Revised Common Lectionary - Year C: Fourth Sunday in Lent - Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.
As you read about circumcision (Joshua 5:2-7) and the Passover (Joshua 5:10), think also of Paul’s words in Romans 2:29 and 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 – ‘real circumcision is a matter of the heart’, ‘Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival… with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’. ‘The Commander of the Lord’s army’came to Joshua (Joshua 5:13-15). Christ comes to us. He calls us to worship. He equips us for battle. ‘Christ, the Royal Master, leads against the foe… At the sign of triumph, Satan’s legions flee… Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise… Like a mighty army moves the Church of God… Gates of hell can never ‘gainst that Church prevail; We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail… On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory’(Church Hymnary, 480).
The forgiveness of our sins
The forgiveness of sins – what a tremendous blessing this is (Psalm 32:1-2). We receive God’s forgiveness when we confess our sins to Him. This is the Psalmist’s testimony: ‘I made my sins known to You, and I did not cover up my guilt. I decided to confess them to You, O Lord. Then You forgave all my sins’(Psalm 32:5). This is the promise of God: ‘If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness’(1 John 1:9). Knowing that our sins have been forgiven by God, we can face our many trying times with confidence in Him: ‘You are my hiding place. You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance whenever I am afraid. I will trust in You, I will trust in You. Let the weak say, “I am strong in the strength of my God”’(Psalm 32:7; Mission Praise, 793).
Ambassadors for Christ
‘Reconciled’ to God through Christ, we have received ‘the ministry of reconciliation’. Saved by Him, we are to ‘work with Him’. We are ‘not to accept the grace of God in vain’ by living for ourselves. We are to be ‘ambassadors for Christ’. We must proclaim the urgent message of salvation – ‘now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation’. We must call men and women to respond to God’s message of salvation: ‘Be reconciled to God’(2 Corinthians 5:18-6:2). If we are to be effective ‘ambassadors for Christ’, we must dedicate our lives to Him: ‘Let us cleanse ourselves… and make holiness perfect in the fear of God’(2 Corinthians 7:1). Without this heartfelt commitment to godly living, we cannot really serve the Lord at all. Our wrong lives will drown out our ‘right’ words. We need true lives as well as ‘true’ words.
In ourselves, we are lost. In Christ we are found.
People were coming to Christ (Luke 15:1). Still, the critics were murmuring among themselves (Luke 15:2). What did Jesus do ? – He kept on preaching the Gospel (Luke 15:3-32). The lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7) the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), the lost son (Luke 15:11-32) – These are the parables of the Gospel. They teach us two lessons – By ourselves we are lost; In Christ, there is salvation. Read about the prodigal son, and think of the perfect Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him, we see God’s perfect love. Through Him, we receive God’s perfect salvation – (a) ‘the best robe’ – forgiveness (Revelation 7:13-14); (b) the ‘ring’- membership of God’s family (John 1:12); (c) the ‘shoes’ – empowered to bring ‘the Gospel’ to others (Ephesians 6:15). ‘God… has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing’(Ephesians 1:3). Don’t be like the ‘elder son’(Luke 15:28-30)!el 3