Please enjoy these Reflections for Lent this weekend!
Friday in the Second Week of Lent
Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46?New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Parable of the Wicked Tenants
33??Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34?When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35?But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36?Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37?Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ?They will respect my son.? 38?But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ?This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.? 39?So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40?Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?? 41?They said to him, ?He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.?
42?Jesus said to them, ?Have you never read in the scriptures:
?The stone that the builders rejected
????has become the cornerstone;[a]
this was the Lord?s doing,
????and it is amazing in our eyes??
43?Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.[b]
45?When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46?They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.
Jesus usually doesn't sugarcoat anything and this parable is another example.
Here we find Jesus speaking directly to the spiritual leaders of the time. He's painting them into a corner and they know it. He knows the throngs of people consider him a prophet (v. 46) and that He is safe, for the moment, and so he keeps driving home the point that one day, you chief priests and Pharisees are going to have to answer one basic question: Who do you say I am? The writers of scripture consistently point to Jesus always funneling us into this one, cataclysmic question.
In our own lives, Jesus asks us the same question. We may call Jesus Lord and Savior, but we all have fenced in lands we own where we've built watchtowers.
Perhaps it's an unwillingness to trust Jesus financially, and so we work 60+ hours per week and our faith suffers. Perhaps it's an unwillingness to embrace others in community, preferring instead to believe the lie that our spirituality is a private matter and our faith withers. Maybe we have resentments toward our spouse cordoned off and protected on a patch of ground in our hearts with a watchtower that spots forgiveness coming from a mile away and kills the idea before it even gets within shouting distance.
Whatever it is, Jesus is sending Himself today and every day, bearing a question: Who do you say I am?
What thoughts or feelings emerge as you read the phrase in verse 45, "they realized that he was speaking about them"?
What protected areas of your life is Jesus sending Himself?
What is your response to His question?
Saturday in the Second Week of Lent, Reflections for Lent
Luke 15:11-32?The Voice (VOICE)
11?Once there was this man who had two sons. 12?One day the younger son came to his father and said, ?Father, eventually I?m going to inherit my share of your estate. Rather than waiting until you die, I want you to give me my share now.? And so the father liquidated assets and divided them. 13?A few days passed and this younger son gathered all his wealth and set off on a journey to a distant land. Once there he wasted everything he owned on wild living. 14?He was broke, a terrible famine struck that land, and he felt desperately hungry and in need. 15?He got a job with one of the locals, who sent him into the fields to feed the pigs. 16?The young man felt so miserably hungry that he wished he could eat the slop the pigs were eating. Nobody gave him anything.
17?So he had this moment of self-reflection: ?What am I doing here? Back home, my father?s hired servants have plenty of food. Why am I here starving to death? 18?I?ll get up and return to my father, and I?ll say, ?Father, I have done wrong?wrong against God and against you. 19?I have forfeited any right to be treated like your son, but I?m wondering if you?d treat me as one of your hired servants??? 20?So he got up and returned to his father. The father looked off in the distance and saw the young man returning. He felt compassion for his son and ran out to him, enfolded him in an embrace, and kissed him.
21?The son said, ?Father, I have done a terrible wrong in God?s sight and in your sight too. I have forfeited any right to be treated as your son.?
22?But the father turned to his servants and said, ?Quick! Bring the best robe we have and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. 23?Go get the fattest calf and butcher it. Let?s have a feast and celebrate 24?because my son was dead and is alive again. He was lost and has been found.? So they had this huge party.
25?Now the man?s older son was still out in the fields working. He came home at the end of the day and heard music and dancing. 26?He called one of the servants and asked what was going on. 27?The servant said, ?Your brother has returned, and your father has butchered the fattest calf to celebrate his safe return.?
28?The older brother got really angry and refused to come inside, so his father came out and pleaded with him to join the celebration. 29?But he argued back, ?Listen, all these years I?ve worked hard for you. I?ve never disobeyed one of your orders. But how many times have you even given me a little goat to roast for a party with my friends? Not once! This is not fair!
30?So this son of yours comes, this wasteful delinquent who has spent your hard-earned wealth on loose women, and what do you do? You butcher the fattest calf from our herd!?
31?The father replied, ?My son, you are always with me, and all I have is yours. 32?Isn?t it right to join in the celebration and be happy? This is your brother we?re talking about. He was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found again!?
Saturdays during Lent continue to have a joyful spirit. Enjoy the above translation of this wonderful story and let's go right to our reflections with a celebratory spirit today.
As the son returned home, what distorted perceptions about his father did he have to release?
Are there ways in which you are viewing God the Father that you need to release as distorted images?
Read through this story a few times and imagine the Father's reaction toward you as you see Him for who He is and run into His arms.
Third Sunday in Lent, Reflections for Lent Series
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8?New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Results of Justification
5?Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2?through whom we have obtained access[b] to this grace in which we stand; and we[c] boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
5?and hope does not disappoint us, because God?s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
6?For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7?Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person?though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8?But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
This third Sunday in Lent we continue our journey to embrace our liberation. Jesus Christ has liberated us. We have not only had our freedom announced, but we?are being made free as well. Our King is a King who has declared?us liberated and is liberating us from the bondage of our sin.
This work toward freedom can be painful, but even while we are still in the process of being freed, God deluges our hearts with His love so that we have hope!
Often we lose hope. Often we doubt. But God, while we were turned against Him frittering away our lives, showed us His love in a remarkable way: Our Liberator died for us.
If we are honest, we are deeply aware of the struggle going on inside ourselves. It's a struggle?for freedom.
How does knowing you have been declared free help you to embrace your freedom?
How does Jesus' love being poured into your heart through the Holy Spirit give you hope?
What does it personally mean to you to have hope that will never disappoint?