Worship Helps for Pentecost 6

Artwork: The Repentance of Nineveh
Artist: John Martin

Worship Theme: Following seems easy. We just go behind the person in front of us. But following Jesus daily for our whole lives requires endurance. It is a struggle between our old and new selves.

Old Testament: Jonah 3:3-4:4

Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

1. When Jonah finally got to the city where God had sent him and preached there, the people on Nineveh believed God. When he saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, what did God do? (See 3:10.)

2. How angry was Jonah, as a result?

Epistle: 2 Corinthians 11:21b-30

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

3. When Paul compared himself to the “super-apostles” in Corinth, he did not list all his success. What did he list?

4. What other constant pressure did Paul feel? (See 11:28.)

5. About what then, did Paul boast? (See 11:30-32.)

Gospel: Luke 9:51-62

51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

6. As the time approached for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, what did he do? (See verse 51.)

7. Why didn’t one Samaritan village welcome Jesus? (See verse 53.)

8. What is the main point for us, as Jesus talks with three men separately about following him (verses 57–62)?

1. When God saw how the Ninevites repented and turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

2. Jonah was so angry at God’s patience and mercy—which Jonah knew by heart from God’s description of himself in Exodus 34:6-7—that Jonah got irate. He told God he wanted to die. He refused to answer God when God asked him if he had a right to be so upset. (How similar we can be to Jonah! How opposite Jesus was!)

3. Paul listed as his credentials all the trials he had gone through, including imprisonment, frequent floggings and many dangers. He had often been near death.

4. Paul also felt daily the pressure of his concern for all the Christians in the churches he had helped start and had visited. When the people were weak, he felt weak. When believers fell into sin, it tore Paul up inside.

5. Paul boasted about his weakness, not his strengths. Final case in point: Paul began his ministry by narrowly escaping death in Damascus.

6. As the time approached for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Literally, he “fixed his face for Jerusalem.” He was determined to die for us.

7. The people of the Samaritan village did not welcome Jesus, because he was heading for Jerusalem. Jews and Samaritans in Jesus’ day usually had strong dislike for each other. (Yet Jesus had mercy on these people.)

8. The main point for us, as Jesus talks with three men about following him, is full dedication to Jesus and his kingdom. Halfway? No way.

Putting your faith into action
Corporations today often run what is known as a cost-benefit analysis. Before spending millions of dollars the company wants to know what real benefits will result. If the ultimate benefits to the company don’t outweigh the expenses, the project is killed. Most of us, at least subconsciously, do a cost-benefit analysis of our giving. To give time, energy, and money to church costs us something personal. If all we do is weigh the physical evidence, we will concentrate too much on what we are giving up. However, our relationship to the Lord is spiritual. If we look with spiritual eyes, we will see that the rewards of being part of God’s kingdom far outweigh the earthly cost.

A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 6

This heresy is that the Mass justifies by the outward act, that when applied it merits the pardon of guilt and punishment even for the unjust if they do not present an obstacle.  We object to these deadly errors, which divert people from the glory of Christ’s passion and overthrow the doctrine about the righteousness of faith.  In the [Old Testament], the godless believed they merited the forgiveness of sins, not through faith, but through sacrifices. They increased these services and sacrifices, set up the worship of Baal in Israel, and even sacrificed in the groves in Judah.  Therefore, the prophets condemn this belief and war against not only the worshipers of Baal, but also other priests who made sacrifices ordained by God with this godless belief [1 Kings 18:1–40].  Carnal people cannot tolerate that the honor of an atoning sacrifice belongs solely to Christ’s sacrifice because they do not understand the righteousness of faith.  The godless priests in Judah held a false belief about such sacrifices; Baal worship even continued in Israel.  Nevertheless, a Church of God was there that objected to these godless services [1 Kings 19:18].  Baal worship remains in the realm of the pope: the abuse of the Mass.  They think they can merit the pardon of guilt and punishment for the unrighteous.  All who believe the Gospel should condemn these wicked services. – Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV, The Mass (paragraphs 96-98)


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