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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.
We pray that you experience the wonder of interacting with our Savior in a personal, transformative way!
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"A New Light Shining" painting by Youngsung Kim from Havenlight
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Day 31

You Brought Up My Life
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)
Jonah 2:1-9
Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying, 
“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress,
   and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
   and you heard my voice.
For you cast me into the deep,
   into the heart of the seas,
   and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
   passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I am driven away
   from your sight;
Yet I shall again look
   upon your holy temple.’
The waters closed in over me to take my life;
   the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
   at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
   whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
   O LORD my God.
When my life was fainting away,
   I remembered the LORD,
and my prayer came to you,
   into your holy temple.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
   forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
   will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
   Salvation belongs to the LORD!”
What Is This Psalm About?   
Although it’s not officially part of the Psalter, Jonah 2 is a psalm. It is a song of grateful witness to the LORD who rescued the prophet from certain death. When the LORD called Jonah to preach repentance to the bloodthirsty city of Nineveh, Jonah ran away. He boarded a ship heading in the opposite direction. God, however, hurled a mighty wind, tossing the waves and threatening the ship. Jonah knew he had no choice, so, to save the ship, he asked the mariners to toss him into the sea. Even as Jonah hit the water, the winds stopped. Then the LORD sent a great fish to swallow up Jonah. For three days and nights, he cried out to be delivered from death under the sea. After he returned to the daylight world, Jonah composed a beautiful poem of thanksgiving, a psalm that overflows with the relief of salvation.
What Might This Psalm Have Meant to Jesus?
Matthew recounts how some of the skeptical Pharisees demand a sign from Jesus to authenticate his daring teaching and the rumors of his dramatic healings. Jesus gives them only a riddle: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:38-40).
As we’ve noted, Jesus knows he will eventually be put to death. He also knows he will rise. He draws on Jonah as a type, a preview illustration of his own fate. We can juxtapose these two prophets. The LORD called Jonah to a mission; Jonah fled. The Father anointed Jesus as the savior; Jesus consecrated himself in ministry from his baptism through the cross. 
When a tempest at sea threatened the ship, Jonah had enough experiential faith to realize the LORD caused the storm because of him. He knew he could not fight “the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (Jonah 1:9). So rather than crying out in repentance or asking the ship to take him back, Jonah let the sailors toss him into the waves.
In his ministry, Jesus created a tempest of resistance not to his Father, but to the rebellious world. Though he knew the storm would eventually kill him, Jesus carried on resolutely. Indeed his whole life was an enacting of Jonah’s words. Not from flight or fear, but from faithful obedience, Jesus pressed toward the defeat that he knew would be a victory for us! 
The sea raged because Jonah was on the run from the LORD and his commission. Jesus, by contrast, was the faithful man who set his face resolutely toward Jerusalem and the death to which he was called (Luke 9:51). He, the innocent prophet, let us unjustly throw him into a sea of blood and death that we, the guilty, might be spared the tempest of God’s wrath. Jesus made Jonah’s fearful words into a bold personal mission statement. It’s as if he said to the world which he came to save, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you” (Jonah 1:12). 
Though very opposite in heart and obedience, both men endured a transforming, hellish three-day journey. As he plummeted under the waves, Jonah felt tons of water pressing on him. But that load was light compared to the weight of sin piling on the savior’s soul in Sheol. Jesus the Son of God felt the horror: “I am driven from your sight.” The great fish that swallowed Jonah saved him from drowning but would soon have killed him. The sea monster of death that consumed Jesus meant to keep him forever. They both went to states from which no one returns.
Then both experienced miraculous rescue. They were saved from the great abyss of the ocean of death as well as the monster that inhabits it. Jonah emerged on shore from the mouth of the fish. Jesus emerged from the burial cave, coming out of the darkness into the light of resurrection. So both could declare joyfully, “Salvation belongs to the LORD!” With this understanding, we can read Jonah’s prayer as Jesus’ own. We can hear it as the recalling of a harrowing passage that astoundingly ended in triumph. The dire events of the song get recited almost joyfully because of the tremendous turn 
toward joy.
Praying with Jesus
Risen Jesus, rippling with life,
I love to recall the early writers of your story,
Who imagined Death as a great beast,
Devouring the choice cut of your holiness,
Consuming you as if to absorb you forever,
For no man ever escaped from Death’s belly.
But you, the Lord of life, 
Could not be digested by puny Death!
By the third day, Death groaned in agony.
Upheaval rocked the nether realm
Until Death ejected you back into the world,
Spat you like Jonah’s fish into the light.
Your preacher, John the Golden-Mouthed, prayed,
“Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome
By what it did not see.
“O Death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?
“Christ is Risen, and you, 
O Death are annihilated.
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!”
John Chrysostom, “Easter Sermon”
“Christ in Hades” in Scenes from the Life of Christ. Spanish, 13th Century, The Cloisters, New York City. 


Posted in: Lent