Third Sunday in Lent

 Sermon Text: Exodus 20:1-17

 Other Readings: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 and John 2:13-22


Note: Consider reviewing Martin Luther’s explanations to the Ten Commandments, as found in his Small Catechism.

  1. If you had to separate the Ten Commandments into two groups, which verses would be in group one? Which verses would be in group two? Explain your thinking.
  2. God calls himself a “jealous God.” What is a good synonym or explanation for the word jealous? Confer John 2:17.
  3. Examine the Gospel Reading from John 2:13-22. Jesus came to keep the Ten Commandments for us and credit us with his perfection. When you look at those verses from John, which of the Ten Commandments is Jesus especially keeping?
  4. God wants us to take his commandments very seriously, but there will always be a temptation for us to focus on them and on our performance of them. That can be very dangerous because it focuses us on ourselves. To combat that, what does St. Paul say we should also zealously keep before us? Check out our Second Reading from 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.
  5. Our sinful nature hears the Ten Commandments and thinks God is a bossy God who just wants to impose his rules on us. How does Exodus 20:2 correct that misunderstanding?

  1. Group one would include verses 1-11 because those commandments deal with our relationship with God. Group two would include verses 12-17 because they deal with our relationship with our neighbors. As Jesus summarized, the Ten Commandments have two main thoughts—Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.
  2. A good synonym might be “passionate” or “zealous.” In fact, when the Old Testament Hebrew was translated into Greek, the Greek word for “jealous” was the same word from which we get our English “zealous.” And that same Greek word is found in John 2:17.
  3. The strongest case could be made for commandments 1-3. The commandment to “remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy” was ultimately about finding spiritual rest in God, which was hard to do with all the commercial clamor going around at the temple. The commandment to “not misuse the name of the Lord your God” is about attaching God’s name to those things that honor God, like prayer and praise—not the opportunity to make some money. And, of course, whenever you keep the First Commandment, you’re also keeping the others.
  4. We must also be zealous to hear the message of Christ crucified for us. Christ’s death forgives our sins against the Ten Commandments, and Christ is the one who empowers us to keep the Ten Commandments, through faith in him.
  5. That verse reminds us of the love he showed the Israelites in the Exodus and reminds us of the way he bought us from slavery and sin. Secondly, by using the name “the LORD,” God is reminding us of what he attached with that name, namely his promises to show free and faithful love, without our effort. Lastly, by saying, “your God,” he is reminding us that we can lay claim to him and his love through faith. In other words, God is not our boss; he is our loving Father who wants what is best for us.