Intro: During this Lenten season, every devotional will begin with a quote from C.S. Lewis (author and theologian), followed by two readings: 1) A passage from the Psalter and 2) a writing from one of the Old Testament prophets or New Testament authors. We will look at both passages as a whole through the fulfilling work and wisdom of Christ—Truth.
As believers, we need to see death as not only Satan’s unholy weapon against humanity, but as God’s holy weapon in Christ to conquer death and save those who call upon his name for eternal life.
“Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more” (C.S. Lewis; Miracles)
Death is a difficult mystery for every human being to fully understand, explain, or face. The first response is fear. When humans are facing grave situations, nothing good seems to overshadow what is visible before us. Death appears larger than Life. In our passage from the Psalter, today, the psalmist praises God for responding to his cry as he faces a near-death experience. God allows this worshiper to be led into prayer, as well as experience being delivered from the cunning grip of death in order to reveal the power of divine Love and Life for humanity. Death may come to claim all natural creation; however, God calls humanity into a supernatural Life beyond the grave. Like the psalmist, humanity must pray and seek God’s mercy.
Psalm 116 NLT
I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!
Death wrapped its ropes around me; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Please, Lord, save me!”
How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me.
Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.
This testimony for the psalmist reminds us of the permanent salvation put into place by our Savior—the Life of Lives—who leads us by faith as an example to follow. In our New Testament passage today, the author of Hebrews reminds us Christ went outside the existing religious system and laid down his sinless life on God’s holy altar—the Day of Atonement—and he paid the death penalty for humanity. The old covenant system of ongoing animal sacrifice for sin has been fulfilled and our sinless Messianic Lamb has called believers into Life eternal. Life forever awaits beyond the grave for those who identify with Christ the Righteous One. Unfortunately, death and suffering belong to those who identify with this sinful unrighteous world and choose to reject Christ. May we follow the Savior out into the world each day and tell others about the eternal Life beyond death our Christ has made available.
Hebrews 13:11-16 NLT 11 Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp. 12 So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. 13 So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. 14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for helping your children put fear and death into perspective, today. Let us cast our gaze upon you the All-powerful Author of Life. Holy Spirit, help us to continually keep the Kingdom in view as we live in this temporary world. Empower our witness to the Truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.