Today’s Readings: Psalm 32, 95, 143; Jonah 3.1-4.11; Hebrews 12.1-14; Luke 18.9-14
Today’s Writer: The Rev. Jack King
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” My prayer is that these of words will be inscribed on my heart, for this is the shape of our hope this Lenten season. We discover the rhythm of Lent with these central themes introduced today: the humility and exaltation in Christ. Jesus tells this story about prayer, contrasting the Pharisee and the tax collector, but his message from the story is not a simple moral to be observed. Christ himself is the man who will be humiliated on the cross. His destiny is exaltation, but only through the cross. So also is the destiny of all who follow him.
The Hebrews reading reminds us that Christ endured the cross because of “the joy that was set before him.” We must not forget that the joy of Christ equips us on this Lenten journey of repentance and self-denial. We give up certain earthly pleasures this season because we believe by faith that our greatest joy is Christ alone. The mendicant songwriter Rich Mullins wrote: “the stuff of earth competes for [my] allegiance, I owe only to the Giver of all good things.”
Everywhere we turn, someone is asking for our devotion or allegiance: sports teams, advertisers, political parties. We can only bend the knee to King Jesus, for our calling is to worship Him only. Indeed when we humble ourselves in worship, this is when we are exalted into the joy of the Lord.