Category Archives: Year A

Cycle in the liturgical year.

Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Fire Walking

Satan wants to enslave us. He wants to force us to worship him, by enticements and even by hreats. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were very devout. They were not going to worship foreign gods even when they were in a foreign land. Nebuchadnez′zar’s fiery furnace would have been persuasive for most people, but not these three Israelites. They relied on God alone to save them, and even if He did not they were not going to worship the king’s golden statue.

We know the story. The King made good on his threat. But the consequences of his action were not anticipated:

Then King Nebuchadnez′zar was astonished and rose up in haste. He said to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” He answered, “But I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”  (Daniel 3:24-25)

Attempting to live holy lives does not guarantee that we will be not be tested in the fire. Rather, this is all the more reason for Satan to attack us, and attack us he will. We need to remember that the battle belongs to the Lord. If we are tested by fire, then we can be assured that Jesus will be in the fire with us.

Jesus is the only one who can set us free from sin:

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.   (John 8:31–36)

Our task is to continue in Jesus’ word and keep trusting in him.

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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)

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Wednesday in the Fourth Week of Lent

An Everlasting Kingdom

We live in a very temporary world that is quickly fading away. The danger in this world is to worship the things that merely hint at the glory and majesty of God rather than God himself. The Psalmist wrote:

All your works praise you, O Lord,
and your faithful servants bless you.

They make known the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your power;

That the peoples may know of your power
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;
your dominion endures throughout all ages.   (Psalm 145:10–13)

Jesus said that we must be prepared for an eternal kingdom that does not fade away::

Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.   (John 5:25-29)

God is still calling his people. He wants to offer us an eternal kingdom guaranteed by his Son. Do we hear this voice?

saying to the prisoners, “Come out,”
    to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”
They shall feed along the ways,
    on all the bare heights shall be their pasture;
10 they shall not hunger or thirst,
    neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them down,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
    and by springs of water will guide them.   (Isaiah 49:9–10)

Now is the time to answer God’s call. Let us come out of the darkness of this world and enter into his glorious kingdom and light.

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Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent

Law vs. Church Doctrine

Moses made it clear to the children of Israel that God’s law must be obeyed and never modified:

Moses said: So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the LORD your God with which I am charging you.   (Deuteronomy 4:1–2)

A danger in the New Testament Church is the thinking that the Law of Moses can be modified or lessened because Jesus Christ has set aside the requirements of the law. Certainly Jesus does not suggest this:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.   (Matthew 5:17–18)

While it is very sound and true to say that Jesus has paid the price for all our sin, does that mean that we are no longer accountable for our sin once we have professed him as Savior and Lord? Some church doctrine might suggest that. But we will not find this doctrine in the Book of the Hebrews:

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?  (Hebrews 10:26-29)

Thus, it may be wise for us to read the final word at the end of the Book of Revelation:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

Church doctrine does not fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. Only Jesus Christ working within us by the power of the Holy Spirit can accomplish what God requires of us. Jesus has borne the cross for us to pay the price of our sins. We still have the responsibility of taking up our own cross and following Jesus daily.

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