Luke 13:1-9 (children’s passage) • Exodus 17:1-7 • Psalm 95 • Romans 5:1-11 • John 4:5-42
Psalm 95 (responsive reading)
Psalms 47, 93, and 95-99 are all referred to as the ‘enthronement psalms’ as they each celebrate that God is the King. Many of the other Psalms celebrate the work of victory from God through the earthly kings, but Psalms 47, 93, and 95-99 refer to God as the ‘Cosmic King’. Psalm 95 (and the other enthronement Psalms) begins with a recognition of God as King, followed by a call for repentant hearts and concluded with a warning of correction.
This passage takes place shortly after the Israelites were released from slavery in Egypt. While it was technically a short amount of time, it must have felt like an eternity to their leader Moses. Even though they had been set free from slavery, the people complained about the conditions as well as the limited provisions of food and water. With each complaint came a very patient and affirming answer from God, even though the people were combative towards Moses and often dismissive of God. Verse seven of this passage best sums up Moses’ frustration with the people and aggravation at their entire attitude toward God who had just rescued them. To get a full grasp of what has led Moses to such an attitude toward the people read the previous three chapters – in reading this, you will also see the patience of God in his every response.
The letter from Paul to the believers at Rome continues to provide them an education of the deep works of God. As we look at this passage there are many ‘contexts’ that have come before which are essential to understand what God is saying and why he is saying these it. Among these ‘context’ essentials we have the fact that Christ said to not only love others but to love our enemies, and even further, he said to love each other (which does not seem to be that big of a deal until we are honest about how difficult it can be to love those that are always around, those we work and worship with who often disagree with our genius, our ideas, and our agendas). Paul is definite that forgiveness comes without any condition, we don’t have to work or labor for it, and he reminds us that forgiveness is offered solely because of the work and labor of Jesus Christ. We are ‘justified’ because of Jesus’ blood not ours and, the passage informs, that we are also rescued from God’s wrath. Think about this phrase God’s wrath, two words that create a vision of a mean and unforgiving God who judges us by our actions and misdeeds. Attempt, if you will, to repaint this picture by picturing God as an extravagant loving father who wants the best for us and therefore ‘hates’ those forces in our world that lead us to destruction. Although not a perfect illustration, think of a parent that is furious, and deeply concerned, at the opposing football team/coach when an opposing player makes an illegal play causing the child of this mom and dad to be injured. Paul, takes this love of God and directs our attention to the true intentions of God – that we would experience the full power, even on earth, of God’s act of love through Christ. Ultimately, taking us back to the issue of our love, even when someone is unloveable. One last interesting note, look at verse eight ‘But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.’ Think back to our Exodus passage where God provided for the Israelites even while they were being very unlovable human beings.
Only in the book of John do we see this story of the Samaritan woman at the well – only in the book of John do we see the story we looked at last week of the Jewish official named Nicodemus who came at night to ask questions of Jesus. Interestingly, John has this story of the woman come in the chapter following the chapter detailing the visit by Nicodemus. One was a seeking devout Jew and the other was a seeking devout gentile. Both were on a journey which was about to be reimagined taking them in a life altering direction. In the story of Jesus and the woman, we see that he, along with his disciples, takes a journey to the area of Galilee. During the life of Christ, this type of journey was routine, only this time Jesus chooses a route that takes the group through Samaria. In the minds of good Jews, and surely in the minds of Jesus disciples, this was a very dubious and questionable direction to go. The story concludes with a woman running to share what she has heard after her encounter with Jesus – she could not help but want others in her community to know what had happened. It is difficult to keep good news a secret.
Luke 13:1-9 (children’s lesson)
Our children’s lesson this week is entitled ‘Jesus teaches about God’s love.’ Luke 13:1-9 encompasses a great depth of truth. In the first five verses you have Jesus confronting the attitudes of those present who were judging others leading Jesus to address the need of all people to turn back to God (repent). While the first five verses may seem harsh, Jesus follows by teaching about God’s amazing love illustrating his provision of the opportunity for all to repent. Some would focus on the idea that the fig tree only has one more chance but the true lesson is in the current undeserved chance given.