A Devotion for 11 March 2021 Anno Domini (in the Year of our Lord), the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?”
(Luke 18:7; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Under the general rule, a cry emanates from a heart in need, or is uttered to address a need. There are many examples of cries and crying in the Holy Scriptures, but I will address in this devotion the seven which seem to summarize all the others. A cry is not the normal tenor of conversation, but is an exclamatory plea. Our first example is that of John the Baptist below:
A CRY IN THE WILDERNESS: “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Matthew 3:1-3; see also Isaiah 40:3) The wilderness of the high desert country of Judea is dry and dreary. Rocks and dried underbrush tear at the traveler’s garments in passing through that wilderness. There are rock slides and all manner of wildlife, including serpents, that are common there. It is a desolate place and lonely. Unlike the crowded streets of the city, another human being is scarcely seen in the wilderness since there is nothing appealing to be found there. However, multitudes did risk the journey to hear the preaching of John the Baptist. His preaching was one blessing in the midst of the wilderness that was full of life and beauty. All distractions of the city were forgotten as John prepared the way of the coming Messiah. Today, the world is not unlike that wilderness. The words of a Godly minister or layperson are uttered in isolation since the world does not desire to hear them. The people of Jesus’ day were eager to hear since they had sat in darkness for centuries; but those of the modern era have sat in light to the point of boredom and have turned to the dark and sinister.
A CRY IN THE CEMETARY: “2And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: 4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. 5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. 6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, 7 And cried with a loud voice.” (Mark 5:2-7) This is a cry of the sinner from the very abyss of Hell. We have all been there and know the fire of unconfessed sins. No one can free us from the bondage of sin and the devil but the Lord Jesus Christ. Many have sown the wind and are reaping the whirlwind. Only the Master of the wind and fire can release us from our foolish ways. The world is truly our cemetery ere we are called and chosen in Christ. But our Lord is forever in earshot to hear our call of adjuration for a release of those chains that we have forged for ourselves.
A CRY BY THE ROADSIDE: “And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.” (Matthew 9:27) Until this moment, these two blind men had followed the blind leaders of the people, but now they followed, not by sight but by sound, the One who saw all and could cause them to see as well. It is a cry of desperation out of spiritual darkness. The cry of every sinner for repentance is a cry for sight out of blindness and sin.
A CRY IN THE TEMPLE: “And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, 16And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (Matthew 21:15-16) So recently has the spirits of these infants come from the very presence of their Maker’s Hand that their minds are keen to know the simple and more beautiful truth. The faith of a child is simple and direct. It does not question the miraculous works of God but accepts without question or prevarication unlike the more mature and learned of the Jewish rulers. The Jewish rulers were steeped in the traditions of men. They had an academic knowledge of the Scriptures without any spiritual understanding whatsoever these meant in reality. They had built their places of comfort and plenty in the Temple and its work, and placed heavy burdens upon the people through their own self-conceived additions to the Law. Of course, they themselves lifted not a finger to lessen the load of heavy stones laid upon the backs of their followers. Jesus, on the other hand, invites us to take His yoke upon us which is light and easy to be borne. He takes for Himself the burdens with which we had heavy laden. Of course, the children knew nothing of the burdens of the Pharisees but only the beauty of the yoke that Christ offered.
A CRY IN THE NIGHT: “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” (Matthew 25:6) How many have heard the Midnight Cry, yet were not prepared to follow in truth. There was perhaps more pressing worldly business such as the purchase of land, the training of oxen, the burial of a father, etc. But I would have the reader know that there is nothing more critically important than the salvation of one’s eternal soul! During the lonely moments of the Midnight Hour, it is far easier to hear and understand the trumpet call. There are not the distractions of commerce or the shuffle of the feet of man and animal. In those moments of solitude, our minds are keen to hear and to see. Our sins often loom large after the banquet hall is closed. We reflect, with vivid memory, our sins and shortcomings. They may overwhelm us as the sea overwhelmed Jonah. To the lost sinner, the Midnight Cry is one of pleading and forgiveness. “By reason of the multitude of oppressions they make the oppressed to cry: they cry out by reason of the arm of the mighty. 10But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night; 11Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven? 12There they cry, but none giveth answer, because of the pride of evil men.” (Job 35:9-12) To the elect of God, this Midnight Cry is our “song of joy in the night.” “Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. 55I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.” (Psalms 119:54-55), and, “I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.” (Psalms 77:6)
A CRY IN THE GARDEN: First shed were His own tears shed for us at Gethsemane – “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;” (Hebrews 5:7) Bearing our sin as the scape goat of Leviticus 16, He gave up His life in the wilderness of our sins, but rose again to the perfection of the saints. Secondly, were the tears shed in the Garden by Mary Magdalene over the supposed missing body of her Lord. Blinded by tears, Mary did not recognize the figure approaching until He spoke. True of us today, we may not know the Lord until we have heard His voice in Holy Scripture and the diligent study thereof. The Garden, in both cases, became, according to their natures, a place of renewed life.
A CRY IN THE HEART: Before tears form in the eye, they must have their origin in the heart. The unheard wailing of the heart is the most hurtful of all tears. Perhaps the passing of a dearly beloved, or the loss of a good old friend – but greater than these is the certain knowledge of our total depravity before a just God. The heart remembers, better than the mind, the severity of our sins. That keen awareness is quickened by the silent call and working of the Holy Ghost as God draws him to the Throne of Grace and Mercy. That wound of the heart would be fatal were it not for the love of God transcending time and distance to heal and to make whole His chosen vessel. The world may have discarded us on the trash-heap of failure and rejection, yet the voice of Jesus comes to us in our solitude and whispers, “Mary,” or “John,” or “Susan,” etc. No other Voice bears the power and love of THAT voice. Suddenly, the sunrise of the dawn of a new life in Christ breaks over the distant horizon, and our tears turn to joy untold. “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)