The theme for the Fourth Sunday in Lent is Salvation by Sight. On the fourth Sunday in Lent we begin to see the cross in the distance and learn of its healing power of salvation by grace. As Moses raised a brazen serpent, Jesus must be raised up on a cross. The upraised serpent in the Old Testament lesson brought healing through the forgiving love of God. This took place simply by looking to the upraised serpent. The cross brings eternal life to those who look to the cross with the eyes of faith in the Gospel lesson. With Christ we are raised to heavenly places where we see the riches of grace in the Epistle lesson. Salvation comes simply in a look – a look at the cross and a look in faith. Salvation is the theme of the Psalm of the Day. The Hymn of the Day is based on John 3:16 a verse from this week’s Gospel lesson. Next Sunday’s lessons present us with tremendous texts as Ephesians 2:8 and John 3:16 as well as basic themes; salvation by grace, the cross, the amazing love of God, and the healing power of forgiveness.
Monday, 16 March 2009—Psalm 27:3-5; antiphon, Psalm 27:1— The antiphon for Sunday’s Introit, Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord, reflects David’s confidence and faith in the Lord, exhorting all people also to place their trust in the Lord. This psalm is the entire psalm from which the Introit was taken. This is a psalm of David, a plea for deliverance from his enemies – evil men who breathe out violence and advance against him to devour his flesh. David boldly asserts that he is not afraid, for the Lord is his light and salvation. What is the source of David’s confidence? Continual fellowship with God. Our best defense against the assault of our enemy, the devil, is to follow David’s example: worship in the house of the Lord. In the day of trouble, He will keep us safe in His dwelling.
Tuesday, 17 March 2009—Psalm 107:1-9 key verse v.1 — Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures for ever. In all things we are encourage to praise and return thanks to the Lord, especially in light of Christ’s redeeming work He did for us on the cross.
Wednesday, 18 March 2009—Numbers 21:4-9— Sight of the uplifted serpent brings healing. The complaining Israelites are healed of their serpent bites by looking at Moses’ upraised bronze serpent. Because of the Israelites’ rebelliousness – speaking evil of Moses and God – the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people. They were bitten and many died. When Moses interceded with the Lord on the peoples’ behalf, the Lord instructed Moses to make a bronze snake; when the people looked upon it in faith that the Lord would deliver them from the snakes, they were spared. There was nothing magical about the snake. The healing came from God alone, and depended on faith in His Word.
Thursday, 19 March 2009—Ephesians 2:1-10— Sight of the exalted Christ reveals the riches of God’s grace. Our lesson teaches that salvation is a gift of God’s grace received by faith.
This passage is justly famous among Lutherans, for it clearly shows that our salvation is in no way dependent upon our works, but solely upon the incomparable riches of God’s grace. What a turnabout! We, who were dead in our transgressions, have been made alive in Christ! Even more, we have been seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.
Friday, 20 March 2009—John 3:14-21— Sight of Christ crucified results in eternal life. Eternal life comes to those who believe in the crucified Son of God. During Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, He explained how God had showed His love and mercy to a rebellious people by providing the remedy for the deadly snakes. Like the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness, Jesus, the Son of God, would be lifted up on a cross to provide the remedy for sin and death for all people. However, those who have no faith – those who reject the Word of God – condemn themselves.
Saturday, 21 March 2009— John 3:16-18 - The hymn of the Day God Loved the World So that He Gave) – Here is a wonderful Gospel hymn. The first stanza restates the “Gospel in a nutshell,” John 3:16. The following four stanzas expand upon the first, proclaiming the love of God for sinners – a love so deep that He sacrifices His own Son in our stead, that we might have everlasting life. It clearly proclaims Holy Baptism as the means by which our Lord grants forgiveness to us unworthy sinners. Stanza 6 expresses our grateful response to God’s grace poured out upon us in a hymn of praise to the Holy Trinity.
Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures).