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Lent Readings

Readings Begin February 18

Daily Lent Readings

"He is risen, indeed!" Lent has passed but that doesn't mean the daily readings have to go away. Some of you might be discovering this page for the first time. Others who participated during Lent might find it helpful to revisit a particular reading. For these reasons, we will leave this page up for a while.
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"A New Light Shining" painting by Youngsung Kim from Havenlight
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Day 25

I Thirst
Imagine standing with Jesus, right next to him, in prayer to his Father. Read this passage of praise aloud. As you do so, consider that you are praying along with Jesus, your two voices becoming one as you bless God.  
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity
   who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
Psalm 69:1-3, 16-21    
Save me, O God!
   For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
   where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
   and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
   my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
   with waiting for my God.
Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good;
   according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Hide not your face from your servant,
   for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
Draw near to my soul, redeem me;
   ransom me because of my enemies!
You know my reproach,
   and my shame and my dishonor;
   my foes are all known to you.
Reproaches have broken my heart,
   so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none,
   and for comforters, but I found none.
They gave me poison for food,
   and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.
What Might This Psalm Have Meant to Jesus?
The long hours on the cross drag towards their inevitable conclusion as Jesus’ strength wanes. Still, he prays desperately amidst the devastation of his soul and the urgent demands of his body for relief. Psalm 69 expresses his continuing sense that the Father hides his face from his beloved Son. This divine absence, along with the human malice hurled against him, makes Jesus lament, “Reproaches have broken my heart. . . . I looked for pity, but there was none.” Blood and sweat run down into his eyes, though the direst impairment of vision is his heart’s futile scanning for signs of God. Mournful, utter defeat pulls him under like a rising flood. This song of David fits the paradox of Jesus’ predicament. He feels like he’s drowning in deep waters even as his parched throat burns from dehydration, gasping for breath, and croaking out his need: “I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched.” This echoes what we read yesterday in Psalm 22, “my tongue sticks to my jaws.”
Near this point, John reports that “Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst’” (John 19:28). Which Scripture fulfills a declaration of severe thirst? Perhaps this verse from our psalm is about his burning dry throat. Perhaps it is the verse we read from Psalm 22:15, “My tongue sticks to my jaws.” We cannot overlook the tragic irony. At the Feast of Booths, Jesus cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). To the woman at the well, he promised, “The water that I give . . . will become. . . a spring of water welling up to eternal life”(John 4:14). How he longs now for just a drop of that water he once promised.
One of the onlookers at the cross takes Jesus’ “I thirst” as a request. John tells us, “A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth” (John 19:29). This is, perhaps, soldiers’ cheap wine. Although like vinegar it makes the lips pucker, this wine also soothes the dry throat enough to strengthen the voice. The connection to “and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink” in our psalm is unmistakable.
What could be the significance of Jesus’ receiving this sour wine? One possibility relates to the Passover from the previous evening. Traditionally, four cups of wine were shared. We noted on Day 17 that during the Last Supper Jesus offered the wine of the third cup, the cup of blessing and redemption, as his own blood. The fourth cup would normally be shared as the joyful conclusion of the meal. According to Matthew, Jesus does not drink the fourth cup. Mark records, “Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25). Could it be that the fourth cup is this sour wine on the cross? 
This idea links to what John describes next: “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30). In Latin, Jesus’ final words in John are consummatum est. One of the names for the fourth cup in the traditional Passover is “The Cup of Consummation.” This sip from a sponge triggers the last moment. Jesus dies. This is the finish, the conclusion, where it has all been leading. Jesus has drunk the fourth cup.
The four cups of wine in the Passover have their origin in the fourfold promise the LORD made to captive Israel in Exodus 6:6-7. We looked at the third promise on Day 17. So what is promised as the fourth cup is raised? In Exodus 6:7 we read: “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out of from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” The Cup of Consummation celebrates God’s fulfilling the essential covenant promise of “I will be your God.” He takes the people out of slavery into the Promised Land, fulfilling his intimate relationship with his people.
Hebrews makes this connection, declaring that Jesus came so that “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus becomes one of us, claiming back his people through a death that both atones for sin and liberates us from slavery to death. The deepest meaning of the Passover finds fulfillment as Jesus drinks the sour wine and declares with dying triumph, “It is finished.”    
Praying with Jesus
You are the Word of life, Lord Jesus.
I wince to think that the Voice
Which called the worlds into being, 
Can barely whisper from strain.
I listen aghast as that Voice
Which bubbled as the fountain of life,
Which cast out demons and
Summoned the dead from graves
Now withers in burning dryness. 
I hear you croak, “I thirst.”
Urgently I would bring you cool water.
But someone holds up the sour wine
On a stick. Such an insult!
Yet you receive it as the festive cup
Of your Passover fulfillment.
Your blood will be on my heart’s door,
Saving me from eternal guilt.
You undertake the passage of
The Red Sea of death,
That I might be one of your people
And you become my beloved God


Posted in: Lent