Year A – Palm Sunday – Isaiah 50:4-9

Palm Sunday – Liturgy of the Word
Isaiah 50:4-9a: The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens- wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backwards. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty? All of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.

Summary – Isaiah explains how God sustains him through the Word. Like a teacher, Isaiah is able to share this Word to help others. Each day Isaiah hears God’s voice. The next verses provide a Messianic image, fulfilled in the trial of Jesus: “I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.” Yet this Messiah is determined and will be vindicated since the Lord is with Him. One can hear echoes of Paul in 1 Cor. 1 and Romans 8: 1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Romans 8:33 – “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.” This passage concludes with the picture that the enemies of Messiah will all pass away.

Insight – Have you ever looked carefully at a nice woven rug or a tapestry? There are usually recurring patterns. The Bible is full of patterns, too. This passage provides us with a pattern that is deeply woven into the experience of God’s people. Isaiah begins by receiving the Word from the Lord, then giving it to others. In so doing, Isaiah moves to reflect upon his own suffering for the sake of that Word. As he explains this, he moves into Messianic territory, prophesying the very events of Christ’s life. These events took place  in Christ’s trial and crucifixion. The pattern seems to be 1) receiving the Word. 2) Suffering because of the Word. And 3) Identification with Messiah. The apostles experienced a similar pattern. As they went out proclaiming the good news, they were often rejected and suffered (e.g., Acts 16 in Philippi), but as a result they knew more of Christ. One important application is that we grow in receiving God’s Word. That is, we should increase our intake of Scripture and listen for His voice as we do so. Then we will perhaps be able to harvest the fruit of that Word as we speak with  others. But remember that as you do so, you will likely experience some kind of persecution. Still, the result is a deeper experience of identifying with the One who was struck, beaten, spit upon, and finally crucified for you.

Child’s Catechism – How should we grow? By hearing more of God’s Word and sharing it with others.

Discussion – What are some ways that you could to know and grow in the Word even more?

Prayer – God of the covenant, in the glory of the cross your Son embraced the power of death and broke its hold over your people.In this time of repentance, draw all people to yourself, that we who confess Jesus as Lord may put aside the deeds of death and accept the life of your kingdom. Amen.

Year B – Easter 5 – Psalm 22:25-31

Psalm 22:25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.  26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;  those who seek him shall praise the LORD!  May your hearts live forever! 27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. 28 For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. 29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. 30 Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; 31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.  (NRSV)

Summary:  We don’t always see the results of our prayers; but that does not make our unanswered requests worthless.  Our hearts and minds must always cry out to God, no matter how frustrated or confused our desires and needs.  David could not have possibly understood the full weight and outcome from these cries [in the first half of the Psalm] and subsequent rejoices [found in our verses today].  This Psalm clearly had and will have further fulfillment through Christ and in his people.

Insight:  The opening of this psalm was quoted by Christ upon the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  These once future events, the impending sufferings, and the hopeful promises which David sung a thousand years before, were cried out, and lived out, by the Son of God himself.  For they did indeed pierce his hands and feet (v16) and they even divided his garments (v18).  His death was the will of God and now through Him redemption has been accomplished.  The results that followed, were also foretold by the Psalm.  The Apostles were seeing and living out the future “shalls” promised by the verses we are looking at today.  Just as we are seeing and living that future.  The ends of the earth are turning to the Lord, and we are those families from the various nations which worship Him (v27).  And thanks be to God, it will be even our future generations, those not yet born, that will serve him forever.

Child Catechism:  The Lord is to receive worship from whom?  All the families of the nations are called to worship and serve our King, Jesus the Christ.

Discussion:  Can you think of places in the Gospel where Jesus declares the fact that the nations were to come and worship the Lord?  How might have David understood these events (for example, crucifixion was not yet “invented”)?

Gracious Father, you have rescued us from the old creation, build us up with your Spirit,  untangle the anxieties and confusions of our lives, that we may trust and serve you only, no matter how unclear the future may be, we look to you for guidance, And it is in the power of your Spirit we pray; and in the name of him whose hands and feet we have pierced, Jesus the Christ, Amen.

Contributed by M. West