Saturday, March 21, 2020

Jesus' Word that Sustains the Weary (Isaiah 50:4)

Today's Devotion from Pastor Merrill Saturday, March 21, 2020

[Jesus said,] “Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:4-5

I haven’t heard it said yet. I’m waiting. When an epidemic or disaster comes along some self-appointed prophet comes along and says, “This is God’s judgment upon ________.” For the AIDS epidemic, it was the gay community. For Hurricane Katrina it was the excesses of New Orleans street life. Never mind that there were others affected by the two events. Perhaps the reason nobody’s calling out a particular group for judgment is because the coronavirus is a worldwide pandemic.
Jesus heard it in His day, too. Luke 13 refers to an event that had taken place in Jesus’ time. A tower in Siloam had collapsed, killing 18 people. Some were thinking, “Those 18 people must have been great sinners.” Jesus said, no, they’re no worse than anybody else. “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

That’s enough to stop you in your tracks. What Jesus is saying is, even though diseases and disasters aren’t a sign of God’s judgment on particular individuals or groups, they are cause for us all to take a look at ourselves. Diseases and disasters are in our fallen world because of sin. You and I are sinners in need of repentance. In particular, especially when things are going well, we do not pay as much attention to God as we should. We can become indifferent to His Word and what it has to say for our lives.
A pandemic or any time of trouble is a call to repentance. Repentance is God’s gift. It is the way back to God. We turn from our sin and our self-centered ways and return to God in faith through His Son Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther said the whole life of the Christian is one of repentance—daily dying to sin and rising with Jesus to new life through His forgiveness. Baptism pictures this nicely.

The coronavirus is not God’s punishment on any individual. The punishment for every person’s sin fell on Jesus when He was on the cross. Thanks to God’s gift of repentance and forgiveness through Jesus, there is no need for anyone to perish. In this time let us turn to Jesus in repentance and faith, and pray that many more in our world do the same.

Prayer: Merciful Father, we sometimes lose sight of You and how dependent we are on Your grace and protection. Forgive us for Jesus’ sake, and restore our faith in Your goodness and mercy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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