Worship Helps for Pentecost 18

Title: Christ teacheth humility
Artist: Robert Scott Lauder

Worship Theme: True greatness is a paradox.  It grows out of seeing ourselves as small and God as great.  Such greatness has its center in love—both God’s great love for us in Christ and our love for our neighbor.  Such love leads to genuine, humble service.

Old Testament: Numbers 12:1-15 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2 "Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?" they asked. "Hasn't he also spoken through us?" And the LORD heard this. 3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.) 4 At once the LORD said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, "Come out to the Tent of Meeting, all three of you." So the three of them came out. 5 Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the Tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When both of them stepped forward, 6 he said, "Listen to my words: "When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. 7 But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. 8 With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" 9 The anger of the LORD burned against them, and he left them. 10 When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam-- leprous, like snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had leprosy; 11 and he said to Moses, "Please, my lord, do not hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother's womb with its flesh half eaten away." 13 So Moses cried out to the LORD, "O God, please heal her!" 14 The LORD replied to Moses, "If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back." 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.

1. Why did Miriam and Aaron oppose their brother Moses?

2. When God punished Miriam with leprosy, a skin disease, how did Moses show his humility?

Epistle: James 3:13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

3. Who are the truly wise whom James mentions?

4. What does James mean when he says that “peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness”?

Gospel: Mark 9:30-37 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. 33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." 36 He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

5. Why were the disciples afraid to ask Jesus about his impending death?

6. How are we today like those disciples?

7. What was Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ desire to be first in the kingdom of God?


Answers:
1. Miriam and Aaron opposed Moses because he had married a lady from Cush (the southern part of Egypt, in modern terms).

2. Moses showed his humility by crying out to the LORD to heal Miriam, instead of telling her that she had gotten what she had coming to her.

3. The truly wise people are the humble.  When one is truly wise, it shows in good deeds and in humility.  A truly wise person is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, impartial, and sincere.  These virtues are the ones that imitate Christ’s own perfect gentleness and unselfish service to us.

4. James speaks of people who are humble and try to keep peace, instead of starting quarrels and perpetuating grudges.  They do things that lead to all sorts of good and right results.  He compares being lowly to putting a seed low into the ground, later the seed of humility will bring many beautiful results, though at first planting the seed may seem fruitless.

5. Jesus had told his disciples about the Son of Man (himself). “They will kill him.”  The thoughts of the Twelve seemed to stop with those words and not even hear Jesus say, “after three days he will rise.”  Betrayal and death did not fit their idea of a Messianic rule.

6. Many Christians today imagine that the chief mark of the church is worldly success and glory, and that the chief purpose of the Christian church relates to activities which put the message of a Savior crucified for sin into the background.  They don’t want to hear repeated references to the ugliness of personal sin and the divine necessity of a sacrificial cross to atone for that sin.

7. Jesus, through words and an impressive object lesson, shows that the way to true greatness in his kingdom lies in humble service. (See also Mark 10:43-44 and Luke 22:24-47)


Putting your faith into action
Look at the harvest of righteousness that the Lord sows through us. He begins by giving us true wisdom from heaven. It is the opposite of the worldly “wisdom” that prides itself in envy and selfishness. Examples of that foolishness abound all around us—and it rubs off on us! But God works through his Word to replace the world’s “wisdom” in us with his own. It is pure and selfless and it shows in our deeds. Thus the Lord shows the world his wisdom and peace through us. Through us he produces a harvest of righteousness. In other words, the good he works through us is not without effect. It produces results that will last.

A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 18
            Baptism is no human plaything, but it is instituted by God Himself.  Furthermore, Baptism is most solemnly and strictly commanded so that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved.  I note this lest anyone regard Baptism as a silly matter, like putting on a new red coat.  For it is of the greatest importance that we value Baptism as excellent, glorious, and exalted. We contend and fight for Baptism chiefly because the world is now so full of sects arguing that Baptism is an outward thing and of no benefit.  God’s Word and command, institute, establish, and confirm Baptism.  What God institutes and commands cannot be an empty thing.  Up to now people could consider something great when the pope with his letters and bulls gave away indulgences, solely because of the letters and seals.  So we ought to value Baptism much more highly and more precious, because God has commanded it.  Besides, it is done in His name.  For these are the words, “Go, baptize.” However, do not baptize in your name, but in God’s name.

            To be baptized in God’s name is to be baptized not by men, but by God Himself. Therefore, although it is performed by human hands, it is still truly God’s own work.  From this fact everyone may readily conclude that Baptism is a far higher work than any work performed by a man or a saint.  What work can we do that is greater than God’s work? – Large Catechism, Part IV Baptism, paragraphs 6-10

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