waiting to baptize your kids, stop. If you’re waiting to baptize your kids until everybody can travel and COVID is over...stop. Get it done. Do not hinder the little children from being brought to Jesus, but take them to the font where they will receive salvation.

Continuing...Friday. It’s still not about what we do for God. It’s about what He does for us. In all of it. ALL of it. The chief service is not what we do for God but what He does for us. “The Son of Man has not come to serve…” er..excuse me. “The Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many,” The chief thing that Jesus does for you is dying on the Cross. That changes Church.

Saturday tells us that we don’t just go to church to prove how obedient we are and we wake up chipper and eager to go. We know that Jesus is in Church. Jesus serves us in Church. Jesus forgives us in Church. His Body and Blood are for you in Church. And this is why we go. There’s forgiveness there. There’s life. There’s Jesus, who has accomplished these things there. And He’s there for you.

Catch Pastor Goodman on Fridays in Lent for a special devotional supplement to the Higher Things daily Reflections.

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at http://higherthings.org/reflections

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