Archive for the ‘forgiveness’ tag
The text for this lesson is Mark 14:26–72.
- Though we, like Peter, deny Jesus and His gifts, Jesus cannot deny us because we are part of Him, baptized members of His own Body. Instead, He forgives us and welcomes us back.
- Law: To deny Jesus is to commit spiritual suicide.
- Gospel: Even when I deny Him, Jesus will never turn His back on me, never refuse me, and never stop loving me.
- Often we call this day “Palm Sunday” and celebrate by adorning the church with palms and processing. Yet this Sunday is also called the Sunday of the Passion, and in most churches around the world, the full Passion account from one of the Gospels is read during the service (in Mark’s Gospel, it would include chapters 14–15). What is the “Passion,” and why is it commemorated in this way? How does this fit with the celebration of palms and Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1–11)?
- What do you think of Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial (Mark 14:26–31)? Is Jesus setting Peter up for an “I told you so”? What are we to think of Peter’s emphatic refusal to believe Jesus’ prediction?
- Read the descriptions of Jesus being distressed, sorrowful, and praying that “this cup” be removed from Him (vv. 33–36). When Jesus faced the devil in the desert after His Baptism, He is confident and unwavering, countering each temptation with the Word of God (Luke 4:1–13). But here He seems less sure of Himself, and certainly more shaken. Does this bother you? Does it make you wonder if Jesus ever wavered in the face of temptation? How does the text actually reassure us that no such wavering occurs?
- Look at Mark 14:42–52 again. What is similar about verses 42 and 50? Who has betrayed Jesus and who remained supporting Him?
- The next section is verses 53–65, Jesus’ trial. Although there are no witnesses for the defense, even the “prosecuting” witnesses are unable to accuse Him justly. They can only bear “false witness against Him” (v. 56). Yet there is one nearby who could witness for Him. What does this potential witness do? Who is the only one, finally, who can testify on Jesus’ behalf?
- Finally, we have the account of Peter’s denial (vv. 66–72). Who challenges him? What threat do they really present to Peter? What does this show us about Peter’s state here at the end of the trial?
- Look again at the account of Jesus praying (vv. 32–41). What does Jesus’ prayer teach us about our own life of prayer?
- Read Luke 12:8–9. What does Jesus say here about those who deny Him? Read the verses that follow (vv. 10–12). What can we rely on to save us from our denials and failures?
The text for this lesson is Genesis 15:1–6; 17:1–27
- God gave Abram (Abraham) faith to trust His promises to save His people. God gives us faith in Jesus, our Savior.
- Law: God wants me to believe and trust in Him.
- Gospel: God grants me faith in Jesus, my Savior.
- Law: In my sin, I doubt that God can do what He promises. I do not trust God.
- Gospel: God in His mercy carries out His promises, giving me reason to trust Him in all things and the faith to do so.
- “Fear not, Abram.” Why would Abram fear? He has just vanquished the enemy, rescued Lot, and received the blessing of the priest of the Most High God. What is there to fear?
- Have we felt the fears of Abram?
- How often have we sat, like Abram, in the silence of our corporate Confession considering our own doubts and fears, waiting for these words: “I, as a called and ordained servant of the Word . . . forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”? How often have we yearned for our Shield, Abram’s very great reward, Jesus Christ, to speak His comforting words of clemency to us?
- God speaks over and over again to Abram. Yet, His Word is always the same. He continually tells Abram that He will bless him through his offspring. Contemplate this cycle of fear/promise in the life of Abram. How is this similar to our lives of faith in Christ? Christ crucified is preached every Sunday of the year in our churches. Every Sunday, His resurrection is proclaimed. Why must we be comforted with the same message over and over again as was Abram? What does this message say about our need to go to regular worship services and hear His merciful speaking?
- It is popular these days to give a loved one a paper certifying that a star will be named in one’s honor. Yet, this is only paper. Reread Genesis 15:5. How are we linked with the stars? Look toward heaven, Christian, and number the stars. Each one bears the name of an offspring of Abraham. Read Galatians 3:29. How is this so?
- Genesis 17 is not so much about Abraham as it is about Sarah. This was her promise. Abraham had already received the promise of a son born to him (Genesis 15:4). Believing that the barrenness of Sarah was a barrier, Abraham took matters into his own hands. He had a son, Ishmael, by Hagar. God’s promise to Sarah required even more faith. How is it that she who was infertile could produce a child?
- Note Abram’s reaction in Genesis 17:17. In the midst of God’s speaking, Abram laughed. Seems a bit inappropriate, doesn’t it? Read Psalm 126:1–3. God showers His good gifts on us every Sunday. Felicity follows forgiveness, even if tempered by reverence. God found no fault with Abram’s festive feedback. How was Abram’s laughter a sign of his faith? What else accompanied it? Should we follow Abram with regard to his worship practice?
- What did circumcision signify? Read Exodus 4:24–26. How important was the circumcision covenant to God? Read Colossians 2:10–14. In which watery way are Christians to be circumcised now? Explain how this is tied to Christ’s own keeping of the Law. See Luke 2:21. How important is it to God that we receive the new circumcision without flesh? What is bestowed upon us in this new circumcision?
- John the Baptist declared that God can
make descendants of Abraham out of stones (Matthew 3:9). What does this tell us about how Christians are made? What does this tell us about the hardness of our hearts before we are converted? In a discussion with the Pharisees, Jesus told them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did” (John 8:39). How was Jesus’ thought influenced by Genesis 15:6? What is it that Abraham did?
- Do you ever wonder why Moses wrote this simple sentence in Genesis 15:6? Certainly faith is not seen. We can’t look at someone and see faith written across the forehead. Moses, too, could not see Abram’s faith. See Romans 4:20–25. Why would the Holy Spirit inspire Moses to pen this intimate look into the inner workings of Abraham’s soul?
The text for this lesson is Genesis 3:1-24; John 3:16
- Through Adam, sin spreads to all people. Through Christ, God offers forgiveness to all people.
- Law: I sin when I blame others for my sins.
- Gospel: Jesus, who was sinless, took the blame for the sin of the world upon Himself, making me blameless.
- Are we sinners because we commit sins, or do we commit sins because we are sinners? After discussing this question, see Psalm 51:5 for insight into this question.
- Have you ever tried to eradicate the sin from your life? If so, did you have any success? What is the solution to this sin problem?
- What are some examples of sins that we commit that affect our relationships with each other? What are some examples of sins that affect the health of our bodies?
- In our relationship with God, is it more harmful that we commit sins (actual sin) or that we are born dead in a sinful condition (original sin)? How far does sin separate us from God? See Isaiah 59:2. Why is it so important that God forgives all our sin for Christ’s sake?
- To set the stage for Genesis 3, we must review Genesis 2:8–9, 15–17. To whom did God directly give the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Why might God give such a command? What made the fruit deadly to those who ate it?
- Read Genesis 3:1–3. What did the serpent throw into question in his temptation of Eve? Did she accurately quote God’s original command? In Genesis 3:6, we find that Adam was with Eve. As head of his household and recipient of God’s original command, what should he have done to prevent this disaster?
- After the fall, God could have simply destroyed the creation and started over from scratch. Yet He had created the world “very good,” and He would not give up on it. Read Genesis 3:15 and John 3:16. Why did God not destroy the world? How far was He willing to go to redeem His creation?
- In Genesis 3, Satan casts doubt on God’s Word in order to tempt Eve. Read 1 Peter 5:8–9. Whom is Satan most interested in tempting? What is Satan’s ultimate goal? What is our best defense against Satan?
- Genesis 3:7 explains that immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, they recognized their nakedness and covered themselves out of shame. How does our culture show that it no longer sees shame in nakedness? How do these things tempt people to sin and destroy lives? How can we help friends and family members who struggle with these temptations?
- In Genesis 3:22–24, we see that if Adam and Eve had eaten of the tree of life after the fall, they would have lived forever in their sinful condition. When God banished them from the garden, how was this an act not only of wrath, but also of grace? How does God’s Law function to show us both God’s wrath toward sin and also His love for our well-being?
- Adam and Eve were righteous before they sinned, that is, they were free from the guilt of sin. Read Genesis 3:10–13. How did Adam and Eve try to justify themselves, that is, declare themselves righteous before God? What are some ways that we try to justify ourselves before one another and before God when we know we are guilty? How is it that Paul can say that we are justified, or declared righteous, in God’s sight? See Romans 5:18–19.
The text for this lesson is Luke 23:26–24:12
1. “Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” Perhaps you have already used this traditional exchange today. What does alleluia or hallelujah mean? Why have we refrained from using alleluias during the forty days of Lent only to resurrect its use today?
2. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Even in heaven, He is the “Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 5:12). A crucifix helps us see with our eyes the message of the preceding verses. How does a crucifix also communicate the reality of the Christian’s earthly life more clearly than an empty cross does?
3. Compare Luke 23:32–33 with Luke 22:37. How does the crucifixion scene fulfill this prediction of Jesus? Read Isaiah 53:11–12. What additional knowledge does this prophecy of Isaiah give us concerning the significance of Jesus being numbered with the transgressors upon a cross?
4. In Luke 23:40–42, what remarkable confession does the criminal make about himself and Jesus? What words of Jesus might have brought the criminal to faith? How does the criminal provide an ideal pattern for us?
5. In Scripture, darkness and light are often contrasted. For example, we read in 1 John 1:5, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” Darkness usually represents evil things, such as sin, death, and hell. Sin is darkness, for Solomon states that “the way of the wicked is like deep darkness” (Proverbs 4:19). Death is darkness, as David describes those who “sit in darkness like those long dead” (Psalm 143:3). So also, hell is darkness, for Jesus says that those who reject His Gospel will be “thrown into the outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12). In Genesis 1:2, the earth was chaotic and in darkness before God said, “Let there be light.” In view of what we know about the biblical use of darkness, how are Luke 22:3 and 22:53 related to the darkness described in Luke 23:44? What does the darkness suggest is happening to the world during Jesus’ crucifixion? According to Revelation 21:22–23, what did Jesus’ death and resurrection ensure for our new Jerusalem in heaven?
6. Luke emphasizes the innocence (righteousness) of Jesus throughout his Passion Narrative. When Jesus is first brought to trial in Luke 23:4, Pilate says, “I find no guilt in this man.” According to 23:15, neither did Herod. Pilate wanted to release Jesus (v. 16). He pleaded with the Jews to let him free Jesus, and he continued to maintain His innocence (vv. 18–22), but finally he gave into their vociferous demands (vv. 23–25). The criminal confessed Jesus’ righteousness (v. 41), and when He died, the centurion said, “Certainly this man was innocent” (v. 47). We also see Jesus’ perfect trust in His Father when He cried out, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” (v. 46). Luke emphasizes through these things that Jesus was the righteous one who committed no sins at all and did not deserve punishment. According to Leviticus 18:4–5, what would result for one who perfectly obeyed God’s Law? What is the relationship between that promise and Jesus’ resurrection?
7. To justify something is to declare it righteous or innocent. Pilate, the criminal, and the centurion all justified Jesus by declaring Him innocent. Yet God alone can truly declare someone innocent (Romans 8:33), and by raising Jesus from the dead, He declared to the world that His Son is the Righteous One. According to Romans 4:24–25, what else happened in Jesus’ death and resurrection?
8. According to Romans 6:3–5, what is the connection between Baptism and Christ’s death and resurrection?
9. We read in Luke 23:56 that the women remained faithful to the Old Testament Law, which said that they could not handle a dead body on the Sabbath. The women were still living under the Law. Since Jesus, God’s righteous servant, obeyed the Law perfectly, what did Jesus’ Sabbath rest in the tomb symbolize? According to Romans 10:4, how does Christ change our relationship to the Old Testament Law?
The text for this lesson is Luke 7:36–50.
1. Today draws us deep into the Lenten season. As we have seen in previous weeks, the theme of Lent is repentance, which is brought about when God’s Law shows us our sinfulness and the Gospel shows us God’s promise of forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. Repentance includes both sorrow over sin and faith in God’s forgiveness. Last week, we saw how the prodigal son’s father showed great love and mercy toward him, moving him to repentance. This week, we see how a sinful woman encountered the love and forgiveness of Jesus, which moved her to repentance, saving faith in Him, and also great love for Him. She was not saved by her works of love but by trusting in Jesus. How does Romans 4:4–5 explain why faith is not a work done by people? What does Romans 4:6–8 say is the essence of the righteousness of faith, such as the faith that the sinful woman had in Jesus?
2. Luke provides the only account among the Gospel writers of the sinful woman anointing Jesus’ feet with tears and ointment. Matthew, Mark, and John describe a woman coming to Jesus soon before His Passion in order to anoint His head with oil. Though Luke records a different event than the other evangelists, the anointing of Jesus in Luke might have the same symbolic value as the anointing recorded in the others. According to Matthew 26:12, what was the purpose of Jesus’ anointing? How is this lesson especially appropriate as we approach Holy Week?
3. In Luke 7:36–39, it is mentioned four times that Simon, the man Jesus was invited to eat with, was a Pharisee. As we read through Luke’s Gospel, we learn a number of important facts about the Pharisees that help us understand why Jesus often criticized them. In Luke 7:30, we hear that the Pharisees rejected God’s purposes for themselves because they refused the Baptism of repentance of John the Baptist. In Luke 11:39, when the Pharisees noticed that Jesus did not ceremonially wash before the meal, Jesus said, “You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” In Luke 15:2, they complained about Jesus welcoming and eating with sinners. Later, Jesus tells the story of the Pharisee who went to the temple to pray, saying, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men” (Luke 18:11). In today’s lesson, it seems that Luke wanted to make sure that the hearer of His Gospel would pick up on the fact that Simon was a Pharisee. What clue could this fact indicate about the way the story will unfold? Do we still have Pharisees in our midst today?
4. We confess in the Nicene Creed that Jesus Christ is “God of God, light of light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.” What things does Jesus do in today’s lesson from Luke 7 that only God can do?
5. What actions demonstrate Simon’s rejection of Jesus as the greatest Prophet, the Messiah? What is ironic about Simon’s statement, “If this man were a prophet, He would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39)? According to Luke 5:20–21 and Luke 7:49, what work of Jesus scandalized the Pharisees more than any other?
6. What is the main point of the parable of two debtors? Which of the debtors represents us?
7. The sinful woman would have been banned from table fellowship with the Pharisees because of her outwardly sinful life, which made her unclean. She shows great love for Jesus and welcomes Him as the most honored guest, unlike Simon the Pharisee. The contrast between the woman and the Pharisee is striking. Jesus says to Simon, “I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47). Does this verse indicate that the woman was forgiven because she loved Jesus or that she loved Jesus because she was forgiven? How do the second half of the verse and the parable of the two debtors help us find the right answer? How does 1 John 4:19 shed light on this question?
8. Throughout Luke’s Gospel, Jesus shares table fellowship with tax collectors, sinners, and Pharisees. In today’s lesson, the woman was one of those sinners whom Jesus ate with and to whom He delivered forgiveness. Jesus ate with the Pharisees, but they did not desire His forgiveness. According to Luke 13:26–27, what will be Jesus’ message on the Last Day for Pharisees who ate at the same table with Jesus but did not believe in Him? What words of warning does Luke 13 give to us today as we gather around our Lord’s Table?
9. The Pharisees had tamed God’s Law by making it manageable. They thought they could fulfill it. They thought life could be lived without sin. Occasionally, you will encounter people today who believe the same thing. Their delusion is just another sign of how deeply sin penetrates us all. Left to our own devices, we can even fool ourselves into thinking that we are not sinful! But Paul says in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” When we realize that, we will appreciate why we needed Jesus to come save us. What does Luke 1:77 tell us is Jesus’ mission? How was His mission completed, according to Ephesians 1:7?
10. The liturgy for Holy Communion takes us through a remarkable transition. As we enter, we are poor, miserable sinners. When we receive the Benediction, the Lord blesses us with the gift of peace as we depart. Jesus tells the woman in today’s lesson, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” The Lord shares the same message with us in the Divine Service. Peace with God is found throughout the liturgy, in particular with the words of Absolution and the preaching of the Gospel, and culminates within the Service of Holy Communion. After the Words of Institution are spoken and Christ’s body and blood are present on the altar, the pastor says, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” Our peace comes from the altar. After we receive the Lord’s body and blood, we are told to “Depart in peace.” In the Nunc Dimittis, we sing, “Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace.” According to Romans 5:1, what is the cause of our peace with God?
The text for this lesson is John 6:1–14 .
- In His love, God promises to care for all our physical and spiritual needs and gives us the greatest treasure: His Son and the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation.
- Law: Like the disciples, I am of little faith, lacking trust in God to give me all good things. In sin, I seek earthly treasure and security. Earthly goods are part of this world of sin; they will pass away.
- Gospel: God promises to provide for all my needs according to His will and riches. God has promised me much more, granting me eternal life in His Son, Jesus. God gives me the greater thing: faith in Jesus and eternal life in heaven with Him.
1. What does John 6 teach us about the difference between seeing miraculous signs and believing Jesus’ words? What can the Church learn from this?
2. In John 6:3, we are told that Jesus “went up on the mountain.” In Matthew 5–7, Jesus also goes up on a mountain to teach. What Old Testament figure was frequently found on a mountain? (See Exodus 19:3–4.) What might this bit of information tell us about how John and Matthew portray Jesus?
3. Read John 6:48–58. How does the preceding discussion concerning the Passover and the manna in the wilderness provide insight into the meaning of this passage?
4. Philip, Andrew, and Moses had much in common when it came to dealing with large-scale hunger problems. What had all three of them failed to see? What do we have in common with Philip, Andrew, and Moses when it comes to dealing with our problems?
5. We read in John 6:4 that the Passover was near, which means that the feeding of the five thousand occurred in the springtime. This is supported by John 6:10, “There was much grass in the place.” Mark 6:39 says that the grass was green. Jesus had the crowd sit down in green fields before He fed them “as much as they wanted” (John 6:11). To what might this scene be an allusion?
6. Compare John 6:11 and Luke 22:19. What might the similarity of these verses teach the Church about the feeding of the five thousand?
7. After seeing Jesus perform the miraculous sign, the people said that Christ was the prophet who had come into the world. Read Deuteronomy 18:15–19. Who would this prophet be like? According to John 1:17, what would be the greatest difference between Jesus the Prophet and the one who came before Him?
The text for this lesson is Luke 17:11-19.
- In the same way He healed the men with leprosy, Jesus forgives and heals us from the sickness of sin and death. In faith, we respond with thankful hearts, praising Him for His love for us.
- Law: Sickness and disease are results of sin. Sickness shows me the effects of sin and how powerless I am to overcome it. In my sin, I cry to God for mercy.
- Gospel: Jesus came to heal me from the sickness of sin. God’s Son, Jesus, is the only one who overcame sin, and His victory is mine in faith. God hears my cry of faith and grants me forgiveness, life, and salvation.
1. Jesus’ miracles function as significant demonstrations of His power over all creation, but they also serve another important purpose. According to Luke 7:18–23, what did Jesus’ miracles, such as today’s story about the healing of the ten lepers, confirm for John the Baptist?
2. Samaria was located between Judea and Galilee, so Jesus from time to time did travel through Samaria. However, Jews made it a practice to avoid both Samaria and Samaritans. The Samaritans as a people were notorious for their religious promiscuity. They were known to have worshiped the gods of five other nations. They edited their own version of the Old Testament, known as the Samaritan Pentateuch, and they set up a rival temple on Mount Gerizim. Today’s lesson demonstrates an important point about the Samaritans’ status in Jesus’ eyes—He came for them too. How does this story illustrate the point Paul makes in Galatians 3:26–29?
3. Lepers lived at the bottom of society. One authority in Jesus’ day mandated fifty yards between a leper and a healthy person. They lived without hope, for doctors could not cure their skin diseases. Yet Jesus had great compassion for them. One of the first people Jesus healed was a leper. What is so striking about Jesus’ interaction with the leper in Luke 5:12–16? How does this correspond to the picture of the Messiah that Isaiah gives in Isaiah 53:3–4?
4. When Jesus healed the leper in Luke 5, He both spoke and touched the leper to heal him. Based on Luke 17:14, what seems to be the manner in which Jesus healed the ten lepers? How does Jesus speak in this manner today?
5. The lepers were instructed to go to the temple in Jerusalem in order to show themselves to the priests and perform ceremonial cleansing. At the temple, they would also have given thanks to God for the mercy He had shown to them by healing them. Yet the Samaritan recognized something very important that the other nine lepers did not. Instead of going to give thanks to God at the temple, where did the Samaritan go to give thanks to God? According to John 2:18–22, what would replace the temple in Jerusalem?
6. Most versions of the Bible, including the English Standard Version, have Jesus say to the Samaritan in Luke 17:19, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” While this translation is grammatically possible, a more literal translation would be, “Your faith has saved you.” All ten lepers certainly had faith that Jesus could heal them; they took Him at His Word when they went to show themselves to the priest. But only the Samaritan returned to worship God in the person of Jesus. Only the Samaritan had received true saving faith. What does this lesson teach us about faith? According to Ephesians 2:8–9, what is the true source of faith?
7. Today’s lesson about the ten lepers reminds us that sick and suffering people are all around us, even in the midst of our congregations. One of the responsibilities of pastors is to visit the sick in order to bring them Jesus’ Word and His life-giving body and blood. Yet visiting the sick is one of the good works that Jesus encourages all Christians to do. According to Matthew 25:31–40, what is the significance of visiting the sick? What does this passage teach us about the good works of Christians? How do Romans 14:23b and Ephesians 2:10 help explain this teaching about good works?
8. One of the oldest names that the Church has for the Lord’s Supper is Eucharist. This name comes from the Greek word εύχαριστέω (eucharisteo), which means “to be thankful” or “to give thanks.” When Jesus took the bread and cup at the Last Supper, He “gave thanks” for both of them (Luke 22:17, 19). The Church has often called the Lord’s Supper the Eucharist because Christians come before the altar in thanksgiving of what they are about to receive: Jesus’ true body and blood. In today’s lesson, the Samaritan returns to Jesus “thanking Him,” and in the Greek, the word is εύχαριστέω (eucharisteo). How do the Samaritan’s actions toward Jesus mirror our actions at the Lord’s Supper?
9. Jesus instructed the lepers to go to the priests at the temple in Jerusalem in order to be ceremonially cleansed. Once a person was physically cleansed, he needed spiritual cleansing as well. Leviticus 14:1–32 prescribes the cleansing ritual for a person who had been healed of a skin disease. The Old Testament laws for cleansing were in effect until Jesus fulfilled the Law through His death and resurrection. Instead of the Old Testament cleansing rituals, how does God cleanse us in the Church? Read the following passages and note the ways God cleanses us from sin.
a. Acts 15:5–11
b. 1 John 1:7–9
c. Ephesians 5:25–27
d. Hebrews 9:22
The text for this lesson is Luke 5:1-11.
- Jesus chose ordinary, sinful men to follow Him and be His disciples. In Baptism, Jesus chooses us to be His children.
- Law: In my sin, I want to hide from Jesus. Because of sin, I doubt that Jesus is who He says He is. Because of my sin, my work is hard and often unfruitful.
- Gospel: In Jesus’ forgiveness, I find peace and favor with God. Jesus shows His power over sin and makes my work productive, giving forgiveness, new life, and salvation through His Word and Sacraments. God’s Word testifies repeatedly and consistently that Jesus is God’s Son.
1. Read Matthew 4:18–22. Does Matthew refer to the same event as Luke 5:1–11? What are the key differences between these stories? What is the difference between Jesus saying, “I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19) and “From now on you will be catching men” (Luke 5:10)?
2. The people had been astonished by the authority with which Jesus proclaimed the Word (Luke 4:32). Note that in Luke 5:1, the people are gathered around Him to “hear the word of God.” Luke is making it clear that, from Jesus’ time onward, hearing the Word of God is the same as hearing the Word of Jesus. Read Luke 8:21 and 11:28. What does Jesus say about those who receive His Word in faith? How does this message apply to us?
3. Read Isaiah 6:1–7. How was Isaiah’s experience similar to Peter’s? How were Isaiah and Peter both comforted? What do these stories tell us about God?
4. In Luke 5:10, Jesus tells Simon that he will begin catching men. In order to catch fish, you need a net and a boat. To catch men, Peter needed a means of catching people and a way to keep them alive. Read Acts 2:14, 36–42. What net does Peter use to catch people? Where were the people kept alive? How does this fishing expedition continue today?
5. Read Matthew 13:47–50. Though this parable is not a direct parallel to the story in Luke 5, it uses similar fishing imagery. What sobering fact does it teach us about the Church’s catch of men?
6. In today’s story, the fishermen fished with nets, not lines and hooks. Why is the image of a net bringing us into the Church more comforting than a hook?
7. Jesus brought about the miraculous catch of fish by His almighty power. In fact, the Greek does not say that the fishermen caught the fish but that the nets enclosed them. It was not an active accomplishment on the part of the fishermen. What comforting fact does this tell us about the mission of the Church?
8. Why would it not make much sense if every person was a professional fisherman? Why isn’t every Christian specifically called to be a fisher of men in the Office of the Holy Ministry?
The text for this lesson is Luke 4:16–30
- In Nazareth, throughout His ministry, and even today, Jesus is rejected by people who do not have faith in Him. God’s Word clearly shows that Jesus is God’s Son, and in faith, we believe.
- Law: Sin blinds my eyes to the Savior. Because of my sinful weakness, I want God to show me His power with a miracle.
- Gospel: Through God’s Word and Sacraments, I can see and believe in Jesus. God, through water and His Word, has performed the greatest miracle for me, granting me forgiveness and eternal life with Him.
1. In the synagogue, Jesus would read Scripture from a scroll and then preach on the text He read. In Romans 10:17, Paul says that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” What was the primary means of teaching in Jesus’ time? Were Bibles available to the people? Would many people have been able to read Hebrew? What does this tell us about the importance of preaching in Jesus’ ministry and in the New Testament?
2. In Luke 4:24, Jesus literally says, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown” (author’s translation). What does the word amen mean? Why is it attached to prayers?
3. Describe the experience of spending time with people who remember what you were like when you were growing up. How does familiarity with a person’s background color your image of him or her? What would the people of Nazareth recall about Jesus’ childhood? How could this give insight into Jesus’ statement, “No prophet is acceptable in his hometown” (Luke 4:24)?
4a. What phrases in Luke 4:18–19 indicate that Jesus will be a teacher and work miracles? Read Luke 4:31–37. How does this account in Capernaum revisit the two primary themes from His previous sermon?
4b. According to Luke 4:23, Jesus anticipated that the people of Nazareth would expect Him to perform signs and wonders such as He had done in Capernaum. “Physician, heal yourself” might be a reference to the idea that one should not forget to help his own family and friends while he assists complete strangers. Yet as a prophet, Jesus would fare no better than the prophets of Israel, such as Elijah and Elisha, who were often rejected by the people. There-fore, God sent Elijah to the Gentile (non-Israelite) widow in Zarapheth, and Elisha was given the task of cleansing the pagan Naaman. How does the account in Luke 4:28–29 suggest what will eventually happen to the prophet Jesus? Read Luke 13:31–34.
5. In Luke 4:18, Jesus says that He will “set at liberty those who are oppressed.” As has been noted, the Greek word translated as “set at liberty” is often used to describe the forgiveness of sins, so this passage announces one of the major themes of Jesus’ preaching. Read Isaiah 53:6, our Bible verse for today. In what way does sin still oppress us? In what sense are we liberated from the oppression of sin? See Luke 1:77 and 24:47.
6. Jesus quotes the messianic prophecy of Isaiah 61 in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor.” Who else besides Jesus is mentioned in that verse? What event was a key revelation that Jesus is the promised Anointed One or Messiah? See Luke 3:21–22 and Acts 10:38.
7. The language of Luke 4:18–19 indicates that God has come to restore the fallen creation, to release it from bondage to decay and death. Read Colossians 1:15–20. Whom does Paul describe as the Creator of all things? How does the Creator reconcile creation to Himself? How does Luke 4:18–19 support the theme of the restored creation?
8. Luke 4:19 says that Jesus came to “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” The background for this statement is found in Leviticus 25, in which the Year of Jubilee is prescribed to the Israelites. Read Leviticus 25:8–10. How often was the Year of Jubilee? What occurred during this year? What themes are found in both Leviticus 25:8–10 and Luke 4:18–19?
9. What did Jesus mean in Luke 4:21 that “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”? To which passage does this refer? What does this say about the power of His preaching? What does preaching accomplish in the Church today? See 1 Corinthians 1:21–25.
10. In Luke 4:15–16, we learn that Jesus customarily taught in the Jewish synagogue. He would read the Old Testament and interpret it, revealing Himself as the Messiah. How did Paul and the apostles use the synagogue to expand the Church? See Acts 9:20; 13:5; 14:1 as examples. How does the preaching that Paul did in the synagogues compare with the preaching we hear at church today?
11. In light of Jesus’ preaching in Luke 4:18–19, why do we still see the consequences of sin in creation? What does God really desire from us? Read Hebrews 11:1.
The text for this lesson is the book of Jonah.
- Just as Jonah was swallowed up in the belly of the fish for three days, so Jesus, in His crucifixion, was baptized into the sea of death, drowned in our depravities, devoured by the grave, and spewed forth alive again after three days and nights that He might save us, the Assyrians, the Ninevites, and Jonah.
- Law: In my sin, I judge and condemn others. I am unforgiving because I am blind to my own sin and guilt.
- Gospel: God, who sees my sin, is rich in mercy and forgives me for Jesus’ sake.
The Assyrians were the forerunners of the world’s Hitlers, Mussolinis, and their ilk. Icyblooded, tyrannical people were they, infamous for such crimes as impaling conquered peoples on tall poles. And, as if to boast to their posterity, they chiseled stones with pictures of such brutality! They were easy to hate, in other words. Jonah’s lack of love for them would have been shared by very many of his countrymen. Nineveh’s repentance and faith following Jonah’s preaching would not last forever. About a century later (around 650 BC), Nahum lambasted Nineveh for its evil ways, but his message went unheeded. This led to the city’s destruction by God, through the Babylonians, in 612 BC.