Old Testament reading: Psalm 79-81
Am I hearing the voice of God? Psalm 79-81 notes the dark days of Israel following Jerusalem’s destruction in 586 B.C. The holy city lie in ruins with the corpses of the slain unburied and exposed as food for birds and beasts. What had caused such ruin to come upon God’s people? Their stubborn refusal to listen to God’s word as given through His prophets. Of this people, the Lord said, “But my people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me, so I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels” (81:11-12). God had warned them regarding their idolatry (81:8-10), but they refused to hear. We also must recognize the voice of God, whether it be in reading His word or in being admonished by His messengers, lest something worse come upon us (cf John 5:14).
New Testament reading: John 19-21
“It is finished.” Of all the statements from the cross, this one alone seems to be directed at no particular audience. It is simply a statement of fact. Perhaps Jesus is speaking to Himself in an “I can die now” moment (cf Luke 2:25-32), assuring Himself that all that He had been sent to accomplish was done before He relinquished His soul into the hands of His Father. To borrow from popular culture, we might say our Lord’s “bucket list” had nothing remaining. He had accomplished on earth everything His Father had sent Him to do (cf John 17:4). There was neither unfinished business nor anyone needing His attention. No more sermons to preach. No more sick to heal or demons to cast out. But with this statement, He turned over to us an even greater responsibility. Namely, to carry the gospel into all the world. I must be the mouth, the hands and the heart of Jesus in the midst of a dark and dying world. Are we up to the task?