Lenten Devotion: Jesus Has a Question of His Own

…”David calls Him Lord, so how is He his Son?” (Luke 20:44).

Read Luke 20:41-44

Jesus has completely silenced His enemies, easily evading their traps. Now it’s His turn to ask the questions and show the priests and scribes-those who are considered experts in the Old Testament-how little they truly understand of God’s Word.

The scribes readily accept that the Messiah is David’s Son, a human. For them the hard leap is the transition from thinking of the Messiah as a mere man to believing He is God’s Son. But Jesus starts on the other side. First establishing from Psalm 110:1 that the Christ is David’s Lord, Jesus asks how God’s Almighty Son can possibly be human?

Jesus is revealing the very heart of the Old Testament, which the scribes had missed despite all their careful study. The promised Savior is the Son of God, begotten of His Heavenly Father from eternity, before all creation. But here in time God’s Son became human by the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, when He was conceived of the Virgin Mary. This should sound familiar. Jesus is talking about the mystery of Christmas!

But that Baby lying in the manger was not just Mary’s human child; He was God’s own eternal Son, who had become human. That’s the reason the angels proclaimed His birth, and the reason the wise men bowed down to worship Him. Being human He could submit Himself to God’s Law and earn our home in heaven by His perfect obedience. And since He is human He could take our sins upon Himself and suffer and die. Since the Christ is also God’s Son, His suffering and death will suffice for all humans of all time.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we thank You for humbling Yourself to leave Your glorious throne, for becoming human, and for saving us from our sins. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Devotion: Doubts About the Resurrection

…There came to Him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection (Luke 20:27).

Read Luke 20:27-40

The scribes and Pharisees make up part of the Jewish high court; another group is the priests who are Sadducees. They accept only Moses’ writings from the Old Testament and reject the resurrection, angels or heaven. But that doesn’t stop them from posing a resurrection riddle to try to make Jesus look foolish.

They refer to a Mosaic law that preserved the line of an Israelite man who died childless. If the man’s brother married the widow, the first son born could be considered the dead man’s son. In their riddle a man died childless, each of his six brothers married the widow in turn, but each died childless. So whose wife will she be in the resurrection?

It seems a no-win question for Jesus. She couldn’t be the wife of all seven. But if God chooses one of the brothers to be her husband He would be wronging the others. Jesus easily smashes their house of cards. God’s gift of marriage holds only for this earthly period of time-not at the resurrection.

Now Jesus turns to their rejection of the resurrection. He even refers to Moses, the only authority they will accept from the Old Testament. When speaking to Moses out of the burning bush, God said, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (see Exodus 3:6). If there was no life after death God would have had to say “I was their God,” not I am their God.” God’s “I AM” proves the human soul survives physical death and implies the resurrection when Christ returns.

Jesus has corrected the Sadducees so well even the hostile scribes commend Him.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we are often slow to believe things we cannot see. Remove my doubts and unbelief and give me firm confidence in the resurrection and eternal life You have promised to all believers. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Devotion: Another Trap

…The scribes and the chief priests … sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch Him in something He said, so as to deliver Him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor (Luke 20:19a, 20b).

Read Luke 20:20-26

The leaders of the Jewish high court are furious at Jesus, especially for the parable He just spoke against them. But since the crowds are hanging on Jesus’ every word, the leaders cannot directly attack Him. They know they will only be able to destroy Him if they can turn the people against Him.

They decide to attack Him indirectly. So they send spies posing as genuine believers to trick Jesus into saying something that will get Him into trouble with the Roman governor. First, they flatter Jesus to try to throw Him off; then they slyly ask, “Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar or not?”

It’s a devilishly brilliant trap. If Jesus answers, “Yes, you should pay taxes,” He’ll risk losing His popularity with the pilgrim crowds. But if He says, “No,” Pilate will be forced to move in and quickly silence this troublemaker, especially with the dangerous crowds gathered for the Feast.

But Jesus perceives their craftiness and recognizes their trap. So He asks them to show Him the coin used to pay the tax. When they produce the denarius He asks whose image and inscription it bears. They answer “Caesar’s.” Jesus then answers, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

Unable to catch Jesus in His words before the multitudes, they marvel and grow silent.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Satan sent so many enemies to lay traps for You, yet none were able to trip You up. Forgive my pride and failings and guide my steps that I may honor You in my words and actions. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Scripture Lessons

Isaiah 42:14-21

Ephesians 5:8-14

John 9:1-41

By His Word of the Gospel, Jesus Calls Us Out of the Darkness into His Marvelous Light

The Lord is grieved by the spiritual blindness of His people, yet in mercy He does not forsake them. He restrains His anger and keeps His peace, until He opens their ears and eyes to hear and see Him. “For his righteousness’ sake,” He magnifies His Word and makes it glorious in the coming of Christ Jesus (Is. 42:21). Jesus turns “the darkness before them into light” (Is. 42:16) because He is “the light of the world” (John 9:5). The incarnate Son of God does the works of His Father and displays the divine glory in His own flesh “while it is day,” until that night “when no one can work” (John 9:4). By the washing of water with His Word, He opens the eyes of the blind and grants rest to the weary. Therefore, though “at one time you were darkness,” now “you are light in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8). By our Baptism into Christ, we live in the eternal day of His resurrection, wherein He shines upon us. As often as we fall back into the darkness of sin, He calls us by the Gospel to “awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead” (Eph. 5:14).

Lenten Devotion: A Thinly Veiled Parable

…And He began to tell the people this parable … (Luke 20:9a).

Read Luke 20:9-19

The representatives of the Jewish high court have been humiliated in front of the crowd. They just want to slink back to the high priest’s house, but Jesus isn’t done with them yet. Since they won’t be honest enough to say what they truly feel about John the Baptist, Jesus uses a parable that answers their original question and asserts His authority to carry on His ministry.

In His parable Jesus uses a few brush strokes to quickly paint a picture of God’s people. He planted them in the Promised Land, as a man would plant a vineyard. He lent His nation out to the priests and religious leaders, who should use His Word to tend His people and prepare them to serve one another and glorify God with their lives.

When the leaders failed to lead His people correctly, God sent servant-prophets to call them back to faithfully fulfill their work of leading the nation in repentance, faith and good works. But the leaders beat and mistreated the prophets and sent them away empty-handed. Finally, the owner sends His beloved Son-and they plot to kill Him.

The drama is intense. The leaders know Jesus is speaking about them, and their rage and fury grow, even as their hidden plan to murder God’s own Son is openly exposed by Jesus to all the pilgrims, who have gathered at the temple courts in Jerusalem.

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You loved the Jewish leaders and used a parable they understood to reveal the enormity of what they were planning to do. Help me see my sins and run to You for forgiveness and peace. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.