Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Church Is Meant for All People

These are the readings for the Thirteenth 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

Today is a celebration of our mission work! All people are sinful and face God’s condemnation. Christ died for all people and paid the penalty for the sins of the world. Shortly before his ascension into heaven, Jesus also commissioned us to preach the gospel to all creation. For God would have no one to be lost; he seeks the composition of his heavenly kingdom to include people of every nation, tribe, language, and people. Let us be about our Father’s business.

First Lesson – Isaiah 56:1,6-8

Agree or disagree. In the Old Testament, God intended the promises of salvation only for the Israelites, his chosen people.

Disagree. While God generally spoke his promises to his chosen people, he did not abandon those of other nationalities. In the Old Testament, God extended his forgiving love to the Ninevites through the prophet Jonah, blessed a Syrian officer through the testimony of a young Israelite servant girl, and inspired King David to write: “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all people,” to name but a few.

What does this text say about those who are included in the gathering or harvest?

The house of God would be a house of prayer for all nations, the Lord says through Isaiah. The binding characteristics will not be race or language but rather the fruits of their faith. (See 56:6.)

Supplemental First Lesson – Joshua 2:8-21

It is reasonable that spies would hide in a house of prostitution. It is also reasonable that this prostitute, Rahab, tried to cut a deal to preserve her life in the face of the Israelite onslaught that the whole city knew was coming. But what reason is there that she did it out of faith in the Lord? What reason did she find to have faith in the God of free and faithful love?

There is no reason for that, but the unreasonable gift of God worked in her heart through the living and active Word of God. Clearly, God meant his Church to be for all people. But he didn’t stop there! What reason could there be that this foreign woman, this prostitute from a godless country, that hers would be the womb through which the line of the Blessed Seed would descend? There is no reason for that at all. That can only be grace—grace meant for all people.

Second Lesson – Romans 11:13-15, 28-32

How was Israel’s rejection of the gospel a blessing for the world?

The rejection by the people of Israel finally caused the apostles to direct their preaching instead to the Gentiles. While we do not rejoice in the loss of souls among the Jews, this new focus did bring unprecedented numbers of Gentiles into the family of God.

What hope still exists for the Jewish people?

It is still God’s desire that all should be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. The amazing condition is that their very life of disobedience is an opportunity for God to extend his mercy. The same call God gave them in the Old Testament he gives them today—God’s promises are irrevocable.

Gospel – Matthew 15:21-28

Why did Jesus treat this foreign woman so harshly?

Perhaps we cannot fully understand the mind of the Lord, but it seems that despite his harsh tone, Jesus is loving to this woman. He is testing her faith in light of these apparent obstacles.

How does her faith help the woman to see past Jesus’ seeming rejection?

Her eyes of faith allow her to still see the possibility of help and an answer to her request.

What reward is there for her faith?

The immediate reward is the healing of her daughter—the ultimate reward is Jesus’ statement regarding her great faith and her life in him.

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