Lent with Bonhoeffer, Friday, March 1, 2013
Revised Common Lectionary week Lent 3C – second reading-
I Corinthians 10:1-13
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Two quick thoughts on the Second/ New Testament reading from the lectionary this week. First, Paul tells us not to be like the Children of Israel were when they were murmuring after being led out of Egypt. To put that story in its original context you have to go back to Numbers 21. The Children of Israel were looking back on the vices of their former life fondly and were longing for them instead of ahead to the Promised Land when the vipers were sent through their camps. The were missing Egypt, which we can see as a symbol of sin and the world. -Secondly, Paul says that the presence of the Lord that was with them through the Wilderness was Christ (verse 4). This rebuts a lot of modern scholarship that says that the belief that Christ existed before the incarnation/nativity came much later. It was already accepted, at least by Paul, by approx 55 AD (around 20 years after the Crucifixion). It also fits into our Lenten theme because Paul says that Christ was the spiritual Rock that the Children of Israel drank from during that time.
excerpt from a sermon on Psalm 58 – From Gesammelte Schriften, Band IV, pp. 413-422, July, 11, 1937 “Predigt über einen Rachepsalm,” Translated By Daniel Bloesch
“The righteous will rejoice when he sees such vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.” Is not that true delight in God? Is not that the joy of the righteous at the triumph of God’s justice on the Cross, joy at Christ’s victory? God’s vengeance has died and the blood of the godless one in whom we bathe ourselves gives us a share in God’s victory; the blood of the godless one has become our redemption, it cleanses us of all our sin. That is the miracle.
Thus the image of the blood-stained Savior emerges from the midst of this Psalm, the Savior who died for the godless, struck down by God’s revenge, for our salvation. No one is excluded here. Christ bore all of God’s vengeance for everyone. God’s wrath and vengeance will no longer rest on anyone who comes to him, and stays on his side. They are under the protection of Christ’s righteousness, whoever they may be. Yet whoever does not want to come, whoever does not want to prostrate himself at the foot of Christ’s Cross as a godless sinner, whoever defies the Cross of Christ, God’s wrathful judgment will come over himGod’s vengeance as it came over Christ, however not for life, but for eternal death.
“Men will say, ‘Surely there is a reward for the righteous.'” Not happiness or power or honor in this world is the fruit of the righteous. It is nothing other than the fellowship of Christ’s Cross, the redemption from God’s wrath. “There is truly a God who judges on earth.” Where is God’s judgment on the godless of this world? Not in visible misfortune, failure, or disgrace in the eyes of this world, but solely in the Cross of Jesus Christ. Isn’t that enough for us? Don’t we see all the enemies of God already fallen and condemned in this Cross? What is the good of all our anxiety which wants to see even more than this judgment of God? For that reason, when we begin to doubt God’s justice on earth, let us look to the Cross of Christ-here is
judgment, here is free pardon.
Today the crucified One in this love is still concealing from us what we will see one day at the Last Judgment, the salvation of the just and the damnation of the godless. We couldn’t bear it on this earth. But we may be certain that everything will serve to increase the joy of the righteous. On that day, the victory and triumph of Christ will be made known in salvation and judgment. Until that day, however, Satan will continue to incite the enemies of Christ and his church to commit acts of injustice and violence and tell lies. In the middle of this raging battle, Christ vicariously prays this Psalm for us. He accuses the godless, he calls down God’s vengeance and justice on them and gives himself up for the benefit of all the ungodly with his innocent suffering on the Cross.
And now we pray this song with the psalmist, in humble gratitude that we have been granted deliverance from wrath through the Cross of Christ. We pray in fervent supplication that God may bring all our enemies under the Cross of Christ and grant them mercy. We pray with burning desire that the day may soon come when Christ will visibly triumph over all his enemies and establish his Kingdom. We can learn to pray the Psalm in this way. Amen.
God of wilderness and water,
your Son was baptized and tempted as we are.
Guide us through this season,
that we may not avoid struggle,
but open ourselves to blessing,
through the cleansing depths of repentance
and the heaven-rending words of the Spirit. Amen.