Herrenhuter readings for Ash Wednesday, the 18th February 2015

cross ashes

Zechariah 4:10 “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the LORD that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?”

Matthew 17:22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.”

Today is Ash Wednesday. The beginning of lent. Our Lord Jesus Christ instructed his disciples about the course of coming events.  They were filled with grief. They were only looking at the beginning and not at the glorious ending. Who can blame them? Talking about being killed normally ends all our stories and there’s usually nothing after that. No wonder the disciples didn’t hear the last part about the resurrection really. That was news. That was extra-ordinary. That was unheard of.

God’s history could and should have taught them differently than to just look at what was at hand and what we are used to. God’s history of creation and salvation has revealed his knack for doing things out of nothing and way beyond our expectations. The new start after the deluge. The fish rescuing Jona. The wonderful passage through the Red Sea, through the desert and all the way into the promised land. God found means and ways for his people to overcome deportation, exile and creating new beginnings were all hope had vanished and people were ready to despair.

Our Lord Jesus Christ had revealed more of the same. He had proven himself as the one, who could grant life and salvation out in the desert – by preaching, teaching and doing miracles and wonders. He had rescued, healed and brought to life those, that had been written off by common sense and general experience. Now he himself was going to provide the final bit to the divine story of salvation from all oppression and bondage, from evil powers, the craftiness of the devil and even the clutches of death. He would do it vicariously for us and for all mankind. Providing the ancient remedy and antidote for sin and condemnation by giving himself willingly as immaculate, effective and holy redemptive sacrifice once and for all.

“Jesus Christ, true God … and also true man, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death” (Martin Luther: Explanation of the 2nd Article of the Christian Creed in the Small Catechism, LSB 322f)

1 Lord! Who throughout these forty days,
For us didst fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins,
And close by Thee to stay.

2 As Thou with Satan didst contend,
And didst the victory win,
Oh, give us strength in Thee to fight,
In Thee to conquer sin.

3 As Thou didst hunger bear and thirst,
So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and chiefly live
By Thy most holy Word.

4 And through these days of penitence,
And through Thy Passion-tide,
Yea, evermore, in life and death,
Jesu! with us abide.

5 Abide with us, that so, this life
Of suffering overpast,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last!


About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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