The Daily Office | March 31, 2018
Psalms 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127
1 Peter 2:11-end
Psalms 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134
Collect: Ash Wednesday
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect: Holy Saturday
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
As we just celebrated Palm Sunday last weekend, it’s fitting for us to think about Zechariah 9:9-12 this morning. “Behold, your king is coming to you,” the prophet tells us. He is a good and righteous king, and we, like the people of Israel, are looking to him for salvation.
But also like the people of Israel, we look to be saved from the wrong things. Though God did promise to free Israel from her captors and restore her to freedom in the land God had given her, the Messiah came with a much more important goal in mind—he came to take care of the root problem. He came to free them from their ultimate captor, sin, and restore them to right relationships with God, with each other, and with the land.
We are often as shortsighted as the Israelites. We look to be saved from our most immediate enemies, our immediate situations, without realizing that this would only be symptom control. Jesus wants to give us food that “endures to eternal life” (Jn 6:27), but we would rather have candy.
And so we are confused when we see Jesus crossing city limits, “humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The Israelites wanted freedom from their oppressors, but they did not realize that the only way to defeat the ultimate oppressor—sin and death—was to refuse to do battle on its terms. Adam and Eve sought to take their lives into their own hands. They wanted to be like God. They wanted to be king and queen unto themselves.
But Jesus shows us that to be like God is to be humble and mounted on a donkey. Jesus shows us that destroying death could not be done with swords and chariots, but only by allowing it to have its way and then be exposed as the powerless fraud that it is. The Author of Life defeated death by dying. And we have been set free.