Based on Luke 6:1-11
As our North American culture no longer keeps the Sabbath, it seems most Lutherans have lost “Sabbath-keeping” as well. It is a sign of our increasingly secular culture, as secularism continues to squeeze religion and religious observance out of home, family and society. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines secularism as “indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.” Pope Benedict XVI spoke often of “aggressive secularism,” pointing to the fact that secularism is not benign, but aggressively at work to contain or remove “religion and religious consideration.”
The truth of the matter is that many of us within the Body of Christ have misunderstood the words of Jesus in Scripture. While the Pharisees practiced Sabbath-keeping in a hyper-legalistic, self-justifying manner, Jesus affirmed, finally, that the Sabbath was made for humanity, not humanity for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Jesus was free to provide food to the hungry or healing to the infirmed, even on the Sabbath. After all, He, “the Son of Man, is lord of the Sabbath.”
It sometimes seems in our culture that we believe we are Lord of the Sabbath. This is the mind and will of secularism. We need no God, no religion and no religious observance, according to the secular mindset. And Christians readily and easily buy into such thinking because always, always we are ready to place ourselves over God and His will for our lives. It is much easier to relax and recreate on Sunday, so we excuse ourselves from the commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” After all, aren’t we “lord of the Sabbath?” Wasn’t the Sabbath created for me, and not me for the Sabbath? Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we live in Gospel freedom. We are not working to save or justify ourselves before God by our own religious observance or perfection. Still, a commandment is a commandment…
Prayer: Lord God, create in me and our church a hunger for Sabbath worship! Amen.
Lenten response: If you are able, make Sunday worship and Sabbath-keeping a priority.
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about A Lenten Walk Through the Word, visit thenalc.org/lent.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Chron. 6:1–11
6:1 Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he lives in thick darkness. 2O Lord, I have built a lofty temple for you, a place where you can live permanently.” 3Then the king turned around and pronounced a blessing over the whole Israelite assembly as they stood there. 4He said, “The Lord God of Israel is worthy of praise because he has fulfilled what he promised my father David. 5He told David, ‘Since the day I brought my people out of the land of Egypt, I have not chosen a city from all the tribes of Israel to build a temple in which to live. Nor did I choose a man as leader of my people Israel. 6But now I have chosen Jerusalem as a place to live, and I have chosen David to lead my people Israel.’ 7Now my father David had a strong desire to build a temple to honor the Lord God of Israel. 8The Lord told my father David, ‘It is right for you to have a strong desire to build a temple to honor me. 9But you will not build the temple; your very own son will build the temple for my honor.’ 10The Lord has kept the promise he made. I have taken my father David’s place and have occupied the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised. I have built this temple for the honor of the Lord God of Israel 11and set up in it a place for the ark containing the covenant the Lord made with the Israelites.”(NET Bible)
74:1 A well-written song by Asaph.
Why, O God, have you permanently rejected us?
Why does your anger burn against the sheep of your pasture?
2Remember your people whom you acquired in ancient times,
whom you rescued so they could be your very own nation,
as well as Mount Zion, where you dwell!
3Hurry to the permanent ruins,
and to all the damage the enemy has done to the temple!
4Your enemies roar in the middle of your sanctuary;
they set up their battle flags.
5They invade like lumberjacks
swinging their axes in a thick forest.
6And now they are tearing down all its engravings
with axes and crowbars.
7They set your sanctuary on fire;
they desecrate your dwelling place by knocking it to the ground.
8They say to themselves,
“We will oppress all of them.”
They burn down all the places where people worship God in the land.
9We do not see any signs of God’s presence;
there are no longer any prophets
and we have no one to tell us how long this will last.
10How long, O God, will the adversary hurl insults?
Will the enemy blaspheme your name forever?
11Why do you remain inactive?
Intervene and destroy him!
12But God has been my king from ancient times,
performing acts of deliverance on the earth.
13You destroyed the sea by your strength;
you shattered the heads of the sea monster in the water.
14You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
you fed him to the people who live along the coast.
15You broke open the spring and the stream;
you dried up perpetually flowing rivers.
16You established the cycle of day and night;
you put the moon and sun in place.
17You set up all the boundaries of the earth;
you created the cycle of summer and winter.
18Remember how the enemy hurls insults, O Lord,
and how a foolish nation blasphemes your name!
19Do not hand the life of your dove over to a wild animal!
Do not continue to disregard the lives of your oppressed people!
20Remember your covenant promises,
for the dark regions of the earth are full of places where violence rules.
21Do not let the afflicted be turned back in shame!
Let the oppressed and poor praise your name!
22Rise up, O God! Defend your honor!
Remember how fools insult you all day long!
23Do not disregard what your enemies say,
or the unceasing shouts of those who defy you.(NET Bible)
6:1 Jesus was going through the grain fields on a Sabbath, and his disciples picked some heads of wheat, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. 2But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is against the law on the Sabbath?” 3Jesus answered them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry – 4how he entered the house of God, took and ate the sacred bread, which is not lawful for any to eat but the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?” 5Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
6On another Sabbath, Jesus entered the synagogue and was teaching. Now a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7The experts in the law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they could find a reason to accuse him. 8But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Get up and stand here.” So he rose and stood there. 9Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil, to save a life or to destroy it?” 10After looking around at them all, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” The man did so, and his hand was restored. 11But they were filled with mindless rage and began debating with one another what they would do to Jesus.(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
In [Luther’s] writing, Concerning the Papacy at Rome against the most famous Romanist at Leipzig, which appeared toward the end of June , we read: “I merely contend for two things, the rst, I will not permit men to posit new articles of faith and scold, defame, and judge all other Christians as heretics, renegades, in dels only because they do not submit to the Pope. It is enough that we let the Pope be Pope (in which sense this is to be understood he clearly states in the foregoing) … . The other, everything that the Pope claims, makes, and does will I receive in this wise that I will first examine it according to the Holy Scripture. It must remain under Christ and be judged by Scripture.” (18)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.