Lectionary 26 A

There's a lot of editorial insertion going on this week. And some of them feel a bit too inserted. But there is a theme of God's will and just how far God will go to show us what it is.

Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live?
-- Ezekiel 18:23

Verse 23 is cited in Formula of Concord, both the Epitome and Solid Declaration, Article 11: Election. In the Epitome verse 23 is cited through editorial insert at the end of Affirmative Thesis 9 (Ep 11.10) along with several other verses that drive home that God wants all people to repent and be saved through faith in Jesus. I'm not sure Ezekiel was enough of a prophet to see Jesus.  In the Solid Declaration, verse 23 is cited (SD 11.81) with a quote from Ezekiel 33:11 both of which make the same point: God does not desire death.

Verses 31 and 32 are cited in a footnote to Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 18: Free Will (AP 18.1, n. 415) as one of several passages cited in the Confutation to expound on the idea of free will, which Melanchthon deems "not at all applicable to this matter."

Psalm 25:1-9

The entirety of Psalm 25 is called out in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 2: Free Will (SD 2.81) because bad commentary on this psalm was being used to argue that conversion replaces the heart and mind of the sinner with a completely different and new mind and heart. Augustine, in his commentary on Psalm 25, rejected this interpretation in his day and so the reformers in Germany turned to this commentary to make the point from within the tradition of the Church.

Philippians 2:1-13

but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
-- Philippians 2:7

Verse 7 is cited in Formula of Concord, Epitome and Solid Declaration, Article 8: The Person of Christ. In the Epitome, Affirmative Thesis 11 (Ep 8.16), verse 7 is cited through editorial insert after the phrase "the form of a servant" even though the argument being made is how Jesus "laid aside" the servant form when he was resurrected while also keeping his human nature. The citation in the Solid Declaration (SD 8.26) is also through editorial insertion, but here in the context of Jesus being fully divine even in Mary's womb but kept hidden.

 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
-- Philippians 2:8

Verse 8 is cited through editorial insertion in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 3: Righteousness (SD 3.56) right after the phrase "death of the cross," which feels a bit clunky in the middle of an argument that Jesus had to have been both fully human and fully divine in order for his sinless death to have benefit for us.

for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
-- Philippians 2:13

Verse 13 becomes a consistent point in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 2: Free Will, being quoted three times (SD 2.14, 26, and 39) to drive home the point that good works, and even the desire to do good works, are not a matter of freedom, since even the wanting to do good works comes from God's gift of faith. Therefore,

"This precious verse is very comforting for all pious Christians who feel and perceive a tiny glimmer and longing for God's grace and eternal salvation in their hearts. For they know that God has ignited this beginning of true godliness in their hearts and, moreover, that he wants to strengthen them in their great weakness and help them, so that they may persevere in true faith to the end."
-- Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 2: Free Will, Line 14


Even just that tiny glimmer of desire to do something good is a sign of God's gift of faith. Let that sink in a bit.

The first son in the gospel reading for this week (Matthew 21:23-32) had even that glimmer. He didn't follow through on it, obviously, but at that moment when is father asked him to go and work and he assented, there was something there. The chief priests and elders of the temple were so afraid to tell Jesus what they really thought of John the Baptist that they missed a chance to repent and turn back to the face of God.

  • When are we too scared of other people's opinions to be honest with God?
  • How do we silence the will of God at work in us?
  • How can we more clearly proclaim God's loving will for all?