Journey to Daily Prayer – Day 23
Thursday in Third Week of Lent
“As deep was our sin, so deep is his love”
Today we’re halfway through Lent. And our readings reveal sin’s rock bottom—self-righteousness. Consider today’s Jeremiah reading. It sounds a lot like yesterday’s Deuteronomy reading since it cites that entire speech quite heavily (Jer 7:23, c.f.: Deut 4:40, 5:33, 6:3). But, while yesterday’s Deuteronomy reading happens before Israel settles the Promised Land, today’s Jeremiah reading happens several hundred years after Israel settles the Promised Land. But those years have been filled with idolatrous Baal worship. Thus God says, “but they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts,” (Jer 7:24). Sadly, their unrighteousness leads to decades of exile, and eventually they return to rebuild their lives. Fast-forward several hundred years, and Jesus encounters not unrighteous idolatry, but self-righteousness. In fact, his audience was so convinced that they were right and Jesus was wrong, that they accused Jesus of performing miracles by the power of a false god (Lk 11:15, Beelzebul is Baal). Wow! But let’s pause before we judge them too quickly: because although we might not chalk up God’s grace to us as the power of Beelzebul, we may chalk up God’s grace as something we deserve because we are good people. And isn’t that the definition of self-righteousness—believing that we are good enough to deserve blessing and salvation? Yet, this is exactly what we need saving from, the rock bottom of our sins—self-righteousness. But thanks be to God, whose love for us is so deep, that he dove deep down to the very bottom of our sins, to lift us up to be with him.
Keep watch over thy Church, O Lord, with thine unfailing love; and, seeing that it is grounded in human weakness and cannot maintain itself without thine aid, protect it from all danger, and keep it in the way of salvation; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.