Call to Worship
King Jesus comes, King Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah. Hail! King Jesus, King of all! Recall the words of the Scriptures: “A great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’” In praise we adore you, King Jesus. Enter our hearts today as you entered Jerusalem long ago, and lead us by faith in the way everlasting. Amen. [BASED ON JOHN 12:13]
Loving God, you rode a donkey and came in peace, humbled yourself and gave yourself for us. We confess our lack of humility. As you entered Jerusalem, the crowds shouted “Hosanna: ‘Save us now!’” On Good Friday they shouted “Crucify!” We confess our praise is often empty. We sing “Hosanna,” but cry “Crucify.” As the crowd laid their palms in front of you, you took no glory for yourself. We confess that we want to be accepted and take the easy way. We do not stay true to your will. Forgive us, Lord, and help us to follow in the way of obedience. Amen. [WSB]
And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid. [MARK 15:42-47]
Tomorrow is a celebration. Tomorrow is also the acknowledgement of the “already, but not yet” tension of the gospel. “Already, but not yet” is a phrase that theologians often use to describe the reality of the current age we live in.
On the one hand, the kingdom of God has already come in the person of Jesus. This is Good News! As the incarnate God-man, he died on the cross so that through his death and resurrection he might destroy Satan, sin, and death (Heb. 2:14).
On the other hand, the perfect kingdom toward which he pointed awaits his personal return to earth. Until then, we experience the tension of living between the “already, but not yet” aspects of the kingdom of God.
Easter is a celebration of this beautiful tension:
There is real life right now for those who trust in Christ.
» We have new hearts (2 Cor. 5:17)
» We have been made alive with Christ (Eph. 2:5)
» We have received a spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15-16)
But there is more to come that has not yet been fully realized.
» We will have transformed bodies, not just hearts (2 Cor. 15:50-55)
» We will be resurrected like Christ (Rom. 6:5)
» We will experience the fullness of being adopted by God (Rom. 8:23)
[LISTS ABOVE FROM JUSTIN HOLCOMB]
The salvation that God brings is here! It is finished, and it is coming. Our hope is in Jesus who accomplished for us the “already, and yet to come.” Jesus, through his death, has already delivered his people from slavery to sin. Jesus, through his resurrection, has already conquered death, our worst enemy. But Jesus has not yet allowed us to experience a world without sin, death, and brokenness. He has not yet established his kingdom in full. His promise is to come back and do so.
Until then, we walk by faith in him. We look in hope to his coming, knowing that God does not fail to deliver on his promises. Because he was faithful in the already, we can trust that he will be faithful in the not yet. Jesus has inaugurated the reign of God so that the age to come has invaded the present age. One day, however, at the appointed time, the present age will finally give way to the fullness and completeness of the rule of God in Christ. He will usher in his kingdom in full—a new earth where only righteousness dwells. A land of promise—where there is life, abundance, satisfaction, delight, and rest.
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4).
- How have you seen God work in your heart and mind through this journey of Lent?
- In what areas of your life do you most long to experience greater transformation through the victory of Easter?
Giver of life, we wait with you to offer the hope that comes from the cross to earth’s darkest places. Where pain is deep and affection is denied: let love break through. Where justice is destroyed, let sensitivity to right spring up. Where hope is crucified, let faith persist. Where peace has no chance, let passion live on. Where truth is trampled underfoot, let the struggle continue. Where fear paralyzes, let forgiveness break through. Eternal God, reach into the silent darkness of our souls with the radiance of the cross. O you who are the bearer of all pain, have mercy on us. Giver of life, have mercy on us. Merciful God, have mercy on us. Amen. [WSB]
All biblical quotations taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Journey to the Cross: Readings & Devotions for Lent © 2013 by Providence Church. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from Providence Church.
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Cover design by Andrew Shepherd. Book design by Kendal Haug.
Special thanks to Melanie Hebert, Todd Stewman, and Laura Szymanski for their invaluable contributions in editing and writing.