Approaching God With Humble Hearts
These are the readings for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)
God’s Word for This Week
On page 156, in the front part of Christian Worship, we are given a helpful meditation on how to personally prepare our hearts for the reception of the Lord’s Supper. A similar type of examination is found in today’s Scripture readings. May we take to heart God’s urgent invitation to confess our sins and receive his pardon and forgiveness.
First Lesson – Ezekiel 18:1-4,25-32
Explain the statement, “No one will be condemned for another person’s disobedience.”
For a sinner to put the blame on his parents or others for his troubles is both foolish and unjust. Each of us will stand before the Lord individually, responsible solely for our own sinful acts and the consequences that follow. May the nature of our true contrition be such that we disregard the transgressions of others and see nothing but our own sin and guilt.
Finally, whose fault is it when a man refuses to repent and turn from his sinful ways?
Eternal death and damnation will always be the end result for the man who deliberately chooses to reject God’s urgent invitation for free, full, and final forgiveness. Simply put, he will have no one to blame but himself.
Second Lesson – Philippians 2:1-11
Mention some ways that Christians’ humility displays itself in a congregational setting.
What a blessing to be part of a congregation whose brothers and sisters display love and compassion; show sympathetic interest in the welfare of others; zealously seek to serve God and others rather than be served; work together in harmonious unity; mutually regard others as superior; and defer to the judgment of others in order to advance the kingdom and glorify God!
How did Jesus’ death go far beyond a typical human death experience?
Jesus didn’t die in his sleep. He didn’t die like a typical Roman citizen. No, his death was cruel, cursed, degrading, for it took place on a cross like that of a base criminal. What a remarkable example of humility by no less than the Son of God himself, who of his own free will, gave the ultimate sacrifice for undeserving sinners like you and me!
Supplemental Second Lesson – 2 Corinthians 13:5-8
The Corinthian congregation had heard much from Paul on the topics of repentance and obedience. As they readied to receive Paul on his third visit, he encouraged them to prepare by testing themselves. Which son were they acting like, the son who worked in the vineyard or the one who just talked about it?
Five times in this lesson, Paul uses a form of the word δοκιμάζω, telling them to examine themselves to see whether they were in the faith. True obedience gives evidence of real repentance. It is not the cause of repentance but a visible fruit that shows our faith is genuine. That brings us the great joy of knowing that Christ Jesus is in us, and we are walking on the way of righteousness.
Gospel – Matthew 21:28-32
Which son in the parable most closely resembled the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, the one giving the polite, eager, pious “Yes” or the one responding with a rude, disobedient, unmannerly “No”?
The Pharisees—the religious leaders of Israel—talked like the seemingly obedient son in the parable, but they later rejected John the Baptist and the message of righteousness he preached and, in essence, pronounced their own judgment upon themselves.
The parable illustrated that true faith is a matter of the heart more so than the head or the mouth. Explain.
Having the knowledge of the Law in one’s head and talking about it with the mouth is worthless if one’s heart is far from real obedience to the will of our heavenly Father. When that Word has truly touched the heart, it will display itself in sincere repentance and obedience.