Sunday, May 27, 2018

Proper 4 notes

Pentecost 2-Proper 4
 June 3, 2018
Mark 2:23-28
Study notes

Lord, defend Your people from those who hate You and would therefore do mark to Your Church. Help the Church to see that the battle is Yours and that you do all things.

And it happened on the Sabbaths he passed through the sown fields, and his disciples began to make a way plucking the ears of corn. And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing on the Sabbaths that which is not lawful?” And he says to them, “Have you never comprehended what David did when he had need and hungered he and the ones with him? How he entered into the house of God in the time of high priest Abiathar and ate the bread of the presence which is not lawful to eat except by the priest, and gave also to the ones being with him?” And he was saying to them, “The Sabbath came into being for the human and not the human for the Sabbath; hence the son of man also is lord of the Sabbath.

:23 Καὶ ἐγένετο αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς σάββασιν παραπορεύεσθαι διὰ τῶν σπορίμων, καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἤρξαντο ὁδὸν ποιεῖν τίλλοντες τοὺς στάχυας.
And it happened on the Sabbaths he passed through the sown fields, and his disciples began to make a way plucking the ears of corn. 

One interpretive decision is to identify what, exactly, is the Sabbath violation that the Pharisees will raise about the disciples. Is the problem that they are forging a path or that they are harvesting food? 

     The NIV says “as his disciples walked along, they began to pick heads of grain.” But, it seems that the verb “began” goes most easily with the infinitive “to make,” not the participle “plucking.”

      The NIV appears to be implying that plucking and even threshing the grain is the problem because of Jesus’ argument below about what David did when he was hungry.

:24  καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ἔλεγον αὐτῷ, Ἴδε τί ποιοῦσιν τοῖς σάββασιν ὃ οὐκ ἔξεστιν;
And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing on the Sabbaths that which is not lawful?”

     Sabbaths” is plural here and in v.23. In vv.27 and 28, it will be singular. (Mark’s use of the plural for Sabbaths is a word study in itself.) Add that to the imperfect (“They were saying”), rather than a simple aorist past tense and it might be that this was an ongoing contention that comes to a head on this particular occasion, rather than a simple one-time event.

:25 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε τί ἐποίησεν Δαυίδ, ὅτε χρείαν ἔσχεν καὶ ἐπείνασεν αὐτὸς καὶ οἱ μετ' αὐτοῦ;
And he says to them, “Have you never comprehended what David did when he had need and hungered he and the ones with him?

ἀναγινώσκω can be interpreted “read,” but it implies more than a simple familiarity with a story. Some kind of distinction and accuracy in understanding the meaning of the story seems implied. Of course they had read the story. They just did not see the significance of David’s actions, doing that which was not “lawful,” for their own way of apprising lawful actions.

:26 πῶς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπὶ Ἀβιαθὰρ ἀρχιερέως καὶ τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως ἔφαγεν, οὓς οὐκ ἔξεστιν φαγεῖν εἰ μὴ τοὺς ἱερεῖς, καὶ ἔδωκεν καὶ τοῖς σὺν αὐτῷ οὖσιν;
How he entered into the house of God in the time of high priest Abiathar and ate the bread of the presence which is not lawful to eat except by the priest, and gave also to the ones being with him?”

It is not clear how exactly to interpret the preposition ἐπὶ. If Abiathar had actually been the priest who gave David the “bread of the presence” in I Samuel 21, then the preposition might be “in the presence of.” But, it was Ahimelech who shared the holy bread with David, not Abiathar. So, unless Mark is mistakenly saying “Abiathar” instead of “Ahimelech,” the preposition might mean that it was during Abiathar’s tenure, not in his actual presence.

Ahimelech allows David and his men to eat the holy bread only after ensuring that they were holy, by which he meant they had kept themselves from women.

 Incidentally, things did not go well for Abiathar after David’s death.

:27 καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς, Τὸ σάββατον διὰ τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἐγένετο καὶ οὐχ ὁ ἄνθρωπος διὰ τὸ σάββατον:
And he was saying to them, “The Sabbath came into being for the human and not the human for the Sabbath;

The verb γίνομαι is very versatile…“came into being” because Jesus seems to be talking about the purposive origin of the Sabbath, just like the Gospel of John speaks of the purposive origin of the world in Jn.1, using γίνομαι.

Again, the difference between the imperfect and the aorist may be overblown, but v.24 uses the imperfect to describe the Pharisee’s criticism of the disciples and v.27 uses it to summarize Jesus’ answer. I wonder if that implies that this was an ongoing conversation, rather than a simple one-time event.

:28 ὥστε κύριός ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καὶ τοῦ σαββάτου.
hence the son of man also is lord of the Sabbath.

A conclusive Christological comment that follows the anthropological comment of v.27, making the understanding of the “lord”/“son of man” with the understanding of “humanity.” And since the point of v.27, is that Sabbath (and by implication, other laws and rituals) are in order to humanity, and not the other way around the καὶ as making v.28 correspond with v.27.

Heresy, heresy, heresy…

When the Pharisees accuse Jesus’ disciples of violating the Sabbath, Jesus seizes the opportunity to claim divine authority and assert His Messianic status. Sadly, there are people today who still level criticism lit the Pharisees of old,. Criticizing Jesus’ followers because the really wish to criticize the authority and status of the Lord. But neither Jesus nor His Church can be dismissed. Through these disciples, Jesus would spread the good news of peace, rest, and comfort. 

Jesus remained under attack from the Pharisees. Their demands for adherence to unbiblical standards clouded their vision and desire for Christ. Sadly these attitudes remain today. While we must adhere to doctrine, the Lord affords liberty through grace.

Rather than allowing the actions of the Pharisees hinder His work, Jesus remained committed to the task at hand. He refused to allow the criticism of others divert His attention from fulfilling the plan of God. As we examine the observations within the text, I want to consider the thought: Debate over the Sabbath.

I. The Confrontation with Jesus (23-24) – As we begin this paragraph, we discover that Jesus was immediately confronted by the Pharisees again. Notice:

A. The Activity of the Disciples (23) – And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the Sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. As Jesus and the disciples journeyed on the Sabbath day, they made their way through the fields. Often paths were located through the fields of harvest, and travelers were permitted to gather handfuls as walked through the fields. Likely this was some type of grain, wheat or barley.

As the disciples followed Jesus, ministering with Him, they grew hungry. This is natural within humanity to desire something to eat. They were well within their right to gather something as they journeyed, but these men dared to gather on the Sabbath day. Granted, they were not laboring in the harvest of grain, but they did pluck a few handfuls as they passed by.
B. The Accusation of the Pharisees (24) – And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful? As was typically the case, the Pharisees were never far away, closely scrutinizing every move Jesus and the disciples made. After their observation, they immediately confronted Jesus about the actions of His disciples. These men were accused of acting unlawfully in gathering grain.

The Pharisees weren’t upset that the disciples had gathered a few handfuls from another man’s field; they were upset because such activity took place on the Sabbath.

While God had forbidden men to “work” on the Sabbath day, this activity did not constitute work as defined by God. He forbade men to work for their profit. Harvesting the grain to make a profit would’ve been unlawful on the Sabbath, but not gathering a few handfuls to eat.

The problem was that the Pharisees had added tremendous burdens to the law of God that our Lord never intended. Over the years, anything that had the slightest appearance of work had become forbidden according to the laws of men, but not according to the law of God. Consider a few of the ridiculous expectations of the Pharisees regarding the Sabbath.

People were forbidden from traveling more than 3,000 feet from their homes on the Sabbath.

A Jew could not carry an object that weighed more than a dried fig. But, an object that weighed half that amount could be carried twice.

One could eat nothing larger than an olive.

You could not throw and object into the air with one hand and catch it with the other.

If the Sabbath came upon you as you were reaching out for some food, you would have to drop the food before you pulled your arm back, otherwise you would be guilty of carrying a burden on the Sabbath.

Nothing could be bought or sold.

Clothing could not be washed or dyed.

A letter could not be sent.

A fire could not be lit or extinguished. If you failed to light your lamps before the Sabbath, you had to sit in the dark until the next evening.

Jews could not take a bath on the Sabbath. If they did, some of the water might splash onto the floor and this would be considered “washing it”.

Chairs or other heavy objects could not be moved because dragging them might make a furrow in the ground, and that would be considered plowing.

A woman could not look into a looking glass because she might see a gray hair and be tempted to pull it out.

A Jewish tailor could not carry a needle on the Sabbath lest he be tempted to mend a torn garment.

It was against the law to tie or untie a knot; sew two stitches; or prepare food. (i)

This seems ridiculous to most in our day, and yet the same Pharisaical tendencies remain. Well-meaning people often demand and expect actions or behaviors that have no basis in Scripture. We must be careful that we don’t become legalistic in our expectations. The Bible is our sole authority, and it alone! We will be judged according to the Word, not men’s preferences.

II. The Communication of Jesus (25-26) – Following the confrontation with the Pharisees, Jesus responded to their accusation. Notice:

A. His Response (25) – And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was  hungered, he, and they that were with him? It is interesting that Jesus doesn’t engage in a heated discussion with the Pharisees or even mention the accepted laws of the day. He doesn’t try to justify the actions of the disciples, nor does He condemn them. He simply asks if they had never read the account of David and his men being hungry. Jesus is making a profound point – how does the Word of God handle this matter?

Sadly, many people in our day possess the same toxic, legalistic attitude of the Pharisees. While much of what they demand has no biblical basis, they continue to demand others to conform to their demands. Often such bias is rooted in the thoughts or teaching of popular preachers or movements. In the 1970’s, if a man didn’t preach on short skirts on women, or long hair on men, he hadn’t preached. It is easy to develop “hobby horse” doctrines that are widely accepted and expected, but have no biblical basis!

B. His Reference (26) – How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? Just in case the Pharisees were unfamiliar with the passage, Jesus offers specific details to a reference in Scripture, 1 Sam.21:1-6. David went into the Tabernacle and ate of the showbread, reserved for the priests alone to eat. He also gave his men to eat of the same. David had not acted in rebellion toward God, but desired to meet the immediate need in a life or death situation. If David was justified in the eyes of God for eating bread reserved for the priests, then the disciples would certainly be justified in disregarding man-made laws and expectations.

Jesus did not encourage or condone willful disobedience, but the point remained – how does the Word of God handle the matter? I would never encourage anyone to willfully disobey the direct teaching of Scripture, but we must have Scripture to back up our claims. Some preachers believe a man must wear a white shirt if he is to stand in the pulpit and preach. Occasionally I do wear a white shirt, but where exactly is that demand recorded in Scripture? I have been criticized for growing a beard, when the vast majority of Baptist preachers have been clean shaven for the past seventy five years. My response is – book, chapter, and verse please! We must be careful that we don’t add legalistic preferences to what the Lord expects. Such activity wreaks of legalism and robs believers of the liberty they should enjoy through grace! Many today avoid the church due to legalistic expectations. May that never be the case with us!

III. The Clarification of Jesus (27-28) – Here Jesus offered clarity regarding this issue of the Sabbath. Consider:

A. The Purpose of the Sabbath (27) – And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Jesus addressed the major error in their thinking and theology regarding the Sabbath. When God originally instituted the Sabbath, commanding people to observe the Sabbath, He did so for man’s benefit. God made the Sabbath day for man; He didn’t create man simply so He would have someone to observe the Sabbath. God desired man to have a day of rest and communion with Him. He wanted to benefit humanity, not create additional burdens. The Pharisees had so restricted the Sabbath that is was no longer an enjoyable day of rest and reflection.

The Sabbath was then observed on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. It was commanded as a ceremonial observation. It is the only one of the Ten Commandments that isn’t reaffirmed in the New Testament. As born again believers, we meet on Sunday, the first day of the week. We meet on Sunday because our Lord rose from the grave on Sunday. We don’t meet on the Sabbath, we meet on the Lord’s Day, Sunday.

A question that is still debated today. What is acceptable on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, and what isn’t? Some are raised and taught that Christians are to treat Sunday as the Jews observed the Sabbath. There was to be no work done on Sunday, and you were not allowed to purchase anything on Sunday. Many refused to eat in a restaurant on Sunday. These are matters of preference. If you are not convicted by eating out on Sunday, then there is nothing wrong with that. However, we must be careful that we are not a stumbling block to unbelievers or weaker Christians. If my eating out on Sunday hinders my witness in some way, then I should refrain from that. You must let the Spirit be your guide, but never try to force your preferences on another. If a fellow member sees nothing wrong with going to a restaurant after church on Sunday, we should not condemn them, even if we choose not to do so. Sunday ought to be a day we set aside to worship our Lord, rest from our labor, and reflect upon His blessings.

B. The Priority above the Sabbath (28) – Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath. Jesus revealed the great tragedy in this debate. The Pharisees were so concerned with keeping every tradition regarding the Sabbath, in an effort to keep it holy, and yet they failed to see Jesus as the Christ. They placed much more emphasis on a particular day of the week than they did the Savior and Redeemer of men’s souls. He should have been their priority instead of a commitment to keeping the demands and traditions of men.

Sadly this tragedy remains today. There are people who attend services every Sunday, but they cannot enjoy worshipping the Lord because they are so consumed with meeting the demands and expectations of others. Some can’t focus on the Lord because they are so busy “policing” the behavior of others. I am thankful for Sundays, and I believe every believer ought to look forward to being in the house of God and reverence the Lord’s Day. However, if our demands and expectations regarding Sunday cloud our view of the Savior, then we have missed the purpose for Sunday all together! We must come in an attitude of worship, desiring to hear from the Lord through His Word, not to observe or examine the behavior of others. Enjoy Sundays at the house of God –continue doing so, whether others do or not.

Concluding thoughts: Sunday should be a special day for every believer. Do as little work as necessary, and enjoy a day of worship, rest, and reflection upon the Lord. However, we must guard against developing an attitude like the Pharisees possessed. Let’s continue to make Jesus the priority in our lives, striving to serve Him each day we live. If we will commit to obedience to Christ, everything else will fall in place.

If there are needs in your life, bring them to Jesus. He alone can provide for our needs.

Time in the Word - Pentecost 2 - (Proper 4)

Time in the Word
28 May – 2 June 2018
Preparation for next week, Pentecost 2 (Proper 4)

We now enter the non- festival season of the Church year commonly referred to as the Pentecost season. For the next twenty-five Sundays we will continue to focus on the words of our Lord as He speaks to us concerning our life and faith.

Lord, defend Your people from those who hate You and would therefore do harm to Your Church. Help the Church to see that the battle is Yours and that You can do all things. Amen

Collect for Proper 4: Eternal God, Your Son Jesus Christ is the true Sabbath rest. Help us keep each day holy by receiving His Word of comfort that we may find our rest in Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Prayer for blessing on the WordLord Jesus Christ, giver and perfecter of our faith, we thank and praise You for continuing among us the preaching of Your Gospel for our instruction and edification. Send Your blessing upon the Word, which has been spoken to us, and by Your Holy Spirit increase our saving knowledge of You, that day by day we may be strengthened in the divine truth and remain steadfast in Your grace. Give us strength to fight the good fight and by faith to overcome all the temptations of Satan, the flesh, and the world so that we may finally receive the salvation of our souls; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for those outside the ChurchAlmighty and everlasting God, You desire not the death of a sinner but that all would repent and live. Hear our prayers for those outside the Church. Take away their iniquity, and turn them from their false gods to You, the living and true God. Gather them into Your holy Church to the glory of Your name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for seasonable weatherLord God, gracious and merciful Father, because You have promised that You will hear us when we bring You our cares, we implore You not to deal with us according to our sins but according to Your mercy. Send seasonable weather so that in due time the earth may yield her increase. Remind us ever to receive with thanks our daily bread, trusting You as our gracious God; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for industry and commerce: Lord Jesus Christ, as once You shared in our human toil and thus hallowed the work of our hands, bless and prosper those who maintain the industries and service sectors of this land. Give them a right regard for their labors, and grant them the just reward for their work that they may find joy in serving You and in supplying our needs; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, 28 May 2018Psalm 6:5-8; Antiphon, Psalm 62:1—The words from this portion of the Psalms speak specifically concerning the humanity of Jesus. “For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” In the Athanasian Creed we confess our faith in Jesus with these words, “Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.” The words from our Introit speak concerning the prediction of our Savior Jesus coming into this world, entering time and space to be our Savior.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018Psalm 81:1-10—These verses are the appointed Palm for this coming week. While God has fed Israel with tears (Ps 80:5) his desire has been to fill their mouth with ‘the finest of the wheat’ and ‘honey from the rock’ (81:10, 16).

This is a lovely message of sustenance, of feeding. Of course it is exaggerated in its language. While the ‘finest of wheat’ can be comprehended, one does not get honey from a rock! ‘Honey’ is clear. Its sweetness is a delight and desirable. It was a delicacy in ancient times.

But the reference to the rock has little to do with the source of honey. Rather it is an allusion back to the Exodus, and the place of testing. In every circumstance the Lord provides. Which, of course, is the point the psalmist is making. The Lord holds you in the palm of his hand. If this is so, he will sustain you. He can do none other.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018Deuteronomy 5:12-15—God requires balance. Between rest and work. Those of us who are able to engage in both, must also never forget those who are restricted from enjoying much of either.

Congregations are 'soul communities,' in which young and old are soul-mates, bound together as an extended family of God, who love, support, and sustain one another. They should assure that senior adults are cared for and honored as resourceful contributors to community life, wisdom-givers, exemplars of the faith, and worthy recipients of care. Now to the serious question. How do we make this biblical vision concrete in our lives and in the life of our Friedheim family?

Thursday, 31 May 20182 Corinthians 4:5-12—Believe in Jesus and all your problems will be wiped away. A statement like this is an example of success theology. It's based on the false notion that the Christian life is one of constant blessing; that God's intention for our life in this shadow land is joy and happiness. If we find our life a mess, full of trouble and distress, then either we are living in sin and need to confess it, or we are short on faith and need to renew it.

Its ideas like this that lead us into either delusion or despair. If we end up believing that we should be free from worry, distress, trouble, suffering, bad times..... then we have to pretend we are living the victory life when all about us is crashing down. When we start to think this way, reality becomes distorted.

A glance at the New Testament should leave us a little wary of a health, wealth and happiness theology. Of all people, Jesus was not a success. At the end of his earthly life he only had his mother, a few women disciples and John, to stand by him at his crucifixion. His ministry was a success in God's eyes only; from a worldly perspective it was a failure. Paul was in no less a situation. "Who is weak, and I do not feel weak", says Paul. "Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn." From God's perspective, Paul's arrival in Rome is glory indeed. Yet, from any other view, it was a paltry achievement - he was a prisoner.

Our passage for study reminds us of our weakness, a weakness increased through faith in Christ, not decreased. Yet, it also reminds us of the wonder to be found in our limited lives. It reminds us of "treasure in jars of clay".

Friday, 1 June 2018Mark 2:23-28—When the Pharisees accuse Jesus’ disciples of violating the Sabbath, Jesus uses the opportunity to claim divine authority and assert His messianic status. Sadly, there are people today who still level criticisms like the Pharisees of old, criticizing Jesus’ followers because they really wish to criticize the authority and status of the Lore. But neither Jesus nor His Church can be dismisses. Through these disciples, Jesus would spread the good news of peace, rest and comfort.

This section of Scripture is one of the key texts in all of the gospels to help us understand Jesus’ relation to His tradition, particularly to the law. Jesus’ operating principle is that the Sabbath and, the law and the rituals of holiness was created for humanity, and not the other way around. Says Jesus, the Sabbath was made for humanity. They offer ways that humanity can respond to God’s grace with gratitude.

Saturday, 2 June  2018Sunday’s hymn of the day, O Day of Rest and Gladness (LSB 906) The Sabbath day has always been set aside as a day of rest. Unfortunately, many people seek that rest from Church as well to chase after recreation. But God established the Sabbath day for His people to gather together to hear His Word. Whether it was the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the Temple in Jerusalem, the local synagogue or in the home, God commands His Word to be heard.

In this hymn, we bring this commandment to mind. We declare that we have gathered together as a congregation to hear God’s Word so that He might shed light on our pilgrim way. Tomorrow come to worship in anticipation of receiving the gifts that our heavenly father has promised to offer. 

Image © Higher Things
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

Friday, May 25, 2018


Trinity Sunday
May 27, 2018
John 3:16
Love you forever

Love You Forever is a Canadian picture book. Published in 1986. It tells the story. Of the evolving relationship. Between a mother. And her child.

Whether you are a parent. Or a child. You’ve seen this expression of love played out hundreds of times.

A four- year-old. Protested his bedtime.

Upset by his father's refusal to budge. The child. Finally became so frustrated. That he says, "Daddy, I hate you!"

Possessing the presence of mind. The father simply replied, "I'm sorry you feel that way… but I love you."

To which the child replies, "Don't say that!"

Surprised. The father continued, "But it's true -- I love you."

"Don't say that, Daddy."

 "But I love you!"

"Stop saying that, Daddy! Stop saying it! Right now!"

And then. It came. "Now listen to me: I love it or not!"

Even at four years old. The child realized. That in the face of unconditional love. He was powerless. If Dad had been willing to negotiate - "I'll love you if you go to bed nicely" – then the four-year-old would be a player. "Okay. This time, But I'm not eating my vegetables at dinner tomorrow."

But once Dad refused to negotiate.  Once Dad refused to make his love for his son conditional. - Based on something the boy did. - Then - He couldn't do anything. But accept or flee that love.

The same is true with you.  God doesn’t make a one-time, take it or leave it, limited time offer.
If God makes His great love for you conditional. Then you. Suddenly. Have tremendous power.

You can negotiate. You can threaten to reject God's love. You can even tell God to take a hike. If we don't care for His terms.

But when God just loves you. – Completely. And unconditionally.   When the Father sends His son to die for you.  Then. There's just nothing you can do to influence God.

Jesus has made His decision.  And it is. For you. Yes. You can run. But you can't change the fact. That God loves you. That God. In fact. Loves the whole world. More than you can imagine.
This is good news. The best news.  Yet, it's hard. Hard. - Because you're no longer in control.
Hard. - Because it's not up to you.

Hard. - Because every time you hear how much God loves you. - You also know that you had nothing to do with it. You cannot influence it.  And, therefore. You are NOT in control.

On the other hand. Precisely.  Because you are not in control of this connection. This is a bond established wholly by God. You realize it is the one association you can't destroy. God has taken complete responsibility for this one.

Does that mean you have nothing to do? Nothing to contribute? To this most important bond? Definitely not!

Once you have been loved this fully. This completely. You can only respond in love. Honoring God. And sharing the news of Christ's love for the world. With all you meet. There's plenty to do.  You are now messengers. Witnesses to what God has done for you. Yet, NOT managers. [1]

All that Jesus is and does is how God loved, and loves, the world. We can open our eyes and allow ourselves to be drawn into the light of that love. Or not. It’s up to you.

“No one is saved by intellectual agreement with a “belief.” One commentator writes.[2] “Salvation is all about the restoration of broken relationships. Being ‘saved’ means being restored. To the proper bond. And trust of true kinship with God.”

If we hesitate. Or don’t bond at all. We don’t become part of the family. And we don’t get our inheritance. The logic of John is NOT: If you believe, then God will love you. And save you. God's salvation is not a reward for belief.

Nor does God withhold His love. Forgiveness and salvation. Until we believe. On the other hand. Since love is not coercive. We do have to recognize the invitation. In order to actually be part of the family. And this resolution. Will have natural consequences.

However. This does NOT mean that God's offer of love and kinship is withdrawn. Remember, God does not make onetime, take it or leave it, time limited offers.

Choosing not to be drawn in by God’s love has consequences. It leaves us in the darkness. It leaves us alone. Separated from God. And often from others. Not because that’s the way God would have it. But because we have separated/condemned ourselves to life without.

We do that for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes we’re afraid of what God would think. If He really knew what we’ve been up to. Sometimes we just choose to hang on. To all kinds of stuff. Like pride. Anger. Resentment. Prejudice. And fear. Our relentless pursuit of money. Success. And material things. Sometimes because we’re afraid. Of the changes. That might come our way. If we don’t keep God at a distance. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

God not only sent His Son into the world. But offered Him to the world. Whoever believes in the Son of God. [Be it with a strong or with a weak faith.] May have eternal life.  Worthiness. Does not depend. Upon the greatness, Or smallness. The weakness or strength of faith. Instead. It depends on Christ’s merit. (FC SD VII 70-71).

Christ has died for all. The benefits of His perfect life, death and resurrection are only received through faith in Him.  Make no mistake. There is no salvation outside of Jesus. There is no hope. Beyond this life. Apart from Jesus.  Heaven and hell are NOT determined by how good of people we might be. Or how well intentioned we are. “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned. But whoever does not believe. Is condemned already. Because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”  It all depends on faith. And upon the faithfulness of Jesus.

 He gives to us salvation and life. So that we may know Him as Father. And to ask Him. As dear children. Ask their dear father.

This is the reality of what the festival of the Trinity means for you.  Because of the Trinity. - We have a Father. Who loves us.  A Son.  Who has died for us. And a Spirit. Who draws us to Himself.  Once you were in darkness. Now you have come to His marvelous light.

Today. You need to be empowered. In making sense of this world. Through the lens of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You need to know. That you can indeed testify to the God you know. Not for the sake of argument. Not for the sake of winning some biblical war. But for the sake of real conversations. – Concerning matters of faith and life.

Today. The festival portion of the church year draws to a close. Today. We are reminded. That every single person sitting in this room. In this sacred space. Is a witness. You need to know this. Now. More than ever.  You are called to give witness. To the God. In which you believe, confess and trust.

Passive Sentences -6%
Readability –85.4%
Reading Level -2.7

[1]  Dr. David Lose, the president of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and author of Making Sense of Scripture and many other books. - March 20, 2011

Monday, May 21, 2018

Study notes for Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday
(27 May 2018)
Series B

Isaiah 6:1–8
Acts 2:14a, 22–36
John 3:1–17

The Glory of the Lord of Hosts Shines in Mercy, Forgiveness and Salvation

When Isaiah “saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up,” he cried out and confessed that he was “a man of unclean lips.” If even the holy angels cover their faces in the presence of “the King, the Lord of hosts,” how can sinful humans stand before Him (Is. 6:1–5)? 

Yet, the glory of the Lord is saving grace, and with “a burning coal” from the altar the angel touched Isaiah’s lips, removing his guilt (Is. 6:6–7).

Likewise, from the altar of Christ’s cross, by the ministry of the Gospel, “the whole earth is full of his glory” (Is. 6:3). For He was crucified, died and was buried, “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,” and God “raised him up, losing the pangs of death” (Acts 2:23–24). He “received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:33), and He rises up the fallen world by pouring out His life-giving Spirit upon sinners through His earthly Means of Grace. To give this saving gift, God sent His Son into the world, “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16–17).

Trinity - John 3:1-17

Almighty and everlasting God, You have given us grace to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity by the confession of a true faith and to worship the Unity in the power of the Divine Majesty. Keep us steadfast in this faith and defend us from all adversities; for You, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit, live and reign, One God, now and forever.

V: 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
Ἦν δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων, Νικόδημος ὄνομα αὐτῷ, ἄρχων τῶν Ἰουδαίων

V:2 This man came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
οὗτος ἦλθεν πρὸς αὐτὸν νυκτὸς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ῥαββεί, οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἀπὸ Θεοῦ ἐλήλυθας διδάσκαλος· οὐδεὶς γὰρ δύναται ταῦτα τὰ σημεῖα ποιεῖν ἃ σὺ ποιεῖς, ἐὰν μὴ ᾖ ὁ Θεὸς μετ’ αὐτοῦ.
-          Greek him.

       The terms "night" and "darkness" in John's gospel are key words for doubt, unbelief, questioning, struggle. . 

V: 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ

-          "Reason and free will are also to live an outwardly decent life to as certain extend. But only the Holy Spirit causes a person to be born anew and to have inwardly another heart, kind and natural desire." [FC SD II 26]

-      Or "from above"; the Greek is purposely ambiguous and can mean both again and from above; see also verse 7

V: 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?”
λέγει πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ Νικόδημος Πῶς δύναται ἄνθρωπος γεννηθῆναι γέρων ὤν; μὴ δύναται εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ δεύτερον εἰσελθεῖν καὶ γεννηθῆναι;

V: 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ Πνεύματος, οὐ δύναται εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 The preposition "of" Gk. "ek" governs both nouns. "Water" and "Spirit" belong together and point to Christian baptism.

The Kingdom of God is best expressed at the cross. See St. Paul, "But we preach Christ crucified..."

V: 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c]
τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς σάρξ ἐστιν, καὶ τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τοῦ Πνεύματος πνεῦμά ἐστιν.

-          The same Greek word means both wind and spirit

V: 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born again.’
μὴ θαυμάσῃς ὅτι εἶπόν σοι Δεῖ ὑμᾶς γεννηθῆναι ἄνωθεν.

-          The Greek for you is plural here

V: 8 The wind[e] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound/voice, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
τὸ πνεῦμα ὅπου θέλει πνεῖ, καὶ τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ ἀκούεις, ἀλλ’ οὐκ οἶδας πόθεν ἔρχεται καὶ ποῦ ὑπάγει· οὕτως ἐστὶν πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ Πνεύματος

-          The same Greek word means both wind and spirit

V: 9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”
ἀπεκρίθη Νικόδημος καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Πῶς δύναται ταῦτα γενέσθαι;

V: 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Σὺ εἶ ὁ διδάσκαλος τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ταῦτα οὐ γινώσκεις;

V: 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you[f] do not receive our testimony.
ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι ὅτι ὃ οἴδαμεν λαλοῦμεν καὶ ὃ ἑωράκαμεν μαρτυροῦμεν, καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἡμῶν οὐ λαμβάνετε.

-          The Greek for you is plural here; also four times in verse 12

V: 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
εἰ τὰ ἐπίγεια εἶπον ὑμῖν καὶ οὐ πιστεύετε, πῶς ἐὰν εἴπω ὑμῖν τὰ ἐπουράνια πιστεύσετε;

V: 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.[g]
καὶ οὐδεὶς ἀναβέβηκεν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εἰ μὴ ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς, ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

-          Some manuscripts add who is in heaven

V: 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
καὶ καθὼς Μωϋσῆς ὕψωσεν τὸν ὄφιν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, οὕτως ὑψωθῆναι δεῖ τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου,

V: 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.[h]
ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐν αὐτῷ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

-          Some interpreters hold that the quotation ends at verse 15

-          "Worthiness does not depend on the greatness of smallness the weakness or strength of faith. Instead, it depends on Christ's merit." [FC SD VII 70-71] 

-     "Out of His immense goodness and mercy, God provides for the public preaching of His divine eternal Law and His wonderful plan for our redemption, that of the holy, only saving Gospel of His eternal Son, our only Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ." [FC SD II 50]

V: 16 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
 Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν Υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ’ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

-          Or For this is how God loved the world

-          Gk. agapao, used repeatedly in John. God's sacrificial and faithful love for the entire world alienated from God. God not only sent his Son but also offered Him to the world. He became our atoning sacrifice.

V: 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν Υἱὸν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἵνα κρίνῃ τὸν κόσμον, ἀλλ’ ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος δι’ αὐτοῦ.

1. Vv. 11-14 Who Jesus is

2. Vv. 15-17 What Jesus did

I.                    We are born once – born human.

A.      Nicodemus: he was a flesh-born man who could hardly believe it.
B.      Humanity’s shared birth in the flesh – yours and mine
C.      Christ shared this humanity by His incarnation

II.                  We are born twice – born spiritually – born again by Water and the Spirit

A.      The miracle of the Spirit’s work in you: is your Baptism and all that it offers becomes the reality of this second birth
B.      The ground of the Spirit’s work:  is the lifting up of the eternal Son on the cross for our salvation and life.
C.      The author of the Spirit’s work: is God the Father, who sent His Son for your salvation and life.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Η ΚΑΙΝΗ ΔΙΑΘΗΚΗ Text, by Eberhard Nestle, courtesy of