|FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
From Death to Life
March 14, 2021
Before coming to faith, we were dead in trespasses and sins. But while we
were dead and helpless, God made us alive! In the Epistle, Paul writes that
God saved us “being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He
loved us.” We have not simply been made physically well, but we have been
given eternal life. The central reason is that “by grace you have been saved
through faith.” We are His workmanship and in the light of Christ, it is obvious
that the credit for whatever works we do must go to our gracious God. We are
together with Christ and already, as it were, “with Him in the heavenly places.”
Now that is really living!
“Amazing Grace” [LSB 744]
1 Amazing grace--how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found, Was blind but now I see!
2 The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures.
3 Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come;
His grace has brought me safe thus far, His grace will lead me home.
4 Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail, And mortal life shall cease,
Amazing grace shall then prevail, In heaven's joy and peace.
5 When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, Than when we’d first begun.
Lord Jesus, while we were still dead in sin, You came as one of us to die for
us and bring us to eternal life. Give us strength of faith to look up to You each
day of our sojourn until we see You face-to-face in eternity; for You live and
reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
EPISTLE Ephesians 2:1–10
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked,
following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air,
the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we
all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body
and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved
us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with
Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and
seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the
coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness
toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so
that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ
Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in
HOLY GOSPEL John 3:14–21
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of
Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes
in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son
into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved
through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does
not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of
the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the
world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works
were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does
not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does
what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works
have been carried out in God.”
We have a problem with gifts. When we receive a gift, we tend to feel
obligated to give a gift in return at some point. The idea of just being grateful
for the gift is a hard one for us. The idea of being obligated to do something in
return just will not go away. When it comes to God’s grace, His undeserved
love in Jesus Christ our Lord, there can be only gratitude. There is nothing we
can do in return for such love. We cannot repay God nor can we compel
God. What have we to compare with Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross
to pay for our sin? God chose to save us from a situation from which we
could never save ourselves. That is why Paul’s words have such significance.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved
us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with
Christ.” (Ephesians 2:4-5) We have no capacity to come to God and yet He
comes to us and draws us to Himself. He saves us from ourselves. He
bestows on us a gift that we could never repay. He gives us His Son so that
we can be forgiven and have the promise of eternal life. To reinforce this Paul
writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your
own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may
boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) There can be no doubt that it is God’s actions
alone that save us so that we can see our Savior clearly. We are saved by
God’s grace alone. There is no other way. This is a blessing beyond measure.
LORD’S PRAYER Matthew 6:9–13
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy
will be done on earth as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread; and
forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and
lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
BENEDICTION Numbers 6:24–26
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace. Amen.