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Weekly Bible Readings

September 23 The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Our Father Cares for His Children with the Gospel of His Son

The sinful heart is filled with “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” (James 3:14), which causes hostility, quarrels and conflicts, even among those who are fellow members of the Body of Christ. This should not be so! Rather, God “opposes the proud” with His Law, in order to humble them unto repentance; He “gives grace to the humble,” in order to exalt them by His Gospel of forgiveness (James 4:6–10). This true “wisdom from above” is found in the gentleness, mercy and peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself and sacrificed Himself for the salvation of sinners (James 3:17). He was “like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter,” committing Himself to God, His Father, “who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind” (Jer. 11:19–20). Therefore, “after three days,” His Father exalted Him by raising Him from the dead (Mark 9:31). In Holy Baptism, He takes disciples of all ages into His arms like little children. In receiving Him through repentance and faith in His forgiveness of sins, they receive from His Father a share in the glory of His cross and resurrection (Mark 9:36–37).

OLD TESTAMENT READING  Jeremiah 11:18–20                           

The Lord made it known to me and I knew;then you showed me their deeds. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me they devised schemes, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.”

But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause.  

EPISTLE  James 3:13-4:10                                          

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

HOLY GOSPEL  Mark 9:30–37

[The disciples] went on from there and passed through Galilee. And [Jesus] did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”