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Lent 1, Cycle C (2016)

Confessing a God who delivers us. This is a Sunday for sermons on the benefits of confessing our faith (Sanctification) as well as on God’s Atoning Work.

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
This is a Wisdom Psalm, meditating on God as protector of the faithful. It is proclaimed that those abiding in the shelter and shadow [tsel, defense] of the almighty (Shaddai) will look to him for refuge [machseh] and trust him (vv. 1-2). Because the Lord has been made our refuge, no evil will befall us (vv. 9-10). His angels [malak] will guard us, it is said (vv. 11-12). In a concluding divine oracle probably uttered by a priest, El Shaddai claims that he will deliver [palat, let escape] those who love him, answer those who call, be with them in trouble, and bless them with long life, showing salvation [yeshua, safety] (vv. 14-16).

Application: Sermons on God’s work in saving and protecting us should emerge from this text (Justification by Grace and Providence). His role in delivering us by giving escape (Atonement) could also be explored.

Deuteronomy 26:1-11
This book is the product of writings which emerged during the sweeping religious reform under King Josiah in Judah in the late seventh century BC. This literary strand also influenced the histories of the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel as well as 1 and 2 Kings. The basic theme of this piece of literature is evidenced by the meaning of its title in Greek (“Second Law”). Portrayed in the form of Moses’ Farewell Address, it is the reaffirmation of the covenant between God and Israel. This lesson is part of the final section of Moses’ Second Address ; the verses are a large segment of a liturgy for presentation of the first fruits sacrifice at the central sanctuary.

The lesson begins with an introduction making clear that what follows is to be undertaken after Yahweh Elohim settles Israel in the Promised Land (v. 1). The occasion for this offering is a harvest pilgrimage festival, the Feast of Weeks, a thanks to God for the land and for the harvest, at which time the offering is to be presented with some of the harvest’s first fruits [peri] (vv. 2-4; cf. 16:9-12). The liturgy is fundamentally a confession and recitation of the early nomadic life of the progeny of Jacob, the time spent in Egypt as slaves, and the liberation leading to the land flowing with milk and honey (vv. 5-9). To confess Abraham as a nomadic Aramean is to identify Hebraic roots in Northern Syria. The participant then indicates that he had brought the first fruit of the ground to Yahweh (v. 10). Instruction follows, mandating that a celebration of the bounty is to be made with Levites and with all who reside in the region (v. 11).

Application: A sermon on this text will proclaim how confession of faith and involvement in the rituals of worship promote gratitude and joy (Sanctification and worship).

Romans 10:8b-13
This letter of introduction was written by Paul between 54 AD and 58 AD to a church which to date he had never visited. The church he addressed at that time may have been comprised of mostly Jewish Christians. This lesson continues a discourse on how righteousness comes by faith. Paul refers to the word of faith (v. 8b). Salvation is said to come as we confess [homologeo] that Jesus is Lord and believe [pisteuo] God raised him from the dead (v. 9). One who believes is justified [dikaiosune, righteous], and one who confesses is saved [sozo] (v. 10). Citing Isaiah 28:16 Paul notes that no one who believes in Christ will be put to shame (v. 11). Paul proceeds to claim that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. They are equal. The Lord is lord of all and generous [plouton, literally “rich”] to all (v. 12). Citing Joel 2:32 (applying reference to Yahweh to Jesus) Paul states that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (v. 13).

Application: Sermons on this lesson will seek to explain and celebrate the nature of confession of faith and how faith is nurtured by it (Justification by Grace and Sanctification).

Luke 4:1-13
We are again reminded that this gospel is the first installment of a two-part history of the church traditionally attributed to Luke, a physician and Gentile associate of Paul (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24). Along with Acts, the author’s intention was to stress the universal mission of the Church (Acts 1:8). Addressed to Theophilus (1:1), it is not clear if this means that the work was written for a recent convert or for a Roman official from whom the Church sought tolerance. But since Theophilus means “lover of God” it is possible that the author addressed all the faithful.

This lesson is an account of the Temptation endured by Jesus at the beginning of his ministry. More details are provided here than in the earlier Markan version (1:12-13). And the order of temptations experienced by Jesus differs from that reported in Matthew (4:1-4). Full of the Holy Spirit [pneuma], Jesus is said to have returned from the Jordan and gone into the wilderness [eremos] (v. 1). He was reportedly tempted for forty days, when he ate nothing (v. 2). The forty days in the wilderness fits the pattern of Moses’ and Elijah’s fasts (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9; 1 Kings 19:8). The devil [diabolos] appears, baiting him that if he were Son of God [huios tou Theou] he could command a stone to be a load of bread (v. 3). Jesus responds citing Deuteronomy 8:3 that we do not live by bread alone (v. 4). The devil next tempts Jesus with all the world’s kingdoms if he will worship the devil (vv. 5-7). Jesus responds citing Deuteronomy 6:13 and its claim that only the Lord God is to be worshiped and swerved (v. 8). The devil offers a third temptation, taking Jesus to the top of the temple in Jerusalem, instructing him to jump (quoting Psalm 91:11-12), for if he were Son of God the angels would protect him (vv. 9-11). Jesus responds to the temptation demonstrating his power by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16 that we not put the Lord God to a test [ekpeiraseis, tempt] (v. 12). When the devil had finished every test it is reported that he departed (v. 13).

Application: Preaching on this text will lead to proclamation of Jesus’ empathy with us when we are tempted and celebration of the nature of confession of faith and how faith is nurtured by it. Christology, Justification by Grace, and Sanctification will be emphasized.

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Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen