Knysna Methodist Church – lectionary notes – 13.2.2022
God says that anyone who relies solely on another person is going to fail. They will have little life in them and will not flourish. The plant Jeremiah is speaking about in this passage is called the Cursed Lemon or Sodom Apple for they grow in the area where Sodom and Gomorrah once stood. The tree looks healthy but when the fruit is opened air hisses out of it. Inside it is hollow and contains webs and dust. On the other hand the person who trusts in God will flourish like a tree planted near water and will continually bear fruit.
When people trust their hearts, the results are the same as when they trust another person, for people’s hearts often deceive them. They want what they do not need. The word ‘wicked’ seems to indicate sick rather than depraved. Often the owner of the heart may not recognise that this is the case.
However, God knows, tests, and searches people’s hearts. He knows more about people than they know about themselves. The word for mind is actually kidneys which covers the whole range of what comprises a person. God knows everything about them and so His judgment is true. He understands what it is that makes a person do what they do as He searches their innermost being.
The beginning of this psalm describes a person who is content and fulfilled. The psalmist lists several things this person does not do in regard to their thinking, their behaviour, and their belonging. This describes the progression of sin – thinking about taking action; taking the action; and then becoming part of society that accepts that action as the norm.
A righteous person is able to discern right from wrong if they take the time to do so. They do not keep the company of those who do wrong or who speak ill of those who follow Christ. Instead such a person will derive great joy from both reading and meditating about Scripture. As a result they will grow and be strong in their relationship with God for they will be firmly rooted in God’s Word and will bear fruit for Him. They will show no signs of fading. God will bring something good out of all they do, even if this is not visible to them.
Even though it may seem those who do not know God are also blessed, their blessings are fleeting and will be blown away like chaff in the wind. (Chaff is the flimsy shell around a kernel of grain which is blown away by the wind when the farmer throws the grain into the air.) Such people will be found wanting when judgment comes. God knows who is righteous. His people can be at peace.
1 Corinthians 15:12-20
Paul goes to great lengths to prove the resurrection of Jesus and the principle of resurrection. He did not have to prove resurrection to the Corinthians for they believed Jesus had been raised from the dead. But what Paul did need to prove was that resurrection was available to them too. They would have known that both the Greeks and the Sadducees accepted eternal life, but not the resurrection of the body.
Paul told them that if resurrection was not true then all Paul’s preaching and that of the apostles was null and void. This would mean faith in Christ was a waste of time; He had not defeated death and provided salvation; those who had already died were gone forever; their whole lives were without hope. The same was true for Paul himself for he had endured a great deal for Christ and if this life is all there is then there was no hope for him.
Paul is addressing believers here. The resurrection of the body is the essence of the faith of every believer. It weaves a thread of hope through every aspect of Christian life.
Those who do not believe in Christ will take whatever pleasures this life offers them, believing that it is all they will ever have.
In the OT people would take the first sheaf of grain as an offering in anticipation of the rest of the harvest. Jesus was the first – those who follow Him are the harvest. The Feast of Firstfruits took place on the day after the Sabbath following the Passover. This was the day when Jesus rose from the dead. No blood was shed for this offering as the Passover lamb had already been slaughtered. In the same way, Christ, the Paschal Lamb has been slaughtered once and for all, and no further blood is needed. Jesus was the first – believers will follow.
In Luke’s Gospel record, Jesus has just called the disciples to Him and now they joined Him to serve the people. Crowds of people had gathered to be healed or delivered from evil spirits. Everyone wanted to touch Him. Jesus taught them and healed them all by the power of God which flowed from Him.
Later He began to teach the disciples in a series of sermons known as the Sermon on the Plain for they were given on a flat plain (as opposed to the Sermon on the Mount). The disciples needed to hear and understand Jesus’ message so they could explain to those to whom they would preach what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus instructed His followers how to live and stressed the spiritual consequences of accepting Him as Lord.
• He explained that those who are poor, ie those who need to depend on others for provision, are blessed. Such blessing is a deep contentment, a serene joy, which is independent of whatever is going on in the Christ-follower’s life. The poor in spirit realise that they need to rely on the Holy Spirit for they can do nothing for themselves. Their reward will be the kingdom of heaven. The following blessings can only be received once a person realises they have to rely on God for everything.
• When someone longs for God – they will be satisfied
• When someone is saddened by their sin and repents – they will know joy once again.
Jesus gave His listeners hope in a time when life was hard. And yet the world would hate them.
Many who heard Jesus’ message that day experienced this hatred – as many have done and still do since then. Yet Jesus encouraged them to be joyful for they would receive a great reward in heaven. Jesus continued by expressing regret that not everyone who heard would be blessed. Those who experienced no sense of needing to depend on others; those who were never hungry or in need of comfort, would never know what it was to depend on Him. Jesus turned people’s ideas of heaven upside down.
Points to Ponder
• Who do you trust? Don’t mention their name aloud, but quietly substitute their name in the place of God. Eg I trust (…Xyz…) to give me absolute security as I grow older; I trust (…. Xyz…) to provide all my family’s needs. Without giving your substitute’s name, share with one another how this substitution makes you feel. Now put Jesus’ name back in that space. What does that do for you?
• How important is the resurrection of the body to you? What difference would it make to who you are and to your faith if there was no resurrection of the body but just eternal life?
• Do you believe you will recognise people you know and love in heaven? Why/why not?
• How does Paul’s argument in support of the resurrection of the body influence your belief?
• How would you respond to someone who said there is no resurrection of the body?
• Are you an independent person? How does it make you feel when you consider Jesus encourages you to depend on Him for everything?
Jeremiah 17, Psalm 1, 1 Corinthians 15, Luke 6