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The Third Week in March

We Read…

In today’s reading, we find a very personal, even heart-wrenching, look into the life of King David. David was known for being “a man after God’s own heart,” but was no stranger to life’s mistakes and hurt. In this portion of Psalm 51, we find David crying out to God in guilt and shame after he had been involved in an adulterous relationship with a woman named Bathsheba and had her husband killed in hopes of hiding from his mistake. In this moment, we see a man, after God’s own heart, fall victim to sin and realize the wrong he has done. David even confessed to God that this moment with Bathsheba reflected the condition of his heart; even though David followed God, he realized that there was still more healing and transformation that needed to take place. Have you ever been here before? Have you ever made a mistake that you regretted? Have you ever reflected on the condition of your own heart? Luckily for David and us today, we don’t have to remain guilty and ashamed. David pleads to God, begging for forgiveness, knowing that God can transform him from the inside out.

The remainder of today’s passages confirm what David already seems to know about God. God has the power to cleanse us of our sins and transform our hearts to be more like God so that we desire to follow God and his ways more closely each day. We also see in Jeremiah 31 that God so desires to be in a growing relationship with us that He’s willing to create a new covenant (or promise) with his people, allowing anyone, no matter where they are at, the opportunity of a life that’s been forgiven through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. Hebrews 5 shows us that God sent Jesus, someone who knows what it means to live life as a human, as the source of that forgiveness. Finally, in John 12, Jesus reminds the people surrounding Him that not only is he the source of salvation they’re looking for, but he is the perfect example of what it means to be a person after God’s heart.

Jeremiah 31:31-34

The time is coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 It won’t be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant with me even though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 No, this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the LORD. I will put my Instructions within them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 They will no longer need to teach each other to say, “Know the LORD!” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD; for I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.

Psalm 51:1-12

1 Have mercy on me, God, 

     according to your faithful love! 

     Wipe away my wrongdoings 

      according to your great compassion! 

    2 Wash me completely clean of my guilt; 

     purify me from my sin! 

    3 Because I know my wrongdoings, 

     my sin is always right in front of me. 

    4 I’ve sinned against you—you alone. 

     I’ve committed evil in your sight. 

    That’s why you are justified 

     when you render your verdict, 

     completely correct 

       when you issue your judgment. 

    5 Yes, I was born in guilt, in sin, 

     from the moment my mother 

      conceived me. 

    6 And yes, you want truth 

     in the most hidden places; 

     you teach me wisdom 

      in the most secret space.

    7 Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean; 

     wash me and I will be whiter than snow. 

    8 Let me hear joy and celebration again; 

     let the bones you crushed 

      rejoice once more. 

    9 Hide your face from my sins; 

     wipe away all my guilty deeds! 

    10 Create a clean heart for me, God; 

     put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me! 

    11 Please don’t throw me 

     out of your presence; 

     please don’t take your holy spirit 

      away from me. 

    12 Return the joy of your salvation to me 

     and sustain me with a willing spirit.

Hebrews 5:5-10

5 In the same way Christ also didn’t promote himself to become high priest. Instead, it was the one who said to him, 

    You are my Son. 

     Today I have become your Father, 

6 as he also says in another place, 

    You are a priest forever, 

     according to the order of Melchizedek.

7 During his days on earth, Christ offered prayers and requests with loud cries and tears as his sacrifices to the one who was able to save him from death. He was heard because of his godly devotion. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. 9 After he had been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for everyone who obeys him. 10 He was appointed by God to be a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

John 12:20-33

20 Some Greeks were among those who had come up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and made a request: “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” 22 Philip told Andrew, and Andrew and Philip told Jesus. 

23 Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Human One to be glorified. 24 I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their lives will lose them, and those who hate their lives in this world will keep them forever. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me. Wherever I am, there my servant will also be. My Father will honor whoever serves me. 

27 “Now I am deeply troubled. What should I say? ‘Father, save me from this time’? No, for this is the reason I have come to this time. 28 Father, glorify your name!” 

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 

29 The crowd standing there heard and said, “It’s thunder.” Others said, “An angel spoke to him.” 

30 Jesus replied, “This voice wasn’t for my benefit but for yours. 31 Now is the time for judgment of this world. Now this world’s ruler will be thrown out. 32 When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.” (33 He said this to show how he was going to die.) 

We Think…

  • What stands out to you in these verses?

  • Does anything confuse you or not make sense?

  • How do these verses compare to your own experience in life or the church?

  • What are you considering? 

  • What questions come to mind?

We Feel…

  • What emotions are you experiencing today? How are you making space for these feelings?

  • Where have you seen God today or this week?

  • What is pointing you to God (maybe it is something in creation, maybe a friend or adult that cares for you)?

  • What has God made new in your life? In your heart?

  • When have you grumbled to God? What experiences can you point back to as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to you?

  • Have you ever felt guilt because you acted in a way you regretted?

  • Do you remember how you responded to that feeling? Have you sought forgiveness in this area?

We Believe…

Our ultimate goal of being a Christ follower is to be more like Him each day. We believe that the Holy Spirit works in and through us to change our hearts, making us more capable of loving God and loving others like Jesus did. This change in our hearts results in a changed life! In Psalm 51, we can see David praying for the spirit to change the condition of his heart. When the Holy Spirit moves in and through us, we can live a different life than before. You can see this both in the way we act and in the ways that we discern our decisions. Before the Holy Spirit's work, we may say or believe things like, “I want to do what makes me happy” (like David being with Bathsheba). Still, when the Holy Spirit works in our lives, our minds should say: “I want to make a decision that best honors God and reflects what he is doing in my life.” In John 12, Jesus reminds those listening that we must follow him and his ways when we choose to serve Jesus. When we choose to make him our Lord, our lives are expected to reflect His by loving God and others rather than loving the things in life that kept us at a distance from Him.

We Practice…