LENTEN DEVOTION: The Lord’s Road by Johann Ernst von Holst

Morning and Evening Devotions for the Holy Season of Lent

The Lord’s 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.” (Luke 18-31-33)

As long as the Temple of Jehovah was standing in Jerusalem and the beautiful services of the Lord were celebrated there, every year when spring came and the Passover festival was drawing near, the joyful cry rang out, “We are going up to Jerusalem!”  It resounded in all the towns and villages, cottages and palaces of the Holy Land.  When Jesus went to the festival for the first time with his parents as a twelve-year-old boy, how joyfully it rang in his soul: “We are going up to Jerusalem!”  This continued throughout his Earthly walk to the first years of his mission.

How different in content and tone this call sounds in today’s text.  Jesus was on his last journey and, accompanied by his disciples, came from the land on the east side of the Jordan into the southern Jordan Valley on the great military road that led to Jericho.  This was the most beautiful and most fertile region in the whole land.  The road led through avenues of palm trees, rose gardens, and fragrant fields.  It was spring once more and the Passover was again near.  Everything was green and in bloom; aromatic scents filled the air.  Throngs of joyful pilgrims passed them from all directions.  The pinnacles of Jericho glittered as they drew near.  The road to Jerusalem, situated on the holy hill only a six-hour walk away, led through this town.

“We are going up to Jerusalem!” rang joyfully in the hearts of the pilgrims, and the Lord’s disciples and friends were filled with hope.  They expected that there he would triumph at long last over the horde of the mighty and embittered foe and gloriously establish his kingdom.  The Lord also said to his disciples these words, “We are going up to Jerusalem” – but what did he add?  “The Son of Man 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.”

This pilgrimage was the road to his suffering and death, and he walked it with unflinching faithfulness.  For his heart glowed with love for his Jerusalem.  It was the city of the great king, his anointed ancestor David, and it was the city of the great God, his Heavenly Father.

His soul was filled with deep sadness: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!  How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:27)  Since he could do nothing else for his royal city, he wanted to die in her and for her.  His road to the Heavenly Jerusalem for which he longed passed through this Earthly, doomed Jerusalem.  There is no city on Earth today that has the significance of the old Jerusalem – but we yearn for the Heavenly one of which we sing.

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