Greetings in Christ,
This weekend is the 4th Sunday in Lent. It’s hard to believe we’re already 3 weeks away from our Easter celebration.
This weekend Pastor Troup is preaching. I ended up filling in for him since he was sick last week but had a sermon prepared is excited to preach it. So, Pastor Troup will be preaching on the Gospel lesson from last week. You can find the service information from last week right here if you’d like to get refreshed with regards to the focus of last week’s service.
Even though this week’s sermon will be from last week’s Gospel text, I don’t want us to miss the beauty of this week’s readings and liturgy. Too often we think the whole point of church is the sermon. Show up late, leave early…as long as we hear the sermon. Well, yes, sharing God’s Word in the sermon is a big deal, but it’s not the only thing that happens during service. We speak Scripture together for nearly the whole service as we come together praising God’s name having received His gifts of mercy and forgiveness.
Take a moment to reflect on the Scripture lessons this week. You can find a summary of the theme below.
Each reading is so amazing. We have the Old Testament lesson where the people of Israel complain and complain despite the amazing work God has done of freeing them from slavery in Egypt and preserving them in their journey and so the Lord sends fiery serpents as a punishment. When they plead for mercy, God is merciful and Moses is told to make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole. Whoever looks at it trusting God’s promise of healing would be healed.
Fast forward through the centuries and we hear Jesus saying that “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” From our infliction of sin imposed by the serpent of the garden, God’s Son is exalted upon a cross that whoever looks on Him has eternal life.
In English, we see that word “may.” “May have eternal life.” It sounds like there’s doubt there. “Oh, it’s possible, but you never know…it MAY happen.” That’s not the case. Despite what our English-speaking ears hear, there is nothing “unsure” about God’s promise as it is relayed here. Christ is exalted as the serpent in the wilderness so that we have eternal life in Him.
The Epistle lesson makes that clear. Take a look at the lesson from Ephesians 2. So beautiful isn’t it? You were dead…not just injured…not just suffering from a bite. The sin of the garden killed us all. We were dead, but by God’s grace, He has made you alive in Christ. He tells us to look upon His Son who suffers in our place and then God gives us His Holy Spirit to bring us to life at the foot of the cross. Any thought of our own effort or work is out the door. It’s all Christ. It’s all God sending His Son in the flesh and the Holy Spirit into your heart to believe His promises.
Blessings on your day!
Check out this great segment from Issues, Etc. all about the liturgical elements of the service this weekend.
LCMS Lectionary Summary:
Jesus Is Lifted Up on the Cross so that We May Look to Him and Live
The people sinned by speaking “against God and against Moses,” and the Lord called them to repentance by sending fiery serpents, which “bit the people, so that many people of Israel died” (Num. 21:4–6). When the people confessed their sin, the Lord provided a means of rescue from death. He instructed Moses to “make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole,” so that “if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live” (Num. 21:8–9). Thus, God sent His Son into the world, in the likeness of our sin and death, and lifted Him up on the pole of the cross, that whoever looks to Him in faith “may have eternal life” (John 3:14–16). By His cross, “the light has come into the world,” not for condemnation, but “that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17–19). While we “were dead in the trespasses and sins” in which we once lived (Eph. 2:1), God loved us, calling us to repentance and raising us up with Christ to live “with him in the heavenly places” (Eph. 2:4–6).
In Case you missed last week’s service, you can catch up now.
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