Worship Helps for Pentecost 4

Artwork: Christ at Simon the Pharisee
Artist: Peter Paul Rubens
Date: 1618-1620

Worship Theme: The journey from spiritual death to spiritual life begins with a recognition of guilt. We have sinned and fall short of fulfilling the Law of the Lord. Through contrition and repentance God prepares the heart to receive the gift of the Gospel.

Old Testament: 2 Samuel 11:26 When Uriah's wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD. 12:1 The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. 4 "Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him." 5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity." 7 Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master's house to you, and your master's wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.'
2 Samuel 12:13 Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die." 15 After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill.

1. How did David respond to Nathan’s story about the rich man and the poor man? (See verse 5.)

2. What conditions did Nathan set for David to be forgiven? (See verse 13.)

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

3. What kind of people will not inherit God's kingdom?

4. What is remarkable about the Christians in Corinth to whom Paul wrote this letter? (See the first part of 6:11.)

5. What happened to the Christians to change them?

Gospel: Luke 7:36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is-- that she is a sinner." 40 Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. 41 "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" 43 Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said. 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-- for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." 48 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" 50 Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

6. When the Pharisee said something snide to himself, what did Jesus do? (See verses 39–40.) What did this show?

7. In terms of a day’s wage, how much did the two men owe? (See footnote on verse 41.)

8. Have you been forgiven much or little? How are you responding to this forgiveness (verse 47)?

1. David responded to Nathan’s story by burning with anger at the rich man and swearing that he deserved to die.

2. Nathan set no conditions at all for David to be forgiven. His sin had bitter consequences, but the LORD totally took away all of David’s guilt. Nathan said so right away.

3. People who do not repent but keep practicing homosexuality and other things that change God’s holy plan for marriage, as well as idolaters, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, slanders and swindlers will not inherit God’s kingdom.

4. Some of the Christians in Corinth were former thieves. Some were former homosexuals, etc. (Today people often claim that with certain sins they are born that way, and they cannot change.)

5. Paul says they were baptized. Its results were amazing. They were made holy and declared innocent in God’s courtroom through their trust in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

6. Jesus “answered” the Pharisee, even though Simon had said nothing out loud. This shows that Jesus knows all things. He knows the thoughts we may think are secret.

7. One man owed 500 days’ wages, the other 50 days’ wages. If an unskilled working man in our day might make about $50 a day, these two men would have owed $25,000 and $2,500 respectively.

8. This question deliberately is for you to ponder, not to find a definitive answer.

Putting your faith into action
What motivates you to bring your gifts to the Lord? For the woman in today’s reading, the motivation was forgiveness. Of all the gifts God gives to us, forgiveness in Jesus Christ is the most precious. No gift we could give back to God for what he did through his Son Jesus Christ could ever balance the debt we owe for what our Lord accomplished for us on the cross. Yet Jesus says in today’s reading that the debt we owe has been canceled. That means that we do not give out of obligation but as an act of worship and thanks to God.

A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 4
            Scripture speaks about terrors:
            My iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
I am feeble and crushed; I groan
because of the tumult of my heart. (Psalm 38:4, 8)
            Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. 
My soul also is greatly troubled. 
But You, O Lord—how long? (Psalm 6:2–3)
            In these terrors, conscience feels God’s wrath against sin.  This is unknown to secure people living according to the flesh.  The conscience sees the corruption of sin and seriously grieves that it has sinned.  It runs away from God’s dreadful anger.  Human nature, unless sustained by God’s Word, cannot endure His anger.  Paul says, “For through the law I died to the law” (Galatians 2:19).  The Law only accuses and terrifies consciences.  In these terrors our adversaries say nothing about faith.  They present only the Word that convicts of sin.  When this is taught alone, it is the doctrine of the Law, not of the Gospel.  By these terrors, they say, people merit grace, as long as they love God.  But how will people love God in true terrors when they feel God’s wrath?  What besides despair do those people teach who, during these terrors, show forth only the Law? – Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XIIA, Repentance (paragraphs 31-34)

Hymns for this Sunday: 385; 479; 311; 398; 397

1  Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed his blood for me,
Died that I might live on high, Lives that I might never die.
As the branch is to the vine, I am his and he is mine!

2  Oh, the height of Jesus’ love, Higher than the heav’ns above,
Deeper than the depths of sea, Lasting as eternity,
Love that found me—wondrous thought!—Found me when I sought him not.

3  Only Jesus can impart Comfort to a wounded heart:
Peace that flows from sin forgiv’n, Joy that lifts the soul to heav’n,
Faith and hope to walk with God In the way that Enoch trod.

4  Chief of sinners though I be, Christ is all in all to me.
All my wants to him are known; All my sorrows are his own.
Safe with him in earthly strife, I await the heav’nly life.

5  Strengthen me, O gracious Lord, By your Spirit and your word.
When my wayward heart would stray, Keep me in the narrow way;
Grace in time of need supply While I live and when I die.

Text: William McComb, 1793–c. 1870, alt.


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