21:12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” 17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.
– Matthew 21:12-17
It is an interesting study, in the biblical accounts of Jesus’ life, how His popularity with the religious leaders continues to decline as He makes His way to the cross. It is also interesting how Jesus never backs down from His purpose in life, to speak and to live the truth, even as those around Him want nothing to do with what He has to say. Add to that the fact that His actions were always consistent with His words, and it is easy to see that what happened in the temple during that Holy Week was yet another sign of the purpose for which Jesus was born.
The Jerusalem temple, designed to be a house of prayer, had become a marketplace for selling and for stealing and for profit-making for the religious elite. When Jesus saw what they were doing, He pulled no punches. Overturning the tables of the moneychangers, He chased them out and called them out for who they were and for what they were doing and claiming to be.
Meanwhile, the blind and the lame were healed. Throughout His ministry, Jesus’ words and actions were shaped by love. Even the children offered shouts of praise to this One whose life and whose actions and whose words bore witness and gave testimony to the fact that He came into this world to save.
Jesus could have walked away that day unscathed, rather than walking into the temple and causing a scene. He could have remained quiet and never said a word, instead of lashing out against those who had lost sight of the temple’s true purpose. But He spoke and He lived with one saving purpose in mind. His destiny was with the cross. He was born in this world to die. And He died on a cross so that you and I could live.
During those final events leading to His death, Jesus cleansed the temple when He overturned those tables. In the final event of His life, He cleansed us from sin when He bled and died on Calvary’s cross. As with the temple and its cleansing, He did not have to do it, but He did. And He did it because He loved us more than we will ever know.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your saving work on the cross, for Your love for us that became so clear, and for never backing down on the road that led to Calvary, that we might have life. Amen.
Lenten Response: Find ways today to offer praise to Jesus, just as those children offered their praises long ago.
Devotion written by the Rev. Daniel Selbo
Jeremiah 11:18–20 (Listen)
18 The LORD made it known to me and I knew;
then you showed me their deeds.
19 But I was like a gentle lamb
led to the slaughter.
I did not know it was against me
they devised schemes, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
that his name be remembered no more.”
20 But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously,
who tests the heart and the mind,
let me see your vengeance upon them,
for to you have I committed my cause.
Jeremiah 12 (Listen)
12:1 Righteous are you, O LORD,
when I complain to you;
yet I would plead my case before you.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
2 You plant them, and they take root;
they grow and produce fruit;
you are near in their mouth
and far from their heart.
3 But you, O LORD, know me;
you see me, and test my heart toward you.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
and set them apart for the day of slaughter.
4 How long will the land mourn
and the grass of every field wither?
For the evil of those who dwell in it
the beasts and the birds are swept away,
because they said, “He will not see our latter end.”
The Lord Answers Jeremiah
5 “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you,
how will you compete with horses?
And if in a safe land you are so trusting,
what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?
6 For even your brothers and the house of your father,
even they have dealt treacherously with you;
they are in full cry after you;
do not believe them,
though they speak friendly words to you.”
7 “I have forsaken my house;
I have abandoned my heritage;
I have given the beloved of my soul
into the hands of her enemies.
8 My heritage has become to me
like a lion in the forest;
she has lifted up her voice against me;
therefore I hate her.
9 Is my heritage to me like a hyena’s lair?
Are the birds of prey against her all around?
Go, assemble all the wild beasts;
bring them to devour.
10 Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard;
they have trampled down my portion;
they have made my pleasant portion
a desolate wilderness.
11 They have made it a desolation;
desolate, it mourns to me.
The whole land is made desolate,
but no man lays it to heart.
12 Upon all the bare heights in the desert
destroyers have come,
for the sword of the LORD devours
from one end of the land to the other;
no flesh has peace.
13 They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns;
they have tired themselves out but profit nothing.
They shall be ashamed of their harvests
because of the fierce anger of the LORD.”
14 Thus says the LORD concerning all my evil neighbors who touch the heritage that I have given my people Israel to inherit: “Behold, I will pluck them up from their land, and I will pluck up the house of Judah from among them. 15 And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again each to his heritage and each to his land. 16 And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, ‘As the LORD lives,’ even as they taught my people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built up in the midst of my people. 17 But if any nation will not listen, then I will utterly pluck it up and destroy it, declares the LORD.”
Philippians 3:1–4 (Listen)
Righteousness Through Faith in Christ
3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
John 12:9–19 (Listen)
The Plot to Kill Lazarus
9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
The Triumphal Entry
12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
Psalm 119:73–80 (Listen)
73 Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
75 I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 Let your steadfast love comfort me
according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.
78 Let the insolent be put to shame,
because they have wronged me with falsehood;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me,
that they may know your testimonies.
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
that I may not be put to shame!
Psalm 145 (Listen)
Great Is the Lord
A Song of Praise. Of David.
145:1 I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
[The LORD is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.]
14 The LORD upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The LORD preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
Psalm 121 (Listen)
My Help Comes from the Lord
A Song of Ascents.
121:1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 6 (Listen)
O Lord, Deliver My Life
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments; according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.
6:1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
2 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O LORD—how long?
4 Turn, O LORD, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?
6 I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
7 My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.
8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.
9 The LORD has heard my plea;
the LORD accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
John Keble, Priest, 1866 (March 29)
About the Commemoration
John Keble (KEE-bul), the son of a country parson, was born in 1792 at Fairford in Gloucestershire. At the age of eighteen, he graduated with highest honors from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and was elected Fellow of Oriel College. In 1816 he was ordained priest and in 1823 returned home to assist his father. During this time he published anonymously his collection of religious poetry, The Christian Year; it went through ninety-five editions. In 1832 he was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford. Four years later he began a thirty-year pastorate at the village of Hursley near Winchester in 1836, where he proved himself to be a devoted parish priest.
The revival of interest in the religious life stirred by the Wesley brothers had by this time been replaced by another period of laxity. The sacraments were neglected, worship was perfunctory, church buildings were left to decay. On July 14, 1833, in Oxford before a distinguished group of judges assembled in the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Keble preached a startling sermon entitled “National Apostasy” in which he attacked state interference in Church affairs. This sermon is commonly regarded as the beginning of the Oxford Movement, also called the “Tractarian” Movement from the series of “Tracts for the Times” written by Keble and others from Oxford. These pamphlets sought to recall the Church of England to its ancient sacramental heritage and taught that through its apostolic ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons, it was truly part of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Christ. The Tractarians encouraged the pursuit of personal holiness and emphasized reverence and beauty in worship. Within a generation new life had been breathed into the Church of England and its effects continue to this day.
Although fiercely attacked by his opponents, Keble’s loyalty to the Church never wavered, and he unfailingly displayed consideration and courtesy. His depth of character and his devotion to the Lord impressed all who came into contact with him. He died on March 29, 1866. In 1870 Keble College, Oxford, was founded in his memory.
John Keble is included on the calendar in the Book of Common Prayer.
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
See also: John Keble
From a sermon by John Keble
Let us be only true to our sacred trust: let us put everything else by for the sake of handing down the whole counsel of God, our good deposit, entire as we received it: and who knows but we may by God’s mercy be made instrumental in saving the English Church from ruin not unlike that which has fallen on Ephesus, Smyrna, or Sardis? At any rate, the Church Catholic, in one country or another, we are sure, will survive and triumph. As of old she has stood before kings and governors, and it turned to her for a testimony, so now blessed are they who divine providence shall choose and enable worthily to support her cause against popular delusion and tyranny. We, indeed, as priests of the second order, are but under-labourers in that most holy cause. Yet the least and lowest among us may look for his share of the blessing, as he has undoubtedly his share of the burthen and of the peril. Is there not a hope, that by resolute self-denial and strict and calm fidelity to our ordination vows, we may not only aid in preserving that which remains, but also may help to revive in some measure, in this or some other portion of the Christian world, more of the system and spirit of the apostolical age? New truths, in the proper sense of the word, we neither can nor wish to arrive at. But the monuments of antiquity may disclose to our devout perusal much that will be to this age new, because it has been mislaid or forgotten; and we may attain to a light and clearness, which we now dream not of, in our comprehension of the faith and discipline of Christ. We may succeed beyond what humanly appears possible in rekindling a primitive zeal among those who shall be committed to our charge.
John Keble, “Primitive Tradition Recognised in Holy Scripture,” in R. Nye, ed., The English Sermon 1750-1850 (Manchester: Carcanet, 1976), 197.
Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know your presence and obey your will; that, following the example of your servant John Keble, we may accomplish with integrity and courage what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Readings: Psalm 26:1-8 or Psalm 15; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 5:1-12
Hymn of the Day: “New every morning is the love” (H82 10, SBH 201); or, in the evening, “Sun of my soul, thou Savior dear” (H40 166, SBH 226)
Prayers: For the renewal of the church and its recovery of its heritage; For all poets and writers in the Christian tradition; For the spirit of love and gentleness in all discussions and controversies about religion; For Keble College, Oxford.
Preface: A Saint (1) (BCP)
Hans Nielsen Hauge, Renewer of the Church, 1824 (March 29)
About the Commemoration
Hans Nielsen Hauge was born April 3, 1771, on a farm in Rolfsøen in southeastern Norway, about fifty miles from Oslo. His father, Niels Mikkelsen, was a farmer, and the farm was known as “Hauge Gaard” from which Hans Nielsen took his surname. The family was deeply concerned with their Christian faith, having regular family prayers and daily Bible reading, and from time to time attending lay religious meetings in the village. As a young boy Hauge thought deeply about religious matters and was troubled with a fear that he would not go to heaven when he died. This fear intensified through several experiences that brought him face to face with death.
Hauge never had much formal education, but he became very skilled in practical tasks such as carpentry and the repair of mechanical devices. Acting as village handyman and helping on the family farm, Hauge also became experienced in business affairs, and all of his life he not only was able to support himself while engaging in religious work but also was able to assist others in their everyday affairs.
He worked for a time in Fredrikstad where the temptations he encountered made him aware of the conflict between God and the world. As a young man his first interest was religion. He read deeply in Lutheran catechetical and devotional literature and participated in the worship of the parish church and in private prayer meetings. He spoke to others so frequently about their faith that his companions nicknamed him “Holy.”
His parents called him home to work on their farm, and it was while working there on April 5, 1796, that he had a mystical experience that set the course of his life. He felt suddenly at peace about his own salvation and felt sure of his call to preach. He launched a one-man preaching crusade, beginning in his own community and then traveling throughout Norway and visiting Denmark in 1800. He also wrote about his faith, eventually producing some thirty books, of which the best known is his Reiser og Vigtigste Haendsler (“Journeys and Important Events”). The central concept of his preaching and writing was what he called “the living faith,” the personal commitment to the Lord that transforms the believer’s life.
Hauge encountered stern opposition, for it was thought unprecedented that a farm boy should teach religion, an area traditionally reserved for the clergy. He was in violation of the Ordinance of 13th January 1741, which required that the local pastor be informed of the time and place of any religious meetings to be held within his parish. The pastor was obliged to attend and had authority to forbid such meetings. Only a few people were permitted to gather, the meetings had to be held during the day, men and women were to meet in separate places, and it was forbidden that laypeople travel about and preach. The church authorities were opposed to Hauge because some thought that he laid too much stress on good works; the civil authorities were opposed to him because some feared he would stir up a peasants’ revolt. After repeated arrests, he was taken into custody in 1804 to be held for full investigation, and his imprisonment lasted ten years. In prison, in the absence of Christian fellowship, Hauge’s faith weakened. In 1809 he was released from prison to work on a project to extract salt from seawater (war with England had cut off supplies of salt by ship). He was arrested again, although he was permitted more freedom than before. In 1811 he was permitted to move to a small farm just outside Christiana called Bakkehaugen. In December 1813 he was sentenced to two years at hard labor and the costs of the trial for breaking the Ordinance of 13th January 1741 and for “invectives” against the clergy.
On January 27, 1815, Hauge married Andrea Nyhus, the housekeeper at his farm. She died not long afterward, leaving an infant son, Andreas. In 1817 Hauge married Ingeborg Oldsdatter, who bore him three sons, all of whom died young. Hauge moved to another farm, Bredveldt, where he was visited by friends, among whom by now were some bishops. His health broken after his long ordeal, Hauge died at 4 A.M. on March 29, 1824. He is buried in the cemetery at Aker Church in Oslo, where his grave is marked:
He lived in the Lord,
He died in the Lord
And by the grace of Christ he partakes of salvation.
Since Hauge’s influence in Norway was at its peak during the period of greatest Norwegian immigration to America, the Haugean spirit was one of the main streams of Norwegian-American Lutheranism. It was an important force in the growth of the church and in deepening its spiritual life, particularly that of the laity, and for this reason Hauge appears on the calendar in the Lutheran Book of Worship and Evangelical Lutheran Worship. The Haugean Lutheran Synod, established in 1846, merged in 1917 with other Norwegian Lutheran bodies. A few churches in North America are named for Hauge.
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
See also: Hans Nielsen Hauge
From Hauge’s Autobiography, April 5, 1796
The desire to please God grew more and more. In prayer to Him, I would kneel in heartfelt unworthiness of the great goodness He had shown me, ashamed because I had not served the Lord as I ought. Sometimes I fell on my knees and prayed almighty God for the sake of His Son to establish me on the spiritual rock, Christ Jesus. For I believed that then even the gates of hell would be powerless against me. I called upon the God of my salvation to reveal his Son’s love in me and grant me His Holy Spirit to expose my wretchedness and impotence and teach me the way I should walk in order to follow in the footsteps of Christ.
One day while I was working outside under the open sky, I sang from memory the hymn, “Jesus, I Long for Thy Blessed Communion.” I had just sung the second verse:
Mightily strengthen my spirit within me,
That I may learn what Thy Spirit can do;
Oh, take Thou captive each passion and win me,
Lead Thou and guide me my whole journey through!
All that I am and possess I surrender,
If thou alone in my spirit mayest dwell,
Everything yield Thee, O Savior most tender,
Thou, only Thou, canst my sadness dispel.
At this point my mind became so exalted that I was not myself aware of, nor can I express, what took place in my soul. For I was beside myself. As soon as I came to my senses, I was filled with regret that I had not served this loving transcendentally good God. Now it seemed to me that nothing in this world was worthy of any regard. That my soul experienced something supernatural, divine, and blessed; that there was a glory that no tongue can utter—that I remember as clearly as it had happened only a few days ago. And it is now nearly twenty years since the love of God visited me so abundantly.
Nor can anyone argue this away from me. For I know all the good that followed in my spirit from that hour, especially a deep, burning love to God and my neighbor. I know that I received an entirely changed mind, a sorrow for sin and a desire that other people should become partakers with me of the same grace. I know that I was given a special desire to read the holy Scriptures, especially Jesus’ own teachings. At the same time I received new light to understand the Word and to bring together the teachings of all men of God to one focal point; that Christ has come for our salvation, that we should by His Spirit be born again, repent, and be sanctified more and more in accord with God’s attributes to serve the triune God alone, in order that our souls may be refined and prepared for eternal blessedness.
It was as if I saw the whole world submerged in evil. I grieved much over this and prayed God that He would withhold punishment so that some might repent Now I wanted very much to serve God. I asked him to reveal to me what I should do. The answer echoed in my heart, “You shall confess My name before the people; exhort them to repent and seek Me while I may be found and call upon Me while I am near; and touch their hearts that they may turn from darkness to light.”
Hans Nielsen Hauge, Autobiographical Writings, trans. Joel M. Njus (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1954), 41-43.
Gracious and loving Father, when the zeal and love of your church grow cold, you stir the hearts of your people by sending them men and women to preach repentance and renewal: In your mercy, grant that your church, inspired by the example of your servant Hans Nielsen Hauge, may never be destitute of such proclamation of the reality of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 46; 1 Corinthians 3:11-23; Mark 10:35-45
Hymn of the Day: “In heaven above, in heaven above” (LBW 330, ELW 630) (The tune I himmelen, I himmelen is called Hauge in the Service Book and Hymnal.)
Prayers: For lay readers and preachers; For those persecuted for the exercise of their faith; For confidence and courage; For deepened spiritual life; For growth in grace.
Preface: A Saint (2) (BCP) or of the Season
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.