On Palm Sunday afternoon, while the children were napping upstairs, Melissa and I decided that we would take the kids to church in the evening for Journey to the Cross, an event the high school students organized for the kids. After naps, Melissa told Lily, our 5-year-old, that we're going. She was super excited and ran downstairs to tell her little brother. “Liam! Liam! We’re going to Journey to the Cross!” Liam, who was cuddling with me, sat up quickly, somewhat startled, collected his thoughts, and said, “Are we dying? Where are we going? I don’t understand.”
My first thought was, “Oh, how cute. I gotta facebook this.” Moments later I began to realize how profound my son’s response was. If I’m honest, I don’t want to die this week. I don’t want to "go there". And I don’t understand. This morning's reading from Isaiah helped shed some light on my predicament.
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
When I read passages like this, my tendency is to read myself into the text as the protagonist. In this case I assume the righteous role of the one called, grasped, formed, and sent by the Lord as a light to free the prisoners. I assume that other people—unrighteous, lost, wicked, unbelieving sinners—are the blind prisoners in the dungeon, and it’s my job to save them.
But as I reflect a bit more deeply on this passage and on what my son said, I am confronted with the reality that I am one of the blind prisoners in the dungeon of darkness. I am an unrighteous, lost, wicked, unbelieving sinner. Jesus is the called One in Isaiah; the One grasped in the Lord’s hand; the begotten One who is set as a covenant of the people; the Light sent to free the blind prisoners from the dungeon of darkness. I forget this. Holy Week beckons me to sit in the dark and miserable dungeon of my sin again. It is here the Savior will come and rescue me.
Are we willing to "go there"? Can we die to our own righteousness this week? What will that look like for you? I invite you to listen to this song. The words were written by Martin Luther. "In Devil's Dungeon Chained I Lay." As you sit in the dungeon this week, may you experience the Father’s love, the Savior’s rescue, and the Spirit’s comfort.