“In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the Lord who does this. Amos 9:11-12
It was my last semester at Concordia Seminary. I was taking four classes to finish on time—the workload was tremendous. One of the classes I had to take was “Preaching from the Old Testament” led by Dr. R. Reed Lessing. Dr. Lessing is one of our synod’s experts on the Old Testament, and had recently completed a fine commentary on Amos released by Concordia Publishing House. But he also had the reputation of being a real taskmaster in the classroom. This is normally not a bad thing for a student, but when you’re doubled up with papers, readings and exams at the end of a three-year grind, the last thing you want is more pressure.
This was my thought when, during the first minutes of “Preaching from the O.T.” I asked Dr. Lessing if my classmates and I could get some relief by not doing a few of the assignments on the syllabus. It wasn’t that I was just trying to get out of doing work; I really needed some relief and I believed my colleagues were feeling the same and would appreciate me being their advocate. Besides, this request had worked on other professors. But Lessing just looked at me and said, “I’m a starting pitcher—I don’t do relief.”
Despite the academic hardship, we finished the class and finished strong thanks to Dr. Lessing’s confidence in us and reassurance we would be okay. We also kept a sense of humor through the whole thing. Whenever we’d review our next assignment due, I would raise my hand and say, “Excuse me, but, can we not do that one?” And every time someone uttered the name “Amos,” Lessing would say, “Did I mention my new commentary on Amos available from CPH?”
About a year later I bumped into Dr. Lessing at the National Youth Gathering in New Orleans. He remembered me and said, “Oh yeah, you’re the guy who kept trying to get out of all the assignments!” We laughed and recalled some other fun memories of that semester. That Old Testament class turned out to be one of my favorites, and as it turns out, much of what I learned in it I’m sharing with you in our Lent and Easter series, “Restore the Roar” by “starting pitcher” Reed Lessing. In this series, we listen to the Lion as He rumbles in His jungle, pointing out our complacency, duplicity, and sin. But, and thank God for this, the ferocious Lion is also the bleeding Lamb. Our Lord’s mighty power is made most perfect in the weakness of the cross (2 Corinthians 12:9). And gathering under the cross, we will all the more be amazed when the roaring Lion defeats His greatest enemies, the devil, hell, and the power of death. Then on Easter morning with resurrection joy we will say of Jesus, “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, He has triumphed” (Revelation 5:5).
On Easter, the roar of God’s saving love is restored forevermore! I look forward to hearing and receiving it with you. May God bless and keep you,