Category Archives: Lenten daily readings

Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

The Power of the Cross

The serpent is a symbol of rebellion against God. In the wilderness the children of Israel rebelled. For this reason God sent poisonous serpents into their camp. Many of the Israelites died. As a remedy, God had Moses place a bronze serpent up on a pole so that everyone who was bitten would be spared if they looked upon the serpent. The first step in receiving forgiveness for one’s sin is the acknowledgment of that sin. The Israelites were required to look at a symbol of their rebellion:

So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.   (Numbers 21:9)

Jesus is our Savior but we need to acknowledge who He is and what He has done for us. Many of the religious leaders in Jesus’s day would not acknowledge their sin. They were blinded about many things, but particularly about there sins.

They were also blinded about who Jesus was. For this reason they hung him on a cross. Jesus explained that after they had done this, they would see him in a different light:

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. (John 8:28)

Our acts of rebellion against God have crucified Jesus as much as anyone’s. If we truly look upon Jesus on the cross and realize his act of great sacrifice and love, then our hearts will convict us and bring us to repentance. Do we look the other way or do we see Jesus high and lifted up?

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.   (John 3:14-15)

Leave a comment

Filed under Jesus, lectionary, Lent, Lenten daily readings, Lenten study, Revised Common Lectionary, Year C

Monday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Two Cases of Adultery 

In today’s readings we have two cases of adultery, one concerning an actual case and the other a phony one. The circumstances are quite different in each one, but there is a commonality between them.

From the reading in John, a woman is caught in the act of adultery. The charges against her were true:

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”   (John 8:3–5)

The scribes and the Pharisees were up to their usual tricks. This was an attempt to trap Jesus. But as usual they fell into their own trap when Jesus said to them:

“Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”   (John 8:7)

Jesus forced them into a corner where they found themselves, grudgingly, showing mercy on the woman. Even though the woman had not asked him, Jesus demonstrated the mercy of God. He told the woman to “go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

In the case of Susanna, the charges against her were false:

Then the two elders stood up before the people and laid their hands on her head. Through her tears she looked up towards Heaven, for her heart trusted in the Lord. The elders said, “While we were walking in the garden alone, this woman came in with two maids, shut the garden doors, and dismissed the maids. Then a young man, who was hiding there, came to her and lay with her. We were in a corner of the garden, and when we saw this wickedness we ran to them. Although we saw them embracing, we could not hold the man, because he was stronger than we are, and he opened the doors and got away. We did, however, seize this woman and asked who the young man was, but she would not tell us. These things we testify.”

Because they were elders of the people and judges, the assembly believed them and condemned Susanna to death.   (Susanna 34–41)

We have the trickery of the scribes and Pharisees and, in the case of Susanna, the falsehood of the elders, driven by impure motives. And then we have the motive of God which is to show mercy. Susanna looked up to heaven and put her trust in God. God then exposed the two elders:

Then the whole assembly raised a great shout and blessed God, who saves those who hope in him. And they took action against the two elders, because out of their own mouths Daniel had convicted them of bearing false witness; they did to them as they had wickedly planned to do to their neighbour. Acting in accordance with the law of Moses, they put them to death. Thus innocent blood was spared that day.(Susanna 60–62)

Leave a comment

Filed under Jesus, lectionary, Lent, Lenten daily readings, Lenten study, Revised Common Lectionary, Year A

Saturday in the Fourth Week of Lent

Living Water vs. the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is not really a sea at all. It is more like a lake, a landlocked lake. It is in a region of little rain. Fresh water cannot run in nor is any water drained out. No form of life can live in it.

Is that the nature of our cherished religious traditions? It was for the Pharisees at the time of Christ’s ministry on the Earth. They were not open to any thinking that did not meet their ironclad criteria.

The Pharisees had sent the temple police to arrest Jesus:

Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” They replied, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.”   (John 7:45–52)

If we hold on to the old wine so tightly we will never experience the new wine. We will miss out on the gift of God that brings new life and vitality. Jesus had gone up to Jerusalem with his disciples for the Feast of Tabernacles. Risking his life he spoke these words in the temple:

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.   (John 7:37–39)

Are we ready for living water? It is not a one time occurrence, but water that continually flows. Traditions and doctrines attempt to damn it up or cut it off, but these waters are meant for those who believe in the words of Jesus.

For those who do not believe, this water must be stopped at all cost:

“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
so that his name will no longer be remembered!”   (Jeremiah 11:19)

Today, Jesus still crie out:

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”

Leave a comment

Filed under Jesus, lectionary, Lent, Lenten daily readings, Lenten study, Revised Common Lectionary, Year C

Friday in the Fourth Week of Lent

The Tests of Life

When we strive to live righteous lives we will certainly be tested. Satan, the ruler of this present age, has his minions in place to test us:

Let us test him with insult and torture,
so that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,
for their wickedness blinded them,
and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
nor hoped for the wages of holiness,
nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;
for God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.   (Wisdom 2:19–24)

Some seek God’s ways and some seek to test his ways. Testing is a sign of unbelief. We are using our rational mind to figure God out. That is what many were doing in Jerusalem when Jesus entered the city for the Festival of Booths:

Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”   (John 7:25–27)

When do we get beyond testing? When we value righteousness more than knowledge. The psalmist wrote:

Evil shall slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.

The Lord ransoms the life of his servants,
and none will be punished who trust in him.   (Psalm 34:21-22)

Our hope is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and not in our rationalizations. Only Jesus can enable us to live righteous and holy lives. In fact, he is our righteousness. We do not have to pass Satan’s tests. The only test in life is: “Do we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?”

Leave a comment

Filed under Jesus, lectionary, Lent, Lenten daily readings, Lenten study, Revised Common Lectionary, Year C