Archive for the ‘Hebrews 5’ Tag

Devotion for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Before the Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Christ Pantocrator

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Image in the Public Domain

Fleeing from Grace

MARCH 18-20, 2021


The Collect:

O God, rich in mercy, by the humiliation of your Son

you lifted up this fallen world and rescued us from the hopelessness of death.

Lead us into your light, that all our deeds may reflect your love,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 28


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 30:15-18 (Thursday)

Exodus 30:1-10 (Friday)

Habakkuk 3:2-13 (Saturday)

Psalm 107:1-16 (All Days)

Hebrews 4:1-13 (Thursday)

Hebrews 4:14-5:4 (Friday)

John 12:1-11 (Saturday)


Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness;

in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

Wash me through and through from my wickedness

and cleanse me from my sin.

–Psalm 51:1-2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


Through all generations you have made yourself known,

and in your wrath you did not forget mercy.

–Habakkuk 3:2b, The Revised English Bible (1989)


For thus said my Lord GOD,

The Holy One of Israel,

“You shall triumph by stillness and quiet;

Your victory shall come about

Through calm and confidence.”

But you refused.

“No,” you declared.

“We shall flee on our steeds”–

Therefore you shall flee!

“We shall ride on swift mounts”–

Therefore your pursuers shall prove swift!

One thousand before the shout of one–

You shall flee at the shout of five;

Till what is left of you

Is like a mast on a hilltop,

Like a pole upon a mountain.


Truly, the LORD is waiting to show you grace,

Truly, He will arise to pardon you.

For the LORD is a God of justice;

Happy are all who wait for Him.

–Isaiah 30:15-18, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)


The concept of God changes between the covers of the Bible.  God is physically immediate to Abraham, for example, yet proximity to God is fatal in much of the Hebrew Scriptures.    Even touching the Ark of the Covenant accidentally proved fatal, according to the texts.  There was no fatal holiness in Jesus, however; St. Mary of Bethany anointed him in John 12:1-11, shortly before the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.

So we can draw near to God, who has drawn close to us and become incarnate (however that worked) as one of us.  The theological point of the full humanity and divinity of Jesus is one of those difficult knots great minds have tried to understand.  (For details, consult a history of Christian theology.)  I will not tread in their steps here except to assert that one ought to seek a balance between the humanity and the divinity of Jesus; one should not emphasize one at the expense of the other.  My experience in congregations (especially during my formative years) has been that people have usually been more comfortable with the divinity of Christ than with his humanity.  They have committed the heresy of Apollinarianism, or acknowledging his humanity while giving short shrift to it.

If attempting to untangle the mysteries of the Incarnation and of the nature(s) and will(s) of Christ proves insufficiently challenging, what about the balance between divine judgment and mercy?  I can provide a partial answer; the rest I am content to leave as a mystery.  Some things we do to ourselves, so we suffer the consequences of our actions.  Forgiveness of sins does not remove those consequences in this realm of existence, however.  Also, sometimes good news for the oppressed is catastrophic news for oppressors who refuse to change their ways.  That is the way life works.  In addition, some divine judgment is discipline meant to prompt repentance.  In such cases the metaphor of God as parent works well.  In some circumstances (especially from the Hebrew Scriptures) I refuse to affirm the argument that God has commanded people to commit genocide and other atrocities.  Maybe those who committed those deeds thought they were fulfilling a divine mandate, but they were wrong.  Against which population would Jesus commit or condone genocide?

Often we seek to use theology to justify our sins when we ought to confess and repent of those offenses.  Frequently we seek not God–in the context of whose holiness our sinfulness becomes evident–but confirmation of our imagined righteousness.  We flee from God, so we doom ourselves to face certain consequences.  We run away from God, who waits to show us mercy.  Maybe doing that is easier than facing the reality of our spiritual lives.  If that is true, this statement is a sad one.








Devotion for Good Friday, Years A, B, and C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments


Above:  The Dogma of the Redemption, by John Singer Sargent

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-133671

Love and Good Works

APRIL 15, 2022


The Collects:

Almighty God, look with loving mercy on your family,

for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed,

to be given over to the hands of sinners,

and to suffer death on the cross;

who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.


Merciful God, your Son was lifted up on the cross to draw all people to himself.

Grant that we who have been born out of his wounded side may at all times

find mercy in him, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 31


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Psalm 22

Hebrews 10:16-15 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

John 18:1-19:42


Some Related Posts:

Prayer for Good Friday:

Grant, Lord Jesus, That My Healing:

To Mock Your Reign, O Dearest Lord:

Throned Upon the Awful Tree:

How Can I Thank You?:

O Christ, Who Called the Twelve:

How Wide the Love of Christ:

Beneath the Cross of Jesus:

Darkly Rose the Guilty Morning:

O Jesus, We Adore Thee:

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded:

Stabat Mater:

Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended:

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross:

My Song is Love Unknown:

In the Cross of Christ I Glory:

Hymn of Promise:

O Jesus, Youth of Nazareth:

For the Cross:

O Blessed Mother:

O Word of Pity, for Our Pardon Pleading:

Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle:


Psalm 22, which begins with

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,

and are so far from my salvation,

from the words of my distress?

O my God, I cry in the daytime,

but you do not answer;

and by night also, but I find no rest.

–Verses 1-2, Common Worship (2000)

ends in thanksgiving for what God has done.  This fact applies well to the Easter Triduum, but I choose not to pursue that line of thought further in this post, for to do so would be to get ahead of this day’s portion of the narrative.

Faithful people of God read Isaiah 52:13-53:12 for centuries before the crucifixion of Jesus.  As obvious as that statement might seem, it might also surprise some people accustomed to only one lens through which to interpret it.  So what about Jewish readings of the passage?  The servant of God could be the whole Israelite nation or just the pious minority thereof or a particular holy person, maybe Jeremiah.  All of these are possible.  The words also fit Jesus well.

I publish these words in the vicinity of Thanksiving Day (U.S.A.) 2013 and shortly before the beginning of the season of Advent.  I know that Christmas leads to Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  There is much occurring theologically in these assigned readings.  Among them are a condemnation of unjust violence and a reminder that God is more powerful than our hatred and fear.

It is well and good to salute Jesus, but that alone is insufficient.  We have no mere hero and martyr.  No, we have a Lord and Savior, whom we are supposed to follow.  He said to keep his commandments and to love each other as he loved his Apostles.  Fortunately, we have access to grace, or else accomplishing these goals would be impossible.

So may we heed the advice of Hebrews 10:24:

…and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works….

Revised Standard Version—Second Edition (1971)

If certain people had thought that way, they would not have sought to kill Jesus.

Following this ethic requires us to seek not affirmation of our opinions, doctrines, and social status, but that which is best for others.  Obeying our Lord and Savior—taking up a cross and following him—entails thinking more about others than about oneself.  This is difficult yet for the best overall.

Good Friday is a holy day for me.  The Episcopal Church’s liturgy for the day moves me deeply, doing what good ritual ought to do—take one out of daily routines and transport one into a different spiritual atmosphere.  Reading the assigned lessons has taken me only a short distance along that path, but that brief trip suffices for now.  The material is emotionally difficult.  It it is not, that fact might speak poorly of the reader.

May divine love fill your soul, O reader, and inspire you to love and good works.







Devotion for the Thirty-Eighth Day of Lent: Maundy Thursday (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   8 comments

Above:  Lamb Altarpiece, Ghent, by Jan van Eyck (circa 1395-1441)

Exodus and Hebrews, Part V: The Sins of Others

APRIL 14, 2022


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 12:1-28

Psalm 38 (Morning)

Psalms 126 and 102 (Evening)

Hebrews 5:1-14


Some Related Posts:


Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant Way:

That Solemn Night:

At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing:


It is appropriate to read instructions for the first Passover on Maundy Thursday.  Although the Synoptic Gospel narrative sets the crucifixion of Jesus on Friday–one day after the Passover meal, the Gospel of John places the crucifixion on Thursday–the day of Passover.  In simple terms, Jesus dies on the cross as sacrificial animals go to the slaughter at the Temple.  Jesus in the Passover Lamb in the Gospel of John.

The original Passover lambs in the Book of Exodus preserved the Hebrews from the consequences of the sins of others, especially the Pharaoh.  And Christ, as high priest in Hebrews 5, has no need to sacrifice for our sins (as he has none) but only for the sins of others.

The sins of others affect us; how can they not, given the fact that our lives intersect in society?  Likewise, our virtues affect each other for the same reason.  May we therefore, through Christ our sinless High Priest and Passover Lamb, affect each other more positively than negatively.  May we spread love, friendship, empathy, and compassion to each other.  May we not place others in harm’s way needlessly or accidentally.  May we build a better society.









Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B   30 comments

Above:  Wheat

Image Source = Photographer2008

Good Friday is Near

MARCH 21, 2021



Jeremiah 31:31-34 (New Revised Standard Version):

The days are surely coming,

says the LORD,

when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt– a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband,

says the LORD.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.


Psalm 51:1-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness;

in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

2 Wash me through and through from my wickedness

and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against you only have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight.

5 And so you are justified when you speak

and upright in your judgment.

Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth,

a sinner from my mother’s womb.

7 For behold, you look for truth deep within me,

and will make me understand wisdom secretly.

Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure;

wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.

Make me hear of joy and gladness,

that the body you have broken may rejoice.

10 Hide your face from my sins

and blot out all my iniquities.

11 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

12 Cast me not away from your presence

and take not your holy Spirit from me.

13 Give me the joy of your saving help again

and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.


Psalm 119:9-16 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

9  How shall a young man cleanse his way?

By keeping to your words.

10  With my whole heart I seek you;

let me not stray from your commandments.

11  I treasure your promise in my heart,

that I may not sin against you.

12  Blessed are you, O LORD;

instruct me in your statutes.

13  With my lips will I recite

all the judgments of your mouth.

14  I have taken greater delight in the way of your decrees

than in all manner of riches.

15  I will meditate on your commandments

and give attention to your ways.

16  My delight is in your statutes;

I will not forget your word.


Hebrews 5:5-10 (New Revised Standard Version):

Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,

You are my Son,

today I have begotten you;

as he says also in another place,

You are a priest forever,

according to the order of Melchizedek.

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.


John 12:20-33 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him,

Sir, we wish to see Jesus.

Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them,

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say– “Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Then a voice came from heaven,

I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.

The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said,

An angel has spoken to him.

Jesus answered,

This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A:

Jeremiah 31:

Hebrews 5:


There are, in my tradition, six Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.  So chronology, if not the tone of the last two readings, should make plain the fact that Good Friday is relatively close to the Fifth Sunday in Lent.  Palm Sunday is one week away from this Sunday, and the overall tone from the lessons for this Sunday conveys that reality well.

Lent is, of course, preparation for Easter.  It is also, in my tradition, the time when flowers and the word “Alleluia” are forbidden, and simple meals involving soup tend to precede adult midweek religious programs in parishes.  We tone things down during Lent.  Then we become starker on Maundy/Holy Thursday before breaking out flowers and Alleluias at the Easter Vigil or on Easter Sunday morning.

This is a time for great sobriety of spirit.  Christ our Passover is about to be sacrificed for us.  After that is accomplished we may keep the feast.