Scripture readings for 3/17
Jesus’ journey down from the Mount of Transfiguration to the cross at Mount Calvary continues on the Second Sunday in Lent. Jesus is determined to go his way and finish the course. He was so resolute in his path that he did not stop until he accomplished all things for our salvation. Earthly Jerusalem was blind to his gracious visit, and it put him to death like the prophets before him. Yet, his sacrifice on the cross became the cornerstone of the new Jerusalem, his church. He visits us today in the church with his preaching of forgiveness, gathering us to himself as citizens of heaven.
- Gospel reading: Even though he was rejected by many people, Jesus Christ was determined to complete his journey to redeem us.
- Old Testament reading: The prophet Jeremiah predicted the destruction of Jerusalem; but rather than the people repenting, they rejected God’s word and God’s prophet.
- New Testament reading: St. Paul urges us to stay true to the Lord while on our journeys, rather than thinking only about this life here on earth.
The Gospel reading:
Despite largely negative portrayals of the Pharisees, not all of them were hostile toward Jesus, and a few came to warn him that he was offending the current ruler, Herod Antipas (the son of the Herod who killed the babies in Bethlehem when Jesus was born). But Jesus was on a mission to go to Jerusalem, where he knew he would be rejected and killed, and he would not be turned aside. This reading is selected for the Second Sunday in Lent to show Jesus’ determination to finish his journey to the cross.
But his journey would not end at the cross. It is on the “third day” that Jesus will reach his goal! Now our resurrected Jesus longs to protect us beneath his wings. Let us not refuse his loving care, but say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
The Old Testament reading:
The prophet Jeremiah faithfully preached all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, warning them of destruction by Babylon but offering hope if they repented. The violence that Jeremiah suffered for this preaching foreshadowed the cross and Passion of Christ Jesus, who suffered the judgment of God for the redemption of all people. The people mobbed Jeremiah and cried out, “Kill him!,” just as Jesus knew would happen to him when he reached Jerusalem.
This scene provides one of the most complete accounts of a trial found in the Old Testament. The trial consists of the accusation (26:8–9), speeches by the prosecution and the defense (v. 11–15), and the announcement of a verdict (v. 16) and the explanation of the reasoning behind the verdict (v. 17–19). Though threatened with death, Jeremiah was resolute in his mission and faithfully proclaimed the Word of the Lord.
The New Testament reading:
In the Roman Empire, the emperor was known as the savior and lord. By applying these titles to Jesus, St. Paul is calling the Philippians to live under the authority and reign of the universe’s true Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. It was likely this kind of message that landed Paul and Silas in jail in Philippi (Acts 16:31).
Jesus and Jeremiah and Paul and Silas pressed onward down their paths, despite knowing those journeys would be painful. Will we? Some people agree to the teaching of salvation by the cross of Christ, yet they wish to live for the pleasures of earthly appetites. But St. Paul told the Philippians not to follow that way, which leads to destruction. Rather, it is only in Jesus that we can find the strength to be resolute on our journey to follow him.