Based on Luke 6:20-36
In a way, all of human life is addressed in Jesus’ words above. There are blessings and woes in every life. We are hungry, we weep, we are hated and reviled, we are rich, we are full, we mourn. In all of this we find blessing and woe. And then, there are those who are our “enemies.” There are those who may curse us or strike us, even when we have had the best of intentions. And what does the Lord require of us?
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also…Give to everyone who begs from you…As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”
And where do we find the strength, the courage, the will to do these things? “Be merciful,” the Lord says, “even as your Father is merciful.” We love our enemies, pray for others, do good, in response to God’s love, mercy and goodness. Everything we do in life is simply our response to what God our Father has already done for us, through Jesus Christ our Lord and His Holy Spirit!
Does that make it any easier? Not really. It does make it easier to bear our own sinful humanity, our own inability to forgive and love and pray, knowing that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, and not through our own actions or inaction. And maybe the love of God will keep working in us, to create in us greater love and mercy.
Prayer: O God, thank you for your Son, Jesus, in whom we find forgiveness and strength. Amen.
Lenten response: Are you at odds with someone? Pray for them today.
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. 6:28–42
6:28 “The time will come when the land suffers from a famine, a plague, blight, and disease, or a locust invasion, or when their enemy lays siege to the cities of the land, or when some other type of plague or epidemic occurs. 29When all your people Israel pray and ask for help, as they acknowledge their intense pain and spread out their hands toward this temple, 30then listen from your heavenly dwelling place, forgive their sin, and act favorably toward each one based on your evaluation of their motives. (Indeed you are the only one who can correctly evaluate the motives of all people.) 31Then they will honor you by obeying you throughout their lifetimes as they live on the land you gave to our ancestors.
32“Foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will come from a distant land because of your great reputation and your ability to accomplish mighty deeds; they will come and direct their prayers toward this temple. 33Then listen from your heavenly dwelling place and answer all the prayers of the foreigners. Then all the nations of the earth will acknowledge your reputation, obey you as your people Israel do, and recognize that this temple I built belongs to you.
34“When you direct your people to march out and fight their enemies, and they direct their prayers to you toward this chosen city and this temple I built for your honor, 35then listen from heaven to their prayers for help and vindicate them.
36“The time will come when your people will sin against you (for there is no one who is sinless!) and you will be angry at them and deliver them over to their enemies, who will take them as prisoners to their land, whether far away or close by. 37When your people come to their senses in the land where they are held prisoner, they will repent and beg for your mercy in the land of their imprisonment, admitting, ‘We have sinned and gone astray, we have done evil!’ 38When they return to you with all their heart and being in the land where they are held prisoner and direct their prayers toward the land you gave to their ancestors, your chosen city, and the temple I built for your honor, 39then listen from your heavenly dwelling place to their prayers for help, vindicate them, and forgive your sinful people.
40“Now, my God, may you be attentive and responsive to the prayers offered in this place. 41Now ascend, O Lord God, to your resting place, you and the ark of your strength! May your priests, O Lord God, experience your deliverance. May your loyal followers rejoice in the prosperity you give. 42O Lord God, do not reject your chosen ones! Remember the faithful promises you made to your servant David!”(NET Bible)
76:1 For the music director, to be accompanied by stringed instruments; a psalm of Asaph, a song.
God has revealed himself in Judah;
in Israel his reputation is great.
2He lives in Salem;
he dwells in Zion.
3There he shattered the arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the rest of the weapons of war. (Selah)
4You shine brightly and reveal your majesty,
as you descend from the hills where you killed your prey.
5The bravehearted were plundered;
they “fell asleep.”
All the warriors were helpless.
6At the sound of your battle cry, O God of Jacob,
both rider and horse “fell asleep.”
7You are awesome! Yes, you!
Who can withstand your intense anger?
8From heaven you announced what their punishment would be.
The earth was afraid and silent
9when God arose to execute judgment,
and to deliver all the oppressed of the earth. (Selah)
10Certainly your angry judgment upon men will bring you praise;
you reveal your anger in full measure.
11Make vows to the Lord your God and repay them.
Let all those who surround him bring tribute to the awesome one.
12He humbles princes;
the kings of the earth regard him as awesome.(NET Bible)
6:20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God belongs to you.
21Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
22Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man! 23Rejoice in that day, and jump for joy because your reward is great in heaven. For their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.
24But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort already.
25Woe to you who are well satisfied with food now, for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
26Woe to you when all people speak well of you, for their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets.
27“But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29To the person who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well, and from the person who takes away your coat, do not withhold your tunic either. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your possessions back from the person who takes them away. 31Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you.
32“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. 34And if you lend to those from whom you hope to be repaid, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.(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.