Our fourth installment of the sermon series “Violence & God’s Redeeming Love” is subtitled “Revelation in Jesus” and builds on last week’s theme of scapegoat, sacrifice, and mythology. Our lessons are:
Micah 6:1-8 – This lesson was one of the lectionary lessons last week. What did God do to drive us away? What can we do to get back to God? Shall we kill more animals or kill our children? No. What God requires is for us to seek justice, love kindness, and be faithful followers.
Hebrews 9:1-14 – The writer recounts the sacrificial system and the Day of Atonement of the ancient Israelites with the killing of bulls, rams, and goats and the scattering of their blood to cleanse the objects in the tent (eventually the temple). The priest also had to atone for his own sin and the sin of his family. The priests had to do this year after year to cleanse the sins of the people that have “accumulated” during the year. Christ is the highest high priest and Christ’s atonement for sins only happened once. Not only was Christ the best high priest but he was also the perfect sacrifice.
John 11:45-53, 12:27-36a – The first eleven chapters of the Gospel of John is sometimes called the book of signs. His last and greatest sign was the raising of Lazarus from death in the town of Bethany, which is just outside of Jerusalem. Following the sign many complained to the Pharisees who, along with the chief priests, called a special meeting of the Council. What will they do? If nothing, then the Romans will destroy the city because the followers of Jesus will rebel. Caiaphas, the high priest, tells them the miracle of killing a scapegoat: peace, “It is better that one many die for the whole people than the whole nation be destroyed.” In the second part of this reading, Jesus speaks of a new miracle of the scapegoat: light that drives out the darkness or, in other words, truth that will reveal the lie of the myth. Substituting “truth and myth” for “light and darkness” Jesus says,
The truth is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the truth, so that the myth will not overtake you. If you walk in the myth, you do not know [what you are doing]. While you have the truth, believe in the truth, so that you may become the children of the truth.Next week we will talk about “apocalypse” which means “revelation”. What is being revealed by the death of Jesus on the cross? What question does Jesus’ death and resurrection answer?
The lectionary readings assigned for this week are:
Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12) – God tells the prophet to announce the sins of the people. The people ask why God won’t pay attention to them despite all the things they do: fasting and prayer. Yet, that is not what God want. The fast God wants is the sharing of bread with the hungry, homes with the homeless, cloths with the naked. Do these things and you will find God.
Psalm 112:1-9 (10) – The righteous are defined by what they do for others. This Psalm, without verse 10, is a nice pairing with the Isaiah reading above.
1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16) – In the final passage of his setup to dealing with the troubles in the First Church of Corinth Paul declares that he doesn’t speak with the wisdom of the world or with the wisdom of philosophers but with the power of God’s Spirit. It is a power that lives in human weakness and those who don’t follow God’s Spirit just don’t get it. How do we hear and understand the Spirit of God? Paul answers, “We have the mind of Christ.”
Matthew 5:13-20 – We dealt with verses 17-20 two weeks ago as we looked at Jesus’ call for us to live to a higher righteousness. In verses 13-16 Jesus says we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. What do you think Jesus meant? How can you and I be the salt of the earth and the light of the world?
Have a Spirit filled week as you love and serve your neighbors!
Peace in Christ,