Knysna Methodist Church – lectionary notes – 27.3.2022
The reproach God was speaking about was the shame of slavery which God was wiping away. He led them to a place where they could see themselves with new eyes, in a new way. The old was gone, the new had come for them. Gilgal became the centre for Israel as they conquered Canaan and it was here that they commemorated the Passover when each Hebrew family had slaughtered a lamb and smeared its blood on their doorposts so the angel who was killing the Egyptian sons would know that this was a Hebrew home. As soon as they began to eat food from the productive fields of Canaan, the manna stopped appearing. They no longer needed God’s miraculous provision of food for they could now eat the produce of Canaan for that first year and then grow their own in partnership with Him.
Psalm 32 is a maskil, a psalm of instruction and contemplation, and is the first of twelve psalms with this title.
David spoke of the blessing of being forgiven. David knew what it was like to be guilty of sin and then to be forgiven in full. No matter the sin, God forgives completely. There was no need to conceal sin any longer for God wiped it away. But until David had confessed his sin he was stressed and felt old and dry. He stubbornly refused to confess and it was only in looking back later that he realised his misery was caused by his rebellion against God.
The term selah gives the writer, reader or singer the opportunity to pause and consider the importance and truth of the previous words.
David had been trying to conceal his sin (there is no indication as to which sin he is referring to, although it may have been his relationship with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband.) He had to live a double life as he sought to conceal his sins. It was only when David confessed that he was forgiven. His relationship with God was restored straight away and his double life was no longer needed.
David’s awareness that God is willing to forgive gave him the incentive to seek God. He discovered it was better to confess than flounder in the misery of sin. It was the only way to restore the connection with God. God was David’s safe place, the place where he could be protected and rescued from all harm. David then wrote prophetically as if God was speaking. God promised to guide, instruct and teach His people. During his life, David had been stubborn and had suffered the consequences. Now, through David’s experience, God is urging His people to respond willingly and not be stubborn like a horse or a mule which need firm guidance. Having repented, David understood what it was like to be forgiven and receive God’s mercy. It was such a wonderful feeling that people could be glad, rejoice and shout for joy.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
It is not the appearance of people that is important but their hearts. Even those who had known Jesus as a man now knew that the new relationship they had with Him through the Holy Spirit was more special.
Some scholars suggest that Paul may have heard Jesus speaking in the temple and may have been amongst those Pharisees who opposed Him. But now Paul recognised that the relationship he had with Jesus in the Spirit was far better.
People become a new creation in Christ. This is a promise that is open to anyone. Christ changes people who come to Him in faith. However this is an on-going process not a one-off event. It is both a gift and a challenge.
This is the work of God through Jesus Christ’s amazing sacrifice of love. Now God pleads with people to be reconciled to Him by responding to Him. Paul was God’s ambassador and delivered His message clearly.
It was a strange idea to the Jewish people that anyone could be without sin. In spite of this, no one challenged Jesus when He made this claim (John 8:46). Jesus was no sinner but He became sin on our behalf in a supreme act of love. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit worked together in this. They exchanged the righteousness of God for the sin of humankind on the cross.
When the tax collectors and sinners gathered around Jesus the Pharisees and scribes complained that He mixed with sinners and ate with them. In the minds of the religious leaders there were two kinds of people: the righteous and the unrighteous. After telling them two short illustrations of what the lost meant to God, Jesus told them the parable of the lost son.
In fact, both the sons are important in this story. The father clearly loves his sons and when the younger son requests his inheritance the father hands it over to him. The young man was reckless and when a famine hit the land where he was living he had no resources on which to live. So he found himself feeding swine – something no self-respecting Jew would ever consider doing.
When he hit rock bottom he realised how foolish he was being. His thoughts turned to his father – not his village, friends or even his home, but his father. But he did not just think – he acted. When the two men met, the son’s confession was heartfelt. He did not try to justify himself or his behaviour. He asked to be taken on as a hired servant – who could be fired at a day’s notice. (A slave was almost a member of the family).
But the father would have none of it and welcomed him home, flinging his arms around him, clothing him, and throwing a party.
When the older son realised what was happening he was bitter and angry and would not join in the festivities. He was proud and self-righteous. But whilst he had worked and obeyed his father, it did not seem as if loved his father. In a way this was like the Pharisees who followed the letter of the Law but did not love God.
In the Greek text the father comes out and calls his older son ‘child’ as a sign of his affection. The brother had no reason to complain. He should have been happy.
The message of the parable was clear. Come home. Repent. The father loves you.
Points to Ponder
• How do you feel when someone accepts your apology after you have harmed them in some way? How do you feel
when someone apologises to you? What makes it difficult to ‘forgive and forget’?
• How do you feel when you have done something wrong and are reluctant to apologise (or are unable to do so
for some reason)? How long do such feelings last? What is the best way to overcome them, especially if you
are unable to apologise?
• How do you feel when you give in to temptation – again – and have to confess or apologise – again? How
often do you rely on God to help you in such situations?
• What is the strongest message for you in the parable of the Prodigal Son? Who are you in that story? The
younger or older son – or maybe even the father? Why do you feel you are that person? How does the story
help you to move forward?
• What does it mean to you when you learn again that God loves you – anyway?
Joshua 5; Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5; Luke 15