LENTEN DEVOTION: The Disciples’ Road by Johann Ernst von Holst

Morning and Evening Devotions for the Holy Season of Lent

The Disciples’ Road by Johann Ernst von Holst

From The Crucified Is My Love

And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.  For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.  And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”  But they understood none of these things.  This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. (Luke 18:31-34)

When the Lord told them what he would have to suffer, the souls of his listeners were stunned as if by a thunderclap.  “But they understood none of these things.  This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.”  They heard but did not understand; they saw but did not perceive, (Mark 4:12).  They understood nothing of the Lord’s thoughts because they were full of their own ideas.  They did not want to hear of suffering and death, for they were dreaming of happiness and glory.  They saw in their mind’s eye the dawning glory of the Messiah’s kingdom with its proclamation of healing and salvation.  They thought that what the Master was saying about shame, suffering, and death must be some kind of parable, meaning something quite different from the actual words.  They felt only one thing: that there was something terribly oppressive in the Lord’s words, so they continued on their way with him, half-stunned.

But the Lord knew exactly what was awaiting him.  He foresaw the shadows of Gethsemane and felt the horror of the cross on Golgotha.  He had the power to turn back at each step and return to his Father’s glory, yet he went forward.  What was it that urged him to go this way to the end?  It was obedience to his Father’s will, compassionate love toward the lost world.  So he strode on to his bloody death, but in his heart he bore the comfort of a victorious resurrection.  And wherever he went and wherever he stayed, Heavenly blessing lay on his work – such as the blind man who was healed by his faith, (Mark 10:52), and the salvation that came to Zacchaeus, (Luke 19:9).

But the Lord did not say, “I am going up to Jerusalem.”  He said, “We are going.”  It is this “we” that we have to emphasize.  For it does not apply only to those first disciples; it also applies to us insofar as we want to be his followers.  For us, too, the way to glory passes through suffering and death.  To suffer with Christ for sin in the obedience of faith; to give up all foolish wishes and vain hopes with our eyes fixed on him; with him and in love to him to give our old self up to death; to die with him in quiet confidence in a blessed resurrection when our last hour comes; and then to be with him forever in the Heavenly Jerusalem – this is our task.

If a stranger should ask us on our pilgrim way, “Where are you going?” then our whole life and being should answer, “We are going up to Jerusalem.”  When young people are accepted into the church and then have to face the world, when newlyweds begin their married life together, when men or women are given a new task – they should say to themselves, “We are going up to Jerusalem.”  Not only at this season of Lent when we accompany our Lord on his way to suffering and the cross, but throughout our whole walk on this Earth, both in the springtime and in the winter of life, may this remain our watchword: “We are going up to Jerusalem.”

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