Worship Helps for Pentecost 15

Artwork: Christ Teaches Humility
Artist: Robert Scott Lauder

Worship Theme: “Hey, that’s my seat!” School children get in fights day after day, arguing over their special place. Adults look and laugh, and yet we do the same in life when we take pains to assure that we get what’s coming to us – at work, at home, among friends and family – and that everybody sees and knows how important we are. But in these lessons we are reminded that our King is coming, the Almighty Ruler of the universe, Jesus Christ, next to whom, because of sin, we are nothing and deserve the lowest place. But, because of His love for us, Jesus invites us to the place of honor.

Old Testament: Proverbs 25:6 Do not exalt yourself in the king's presence, and do not claim a place among great men; 7 it is better for him to say to you, "Come up here," than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman.

1. Why does the author tell us to be careful about exalting ourselves before the King?

2. What could be the result of humbly taking a lower seat before the King?

Epistle: James 2:1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

3. In verse 4, James tells us not to become “judges with evil thoughts.” Explain what he means by that. (verses 1-4)

4. Rich versus poor. The problem existed in James’ day. James looks at both groups of people and “equalizes” them. How does he exalt the poor and humble the rich? Also read what Paul says about Christians in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.

5. What is wrong with favoritism, that is, what law does it break?

Gospel: Luke 14:1 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. … 7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." 12 Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

6. Why did Jesus tell the guests at this Pharisee’s house the parable of the wedding feast?

7. Why does Jesus tell the host to invite “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” to a dinner?


Answers:
1. It is possible that there is someone of higher standing who will take the place of honor we have presumed for ourselves.

2. The King may ask us to come near to him, rather than sit in such a lowly seat.

3. When we show favoritism to the rich and disregard the poor, we are judging people only by external appearances—usually on the basis of which appearance gives us the most pleasure or material gain. Such thoughts are evil because they completely reject the common faith shared by rich and poor Christians alike.

4. The poor are rich in Christ. But the rich often show their greed by dragging others into court.

5. Favoritism is lovelessness. In any form it hurts other people, and so it is a sin against the Fifth Commandment, “You shall not murder.” Jesus said that lack of love for others is tantamount to murder. (See Matthew 5:21-26.) If we sin in this area, which seems like such a small sin, we are guilty of breaking the entire law of God.

6. To remind them of the need for humility. Those who think they have earned a high seat at the wedding feast of the Lamb in heaven by their own good deeds will be disappointed when they are turned away. It is those who humbly stand at the lowest seats saying, “I only belong here because of what Jesus Christ did for me,” who will be elevated to the places of honor.

7. The Pharisee looks only to his own public image, “Who can I impress with my guest list?  Who can help me out in life?” If you invite only the rich and the wealthy, what good does that do? You perhaps earn favors in this life. You pad your own sinful pride. But if from faith you understand that it is the poor and needy that need your help and comfort, even though they cannot help you in this life, you will reap a hundredfold reward in heaven.


Putting your faith into action
Humility is to consider the needs of others more important than our own. In the same breath that the Teacher warns us about pride, he hints at God’s gracious promise to the humble. As you imitate your Savior as the servant of all, he lifts you up and bestows on you the greatest honor of all—that you may be like him!


A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 15
This commandment, “You shall not commit adultery” is directed against all kinds of unchastity, whatever it may be called.  Not only is the outward act of adultery forbidden, but also every kind of cause, motive, and means or persuasion toward inchastity. We must also resist temptation, offer protection, and give help and counsel, so as to maintain our neighbor’s honor.  For whenever you abandon this effort when you could resist unchastity, or whenever you overlook it, you are as truly guilty of adultery as the one doing the deed.  This much is required of you: everyone must live chastely himself and help his neighbor do the same.  So by this commandment God wishes to build a hedge about and protect every spouse so that no one trespasses against him or her.

But this commandment is aimed directly at the state of marriage and gives us an opportunity to speak about it.   First, understand and mark well how gloriously God honors and praises this estate.  For by His commandment He both approves and guards it.  Therefore, He also wishes us to honor it and to maintain and govern it as a divine and blessed estate because, in the first place, He has instituted it before all others.  He created man and woman separately not for lewdness, but so that they might live together in marriage, be fruitful, bear children, and nourish and train them to honor God. – Large Catechism, The Sixth Commandment (paragraphs 202-207)

Hymns: 462; 525; 312; 529


1  Built on the Rock the Church shall stand Even when steeples are falling.
Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land; Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest, But above all the soul distressed,
Longing for rest everlasting.

2  Surely in temples made with hands God, the Most High, is not dwelling;
High above earth his temple stands, All earthly temples excelling.
Yet he who dwells in heav’n above Chooses to live with us in love,
Making our bodies his temple.

3  We are God’s house of living stones, Built for his own habitation.
He through baptismal grace us owns Heirs of his wondrous salvation.
Were we but two his name to tell, Yet he would deign with us to dwell
With all his grace and his favor.

4  Here stands the font before our eyes, Telling how God did receive us.
Th’ altar recalls Christ’s sacrifice And what the sacrament gives us.
Here sound the Scriptures that proclaim Christ yesterday, today, the same,
And evermore, our Redeemer.

5  Grant then, O God, your will be done, That, when the church bells are ringing,
Many in saving faith may come Where Christ his message is bringing:
“I know my own; my own know me. You, not the world, my face shall see.
My peace I leave with you always.”


Text: Nikolai F. S. Grundtvig, 1783–1872, abr.; tr. Carl Döving, 1867–1937, alt.

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