Worship Helps Pentecost 20

Artwork: The Paradise
Artist: Roelandt Savery
Date: 1626

Worship Theme: God’s plan for man was perfect. He created woman for man. They were to “become one flesh”. Sin entered the world and separation replaced union—separation from God and from one another. Bitter marriages and divorces are two examples.  But thanks be to God, Jesus even suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone and create new life and new promise of union.

Old Testament: Genesis 2:18-24 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." 19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, 'for she was taken out of man." 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

1. What lesson did God teach Adam by having him name the animals?

2. What does the expression “one flesh” mean?

Epistle: Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-- 30 for we are members of his body. 31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32 This is a profound mystery-- but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor your father and mother"-- which is the first commandment with a promise-- 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

3. What are wives to do?

4. What are husbands to do?

5. What are children to do?

6. What are fathers, in particular, to do?

Gospel: Mark 10:2-16 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" 3 "What did Moses command you?" he replied. 4 They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away." 5 "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. 6 "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 7 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." 10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery." 13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

7. If marriage is to be for life, why did Moses hand down some conditions that made divorce possible?

8. What remains God’s standard for marriage? 

 Answers:
1. By having Adam name the animals, God taught Adam that he was incomplete and needed companionship as well as someone to partner with him for reproduction.

2. The phrase “one flesh” expresses the depth of unity in marriage—physically, emotionally and spiritually. Since the woman was created from man, the two originally were one, and when they come together, they again are one. 

3. Wives are to yield lovingly to their husbands as the leader of the home, the same way we all yield to Jesus as our Leader and Lord.

4. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.  Husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies.

5. Children are to obey their parents “in the Lord”, that is, for Jesus’ sake.

6. Fathers are to bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord Jesus.  Note that Paul never tells husbands to make their wives submit, etc., or wives to make their husbands be responsible for eternal matters in the home.  How wise Martin Luther was, when he wrote: Let each his lesson learn with care, And all the household well shall fare.

7. Moses handed down some conditions for divorce only because the people had totally disregarded God’s will for sex and marriage.  Their hearts were hard.  Government had to deal with it and regulate.

8. God’s standard for marriage is the union of a man and a woman for life. “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”


Putting your faith into action
When God created Eve he created the family unit—a unit through which he chooses to bless his people with sexual happiness, companionship, and children. What a blessing a family is. Whether you are married or not; whether you have children or not; you are part of a family—both your earthly family, but more importantly your heavenly Father’s family, through which you receive forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation. In light of God’s blessing of family, may each of our families strive to serve our heavenly Father better. May we be better husbands, better wives, better sons and daughters, and better fathers and mothers. May we be better stewards of the gifts he gives to us and our families. May we teach better stewardship to our children. May we model better stewardship to our spouse. In this way, our Father who blessed us with family and also made us a part of his family will be praised.


A reading from the Book of Concord for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost
Who is not tempted by lust?  Paul says, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19).  Likewise, “I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (7:25).  Here he openly declares that he serves the law of sin.  David says, “Enter not into judgment with Your servant, for no one living is righteous before You” (Psalm 143:2).  Here even God’s servant prays for the removal of judgment.  Likewise, “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity” (Psalm 32:2).  Therefore, in our weakness sin is always present, which could be charged against us.  Later he says, “Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to You” (32:6).  Here he shows that even saints ought to seek forgiveness of sins.  They are more than blind who do not realize that wicked desires in the flesh are sins, of which Paul says, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh” (Galatians 5:17).  The flesh distrusts God, trusts in present things, seeks human aid in trouble, even contrary to God’s will.  It flees from suffering, which it ought to bear because of God’s commands.  It doubts God’s mercy and so on.  The Holy Spirit in our hearts fights against such tendencies in order to suppress and kill them and to produce new spiritual motives. – Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article V, Love and Fulfilling the Law, paragraphs 47-49


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