1 Lent

God speaks: “I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Gen. 9:11). Floods have yet come and bodies have been swept away, giant trees torn from the ground, cars lifted and buildings crushed. The waters that sometimes breach their limit are turbulent and formless, a void and darkness, a destroying death, but not a death to all flesh. Life is promised, but life in a world still hurt and broken. So the promise is renewed with signs, significations that God will remember the members of his body. “When the bow is in the cloud, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between me and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth” (Gen. 9:16). Ultimately, God will preserve and love; yet death is.

Gen. 9:8-17Ps. 25:1-9
1 Pet. 3:18-33Mark 1:9-15

The first flood is a type of the second flood, the font of all bleeding from the brow and hands and feet and side of the one Christ who suffered for sins once for all (1 Pet. 3:18). His blood runs from his body down the cross to the ground to cracks in the clay, down into the dark abyss of a molten and boiling hades. His blood “made a proclamation to the spirits in prison” (1 Pet. 3:19). His blood is All Love Excelling. It flows without destroying, gathering in its current what had been locked away in a dark prison-like abyss and lifting it to light and life. Here is a flood to welcome, a flood of love and life.

It is a cleansing, but not of the body. Rather, caught up in the flood of Christ’s love, all those lost in darkness and death — all of us — make “an appeal to God for a good conscience” because without Christ we do not and will never have one (1 Pet. 3:21). “Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God” we claim a new conscience because we are claimed by the life that is his. The current of a bloody love that went down to hades has swelled to heights above angels and authorities and powers (1 Pet. 3:22). He took hell to heaven, broke the grates, and set the captives free in the freedom of his forever love.

Indeed, we may go with Christ to the third heaven, but going with him up will at the same time mean going with him down. He did not account equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself. We return our infirmities. We are new in a renewal not yet complete. The word is sure and to be trusted by all those bathed in the blood of Christ. “You are my son, you are my daughter, you are my beloved, you are the one in whom I am pleased, for I have hidden you in my bosom where my Son is” (Mark 1:11, expanded by grace and adoption).

Tough love for the beloved of God: “Immediately the Spirit drove them into the wilderness” (Mark 1:12). And there were devils and wild beasts, deadly drinks and hissing serpents, temptations and trials of every kind (Mark 1:12; 16:17-18). The wilderness is wild; the wilderness is the world. Fear not! As the angels were ministering to Jesus again and again (imperfect tense), so they will minister to us again and again. In everything, every moment, every trial, even the hour of death, there is one unbreakable promise: “They shall recover” (Mark 16:18).

Look It Up
Read Mark 16:15-20.

Think About It
Tempted, he transfigured us into himself. —St. Augustine

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