Fourth Sunday in Lent
Faith Strengthened Through Daily Repentance and Renewal
These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday in Lent.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)
God’s Word for This Week
As Christians, we have nothing to fear! The condemnation of the Law was removed by Christ’s life and death on our behalf. Reassured of God’s forgiveness on a daily basis, we can live our lives to his glory by serving others.
Traditional First Lesson – Hosea 5:15–6:3
How had God threatened his people?
God threatened to turn away from his people because of their sin. Our sins separate us from our God, and separation from God is described as “misery” (5:15).
What did Hosea plead? What was his confidence?
Hosea pleaded that his people “return to the Lord.” (See 6:1.) Repentance has connected to it the idea of turning away from our sin back to the Lord. Hosea stated confidently that God will “bind up our wounds…revive us…restore us…as surely as the sun rises.” (See 6:2,3.)
Supplemental First Lesson – Genesis 37:1-11
What do we learn about the choice between selfishness or selflessness from Joseph?
The life of Joseph illustrates Jesus’ message that whoever wants to be first must be your slave. Selfishness led to Jacob’s favoritism and his sons’ jealousy. Selfishness led Jacob and his sons to such pride that they could not imagine God’s prophecy about Joseph coming true. Their selfishness forced Joseph into the role of slave and servant, yet God, in his grace, would save many people in spite of their sin. Sold into slavery and jailed unjustly, Joseph would trust in God and selflessly serve his fellow man. Ultimately, God brought the prideful low and raised up humble Joseph. In doing so, he both fulfilled his prophecy and also saved the family of God and countless others.
Second Lesson – Romans 8:1-10
Why are the opening words so triumphant? (See 8:1.)
Paul has already discoursed at length on the reality of sin and its consequences as well as on God’s faithfulness and his gracious forgiveness in Christ. As Christians, he acknowledged that we are still struggling daily with the sinful nature that is part of us, but that we are being rescued by Jesus Christ. (See 7:21-25.) Now the triumphant confidence naturally follows: THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE FOUND IN CHRIST! What a comfort. What a relief for sin-challenged Christians!
While the Law no longer condemns us, it still has a function. What is the Law’s purpose for us now? (See 8:4.)
The “righteous requirements of the law” speak not of achieving God’s demanded perfection. Remember that there is no condemnation in Christ! This use of the Law is referred to as the “guide” or “rule,” which we obey out of love for God through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Gospel – Matthew 20:17-28
What was the “cup” of which Jesus spoke?
The cup was Jesus’ suffering and death, which he was headed to Jerusalem to drink.
Why is pride such a dangerous sin?
It is incorrect to consider one sin more punishable than another, but pride causes a person to ignore his need for spiritual help, and that can be a damning mistake.
How do Jesus’ life and ministry provide a model for us?
Jesus gave the ultimate model: Serve others!