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Mutual Consideration / Ash Wednesday

Psalm 41:1–2

Blessed is the one who considers the poor!

In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him;

the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;

he is called blessed in the land;

You do not give him up to the will of his enemies.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen. Psalm 41 will be the focus of our attention for the entire season of Lent. David said the words of our Psalm and we in turn apply them to ourselves. Bear with me as I explain.

Those words from David are like a man who painted a portrait of his friend, and then the two switched places, and his friend painted a portrait of him. Here is what I mean:

“Blessed is the one who considers the poor!” David’s word, “considers,” can also be translated as “pays attention” or “focuses upon” or “thinks about intently.” When you paint someone’s portrait, you must first look intently upon that person, studying their features very closely. When David said, “Blessed is the one who considers,” he was talking about someone who gives careful, attentive thought to something.
I want you to pay attention to how David spoke, it was in the singular, not the plural: “Blessed is the ONE who considers the poor [ONE]”; “Blessed is the INDIVIDUAL who considers the poor INDIVIDUAL”; “Blessed is the PERSON who considers the poor PERSON.”

Those singulars are important. Someone could argue that David was generalizing or making a sweeping statement that applies to everyone. However, David could’ve easily said, “Blessed is everyone who considers anyone who is poor.” But, David did NOT say that. David wrote in the singular on purpose. He wanted us to think in singular on purpose. “Blessed is the ONE who considers the poor [ONE].” Those words boil the entire world down to only two people.

Who are those two people? You are one of them, and Jesus is the other. That’s the entire point of today’s sermon. You and Jesus are like a person who painted a portrait of a friend and then switched places so the friend could paint a portrait of the person.

Jesus is the poor man you shall be eternally blessed to consider, focus upon, and always bear in mind. That is why the Book of Hebrews talks about “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

You also are the poor person whom Christ Jesus, our Lord, carefully considered, bore in mind, acted on behalf of, and was declared blessed for it. As Jesus said in the Book of Revelation, “I know your tribulation and your poverty” (Revelation 2:9).

I know it sounds strange that you and Jesus are both the poor person, and that both of you are the person who shall be blessed for considering the poor. Here is why that is true:

In one way or another, all of God’s Psalms, including Psalm 41, speak about our LORD and His work of salvation on our behalf (Luke 24:44). That’s why God included the Psalms in His Scriptures: Jesus said, they “bear witness,” “about Me” (John 5:39).

Because the Psalms are about Jesus, they’re also about you. You are, after all, the Baptized of Christ. When you were baptized, you entered into Christ’s holy body (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 1:30) just as surely as He entered yours (John 14:20; Galatians 2:20). You and your Christ are now joined together as one flesh (Ephesians 5:31–32). “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6).

Here’s what happened at your Baptism:

Our LORD’s perfection became yours, and your sins became His (1 Peter 2:24); His strength became yours, and your weakness became His (2 Corinthians 12:9); His life became yours, and your death became His (Romans 6:4). A blessed exchange!

The words of the Scriptures that speak about you became applicable to Jesus, and the words that speak about Jesus became applicable to you. Because you are “partakers of the divine nature,” as Peter said in his Epistle (2 Peter 1:4), every Scripture passage about Jesus is also about you.

Your inseparable, eternal, Baptismal unity with Christ is why Jesus is the poor man whom you shall be blessed to consider AND why you are the poor person whom Jesus likewise considered. Psalm 41 speaks of mutual consideration: “Blessed is the one who considers the poor!” Remember I said, those words are like a person who painted a portrait of a friend, then the two switched places, and the friend painted a portrait of the person. You and Jesus are those friends.

Why did Jesus give Himself over to “suffer many things . . . be killed, and after three days rise again”? (Mark 8:31). Because He always “considers the poor.” It is also written, “He does not forget the cry of the afflicted” (Psalm 9:12); “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears toward their cry” (Psalm 34:15); and “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:6). All these passages describe our Lord’s consideration toward you, His “poor” one.

Did you know there are other key words in the Scriptures that describe the nature of our LORD’s consideration toward you? Such words as pity, compassion, mercy, and grace: “We believe that we will be saved through the grace of the LORD Jesus” (Acts 15:11); we are “waiting for the mercy of our LORD Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 1:21); “He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). “Moved with pity, [Jesus] stretched out His hand” (Mark 1:41, emphasis added).

So, Jesus is the blessed man who considers the poor one. In Psalm 41, David prophesied the great blessing and reward that Jesus received precisely because He “considers the poor” one and “poured out His soul to death” (Isaiah 53:12):

In the day of trouble, the Lord delivers him;

the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;

he is called blessed in the land;

You do not give him up to the will of his enemies.

Those are the words of the resurrection; they are “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Because Jesus considered our poverty, paying attention to us, focusing upon us, and thinking intently about our needs, because Jesus considered our poverty, God “raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory” (1 Peter 1:21).

God the Father so completely and profoundly raised Jesus from the dead that David could look into the future, in the prophetic distance of history, and say, “The Lord protects him and keeps him alive.”

The resurrection of our LORD also indicates that the heavenly Father did NOT give Jesus up “to the will of His enemies.” Through His death and resurrection, rather, Jesus gained eternal victory over every enemy.

Jesus is indeed blessed and is called blessed in the land of eternal life, precisely because He “considers the poor.”

Now switch places with Jesus and paint a portrait of your friend Jesus, as it were: Jesus is the poor man whom you shall be eternally blessed to consider, focus upon, and always bear in mind. “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9). “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but [during the days of His humiliation] the Son of Man [had] nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). He borrowed a bed at His birth (Luke 2:7) and borrowed a bed at His death (Matthew 27:59–60). He “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself” (Philippians 2:6–7).

“Blessed is the one who considers the poor!” What key words do the Scriptures use to describe the nature of your consideration, your faithful paying attention, toward Jesus? Those words are faith, hope, and trust. “Some TRUST in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7). “HOPE does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). “The life I now live in the flesh I live by FAITH in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

So, we will be counted among the blessed when we consider the poverty of our Lord Jesus, just as surely as Jesus Himself was blessed because He considered our poverty. That’s the promise of God, spoken through David in Psalm 41: Blessed are we who consider the poverty of our Christ, whose poverty has made us rich in every way.

How is it that we shall be blessed? David explained:

In the day of trouble, the Lord delivers YOU;

the Lord protects YOU and keeps YOU alive;

YOU are called blessed in the land;

He does not give YOU up to the will of YOUR enemies. (Psalm 41:1–2, paraphrased)

In the resurrection of all flesh on the Last Day, the LORD your God shall make it so, and more.