Friday, April 3, 2020

Strength, Song, and Salvation

This verse from Psalm 118 is a quote from Moses’ victory song in Exodus 15. The Children of Israel had just escaped what looked to be certain death when God parted the Red Sea, allowing them to escape Pharaoh’s army.

The words became favorite praise lifted up to a victorious God who saved His people from danger and the oppression of slavery. A Psalm that reminded of the past while giving reassurance of the future.

Now, we celebrate Palm Sunday, a worship service that retells the story of Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem. The people welcomed Him into their city with songs of praise and the waving of palm branches. They praised King Jesus as a victor, but the victory He would win on our behalf was still to come.

Yet, the crowd was mistaken. These people welcoming Jesus with song saw Him as a savior from hunger, from grief, from oppression. They saw Him as an earthly king with an immediate purpose to relieve them from the evil they endured. The mistake and misunderstanding of the Jerusalem crowd became a prophecy of what God intended to do for His people. God takes even our weaknesses and uses them to point to His saving grace.

Jesus’ act of Salvation was for so much more than victory over earthly concerns. Jesus’ goal was not the elimination of temporary oppression but permanent separation, not of momentary pain but eternal death. His death and resurrection would not be a  victory as humans understand, but His sacrifice was the only victory we would need.

In these strange days of sheltering in place, we feel a different kind of oppression. We must stop ourselves from taking advantage of the freedoms we typically know. We must do this to promote safety for ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. We find the need to do ministry in a very different way. All of this difference carries with it uncertainly, weariness, and fear. We lift our prayers to God and ask Him if the victory over this virus is ours.

God hears our cries for help; He knows our worry and feelings of inadequacy. He is eager to help us to do the work He sets before us, despite its unfamiliarity and our weakness.  We cry to Him in fear living with the strange burden of quarantine oppression, and God’s response is victory over sin and death.

The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he has become my salvation.
Psalm 118:14 
Jesus is our strength.

He knows our needs better than we do. He does not give us the strength for which we ask. Instead He IS our strength. We can put all our burdens on Him and rest.

Jesus is our song.

His love and care for us remind us that His victory is so much more than conquering a virus. He has conquered sin – something with a 100% fatality rate. We can sing in every situation, because of this victory.

He is our Salvation.

In the fullness of time, He will welcome us to a home with no fear, no restrictions, and no knowledge of social distancing. The Church will be reunited in His presence.
It matters not where we celebrate Easter.  The victory is ours through Him. That victory is even greater than what we ask for, more amazing than what we can imagine.

Come, Lord Jesus.
Amen, amen.


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