Tue, 23 February 2021
(Jon.3:1-10; Ps.51:3-4,12-13,18-19; Lk.11:29-32)
“At the preaching of Jonah they reformed.”
Let us learn from the people of Ninevah, who heeded the message of repentance given Jonah. At Jonah’s cry they “believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.” Even the king “laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes” in hopes of averting the destruction he knew God held in hand for his wayward city. He decrees that “every man shall turn from his evil way” and “call loudly to God.” Such utter repentance! Such turning from sin! And this from a pagan king and a pagan nation.
If Ninevah has so believed in God, if it has so recognized its sin before Him and turned so dramatically back to Him, pleading for His mercy, what should we not do, brothers and sisters, in this time of Lent set aside for the cleansing of our sins, we who have Jesus’ preaching now ringing in our ears and calling to our hearts? Indeed, we must again and continually cry out to God with David for His mercy to come upon us. Ever with “a contrite and humbled heart” we must sit before Him recognizing our sin. For always our sin is with us, however much we might be ignorant of our guilt as we live our lives in vain. “Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me,” must be our eternal plea, for we are in continual danger of going away from Him.
Let us not be afraid to humble ourselves before God and man. Let us seek nothing else but the wisdom of Christ, the call of the cross to our souls. In humility, in sackcloth and ashes, let us prostrate ourselves before the true king who will come at the judgment to discern the worth of all souls. Perhaps He will have mercy. Perhaps He will “withhold His blazing wrath.” Perhaps the punishment we deserve He may avert and “we shall not perish.” Upon the soul He finds His cross inscribed, He shall take pity, my friends.
O Lord, we have sinned and done what is evil in your sight. In your infinite mercy look upon our broken hearts, and help us to reform our lives. For you alone are God.
O LORD, your Son is greater than any prophet or king;
let us listen to Him as He calls us to repentance.
YHWH, let us be humble before you and your Word. Let us repent at the preaching of your holy ones. May your Son be a sign for us that we shall not forget – you are calling us to your kingdom, and to find our way there we must turn away from all sin.
O LORD, let us not fail to take this time to reform our lives; let us not be deaf and blind to the grace you offer forth to all men. May we know true contrition for the wrongs we have done – O let our hearts be circumcised! You desire to forgive us, if we would but leave off our evil ways.
We shall all indeed be destroyed if we do not heed your saving Word. May your prophets cry out the message of the Gospel, and may all your holy ones cover themselves in sackcloth and sit in the ashes… may all fast from the poisonous food this world offers. Then our spirits shall be renewed. Then no judgment will come upon us. Then we shall live forever with you.