Bible Readings for Wednesday March 23nd, 2011 – The 2nd Week of Lent
*Click on each bible passage to expand the text.
Psalm 1281. [A Song of Ascents.] Happy is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways.
2. You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.
3. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
4. Thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.
5. The LORD bless you from Zion. May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
6. May you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!22. Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.
23. I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes.
24. I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.
25. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
26. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
27. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.
28. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
29. I will save you from all your uncleannesses, and I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you.
30. I will make the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field abundant, so that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.
31. Then you shall remember your evil ways, and your dealings that were not good; and you shall loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominable deeds.
32. It is not for your sake that I will act, says the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and dismayed for your ways, O house of Israel.53. Then each of them went home,
1. while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them.
3. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them,
4. they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.
5. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
6. They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.
7. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
8. And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
9. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.
10. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11. She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”
- Thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD. – Psalm 128:4
- A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. – Ezekiel 36:26
- When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – John 8:7
In our reading from Ezekiel 36 today, we hear a tone of a God who is fed up with the ways of a callous, cynical, and selfish people who even in exile manage to ignore God’s ways and bring sadness to God’s heart. And yet, he still promises to return them from exile into the land of their fathers.
In the passage from John, regardless of the woman’s apparent infidelity, Jesus still protects her from the “righteous” mob.
“Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Why does God continue to defend us and provide for us, even when we are not obedient to God’s word?
I think an even more important question is: why do we think God won’t?
It is our own human assumption that God should not provide to the sinner. It is our own human assumption that God wants to punish us.
Yet over and over the bible illustrates to us that God will provide for us, no matter how we acted previously, or how we respond to it later.
It is difficult to imagine such a love, such a generosity of the heart which overcomes even disappointment and heartache for our transgressions to still provide for us. And it is becuase that quality of love is difficult to imagine that the Kingdom on Earth is so far from us today. The Kingdom of God on Earth as it is in Heaven requires that we begin to love as God loves en masse, a ceaseless charity of our hearts without requirement of merit or reciprocation.
And yet we still run rampant through this world, selfish and bold in our sin, as if the last two-thousand years have meant nothing to us. We still march on, living the way of the sword, satisfying every desire without restraint or consideration for love, judgmental, gluttonous, vain and hard of heart.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”