Old Testament reading: Lamentations 3-5
While today’s reading contains many more verses than yesterday, the reading is essentially the same length. Note how the verses in chapters 3 and 5 are half as long as the others. This is a style of poetry called hemistich, or half verse. In chapter 3, the prophet turns inward and expresses his own anguish over Judah’s fall. As you read, pay particular attention to the large number of personal pronouns (i.e., I, my, me) in chapter 3. In chapter 4 he turns his attention back to the demise of the city. In an incredible comparison, Jeremiah says the punishment of Sodom was preferable to that of Judah. In his mind, Sodom got off easy, being destroyed in a moment of time (4:6). On the other hand, Jerusalem’s inhabitants were starving to death, with the hands of compassionate women cooking their own children for food (4:9-10). But, in true Jeremiah fashion, he concludes in chapter 5 with a prayer for restoration: “Turn us back to you, O Lord, and we will be restored” (5:21).
New Testament reading: John 8-9
“And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory.” So ends the second verse of Eugene Bartlett’s classic 1939 hymn, “Victory in Jesus.” I was an adult before I ever knew those were the original words. Growing up in the church of Christ, every songbook I’d ever used read, “I then obeyed his blest command and gained the victory.” While this latter ending may not be the original, it is much closer to the truth than the first. Salvation is not a “better felt than told” experience. In John 9, we learn this lesson as the blind man who received his sight was questioned, “How were your eyes opened?” (v 10). His response was clear, “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and received my sight.” Such a simple statement, yet it says so much! There was a specific process by which this man received his sight, just like there is a specific process by which we receive remission of sins today. “How did you become a Christian?” should be answered the same way by all people today, for there is only one way to obey the gospel: believe in Jesus (John 8:24); repent of sins (Luke 13:3), confess my faith in Jesus (Matt 10:32), just like Jesus said.