Sunday, March 7, 2021

Lent 4 Series B


Lent 4 Series B
14 March  2021

Numbers 21:4–9
Ephesians 2:1–10
John 3:14–21

Collect for the Fourth Sunday in LentAlmighty God, our heavenly Father, whose mercies are new unto us every morning, and who, though we have in no wise deserved Thy goodness, dost abundantly provide for all our wants of body and soul, give us, we pray Thee, Thy Holy Spirit that we may heartily acknowledge Thy merciful goodness toward us, give thanks for all Thy benefits, and serve Thee in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Jesus Is Lifted Up on the Cross so that We May Look to Him and Live

The people sinned by speaking “against God and against Moses,” and the Lord called them to repentance by sending fiery serpents, which “bit the people, so that many people of Israel died” (Numbers 21:4–6). When the people confessed their sin, the Lord provided a means of rescue from death. He instructed Moses to “make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole,” so that “if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live” (Numbers 21:8). Thus God sent His Son into the world, in the likeness of our sin and death, and lifted Him up on the pole of the cross, that whoever looks to Him in faith “may have eternal life” (John 3:14–16). By His cross, “the light has come into the world,” not for condemnation, but “that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17–19). While we “were dead in the trespasses and sins” in which we once lived (Ephesians 2:1), God loved us, calling us to repentance and raising us up with Christ to live “with him in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 2:4–6).
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καὶ καθὼς Μωϋσῆς ὕψωσεν τὸν ὄφιν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, οὕτως ὑψωθῆναι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου,
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, - John 3:14

In the same way, just so, it is necessary for the son of man to be lifted up. 
An illustration of a thing. A definition of faith. It wasn't doing anything except receiving. 

In John's gospel all references to glory are only revealed after Good Friday. 
Every time term "son of Man" in John it is always in reference to the cross. 

See type/anti type of Serpent. He takes your sin your venom. He becomes the falseness and the curse. He becomes the curse and becomes a wretch. 

Is Moses a Type of the Father? The word is Passive...someone else is doing the work. 

See Numbers 21 

ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων [a]ἐν αὐτῷ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.
that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. - John 3:15

In order that all believing in him might (should/shall) have eternal life. 

"Whoever believes, might have, in him -eternal life. 

See John 5:39; 16:33; "in Me" you have peace.

Looking is the type of faith. That's what faith does. Our prayers do not change God's mind. But this is how we act.

Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλὰ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16

In this way God loved the world, that believing each might have life eternal.

"each believing"

"God loved the world this way -"

Note John's use of tense 
"Should not perish"
"has and continues to have life eternal."
"Shall not die forever" 
He's the end for what we hope not the means to that end... Not the toolbox.

See Hebrews 11:17-19 "as a parable"

οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἵνα κρίνῃ τὸν κόσμον, ἀλλ’ ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος δι’ αὐτοῦ.
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. - John 3:17

In order to condemn 
It all rests on Christ...in him, through him, 

ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν οὐ κρίνεται• ὁ δὲ μὴ πιστεύων ἤδη κέκριται, ὅτι μὴ πεπίστευκεν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ μονογενοῦς υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ
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. - John 3:18

The one believing in him is not condemned ever...shall not, nor will not, ever be judged. 

Judgment has been moved from you to another...from you to the serpent....from you to the cross...the cross is the judgment. Judgment for the Christian is Good Friday...the last day is entrance, graduation., sorting.  We live from death to life.  

Believing in the name possessed by God...the name possessed by the Triune God, the sacred name. 

Baptize in the Father's Son's and Spirit's NAME. The name shared by one. 

 αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ κρίσις ὅτι τὸ φῶς ἐλήλυθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον καὶ ἠγάπησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι μᾶλλον τὸ σκότος ἢ τὸ φῶς, ἦν γὰρ αὐτῶν πονηρὰ τὰ ἔργα.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. - John 3:19

The men love the darkness rather then the light.
The crisis is the cross...where you fall lands your u in judgment.
God loved the world men loved the darkness. This is where we start from....those who do not believe are already judged, condemned.  Nicodemus came when it was night...when it was darkness.  See difference between dark/light in John's  gospel. 

πᾶς γὰρ ὁ φαῦλα πράσσων μισεῖ τὸ φῶς καὶ οὐκ ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. - John 3:20

ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα φανερωθῇ αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα ὅτι ἐν θεῷ ἐστιν εἰργασμένα.
But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." - John 3:21

-The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software
-ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
-Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts, ‘The crucifixion’ and ‘Jesus and Nicodemus’© WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
-LCMS Lectionary notes © 2018 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
-Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Time in the Word - Lent 4

Time in the Word
8-13 March, 2021
Preparation for next week, The Fourth Sunday in Lent



The theme for the Fourth Sunday in Lent is Salvation by Sight. On the fourth Sunday in Lent we begin to see the cross in the distance and learn of its healing power of salvation by grace. As Moses raised a brazen serpent, Jesus must be raised up on a cross. The upraised serpent in the Old Testament lesson brought healing through the forgiving love of God. This took place simply by looking to the upraised serpent. The cross brings eternal life to those who look to the cross with the eyes of faith in the Gospel lesson. With Christ we are raised to heavenly places where we see the riches of grace in the Epistle lesson. Salvation comes simply in a look – a look at the cross and a look in faith. Salvation is the theme of the Psalm of the Day. The Hymn of the Day is based on John 3:16, a verse from this week’s Gospel lesson. Next Sunday’s lessons present us with tremendous texts as Ephesians 2:8 and John 3:16 as well as basic themes; salvation by grace, the cross, the amazing love of God, and the healing power of forgiveness.

Collect for the Fourth Sunday in LentAlmighty God, our heavenly Father, whose mercies are new unto us every morning, and who, though we have in no wise deserved Thy goodness, dost abundantly provide for all our wants of body and soul, give us, we pray Thee, Thy Holy Spirit that we may heartily acknowledge Thy merciful goodness toward us, give thanks for all Thy benefits, and serve Thee in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

A Prayer for aid against temptationO God, You justify the ungodly and desire not the death of the sinner. Graciously assist us by Your heavenly aid and evermore shield us with Your protection, that no temptation may separate us from Your love in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

A Prayer in times of temptationAlmighty and everlasting God, through Your Son You have promised us forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. Govern our hearts by Your Holy Spirit that in our daily needs, and especially in all time of temptation we may seek Your help and, by a true and lively faith in Your Word, obtain all that You have promised; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord

A Prayer for humilityO God, You resist the proud and give grace to the humble. Grant us true humility after the likeness of Your only Son that we may never be arrogant and prideful and thus provoke Your wrath but in all lowliness be made partakers of the gifts of Your grace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord

For blessing on the WordLord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, 8 March 2021Psalm 27:3-5; antiphon, Psalm 27:1—The antiphon for Sunday’s Introit, Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD, reflects David’s confidence and faith in the LORD, exhorting all people also to place their trust in the LORD. This psalm is the entire psalm from which the Introit was taken. This is a psalm of David, a plea for deliverance from his enemies – evil men who breathe out violence and advance against him to devour his flesh. David boldly asserts that he is not afraid, for the LORD is his light and salvation. What is the source of David’s confidence? Continual fellowship with God. Our best defense against the assault of our enemy, the devil, is to follow David’s example: worship in the house of the LORD. In the day of trouble, He will keep us safe in His dwelling.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021Psalm 107:1-9 key verse, verse.1Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures for ever. In all things we are encouraged to praise and return thanks to the Lord, especially in light of Christ’s redeeming work He did for us on the cross. 

Wednesday, 10 March 2021Numbers 21:4-9—Sight of the uplifted serpent brings healing. The complaining Israelites are healed of their serpent bites by looking at Moses’ upraised bronze serpent. Because of the Israelites’ rebelliousness – speaking evil of Moses and God – the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people. They were bitten and many died. When Moses interceded with the Lord on the peoples’ behalf, the LORD instructed Moses to make a bronze snake; when the people looked upon it in faith that the LORD would deliver them from the snakes, they were spared. There was nothing magical about the snake. The healing came from God alone, and depended on faith in His Word.

Thursday, 11 March 2021Ephesians 2:1-10—Sight of the exalted Christ reveals the riches of God’s grace. Our lesson teaches that salvation is a gift of God’s grace received by faith. 

This passage is justly famous among Lutherans, for it clearly shows that our salvation is in no way dependent upon our works, but solely upon the incomparable riches of God’s grace. What a turnabout! 

We, who were dead in our transgressions, have been made alive in Christ! Even more, we have been seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.



Friday, 12 March 2021John 3:14-21—Sight of Christ crucified results in eternal life. Eternal life comes to those who believe in the crucified Son of God. During Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, He explained how God had showed His love and mercy to a rebellious people by providing the remedy for the deadly snakes. Like the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness, Jesus, the Son of God, would be lifted up on a cross to provide the remedy for sin and death for all people. However, those who have no faith – those who reject the Word of God – condemn themselves. 

Saturday, 13 March 2021John 3:16-18—The hymn of the Day is "God Loved the World So that He Gave".—Here is a wonderful Gospel hymn. The first stanza restates the “Gospel in a nutshell,” John 3:16. The following four stanzas expand upon the first, proclaiming the love of God for sinners – a love so deep that He sacrifices His own Son in our stead that we might have everlasting life. It clearly proclaims Holy Baptism as the means by which our Lord grants forgiveness to us unworthy sinners. Stanza 6 expresses our grateful response to God’s grace poured out upon us in a hymn of praise to the Holy Trinity.

Morning Prayer Schedule for this week:

March  08 Monday 106 The Rich Fool
March  09 Tuesday 107 The Barren Fig Tree
March  10 Wednesday
March  11 Thursday 108 The Great Banquet
March  12 Friday 108 The Great Banquet

Catechism Review: Commandments 5-9 with meaning


Sources:
- Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

- Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing Lima, OH

- Illustration, "The Crucifixion," and "Jesus and Nicodemus" from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures).


Third Sunday in Lent



SUNDAY: March 7, 2021 Lent 3 - Matthew 5:27-28

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. –Matthew 5:27-28

To exceed the “righteousness of the Pharisees and the scribes,” you must “exceed” the letter of the law, and Jesus gives examples of what “exceeding” looks like. Take for example, “Adultery.”  Many may claim they have been faithful to their spouse. They have been serious concerning their marriage vows. Yet Jesus explains, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.[1]

Jesus goes well beyond Moses to explain that the problem of the scribe and the Pharisee. They only read the commandment. They had a regard for an outward form in religion. They placed their attention on the letter of the law rather than the spirit. 

Humility is that righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, because humility is directional, it re-orientates man toward God, and it is in that re-orientating that we discover just how ill we really are, and how desperately we need the healing grace of our Great Physician to become “fully alive.” Jesus directs us to see that all these laws have one thing in common; they have to do with the Christian community in the present. Anger destroys community, lust destroys community, divorces destroys community, and hate destroys community.

The fulfillment of the Commands-or works-is not the means by which salvation is earned; rather, salvation begins in the attempt and the failure of attempting to keep them, for it is only in failing that humility is to be found. Humility gives us an accurate picture of ourselves—unlike our friends the scribes and the Pharisees, who were concerned only with outward show. And if we’re honest, humility shows us that we too have often thought merely keeping the Commandments externally was enough-after all, none of us are murderers, but we all have the capacity for anger. None of us has committed adultery, but we all have the capacity for lustful thoughts.

Humility is that righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, because humility is directional, it re-orientates man toward God, and it is in that re-orientating that we discover just how ill we really are, and how desperately we need the healing grace of our Great Physician to become “fully alive.” [2]

Almighty God, You know that I have no power in myself to help myself: Keep me both outwardly in my body and inwardly in my soul, that I may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ the Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen  [3]

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all who have gone astray from Your ways and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. [4]
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[1] Chi Rho copyright © Ed Riojas Higher Things
[2]  Notes and commentary on Matthew 5 copyright © Pr. Ken Kelly July 2017
[3] Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent,  http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm
[4] Collect for Lent 3, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Lent 3

 

Lent 3
March 7, 2021
John 2:18-19
The message of the cross cleanses the heart

A man sleeps in death. So sad his passing. What crime had he committed? He stirred up the people. He questioned those in authority. He exposed their hypocrisy. His message could not be tolerated. What was so offensive; the word he spoke?

A man sleeps in death. So sad his passing. Cut down in his prime. So prematurely. Was it necessary? Why all this fuss? 

Could there not have been a compromise?


A man sleeps in death. Itinerant. A loner. A poor man. His only possession was his garments – which were auctioned off; by the guard, to the winner, in a game of dice.

A man sleeps in death. In love a friend steps forward; but secretly, for fear of the authorities. There is a tomb nearby in which no one had been laid. The final tribute of an acquaintance who wishes to remain anonymous.

A man sleeps in death. A holy day is coming. Time is passing. In hast he is buried. It will do for now. After the observance, they shall return. Then, they can bring more spices to anoint his body and remember his life. And mourn their loss. So unfair. So useless. So sad his passing. Was it all necessary? Why?

Lord Jesus, You slept in death only to rise to new life. Without Your resurrection, Your death has no purpose. Only in Your rising can we understand Your passion.[1]

Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” John 2:18-19

The cross is the chief and central symbol of the Christian. Jesus gave the cross as the only sign given to men as to His identity and His work.

Christians live, worship, and work under the sign of the cross; for the way of the cross includes cleansing the heart.

The sign of the cross is

I.        The sign of authority – to drive out the traders.  To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” John 2:16

A. Jesus exposes religious pretension. Some inadvertently cheapen the Gospel through marketing – Bart Simpson famously once said: “take the latest hip teenage rage into the church just to make it relative!

Jesus is not a brand. And people are not objects by which we treat them as customers. Rather, they are ones for whom Christ suffered, died and rose again.

The leadership of Jesus’ day forgot all that.  No wonder Jesus was so passionate. “He had come to assert the claims of God upon his own nation, and he keenly felt the spiritual indifference which had turned worship into a means of profit.”[2]

B.     Jesus calls the Temple “My Father’s house.

Jesus was not always a nice or polite person. “Niceness” is neither a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23), nor a character trait of Jesus. Jesus was tremendously kind and gracious to most people; especially the oppressed.

But he scornfully denounced the religious leaders as hypocrites who stubbornly refused to believe Jesus’ true identity as the Messiah, who were burdening the people with unnecessary rigorous, religious rules.

Because we can never truly be certain about the inner heart of a person and their circumstances; open rebuke is rarely something we should engage in. (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:4).

Jesus knew the true heart of the people around him; especially those who opposed him. (John 2:24).

While we are called to be loving, kind and gentle, we are also called to be strong and courageous. Allowing unbelief, ignorance, injustice, and evil to go unchecked, where we can make a difference, is not love. Rather it is a sin of omission.

Not only did Jesus’ act of clearing the temple reveal his passion for the things of God, it also revealed his authority. “Jesus’ act in cleansing the temple presupposed authority as the representative of God.” (Tenney 1976:84)

Transition: John writes that while watching this impressive spectacle, the disciples were reminded of Psalm 69:9 which says: “Zeal for your house has consumed me!”

II.     The sign of cleansing – clean up the commercial interests.  Then his disciples remembered that it is written:   Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2:17

A. These words come from where the Psalmist is lamenting the suffering that has resulted from his faithfulness to the Lord. Later, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples will finally understand that it was the Father’s plan that Jesus’ zeal would alienate the religious leaders and lead to his crucifixion.

B.  The Savior’s words beg the question; have we lost a sense of awe or reverence? There should be solemnity sincerity and seriousness to our worship. Zeal for the Divine consumed Jesus. As Christ’s followers we must follow suit.

Jesus is not anti-temple, but anti-exploitation. He acknowledges the temple as his Father’s house. He insists that it be treated with the reverence due the house of the Lord.

III.   The sign of healing – by the cross the broken relationship with God is healed. Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” John 2:18-19

The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate authentication that he is who he says he is. Jesus says, “You want proof that I have the right to condemn religious pretension? Just wait until you kill me and then I raise myself up in three days.”

The real question for all of us is whether the resurrection really happened or not. Pay attention to this question. If it did, then we need to pay attention to Jesus.

 If Jesus really did come back from the dead as he said here, we need to pay attention to him, because he is no ordinary man.

That’s what we learn here. Jesus condemns religious pretension, and he replaces it with himself. Jesus is the alternate to the ritual of religion. Jesus is the way of connecting with God. And he gave his life willingly for you so that you could be in communion with God. Jesus is the way of connecting with the Father.

The prophet Isaiah announced; “All we like sheep have gone astray.” Yet by his cross and his victory over the grave the Savior reconciles us to the Father and to each other.

The solution to the problem of religious pretention is the cross where the price of disobedience was paid and where perfect obedience to God was demonstrated. Since Christ has fulfilled the demands of the Law, believers in Christ are now free from the curse of the Law as a means of finding favor with God. There is not deceit or deception by Jesus’ words and actions. He cleared the temple to make way for you to worship God in sincerity and truth.

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Words- 1,215

Passive Sentences- 6%

Readability-72.3 %

Reading Level- 5.7

 



[1] Parish Devotional posted 20 March, 2009

[2] Tenney, Merrill C., JOHN: The Gospel of Belief – An Analytic Study of the Text, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976.

Saturday of Lent 2


DAY 16: March 6, 2021 Saturday of Lent 2- Matthew 5:23-26

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”- Matthew 5:23-26 

Our only hope of reconciliation with others comes from the death  and resurrection of Jesus. In Him we are made clean. Paul would remind us, “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.-2 Corinthians 5:19 Paul further explains, “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."-Romans 4:8

God; in His endless love, has given His Son for you; who has assumed your nature, and died in your stead. Through Christ’s death and his glorious resurrection the Father’s anger is stilled. He is satisfied with Jesus’ work and action. God's decision to not count the sins of which we are guilty against us is a gift of His grace. Not only does faith receive this work of Christ personally; the Spirit directs and motivates us to become reconciled with others and to forgive.

From Luther’s Small Catechism we are reminded:

We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins, nor on their account deny our prayer; for we are not worthy of anything we ask, neither have we de­served it. But we pray that He would give us everything by grace, for we daily sin much and deserve nothing but punishment; and we on our part will heartily forgive and readily do good to those who sin against us. [1] 

Grant, most merciful Lord, to Your faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve You with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. [2]

God our Father, by your gifts to us on earth we already share in your life. In all we do, guide us to the light of your kingdom. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen  [3]

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[1] Explanation for the 5th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Luther’s Small Catechism copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2]Collect for Saturday of Lent 2 http://liturgues.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm
[3] Prayer for Saturday of the Week of Lent, For All the Saints A prayer Book For and By the Church Vol.1 copyright © 1994 The America Lutheran Publicity Bureau Delhi, NY

Friday, March 5, 2021

Saturday prior to Lent 3

 


Psalm 67:1-2— The hymn of the Day is May God Bestow on Us His Grace {LSB 823}.   These verses introduce a prayer. The heart of the prayer is found in verse one, echoing the priestly benediction that God’s people have received for thousands of years. The Lord blesses us as He comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ our Savior.


In a sermon delivered on Christmas morning in the year 1522 Luther writes:


Now, if you steadfastly believe, if you rejoice in God your Lord, if you are alive and his grace satisfies, if your wants are all supplied, how will you employ yourself in this earthly life? Inactive you cannot be. Such a disposition of love toward God cannot rest. Your zeal will be warm to do everything you know will be to the praise and glory of a kind and gracious God. At this point there is no longer distinction of works. Here all commands terminate. There is neither restraint-nor compulsion, but a joyful willingness and delight in doing good, whether the intended achievement be insignificant or difficult, small or great, requiring short service or long.[1]

Collect for Psalm 67: Father, through your power the earth has brought forth its noblest fruit, the tree of the cross. Unite all people in its embrace and feed them with its fruit, everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord.[2]    -06 March 2021

 



[2] Collect for Psalm 67, For All the Saints a Prayer book for and by the Church © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi NY

Illustration of The Crucifixion is from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, The Book of Books in Pictures. Copyright © WLS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Morning Prayer Reading 105: Mary and Martha




Luke 10:38-41




38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus [d] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. [e] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Footnotes:
Luke 10:38 Greek he
Luke 10:42 Some manuscripts few things are necessary, or only one

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.

Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use


Friday of Lent 2


DAY 15: March 5, 2021            Friday of Lent 2- Matthew 5:21-22

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire – Matthew 5:21-22  [1]

Jesus begins this section with these words, “And I say to you…” Who is this “I”? Who is presumptuous to go beyond what Moses said? Who does the “I” think he is – one greater than Moses, the might prophet of God?  Here we confront Christological considerations. Jesus is speaking. Here we find a greater than Moses. In the words, “I say to you.” Jesus is placing Himself above all other religious teachers and prophets.  How can he rightfully do this? Jesus speaks as God’s Son, the Word made flesh. He has the mind, the Spirit, and the essence of God the Father. As the Word of God, Jesus’ word is truth excelling all other teachers. Thus, the Scriptures testify of Him and we interpret them in the light of Christ. [2]   

Anger is a raw emotion.  Paul would remind us, “Be angry but do not sin.”-Ephesians 4:6 Moses got angry when the people made an idol. Prophets got angry when widows and orphans were neglected, and when the stranger wasn’t provided with hospitality. Jesus got angry and overturned the tables of those who were profiting from poor worshipers.

The problem comes, even with righteous anger, when we are so angry that we do harm. The problem comes when we stay angry instead of letting that anger subside and morph into looking for creative and constructive solutions to unjust actions and systems. The problem comes when anger is a way of life, or a lens through which we view other people. The problem comes when anger interferes with relationships.

Insults and angry words almost never help things; they make things worse. In angry times, it’s important that we rebuild broken relationships. It’s important that we offer criticism in such a way that it constructs bridges instead of barriers. It’s important that we let love for our fellow human beings turn anger into listening, and then into action. Otherwise, our anger will kill us.[3]   

O Lord, that as Your Son Jesus Christ prayed for His enemies on the cross, so we may have grace to forgive those who wrongfully or scornfully use us, that we ourselves may be able to receive Your forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. [4]

Lord Jesus, Bread of Life, in Your great compassion You fed the multitudes with a few loaves and a few fish. Feed us the holy food of Your Word broken open that hearts may burn and Your very body and blood that eyes may be opened to see You as the very Bread of heaven; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit; one God, now and forever. [5]
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[1]  The Water and the Blood copyright © Ed Riojas Higher Things
[2] Text notes Epiphany 6 – Series A
[4]  Collect for Friday of Lent 2,  ,  http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm
[5] Collect for Friday of Lent 2, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Friday prior to Lent 3

 

John 2:13-22—Jesus cleanses the temple of those who traded in it.

Man’s failure to keep God’s law. Jesus cleanses the temple of those who traded in it. In the first three Gospels, Jesus begins His ministry in Galilee, but in John’s Gospel the focus is on Jerusalem. In the first three Gospels, the cleansing of the temple comes at the end of Jesus’ ministry, but John’s Gospel puts it at the beginning. In the first three Gospels, the cleansing of the temple becomes the immediate cause of Jesus’ arrest.  In John, the cleansing is related to the Jew’s demand for a sign authorizing Him to take such dramatic action. Jesus’ sign was the destruction of the temple and rebuilding it in three days – a forecast of His death and resurrection.

Who are you to say or do what you said or did?”  This question is the same as the Jews’ asking Jesus for a sign. The temple with its activities, services, and programs is in the charge of the priests who were authorized to take care of the temple. Who is this itinerant peasant preacher to say what is right to do in the temple?  This question is certainly in order. Jesus gives them the sign of the cross. He is the one whose temple will be destroyed and rebuilt on the third day. This proves who He is – the Messiah – and He has the right and the authority to cleanse the temple.

A Prayer in times of temptation: Almighty and everlasting God, through Your Son You have promised us forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. Govern our hearts by Your Holy Spirit that in our daily needs, and especially in all time of temptation we may seek Your help and, by a true and lively faith in Your Word, obtain all that You have promised; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.[1] -05 March 2021



[1] A Collect in times of temptation, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Illustration “Jesus Clears the Temple” is taken from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, The Book of Books in Pictures. © WLS Permission granted for personal and congregational use.

Morning Prayer Reading 104: Who is the Greatest?



Matthew 18:1-14


18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, [a] it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Temptations to Sin

7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! [b] For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! 8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell [c] of fire.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. [d] 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my [e] Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."

Footnotes:
Matthew 18:6 Greek causes… to stumble; also verses 8, 9
Matthew 18:7 Greek stumbling blocks
Matthew 18:9 Greek Gehenna
Matthew 18:10 Some manuscripts add verse 11: For the Son of Man came to save the lost
Matthew 18:14 Some manuscripts your

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.

Luther's Seal copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things permission granted for personal and congregational use

Thursday of Lent 2


DAY 14: March 4, 2021 Thursday of Lent 2- Matthew 5:20

Jesus declares, "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  [1]

When most people consider righteousness they think of being a very good person, a person who obeys the Ten Commandments.  This is not wrong thinking.  Certainly God desires that we be good people and that we obey His Commandments. In Jesus’ day the Pharisees were viewed as the most righteous people on earth.  They had dissected God’s law (Ten Commandments and special Jewish laws) into over 630 laws, and they maintained that they kept such laws; they were indeed outwardly righteous, and people considered them to possess the ultimate righteousness.

Jesus said that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees. How can we be more righteous than the most righteous people on earth?  It can happen—as revealed in both the Old and New Testaments—because we can have a righteousness that does not come from our obedience to God’s laws.

An Old Testament example of this righteousness is found in the classic verse about Abram’s faith: And he believed the Lord, and he [God] counted it to him as righteousness Genesis 15:6.  Abram was given righteousness; it was a righteousness that was from outside of Abram, for it was a righteousness that came by God’s declaration based upon Abram’s faith.  This declared righteousness is called justification.

Why would God do this?  Why would God declare someone righteous?  Is their faith considered the greatest act of righteousness?  No, God declares someone righteous—including Old Testament believers—because their faith is in Christ.  Jesus, the object of faith, gives righteousness. Abram’s faith was in the Christ who was at the center of God’s promises given in Genesis 15.

In his letter to the Romans (3:20-24) the Apostle Paul clearly presents the differences between righteousness that is derived from keeping God’s law and righteousness that is given as a gift to a believer in Jesus.  Of the righteousness from keeping God’s law he wrote: For by works of the law no human being will be justified [declared righteous] in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.  For us there is no righteousness before God in keeping God’s law; instead, sin is thus exposed.  But of the real righteousness before God Paul then wrote:  But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law [writings of Moses] and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified [declared righteous] by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. [2]    

O Lord, strong and mighty, Lord of Hosts and King of glory: Cleanse our hearts from sin, keep our hands pure, and turn our minds from what is passing away; so that at the last we may stand in Your holy place and receive Your blessing; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen [3]

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[1] Luther’s Seal copyright © Ed Riojas Higher Things
[2] Rev Dr. Daniel J Brege Commentary on the Gospel lesson for Epiphany 5 Series A
[3]Collect for Thursday of Lent 2,  http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Thursday prior to Lent 3

 

1 Corinthians 1:22-25—The fulfillment of God’s law in the cross. The crucified Christ is preached as the power and wisdom of God. The message of Christ crucified has difficulty in gaining a sympathetic hearing in the world. Both Jews and Greeks were opposed to it. The Jews demanded a sign and found the cross to be a stumbling block. The Jews asked how God’s Son, the Messiah, could die on a cross, reserved for the worst criminals. Moreover, the Jews looked for signs in terms of their being spectacular and startling.

How could Jesus be the Messiah when He came as one meek and lowly and refusing to use violence?  The Greeks, too, were hostile to the cross, for they wanted wisdom. But to them the message of the cross was foolishness. In spite of this hostile environment, Paul is determined to preach Christ crucified; the power and wisdom of God.

What do Christians do? They “preach.” What do they preach? They preach “Christ crucified.” What is in this account of an innocent man meeting his death on a cross? Christians know that this death expressed the infinite love of God for sinners who by faith are reconciled to God.

A Prayer for humility: O God, You resist the proud and give grace to the humble. Grant us true humility after the likeness of Your only Son that we may never be arrogant and prideful and thus provoke Your wrath but in all lowliness be made partakers of the gifts of Your grace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.[1] -04 March 2021

 



[1] Collect for Humility, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St., Louis

Illustration “The Crucifixion” is taken from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, The Book of Books in Pictures. © WLS Permission granted for personal and congregational use. 


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Pilate: "I Couldn't Make The Hard Decision"

 


You know Cornelius, when you asked about my days as ruler in Judea, you make me search my memory. Especially when you ask whether I remember anything about the beginnings there of the Christian sect that is growing so strongly here in Rome. I find it hard to recall much that is very definite.

There were many uprisings among the Jewish people in those days because of their peculiar beliefs. Likewise there were constantly new nomadic prophets who claimed to have a message for the people from their God, Yahweh. Jesus, whom some called the Christ, was a Galilean. I'm sure, because I remember sending him to Herod, the tetrarch in Galilee who was in Jerusalem at the time Jesus was brought to me for trial. It seems that the Galileans were particularly inclined to follow these would-be messiahs.

About all I can recall for sure in connection with this Jesus, whom the Christians follow, is that his trial came up one year during the Passover season. That was a time of year when I stayed in Jerusalem because of the possibility of trouble.

Every year at the time of the Passover in the spring these Jewish people came to their Jerusalem temple from all over, from Galilee up north but also from many non-Jewish countries, from Greece, Syria, Egypt, and even from Rome. So whenever there was a Passover celebration the agitators and fanatics would be busy stirring up the people against Rome. On group, called the Zealots, was particularly violent and fanatic. I had many of them crucified.

I remember one particular Passover that involved these Christians you’re asking about. That year things seemed especially unsettled and the Jewish people were restless. Early in the he week of the Passover my men reported that a Galilean rabbi had come into Jerusalem on a donkey and some of the pilgrims hailed him as a hero.

They had even staged a kind of festival parade, pulling branches from palm trees and olive trees to honor him and taking off their coats to put on the road for their hero to tide over on his donkey. But there was no violence or rioting, and though they shouted hopes of deliverance the rabbi did nothing to incite rebellion. So we did nothing about it.

That same week, however, we had to arrest another Jew by the name of Barabbas. I remember him because the incident that caused his arrest was particularly violent. Barabbas killed one of my Roman soldiers. It happened when his gang of zealots stirred up a demonstration against Rome trying to incite the Jews to revolution. When my soldiers broke up the gathering, Barabbas managed to kill one of them. We held him in custody until the best time to crucify him as an example to other agitators.

This kind of riotous agitation gave me a clue that there would be more trouble brewing. I suspected that the temple crowd, the priests, Pharisees, and scribes, might try to whip up hatred toward our Roman law and order. There was an unusually large crowd of pilgrims and Jewish people from many countries in Jerusalem that Passover. Such a crowd meant disturbances of all sorts against Roman rule.

So I was really surprised when my servant woke my very early one Friday, the day when the Jewish Passover would reach its climax in the evening. The servant told me that the temple crowd, led by the chief priest himself, had brought a political prisoner they accused of treason and wanted me to crucify. It wasn't at all what I expected of them. I knew at once that they were up to some kind of trickery. But I thought it best at least to listen to their charges.

I had to leave the palace to meet them on the pavement outside because of one of their peculiar religious laws.

Though they could bring this man, likely innocent, and shout for his crucifixion, they couldn't enter the palace of a gentile governor without becoming religiously unclean and thus not able to celebrate their Passover.

When they hauled up their prisoner before me; I saw that he too, was a Jew. The priests said his name was Jesus from Nazareth. Of course, the name meant nothing to me, but I recognized at once that coming from Nazareth made Jesus a Galilean. That is why I later sent him over to King Herod of Galilee, who being a Jew, was also in Jerusalem for the Passover.

All that effort accomplished, however, was that Herod thereafter became more friendly toward me. He returned Jesus to my jurisdiction and decision.

As soon as I saw Jesus I knew at once that the priests had a religious quarrel with him and not a political one. Jesus had a calm air and a kind of serenity about him that didn't fit a political rebel. So I told the priests to take care of it themselves according to their religious laws.

But they got mean. They insisted Jesus was a traitor and a rebel. They threatened to notify Caesar in Rome that I was soft on traitors. The temple crowd led by the high priest said this Jesus claimed to be a king and that he didn't support paying taxes to Caesar.

Though I knew in my heat that it was all being done out of spite and envy, I went through the motions of asking Jesus whether he was king of the Jews. He looked at me without fear and gave a strange answer. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world." Then he said some things about truth that made no sense to me. But I knew beyond a doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was no political threat to Rome.

Then I hit on what I thought was a brilliant idea. It would certainly get me off the hook of having to make a final decision about Jesus. I wouldn't have to go against the Jewish leaders with a decision to set Jesus free in spite of their charges. They would make the choice themselves, I thought. I offered to release either the harmless Jesus or the vicious Barabbas. But the hatred of the priests toward Jesus - which I believe stemmed from envy - was so great that they stirred up the people to ask that Barabbas be released. [Matthew 27:15-23]

I was frustrated. But, I thought, surely they would be satisfied with a lesser punishment than crucifixion. So I had Jesus flogged till the blood ran down his back in streams.

Then I brought Jesus out, showed him to the people. I told them I found Jesus to be innocent, and said, "Here he is! Look at Him!" To my consternation the crowd still shouted, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

What could I do? If I didn't crucify him they would blacken my name to Caesar in Rome. So I yielded. I gave my decision and ordered Jesus to be crucified. Even my own wife had warned me not to get involved, because she had a dream that told her Jesus was innocent. [Matthew 27:19] But what could I do? I had to make a decision. But I could not make the hard decision.

So I took the easy way out. I condemned an innocent man to crucifixion to save my reputation with Caesar at Rome. To let the priests and temple crowd know, though, that I considered Jesus innocent and that it was their responsibility, I called for a basin of water. Then I publicly washed my hands and said "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves." [Matthew 27:21-26]

As I remember it, that was the beginning of the Christian sect. In time, even my wife, became a believer. She tells me often that I, too, should ask God to forgive me. She often assures me that Jesus of Nazareth, whom I crucified, really is the Son of God and that, three days after he died on the cross, he rose from the dead. She says that is what gave his disciples courage and gives his followers today the faith to say, "Jesus Christ is Lord of all."

Concluding thoughts: Poor Pontius Pilate! He was faced with what for him was a hard decision: To do what was right and set Jesus free or to do what was safe for him and yield to pressure. How often we are faced with decisions that tempt us to protect our own interests by yielding to pressures that make us do what is not right or good in God's sight.

Jesus Christ was crucified under Pontius Pilate, but He rose again to give assurance that God's mercy is there for all who seek it in repentance and faith. Whenever we confess the Creed, in church or at home, may it be a voluntary testimony of our own faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, The Book of Books in Pictures. copyright © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use.