Salvation Through our Savior’s Sacrifice is Rejected by Many
These are the readings for the Second Sunday in Lent.
God’s Word for This Week
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (I Thessalonians. 4:3). What if we ignore God’s call to holy living? God says to examine ourselves, repent of our failures and ask for his forgiveness. Yet we never do any of those three perfectly. We must confess, as an old prayer says, “we have no power to defend ourselves.” So how can we not end up among those who permanently reject God’s rescue? Only by God’s constant grace in Christ. In his mercy, God even used Jesus’ rejection by his Jewish countrymen to put Jesus on the cross. Rejoice doubly then: Christ did not reject his Father’s will, he died for you. In Christ, God will also keep you from rejecting him.
First Lesson – Jeremiah 26:8-15
It seems impossible that God’s people should want to kill his servant just for speaking his God’s Word. How did it come to that?
Jeremiah’s warnings that Jerusalem and the temple would be a desolate ruin and Jeremiah’s call to repent infuriated them. They did not want to give up their pride or the city and temple that they loved more than they loved God. Jeremiah’s call to repent attacked their pride. They responded with death threats.
What was the connection between the people reforming their ways and the Lord not bringing the disaster he had pronounced against them?
Giving up outwardly what the Jews didn’t want to give up inside could not have spared them from God’s wrath. God sees inside. He demands that we be holy from the inside out. If the Jews had let go of their pride and looked to God’s grace for their standing before him, they would have desired righteousness and abhorred sin. Then by grace, for Jesus’s sake, God would have spared them.
Second Lesson – Philippians 3:17-4:1
Paul points out how unbelievers think and live. How do such descriptions serve as a blessing for believers like us?
When a believer sees flagrant displays of sin, he is appalled. When we are in the middle of temptation, we may not see how bad sin is. But when we see that sin in others, the Bible’s descriptions of sinners help us ask ourselves, “Is that really what I want to be like? If I persist, won’t I end up where they will end up?”
Our citizenship is in heaven, and soon Jesus will come down from heaven. How do such mercies help us resist temptation?
Picture an engaged couple, so in love with each other that they give no thought to anyone else’s attractiveness. That couple looks forward so much to the thrill of being together in marriage. In the same way, we are engaged to Jesus, to spend eternity with him. The more we ponder his love for us and what living with him face to face in his eternal kingdom will be like, the more we will want to please and thank him now. No one else comes close.
Gospel – Luke 13:31-35
Even though repentance and faith are works of God, why can’t those who lack repentance and faith blame God for that?
God works through his Word. The reason some do not repent of sin and trust in Jesus is that they harden themselves to the Word, rather than giving up their favorite sins or pride. Rather than simply point our finger at the Jews of Jesus’ day, let’s examine ourselves. Are we doing what they did, or in danger of that?
At the end, Jesus warned that Jews of his day would not see him as he really is until he came in glory on the Last Day. How did Jesus’ warning serve as a call to repentance and faith?
The Jews ought to have been terrified at the thought of seeing Jesus coming again in glory on the Last Day. After hearing the testimony of the Old Testament and Jesus’ teachings, and after seeing the evidence of his miracles, they had to know that Jesus coming in glory to judge them was more than a possibility. If they had cried out, “Lord, make me ready for that day,” he would have sheltered them under his arms. (Some Jews did repent later.)