Bible Readings for Sunday, March 31, 2019

The emphasis in the readings for today is forgiveness: God’s forgiveness of us, giving thanks for that forgiveness, and being open to those whom God has forgiven, even as God is.

Today’s First Reading, Isaiah 12:1-6, is a song of thanksgiving that the Lord has forgiven and restored His people. Notice the theme of praising God for His grace and mercy. Let us examine our own lives, see our need of forgiveness, turn from sin to the Lord, and rejoice in the forgiveness we have in Jesus.

Merciful Lord, we give You thanks and praise that because You are merciful and compassionate, we can repent of our sin and turn to You for forgiveness. Lead us to repentance each day, trusting in Jesus’ death and resurrection for our salvation, and fill us with praise for Your grace and mercy. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

Today’s Psalm is Psalm 32. Notice how the psalm begins with a proclamation that the person whom the Lord forgives is a blessed person. And we are truly blessed when the Lord forgives.

Notice how the psalmist talks about his life when he did not confess his sins: this life was being drained away, but when he turned to the Lord, acknowledging his sin, he found renewed life in God’s forgiveness. What are the sins each of us harbor, refusing to confess them? How do those sins drain the life out of us? Let us heed the psalmist, let us confess our sinfulness and experience the joy and freedom of forgiveness in Christ.

Lord God, let Your Holy Spirit work in our hearts and lives to root out unrepented sin and forgive us for the sake of Jesus. Let us shout for joy because of the new life we have in Jesus! Amen.

The Second reading is found in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. Again, notice the emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation in the Lord. Christ has reconciled us to the heavenly Father, and now we are given the message of reconciliation, empowered to carry that message to the world, calling the people of the world to repentance and reconciliation with the heavenly Father and with each other in Christ. Let us be faithful in this call to be ambassadors of Christ, bringing His reconciliation to others.

Lord Jesus, we give You thanks and praise that You have reconciled us to the heavenly Father and to each other. Fill us again with Your love and compassion for others so that we go to them and proclaim that in You there is forgiveness, reconciliation, and new life. Enable us to be Your ambassadors through whom You appeal to others. Amen.

The Gospel, Luke 15:1-3, 11-32, is the familiar parable of the Prodigal Son. The prodigal, the younger son, asks to receive his inheritance before it is time, is essence telling his father that he is living too long, that he wants his father dead. What an insult! Then the younger son squanders his inheritance, eventually losing everything. The son then returns to his father, who receives him with open arms. The recounting of the parable often ends here, calling each of us to return in repentance to the heavenly Father.

But Jesus’ parable continues. There is the older son, who has been obedient, but who now is angry and jealous of the acceptance of the younger son back into the family. He storms off in anger, and refuses to be reconciled to his father or brother. How sad.

God’s grace extends to the repentant, including us, but are we willing to extend God’s grace to others, or are we jealously holding on to what we have?

Which son are we more like? The younger son who squandered life, yet repented, or the older son who refuses to be as gracious and forgiving as the father?

Gracious and merciful Father, we often realize we are like the younger son, squandering Your blessings. Lead us to return to You, seeking Your forgiveness and restoration. And Lord, point out to us how we are like the older son, being willing to refuse Your grace to others, even though You have extended Your grace to them. Move us to be as gracious as You are so that forgiveness and reconciliation can happen through Christ. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Who has reconciled us to You and to each other. Amen.

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