Isaiah 43:16-21 (Psalm 126); Philippians 3:4b-14; John 12:1-8
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (Psalm 51:1-12 or Psalm 119:9-16); Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33
Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45
Psalm 51 does not let any of us off the hook—not the progressives, the evangelicals, or the feel-good agnostics.
It is not pain and violence that God desires, says the preacher of Hebrews. It is human life as God created it to be, summoned it to be.
Isaiah knew his congregation. His word from the Lord spoke into the chaos and confusion of a people who had suffered not only a disruption of life, but also a disrupted understanding of God. Their cherished expectations of what it meant to be the covenant people had crumbled along with the destroyed Jerusalem. God had allowed this destruction of their naïve theology, and now they were exiled from both the land and the notion that God would protect them. It was this befuddled congregation that assembled to hear Isaiah’s sermons.
The Epistle to the Hebrews joins the Revelation to John as the literature most intimidating to readers of the New Testament. With the Revelation the reader must endure its terrible splendor; with Hebrews the reader must listen intently to the tightly woven arguments in what the writer calls a sermon.