Based on Luke 8:1-8
Our passage today manifests the width and breadth of the kingdom of God, and God’s intention that all are welcomed into the Church regardless of their gender, social class or ethnicity.
First, we hear of the twelve men following Jesus through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the Good News. With them, however, are some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities. This would have been not only unusual, but inappropriate, as women would not have traveled with unrelated men, nor would women have followed Jewish rabbis, nor would a rabbi have allowed women to be disciples. Yet, here are a number of women who are not only traveling with the Lord and the Twelve but providing financial support for them. Without a doubt, from the beginning, women were deeply connected to the Lord and His mission and ministry, leading finally to women being the first witnesses of the resurrection.
The intention that the Gospel is for all comes through loudly and clearly in the parable of the sower, sowing seeds liberally, freely — some falling along the path, some on the rock, some among the thorns, some in good soil. The image is of a sower scattering seeds with the goal of having the Good News reach as many people as possible, even those who may not be considered “good soil,” ready to receive the Word and take it to heart. As disciples and followers of Jesus, our task is to spread the seed of God’s Word far and wide.
Is this the notion of the sharing of the Gospel in most of our congregations today? Is that the understanding of spreading the Word of God in your congregation? And if you reach someone from the proverbial “other side of the tracks,” will they be welcome if they show up for worship on a given Sunday? The NALC, surprisingly and thankfully, reflects the “catholicity” of the Body of Christ — the universality of the Body — with Ethiopian congregations, Chinese congregations, Spanish-speaking congregations, churches in Puerto Rico and now a mission in Mexico — urban, suburban, rural, serving rich and poor, farmers and college faculty. This is what the Church of Jesus Christ looks like. Is that what your congregation looks like?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, give us courage to share your Word boldly, and to all people. Amen.
Lenten response: Make a commitment to speak to people at worship you don’t know, welcoming them regardless of their background, appearance or Lutheran “credentials.”
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. 9:13–31
9:13 Solomon received 666 talents of gold per year, 14besides what he collected from the merchants and traders. All the Arabian kings and the governors of the land also brought gold and silver to Solomon. 15King Solomon made 200 large shields of hammered gold; 600 measures of hammered gold were used for each shield. 16He also made 300 small shields of hammered gold; 300 measures of gold were used for each of those shields. The king placed them in the Palace of the Lebanon Forest.
17The king made a large throne decorated with ivory and overlaid it with pure gold. 18There were six steps leading up to the throne, and a gold footstool was attached to the throne. The throne had two armrests with a statue of a lion standing on each side. 19There were twelve statues of lions on the six steps, one lion at each end of each step. There was nothing like it in any other kingdom.
20All of King Solomon’s cups were made of gold, and all the household items in the Palace of the Lebanon Forest were made of pure gold. There were no silver items, for silver was not considered very valuable in Solomon’s time. 21The king had a fleet of large merchant ships manned by Huram’s men that sailed the sea. Once every three years the fleet came into port with cargoes of gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.
22King Solomon was wealthier and wiser than any of the kings of the earth. 23All the kings of the earth wanted to visit Solomon to see him display his God-given wisdom. 24Year after year visitors brought their gifts, which included items of silver, items of gold, clothes, perfume, spices, horses, and mules.
25Solomon had 4,000 stalls for his chariot horses and 12,000 horses. He kept them in assigned cities and also with him in Jerusalem. 26He ruled all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines as far as the border of Egypt. 27The king made silver as plentiful in Jerusalem as stones; cedar was as plentiful as sycamore fig trees are in the foothills. 28Solomon acquired horses from Egypt and from all the lands.
29The rest of the events of Solomon’s reign, from start to finish, are recorded in the Annals of Nathan the Prophet, the Prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and the Vision of Iddo the Seer pertaining to Jeroboam son of Nebat. 30Solomon ruled over all Israel from Jerusalem for forty years. 31Then Solomon passed away and was buried in the city of his father David. His son Rehoboam replaced him as king.(NET Bible)
80:1 For the music director, according to the shushan-eduth style; a psalm of Asaph.
O Shepherd of Israel, pay attention,
you who lead Joseph like a flock of sheep.
You who sit enthroned above the cherubim, reveal your splendor.
2In the sight of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh reveal your power.
Come and deliver us.
3O God, restore us.
Smile on us. Then we will be delivered.
4O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies,
how long will you remain angry at your people while they pray to you?
5You have given them tears as food;
you have made them drink tears by the measure.
6You have made our neighbors dislike us
and our enemies insult us.
7O God of Heaven’s Armies, restore us.
Smile on us. Then we will be delivered.
8You uprooted a vine from Egypt;
you drove out nations and transplanted it.
9You cleared the ground for it;
it took root
and filled the land.
10The mountains were covered by its shadow,
the highest cedars by its branches.
11Its branches reached the Mediterranean Sea,
and its shoots the Euphrates River.
12Why did you break down its walls,
so that all who pass by pluck its fruit?
13The wild boars of the forest ruin it;
the insects of the field feed on it.
14O God of Heaven’s Armies, come back.
Look down from heaven and take notice.
Take care of this vine,
15the root your right hand planted,
the shoot you made to grow.
16It is burned and cut down.
May those who did this die because you are displeased with them.
17May you give support to the one you have chosen,
to the one whom you raised up for yourself.
18Then we will not turn away from you.
Revive us and we will pray to you.
19O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, restore us.
Smile on us. Then we will be delivered.(NET Bible)
8:1 Sometime afterward he went on through towns and villages, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and disabilities: Mary (called Magdalene), from whom seven demons had gone out, 3and Joanna the wife of Cuza (Herod’s household manager), Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their own resources.
4While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from one town after another, he spoke to them in a parable: 5“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled on, and the wild birds devoured it. 6Other seed fell on rock, and when it came up, it withered because it had no moisture. 7Other seed fell among the thorns, and they grew up with it and choked it. 8But other seed fell on good soil and grew, and it produced a hundred times as much grain.” As he said this, he called out, “The one who has ears to hear had better listen!”(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
In regard to the Church Luther says in the same writing: “The Church also has no power to establish new divine promises of grace, as some foolishly speak, that everything which the Church ordains is of no lesser authority than that which is ordained of God, since she is guided by the Holy Spirit. For the Church comes into being through the word of promise through faith … God’s Word stands incomparably high above the Church, in this Word she, as a creature, cannot resolve, order, or execute but can only be resolved, ordered, and carried out. For who generates his father, who has rst called his Creator into being?” (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.