5:25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. 28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.
– John 5:25-29 NIV
Dear friends, greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus as we continue our journey during this Lenten season toward the remembrance of the final events and hours of our Lord’s life. Lent is a time when we focus our attention on the cross of Christ and the price He had to pay for our sins, in order that we, because of Him, might live forever.
The passage today is one that, in many ways, does not seem to fit during this Lenten season. It points to the day when the final judgment will happen and when the dead will be raised at the voice and command of Christ. It seems to be out of place, at least insofar as it looks beyond our Lord’s death and resurrection to that day, known only by the Father, when the final judgment will take place and the world as we know it will come to a close. In that sense, this passage seems to be a bit premature.
At the same time, this passage fits well within the journey of our Lord to the cross, because it was on the cross when God’s judgment played itself out, on our behalf, and when God’s word of promise was spoken clearly and eternally in the death of Christ. On the cross, we were the guilty. Jesus carried our guilt. We were the sinful. All the sins of the world were placed on Him. His righteousness became ours. Our judgment was given solely to Him.
The good news in this passage is that God, as Father, has given the authority to judge to Christ. And because Christ is the one who gave His life for us, through our faith in Him, even in His judgment of us we are secure. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). In other words, when we stand in judgment before the Lord, the Lord looks not at our sin but at His own redeeming work. When we stand in judgment before God, God looks not at our sin but at Christ.
The apostle Paul uses the words “God” and “Christ” interchangeably when it comes to our judgment. He says, “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Romans 14:10). He also says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). For the apostle, they are one and the same.
And so where does that lead when it comes to our judgment? How can we be certain and secure when we stand before God? It all comes down to the saving plan and purpose of God, worked out during that final week of our Lord’s life, that the same person of Jesus, both Son of God and Son of Man, would be both our Judge and our Savior at the same time. As Judge, sitting at the right hand of the Father, we will all be found guilty and condemned to eternal death. As Savior, standing alongside of us in our sin, we will all be set free in the sacrificial blood of the Lamb.
It’s a harsh reality, the judgment day we will all one day face. But it’s also a glorious reality when we consider what God has promised in Jesus and the life eternal that will be ours. After all, who would rather have as your judge? Would you rather have someone in your family? Would you rather have the neighbor next door? How about the Supreme Court? How about the possibility of judging yourself? Would you want or feel good about any of those other options to consider, when it come to the judgment of your life?
The fact is that there are no other options. God is our Judge. He is also the one who Has given us a Savior. And the Gospel, the Good News, is the fact that He who sees our sins more clearly and penetratingly than anyone else has dealt with them. They are no longer in the picture. They have been blotted out and erased eternally in Jesus.
And so, in closing, you tell me. Is this passage out of place during the season of Lent? Or is it a passage we need to hear every day? I guess it all depends on what we hope to hear when that final judgment day comes. Here’s what Jesus says: “Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” I like that passage and I need to hear it every day. My guess is, so do you.
Prayer: Father, we thank You for Your saving plan worked out in the cross of our Lord Jesus. We thank You that the one who will be our judge is also the one came to save. Help us to trust in Him. Help us to face life and death with confidence and in hope. Assure us, through Your Holy Spirit, that our sin has been dealt with and washed away, and the life we now live will be ours forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Devotion written by the Rev. Dr. Daniel W. Selbo
Genesis 44:1–17 (Listen)
Joseph Tests His Brothers
44:1 Then he commanded the steward of his house, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, 2 and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph told him.
3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. 4 They had gone only a short distance from the city. Now Joseph said to his steward, “Up, follow after the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? 5 Is it not from this that my lord drinks, and by this that he practices divination? You have done evil in doing this.’”
6 When he overtook them, he spoke to them these words. 7 They said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! 8 Behold, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? 9 Whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord’s servants.” 10 He said, “Let it be as you say: he who is found with it shall be my servant, and the rest of you shall be innocent.” 11 Then each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. 12 And he searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.
14 When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there. They fell before him to the ground. 15 Joseph said to them, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?” 16 And Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found.” 17 But he said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father.”
Romans 8:1–10 (Listen)
Life in the Spirit
8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
John 5:25–29 (Listen)
25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
Psalm 84 (Listen)
My Soul Longs for the Courts of the Lord
To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
84:1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!
2 My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise! Selah
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.
8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
9 Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!
10 For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!
Psalm 150 (Listen)
Let Everything Praise the Lord
150:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 42 (Listen)
Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?
To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.
42:1 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation 6 and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
Psalm 32 (Listen)
Blessed Are the Forgiven
A Maskil of David.
32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
6 Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
7 You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After a challenging year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.