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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 38

Lift Up Your Heads!
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 24
The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,
   the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
   and established it upon the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
   And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
   and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the LORD
   and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
   who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
Lift up your heads, O gates!
   And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
   that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
   The LORD, strong and mighty,
   the LORD, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
   And lift them up, O ancient doors,
   that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
   The LORD of hosts,
   he is the King of glory! Selah
What Is This Psalm About?   
This joyful psalm depicts a worship parade. The people remembered the glorious day when young King David had recovered the sacred Ark of the Covenant from the dreaded Philistines (2 Samuel 6). The Ark contained the Ten Commandments, and its top was the mercy seat where atoning blood was offered. In short, the Ark signified the saving presence of the LORD. Through a great victory, the Ark was going back to its holy place in the sanctuary. Symbolically, God was coming home. 
This historical moment was so sacred that it was re-enacted year after year. Psalm 24 describes a dialogue between the throng of people and the gatekeepers of the temple. The crowd cries out, “Open up, you gates, that the King of glory may come in!” The gatekeepers reply, “Who is the King of glory?” The question deliberately raises the excitement. The gatekeepers demand the throng exalt their King as worthy.
The people reply, “The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle. He is the King of glory! So let us in to worship the one true God who redeems and saves. Open up!” 
I can imagine this exchange going back and forth for a while until the trumpets blow and cymbals clash and the people’s voices thunder, “Who’s our King? The LORD, the LORD, the LORD, that’s who!” So the gates open, and the people dance to the house of the LORD and enthrone him as King all over again. 
What Might This Psalm Have Meant to Jesus?
As early as the second century, the church fathers connected Psalm 24 to the ascension of Jesus. The King had left his home in heaven to come to earth to battle and conquer the enemies of humankind. He faithfully followed all of the law and commandments. He atoned for sin. He conquered death. After his resurrection, his redeeming journey was complete except for one final accomplishment. He had to return home bearing the prize he came to win for his Father.
What was that prize? The prize was humanity restored and man made new by the new Adam. It was the human will bent back from rebellion to obedience by the one perfectly faithful man, Jesus. For he is the firstborn of a new creation (Colossians 1:15, 18; Romans 8:29), the one man who fully and completely loves God with all his heart, mind, body and soul. And he does so not only for himself alone but for all of us who trust in him. He makes it possible for us to participate in his all-encompassing love for his Father.
In ascending, the Son of God returns to heaven. But he does not go up in the same way he came down. For Jesus does not shed his humanity. He does not step out of his body! He goes back to the Father still incarnate, still joined to our flesh and blood. Yes, his resurrection body had been outfitted for everlasting life, but it is still a body. He never lets go of the humanity he loves and has redeemed. 
As the ancient writers contemplated this mystery, they imagined the surprise of the angelic beings who surround the throne of heaven (Revelation 4). Who is this man with marks on his hands and a hole in his side, who comes here as if he owns the place? The victory procession of Psalm 24 points symbolically to Jesus’ ascent into heaven. Jesus arrives as a man as well as the Son of God. Therefore these luminous spiritual beings do not recognize their Lord. The baffled angels ask, “Who is this King of glory?” How can flesh enter the spiritual realm? How could a man enter God’s holy place? As the church fathers imagined it, the Spirit of God himself answered them: “This man, this Jesus, is the King of glory coming home and bringing his humanity with him!” Justin Martyr, an important Greek philosopher-apologist in the early church, writes about this in The Dialogue with Trypho.
What a thrill it would have been for Jesus to pray this psalm in the days before he ascended. What anticipation of reunion! In the same prayers, he well might have rejoiced with Psalm 47:5-6: “God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises!”
Praying with Jesus
Reigning Lord Jesus,
Did you anticipate the victory parade
In your return to heaven?
Did you sing this psalm during the forty days
From resurrection to ascension?
Did you laugh at the surprise
That now a man would sit on heaven’s throne?
I can imagine your mirth 
As you made ready to go up with a mighty shout.
“I’m coming home, Father, 
And bringing a multitude with me!”
I hope so because this psalm daunts me.
I have neither clean hands nor a pure heart.
I cannot in myself ever ascend the holy hill.
I can only go up joined to you, the one man
Who could knock on heaven’s gate
And be admitted with songs of welcome.
You are the King of glory,
The mighty Redeemer,
Who has stayed my brother
That I might ever be where you are.
So in faith, I join the festive throng,
“Open up, you gates!
The Son returns to his Father
And I am with him!”


Posted in: Lent