The theme for the Fifth Sunday in Lent is the fruit of the cross. Formerly, the fifth Sunday in Lent was named, “Passion Sunday.” Though the name has changed, the theme of suffering and sacrifice of Christ is prevalent. The fruits or results of Christ’s passion are given. In the Gospel Jesus’ upcoming death is an hour of glory for both the Son and the Father. From this suffering Jesus learns obedience (Epistle lesson). The new covenant, promised in the Old Testament lesson is fulfilled through the death of the Lamb. Christ’s cross enables God and man to enter a new era of reconciliation. Because of the benefits of the cross, we can glory in it. With the end of Lent approaching, it is good to give consideration to the benefits of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Collect for the Fifth Sunday in Lent—Almighty and everlasting God, who hast willed that Thy Son should bear for us the pains of the cross that Thou mightest remove from us the power of the adversary, help us so to remember and give thanks for our Lord’s Passion that we may obtain remission of sins and redemption from everlasting death; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Monday, 16 March 2015—Psalm 116:1-4, 8; antiphon, Psalm 43:1— In the antiphon, the psalmist cries out for deliverance from the wickedness that surrounds him. The rest of the Introit praises the Lord for His deliverance. When we are made to bear our crosses in our own lives, we, who are righteous by faith, also cry out for deliverance, and praise the Lord for the deliverance He has given us from our most fearsome enemies: the devil, the world, and our flesh.
Tuesday, 17 March 2015—Psalm 119:9-16 key verse, verse 10— I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. As the cross and suffering of Christ loom near us, we need the Lord’s presences in our life now more than at any other time. This Psalm speaks of this need.
Wednesday, 18 March 2015—Jeremiah 3:31-34—The cross establishes a new covenant. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God promises to establish a new covenant with His people – a covenant of grace. Through the atoning death of His Son, God has restored His relationship with rebellious mankind. All who trust in the sacrifice of Christ are incorporated into this new covenant (Romans 9:30). It is all God’s work; we can do nothing to earn our place in it.
Thursday, 19 March 2015—Hebrews 5:1-10—The cross teaches obedience and earns eternal salvation. Christ is the Mediator of the new covenant. It is by His perfect obedience, by His shedding of blood, by His death that we have received eternal life. He bore the cross, not for Himself, but solely for our benefit.
Here we see the human Jesus praying with tears and cries to avoid the cross. In an allusion to
Jesus’ appeal is denied. Through His suffering and death, Jesus learned
obedience to God’s will. By His obedience He was made “perfect;” that is, He
completed and fulfilled His God-given mission to die for the salvation of the
Friday, 20 March 2015—Matthew 10: (32-34) 35-45—The cross bears the fruit of eternal life. But at what price? Jesus clearly tells us, Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
There are many loves we have in this life: family, work, church, country. The list is endless yet, our first love, our first priority must be to the Savior. Anything less is a violation of the First Commandment. The Father will honor the Son as He gave honor and obedience to the will of the Father. In following Christ we must acknowledge Him and follow in His ways. Christ is the one who willingly submitted to the will of His Father. It’s now all about you. Jesus proved this in His obedience and His trudge to the cross.
Saturday, 21 March 2015—The hymn of the Day is Jesus, I My Cross have Taken. Jesus willingly bore our sins in His body, and carried them to the cross. We, who have been incorporated into the body of Christ by our baptisms, must also bear crosses in this life. When our hour of trial comes, we beseech the Lord that He would give us the strength gladly to bear whatever cross He would. Luther writes concerning this, in the Large Catechism: So there is just as great a need, as in all the other petitions, that we pray without ceasing: “Dear Father, Your will be done, not the devil’s will or our enemies’ or anything that would persecute and suppress Your holy Word or hinder Your kingdom. Grant that we may bear with patience and overcome whatever is to be endured because of Your Word and kingdom, so that our poor flesh may not yield or fall away because of weakness or sluggishness.”
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing Lima, OH
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).