Readings for Third Sunday in Lent, 2/24/13:
Isaiah 55:1-9, Psalm 63:1-8, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:1-9
- This is one of my very favorite passages. "Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters...why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?" Check out John 6 for strong correlations with this passage. Why indeed to we choose again and again for our lives things which we know will not cure the hurts and desires and pains that we have? God must scratch the head over us all the time. We choose so poorly for ourselves!
- "And nations that you do not know shall run to you, because of the Lord your God." I really like this image! Too often, as Americans, we find that our claim of faith has just the opposite effect on people. Nations run from us because of the way we claim our God, God blessing America at the expense of all others. What would it mean for nations to run to us because of our faith?
- This psalm sounds like it could be a Shakespeare love sonnet! "My soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you." Reminds me a bit of Jars of Clay - remember way back when they first came out and had the big hit and no one knew they were a Christian group singing about God? Well, they have a song, "Love Song for a Savior", that I love. But do we love God? Love Jesus? How do we have faith so deep and exciting that it can't be told apart from the over-the-top way we claim to love other humans? I'm not sure I've managed that myself yet!
- "God is faithful, and [God] will not let you be tested beyond your strength." These are appropriate words for the season of Lent when many are struggling to stay faithful to what they have given up for the 40 day season. I've often heard these words, however, used to 'comfort' someone who is suffering some great trial. I'm not sure how 'comforting' they actually are in that situation, however!
- "Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them..." After Paul describes the spiritual experiences of the Israelites, he ends by saying that they still were evildoers in many circumstances. I think that's a good reminder for us: God knows our hearts. God knows the difference between show and reality, words, and faith.
- Huh? Sometimes the parables make us go, "Ohhh" with recognition. Sometimes they make us go, "Huh?" with puzzlement like the disciples. At first read, this parable is one of the latter, not the former! We read about this fig tree that is not bearing fruit, and the owner wants to have it cut down. But the gardener bargains to save it for one more year - he will put manure on it and see if he can get it to grow. The owner accepts the deal, and says they can wait one more year to see if it can bear fruit. Unfortunately, there is no helpful section recorded here where the disciples act confused as usual and ask for an explanation from Jesus, so we can't cheat and pretend we knew what Jesus meant all along...
- So, what does he mean? I think that it is a passage about God's amazing grace, for one thing: even when we deserve to get cut down, someone, Jesus?, is still negotiating for our undeserved salvation. Thank God!
- In the first part, Jesus warns against feeling that the suffering and death of certain groups of people is a particular sign of God's judgment. (Did Pat Robertson and co. ever read this passage?) Judgment comes to those who die prematurely and those who live long lives. So repent!