The Amazingly Patient God Saves Us
These are the readings for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost.
God’s Word for This Week
“Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can, found seldom in a woman, never in a man.” That is a wry saying often true. Even those of us who claim to be patient people reach a point where we can be patient no more. What a blessing that God—for the sake of his Son—is always patient with us, forgiving our many sins, rejoicing in our repentance, and promising to take us to be with him in glory.
Traditional First Lesson – Exodus 32:7-14
How did the Israelites sin against God and test his patience?
As Moses is on top of Mt. Sinai with God, the Israelites sin against God and test his patience by building a golden calf. They then begin to worship it and offer sacrifices to the idol.
Summarize Moses’ prayer to God on behalf of the Israelites.
In asking for God’s patience, Moses reminds God of the promises he made to deliver his people from the Egyptians. If God were to destroy the Israelites, the Egyptians would be able to see that God didn’t keep his promises to his chosen people.
Supplemental First Lesson – Hosea 3:1-5
How much did Hosea have to pay to get his cheating, promiscuous wife back?
Hosea had to pay 15 little lumps (shekels) of silver (about 6 ounces of silver in our terms) and a homer and a lethek of barley. The barley seems to have been about 10 bushels, weighing, then perhaps 500 pounds. Possibly Hosea did not have enough silver, so he had to bring the barley too—an embarrassing, difficult task.
Why would Hosea do this? (See 3:1.)
Hosea did this because God had told him to do it and to love his wife the way the Lord loved the Israelites, despite the shameful unfaithfulness to him. Think of it: For Jesus sake God loves you passionately, like a husband, and persistently. God loves you truly, as opposed to the way Israelites loved those raisin cakes. God loves you unconditionally, embarrassingly, detrimentally, expensively, but freely (at huge cost to him, but at no cost to you). Do you believe that?
Traditional Second Lesson – 1Timothy 1:12-17
How did God demonstrate his patience in Paul’s life?
Paul’s early life was spent trying to destroy the early Christian church. Paul describes himself as a “blasphemer,” a “persecutor,” and a “violent man.” God showed his patience in turning Paul into a great missionary.
How has the Son of God demonstrated his unlimited patience in our lives?
God demonstrates his great patience for us in that despite our many sins, he still sent his one and only Son to die on the cross and take those sins away. He still calls us his own dear children!
Supplemental Second Lesson – 2 Corinthians 2:5-11
Here Paul tells Christians in Corinth to welcome back a man whom they had “handed over to Satan” because of his previous incest. Now the man is repentant. What should the Christians do, therefore? (See 2:7‒8.)
The Christians should reaffirm their love for the repentant man. They should forgive and comfort him. They should welcome him back as a fellow Christian.
What is the first reason Paul gives for doing so? (See 2:7.)
The Christians in Corinth were to do this, Paul says, to keep the man from being overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
Why did Paul forgive him too, and why else should the Corinthian Christians forgive the man? (See 2:11.)
Paul and the Corinthians (and we today, under similar circumstances) needed to forgive and comfort the man so that Satan would not outwit them. Satan loves discord and despair!
Gospel – Luke 15:1-10
What was ironic about the statement that the Pharisee’s and teachers of the law muttered?
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were amazed that Jesus would eat with “sinners” like prostitutes and tax collectors. What they failed to see was that they were just as guilty of sinning against God as the other “sinners” were.
What do these two parables spoken by Jesus emphasize?
These two parables emphasize God’s patience, his seeking heart, and the value which God places on each individual soul. May we be led to value people’s souls just as much and share with all sinners the soul-saving news of the free forgiveness found in Christ!