The second Sunday of Lent – March 13, 2022
Scripture Reading: John 1:1-5,14
The liturgical use of the body throughout church history
- Throughout Church history our bodies were understood to be indispensable in worshipping God. Cf. Romans 12:1. Our bodies are our primary resource for growing in Christlikeness. Many Christians have come to view their bodies as more of a hindrance than a help in walking with the Lord and worshipping him. But our bodies were created by God expressly for the purpose of interacting with him and his kingdom.
- Each part of our physical selves plays an important role in our connecting deeply with the Lord on Sunday mornings: ears, brains, mouths, hands, arms, wait, legs, knees, whole body.
- Making the sign of the cross. We invoke God’s presence, power, authority in Christ into a situation. This was practiced by the early Christians (cf. Tertullian and Athanasius). It involves a hand motion and the blessing formula: “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
- When praying the blessing over others, the hand forms a Christogram, ICXC (Jesus Christ – Iecuc Xrictoc)
- When praying the blessing over yourself, there are three variations: 1) Forehead with thumb or index finger (cf. Rev 7:3), 2) Forehead, mouth, and heart, and 3) Forehead, heart, shoulders with thumb, index and middle finger together (Trinity) and the ring finger and pinky against the palm (two natures of Christ). Use before prayer, when you enter and exit the sanctuary, at communion, at welcome and benediction or anytime the Trinitarian formula is pronounced.
Meditation on Jesus – Heb 2:14-18; 5:1-2; 4:14-16
Hebrews 2:14-15: “14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
- Reason #1: to disempower Satan and set us free from his grip and the fear of death.
- For us to live as free, powerful, authoritative men and women who rule the earth on God’s behalf as his image bearers, we had to be set free from our enslavement to Satan (cf. Lk 4:18; Isa 61:1,2).
- Satan tempted Jesus as he did our first parents, but Jesus resisted. He won back the right of human beings to reign over the earth, displacing Satan and the dark powers from the positions of authority that they usurped. In the process of paying the debt for sin, earning God’s forgiveness and setting us free, Jesus exposed Satan and all the dark powers to open shame (cf. Col 2:15).
- But Jesus also set us free from the fear of death by conquering death. If we fear death or judgment or anyone or anything other than God himself, then we become its slave: it subconsciously exerts influence over our thinking, emotions, actions.
Hebrews 2:16-18: “16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
- Reason #2: to personally suffer temptations so that he could fully identify with our suffering and temptations and thereby be qualified to be a merciful high priest.
- In his preincarnate state, our Lord experienced joy, delight, unadulterated love. In his incarnation he assumed a human body so he could voluntarily experience hunger, thirst, pain, grief, sadness, loneliness, betrayal, anger, sexual attraction, temptation to hate, to be bitter, to take revenge, to not forgive.
- Why did he do it? See Heb 5:1-2: the Son of God makes himself weak so he could fully enter into our broken human condition and deal gently with us. Cf. Heb 2:10.
- Because Jesus “gets us” completely, when we can come to Jesus in prayer with confidence in his empathy and understanding solidarity. Hebrews 4:15-16: “15 We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”