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COMMENTARY

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Our Lectionary Aids are in the tradition of Lectionary Workbooks. The Aids offer a variety of items like commentary, prayers, suggested hymns, theological reflections on particular items within the text, preaching suggestions, and hints at sermon outlines. To the left is a common format.

Old Testament: Jeremiah 1:4-10
The call of Jeremiah. Jeremiah's ministry covered 40 years, 626 to 586 B.C. He served at a time of international turmoil and the dissolution of his country, Judah, in 586 B.C. Assyria fell to the Babylonians and in due time the surrounding countries including Judah were conquered. Jeremiah received his call five years before the reforms of King Josiah of Judah in 621 B.C. Because of his critical preaching he was the most hated man by most of the people in Judah. The moral and spiritual corruption he preached against, was the cause of the coming downfall of Judah. He even went so far as to say it was God's will for Judah to surrender to the Babylonians. For this he was accused of treason and suffered much at the hands of the military and priesthood. For eight Sundays the first Lesson is taken from Jeremiah.

Epistle Hebrews 12:18-29
Christians are on a mountain greater than Mt. Sinai and hear God's voice that shakes earth and heaven. Christians have moved from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion, from law to gospel and from the old to the new covenant. On Mt. Sinai the Israelites experienced the terrifying images of God's holiness, but on Mt. Zion we see extraordinary pictures of the city of God: angels, saints, God, and Christ. Mt. Zion is far greater than Mt. Sinai because Christ as our mediator before a God of justice and holiness enables us to be in the very presence of God. However, we are warned that God's judgment comes to those who reject God and refuse to hear his voice which shakes heaven and earth. His voice shakes earthly things that those things that cannot be shaken may remain. God has given us a kingdom that cannot be shaken. For this we should worship God with reverence and awe.

Gospel: Luke 13:10-17
A spirit can cause physical disability. Jesus was in a synagogue teaching. He saw a nameless woman who had been bent over for 18 years. At once Jesus saw she had a spiritual problem. Satan possessed her to the point that she could not stand upright. When he laid his hands on her, at once she stood straight and began to glorify God. She did not even ask for help. He saw her need and acted. The leader of the synagogue objected to healing on the Sabbath. Jesus pointed out that they could untie an ox or a donkey on the Sabbath and take it to water. Is not a human of more worth so that she could be untied from the grip of Satan?


THEOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS

Gospel: Luke 13:10-17
1. Spirit (v. 11). The unnamed woman in the synagogue where Jesus was teaching had a spirit. But, it was the wrong spirit, the spirit that doubled her up physically for 18 years. Every person has a spirit, either good or bad. An evil spirit can cause physical disability. This evil spirit is the spirit of Satan (v. 16). The spirit we all need for spiritual as well as physical health is the Holy Spirit.

2. Saw (v. 12). When you teach or preach, do you see a crowd or individuals? Jesus saw an individual who was in trouble, one bent over for 18 years. He cured her by casting out the evil spirit that handicapped her. The woman did not go to Jesus, fall on her knees, confess her faith, nor beg to be healed. He called her to come to him and when he put his hands on her, she was healed. Here is a perfect picture of unmerited and unsolicited grace.

3. Untie (v. 15). When Jesus was criticized for healing the woman on the Sabbath, he pointed out to his critics belonging to the synagogue that on the Sabbath they untied a donkey or an ox to give it water. He did no more than untie a woman from the grip of Satan. The question is, which is more important, an animal or a human? His critics made no answer but they slipped away ashamed of themselves.

Old Testament: Jeremiah 1:4-10
1. Womb (v. 5). If Jeremiah were alive today, would he be an anti-abortionist? Here Yahweh tells him that while he was still in his mother's womb, he was consecrated as a prophet. If there were an abortion, God's plan would have been frustrated. It all adds up to the fact that God has a destiny for each person. Each is sent into the world to accomplish some task for God. There is a meaning to life. God has a plan for every life. Our responsibility is to know what that plan is and to fulfill it.

2. Only (v. 7). Jeremiah gives a typical reaction to a call to be a prophet to the nations and to speak God's Word. Who can measure up to that and be adequate for such a challenge? So he says he does not know how to speak and besides he is only a boy. The Lord will not take that as an answer to decline his call. No excuses are acceptable that frustrate God's will.

3. Mouth (v. 9). Jeremiah is assured that Yahweh will make him adequate for the job. He touched Jeremiah's mouth and put his words into it. Therefore, he needs not be afraid to preach nor of the opposition he will face. What he is to preach is not his own. God is responsible for the content of his messages. This makes a preacher bold and courageous.

Epistle Hebrews 12:18-29
1. Terrifying (v. 21).To be with God on Mount Sinai was a "terrifying" experience for the Israelites. One could not touch the mountain for fear of death. They could not bear to hear God's voice. The sight of God made Moses tremble with fear. The God of Mount Sinai was one of perfect holiness, justice, and wrath. He was the transcendent, totally-other God. It is this side of God that is missing in today's concept of God and in our worship service. Many no longer fear God.

2. Mediator (v. 24).Now we have come closer to God than the Israelites and we still live! We are on Mount Zion where we are with the angels, God, and Christ. How is this possible? Christ is our "mediator." He comes between this holy God and sinful us. He intercedes for us. Because of his sacrifice, God accepts us into his holy presence. Because of our "mediator," we can approach God with confidence.

3. Acceptable (v. 28). The author of Hebrews exhorts us to offer "acceptable" worship. What is "acceptable worship"? The text tells us the answer: reverence and awe. In many churches reverence and awe do not exist. The note of adoration and mystery is missing. To have reverence and awe in our church services, we need to realize that the holy, transcendent God is truly present in the worship service. His presence causes us to worship with reverence and awe.


PREACHING POSSIBILITIES

Gospel: Luke 13:10-17

1. A psychosomatic condition: 13:10-13. Need: As many physicians will tell you, a majority of illnesses result from mental, emotional, or spiritual conditions. Many need to see a pastor rather than a physician. People need to know that a bad spirit can cause a bad physical condition. A good spirit, the Holy Spirit, results in health of body and mind. In today's gospel lesson, a woman was bent over for 18 years until Jesus drove out of her the spirit of Satan.

Outline: What kind of spirit is in you?

a. An evil spirit can cripple you – v. 11.
b. The Holy Spirit gives freedom for health – vv. 12-13.

2. A miracle of grace: 13:10-13. Need: Here is a case of pure grace. An unknown, nameless woman is freed from her handicap. She did not ask for help. She expressed no faith in Jesus' ability to heal her. When cured, she gave all the credit to God, not to Jesus. Today many people are in need of healing not only of body and mind, but also of spirit. If we are going to be helped, it will be a miracle of grace.

Outline: Because of grace

a. Jesus saw her condition – v. 12.
b. Jesus called her to him – v. 12.
c. Jesus laid his hands on her – v. 13.
d. The healed woman praised God – v. 13.

3. Hypocrites in church: 13:14-17. Need: It is a common saying that the church is full of hypocrites. Jesus found that to be true in the "church" of his day. And he did not mind calling them what they were – "hypocrites." (v. 15) The need of every church member is to avoid becoming a hypocrite, one who appears to be what he/she is not.

Outline: How to avoid becoming a hypocrite

a. Put the law secondary to human need – v. 14.
b. Put human values above animal or material concerns – vv. 15-16.

Old Testament: Jeremiah 1:4-10

1. The meaning of life: 1:4-5. Need: For ages humankind has been asking if there is a meaning to life. Is life a mere existence without any plan or purpose? Does God have a plan for your life? Is there such a thing as a divine destiny? Many need to have answers to these questions. We will find the answers in Jeremiah.

Outline: God gives meaning to life

a. God created you – v. 5.
b. God consecrated you – v. 5.
c. God appointed you – v. 5.

2. Are you able?: 1:6-10. Need: How can we live up to God's intention for our lives – to be his spokesperson to the nations for destroying and building up? Jeremiah felt he was inadequate and not qualified. Do you feel the same?

Outline: God makes you able

a. God takes away your excuses: youth and inability to speak – v. 6.
b. God makes you adequate: gives content – vv. 9-10.

Epistle – Hebrews 12:18-29

1. The population of God's city: 12:22-24. Need: Can we know who is in heaven? Are our loved ones there? Will I be there some day? Will we know each other in heaven? Is there a limit to the number in God's city – say, 144,000? These are questions that say this sermon is needed.

Outline: Who is in the city of God

a. Innumerable angels – v. 22.
b. Assembly of true believers – v. 23.
c. God the judge – v. 23.
d. Jesus the mediator – v. 24.

2. How glorious is this place! 12:18-24. Need: In recent years we have lost the sense of awe and adoration in our religion and worship. We may have lost it in the craze for informality and in the emphasis upon being human. The immanence of God was emphasized to the point that we lost sight of a transcendent God full of majesty, power, and glory. Our text will help us recover that lost sense of reverence, fear, awe, and adoration.

Outline: The Glory of the Covenants

a. The glory of the old covenant – vv. 18-21. God's presence was as fearful as a blazing fire. The voice of God was too loud to bear. Even Moses was terrified in the holy presence of God. To touch the mountain of God was to die.

b. The greater glory of the new covenant – vv. 22-24. Christians now come into the direct presence of God and Christ. They associate with angels and saints. How much more then should Christians fall down in awe as they approach God in prayer and worship?


WORSHIP RESOURCES

Psalm Of The Day: Psalm 71:1-6 – "Upon you I have leaned from my birth." (v. 6a)

Prayer Of The Day: "God of all creation, you reach out to call people of all nations to your kingdom. As you gather disciples from near and far, count us also among those who boldly confess your Son Jesus Christ as Lord."

Hymn Of The Day: "A Multitude Comes From East And West"

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