Bible Readings and Devotion for April 7, 2020
Here are the references for the readings. Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:
Devotion for April 7, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
Sadly, I have observed of a wide variety of approaches to telling and teaching God’s Word. Most are kind and reasonable and uplifting. A few I have encountered have seemed to delight in seeing other people suffer under judgment. A very few have event laughed in delight that they understand that a certain person or group of persons, other than themselves, are all “going to hell.”
I do not see anything in God’s Word that delights in the death of sinners. And yes, I have read all of the Bible more than once. With all things of Biblical interpretation, we need to see what Jesus and the Apostles teach about this. In today’s reading from John chapter 12 we have Jesus speaking in Holy Week. This is right before the scene of the Last Supper and the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus. Our Lord notes the following as part of this speech, verse 47: “I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” He does not affirm disregard of God’s Word. Rather, he announces that he has come to bring forgive and to bring life to sinful humanity. Even when we disregard his Word, the Lord still seeks to bring us back to connection with him.
The idea that Jesus came to bring life and forgiveness and love to sinners is shown over and over in God’s Word. Here are some examples of Jesus’ message on this from John’s Gospel, the same one from which our reading came from for today.
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17
In speaking to the woman caught in adultery, ““Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” John 8:11b
When the Apostle and Evangelist John tells the purpose of his Gospel Book he notes, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31
In the writings of St. Paul we read the following from 1 Timothy 2:3-4: “This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
In today’s reading from Lamentations chapter 5 we have the following: Lamentations 5:21-22 “Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored; renew our days as of old—unless you have utterly rejected us, and are angry with us beyond measure.” This is a pondering request for mercy from God.
The entire book of Lamentations is a sad poem of regret for the destruction of Jerusalem. The prophet Jeremiah is pleading with the LORD asking that those who have sinned and lost so much might be restored to fellowship with the LORD. In a powerful way, this closing statement points to the mercy and loving action of Jesus Christ as noted earlier in today’s devotion. It is a statement about God’s overarching will that we humans be restored to our connection with our creator. There is no delight by God in the condemnation of sinners. With God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, may we also delight whenever even one sinner is restored to the Lord.
Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: we thank you for your mercy for each one of us. Stir us to love our neighbors who do not yet understand what you have done for humanity. Enliven our faith, and help us to rejoice in the life you bring. We pray this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.