Daily Lectionary: Genesis 41:1-27; Mark 11:1-19
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” (Psalm 122:1, from the Introit for Lent 4)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Is that what makes you glad? Going to church? Really? What about tomorrow morning when your alarm goes off? I’m sure you just hop right out of bed, and shout, “Yes! Today I get to go to church!”
Oh, that’s not you? It’s not me either. It should be though. We should be excited to go to church. The Lord doesn’t just command us to “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” He doesn’t just want our butts in a pew. He commands, desires, wants us to actually want to be there, to gladly hear His Word, to joyfully receive His gifts. We should WANT to be there. That’s God pleasing. We confess that we should want to be there. “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
That’s not an excuse. That’s not, “Yeah, I should, but it doesn’t really matter if I do.” This isn’t a chance to say, “I can get away with not going because the Lord forgives, right?” The Lord doesn’t do excuses. The Lord expects and commands love for Him and His Word and His gifts with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Your excuses, your rejection of His gifts, and your lack of desiring and cherishing them will land you in hell.
Jesus delivers you from hell. He always went to worship joyfully. He always cherished God and His Word and His gifts above all things. He did this not because you cherish Him, but because He loves you in spite of the fact that you don’t. He endured hell—rejection from His Father—to do it. Now Jesus, through His Word and His gifts, delivers heaven to you and you into heaven. Hell isn’t an option for you, not in Jesus.
In His Word and His gifts Jesus kills your flesh that doesn’t want anything to do with Jesus and His Word and gifts. Through the very same Word and gifts Jesus gives you new life so that you really do want to receive Him and His Word and gifts. For it’s through His gifts (His Absolution, His Word, His Body and Blood) that Jesus saves you from you! Talk about joy and gladness! All in one place—“the house of the Lord.” In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of Thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. (Ancient Collect for Lent 4)