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Apr 5, 2022 Devotional Bible Study

April 5, 2022
Lent

Today’s Readings: 

  1. MORNING: Christ and the Shape of the Paschal Sacrifice
  2. MIDDAY: Judges 9:7-15, Anointing the bramble
    • Lesson: The bramble
  3. EVENING: 1 John 2:18-28, Knowing the Son
    • Lesson: To abide in Christ

Invitatory

The Lord is full of compassion and mercy: Come let us adore him.

Opening Prayer

Most powerful Holy Spirit,

    come down

        upon us and subdue us.

From heaven,     

where the ordinary

        is made glorious,

    and glory seems but ordinary, bathe us

    with the brilliance

    of Your light like dew.

Amen. 

[1]

The Hymn

Abroad the royal banners fly, 

Now shines the Cross’s mystery; 

Upon it Life did death endure, 

And yet by death did life procure. 

O Tree of light! Whose branches shine 

With purple, royal and divine! 

Elect, on whose triumphal breast 

Those holy limbs should find their rest. 

O Cross, our one reliance, hail! 

This holy Lententide avail 

To give fresh merit to the saint 

And pardon to the penitent. 

Blessed Trinity, salvation’s spring, 

May every soul Your praises sing; 

To those You grant conquest by 

The holy Cross, rewards apply. 

[2]


Morning Prayer

O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom: Defend us, thy humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [3]

Short Verse

but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31

Morning Reading

Christ and the Shape of the Paschal Sacrifice 

In a previous lesson (see the evening lesson, “Christ, the new Moses,” linked here), we learned that many Jews at the time of Christ were awaiting a new Moses, a new exodus (deliverance), and a new Passover. “[W]hile Moses performed a whole series of signs and plagues leading up to the Exodus from Egypt, ultimately it was the Passover that set in motion the Exodus of Israel…  Although the Last Supper was a Passover meal, it was not ordinary.  On that night, Jesus was not just celebrating one more memorial of the Exodus from Egypt. Rather, he was establishing a new Passover, the long-awaited Passover of the Messiah [the new Moses]. By means of this sacrifice, Jesus would inaugurate the new exodus, which the prophets had foretold and for which the Jewish people had been waiting.” [4]  “It’s important to note that the Passover lamb is explicitly required to be a male in its prime… and ‘unblemished.’ This last characteristic meant that it could not be just any lamb. It had to be free of defects. It had to be perfect.” [5] 

“The ultimate goal of the Passover sacrifice – as well as its ultimate effect – was deliverance from death through the blood of the lamb. It was not just any kind of sacrifice; it was a sacrifice that had the power to save you from death.” [6]

Often overlooked in the Biblical account of the Passover in Egypt is the last step of the Passover sacrifice: “After the lamb had been killed and its blood poured out and spread upon the entries of the homes, the Israelites would then eat the lamb.” [7] It is also worth remembering “that according to the Exodus, the Passover was not an ‘open table’ but a covenant feast.” [8] “In the original Passover, the lambs were sacrificed and eaten in the homes of the Israelites in Egypt. At the time of Jesus, the lambs had to be sacrificed in the Temple… [and] only the Levitical priests could pour out the blood of the lambs on the altar,” a restriction given by God in the Torah. [9]

John the Baptist identified Christ with the paschal lamb: “The next day [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

“In the first century AD, the passover lambs in the temple were not only sacrificed; they were, so to speak, crucified. As the Israeli scholar Joseph Tabor has shown, according to the Mishnah, at the time when the Temple still stood, after the sacrifice of the lamb, the Jews would drive ‘thin smooth staves’ of wood through the shoulders of the lamb… As Tabory  concludes, ‘An examination of the  Rabbinic evidence seems to show that in Jerusalem the Jewish paschal lamb was offered in a manner which resembled a crucifixion.’” [10] Saint Justin Martyr (c. 100 – c. 165) described this as well (emphasis mine):

“For the lamb… is roasted and dressed up in the form of a cross.

[11]

Wood, blood, hyssop – all part of the ritual preparation of the paschal lamb – would reappear at Christ’s crucifixion. Regarding hyssop, for example, the Jews of the original Passover were to “Select lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood which is in the basin ; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For the LORD will pass through to slay the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to slay you.” (EXODUS 12:21–23). In the New Testament account of Christ’s crucifixion, hyssop reappears and the blood of the Passover lamb is connected with wine:

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

(John 19:28-30)

As described in Exodus, it was extremely important that, during the sacrifice of the lamb, no bones of the lamb were to be broken: “…and you shall not break any of its bones” (Exodus 12:46). In John, we read, “So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. . . For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘Not a bone of him shall be broken.'” (John 19:32-34, 36).

“At the time of Jesus, the Passover was not just a sacrifice; it was also a ‘memorial’ and ‘remembrance’ (Exodus 12:14) by which the Jewish people would both remember and somehow make present the deliverance that had been won for their ancestors in the Exodus from Egypt. [12] The Jews “not only looked back to the original experience of deliverance but somehow made it present:

In every generation a man must so regard himself as if he came forth himself out of Egypt, for it is written… ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt’ (Exod 13:8)… (MISHNAH, PESAHIM 10:5)”

[13]

In the above words we can “see quite clearly that for ancient Jews, the Passover feast was not just a remembrance of what God had done for their ancestors. In some mysterious way, they saw each Passover, ‘in every generation,’ as a way of sharing in the original act of redemption.” [14]

In some Jewish traditions, the Passover feast was tied to “the coming of the Messiah and the dawn of the age of salvation. For example, in one ancient Jewish commentary on the Book of Exodus, rabbi Joshua, son of Hananiah, who was one of priestly descent and had served in the Temple before it was destroyed, says: ‘In the night they were redeemed and in that night they will be redeemed’ (Mekilta on Exodus 12:42).” [15]

One of the greatest biblical scholars and historians in the early Church was Saint Jerome (c. 342-347 – 30 September 420). In Commentary on Matthew IV, Saint Jerome wrote:

“It is a tradition of the Jews that the Messiah will come at midnight according to the manner of the time in Egypt when the Passover was (first) celebrated.”

[16]

On the night Christ was handed over, He identified His suffering to come with that of the paschal lamb: “I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). With Christ’s words to His disciples that night, at the Last Supper, He instituted the new Passover. As the liturgy recounts:

On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

[17]

“By means of his words over the bread and wine of the Last Supper, Jesus is saying in no uncertain terms, ‘I am the new Passover Lamb of the new exodus. This is the Passover of the Messiah, and I am the new sacrifice.’” [18]

As St. Paul said, “Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us keep the feast!” (1 CORINTHIANS 5:7–8).


Midday Prayer

 Father of all mercies, you revealed your boundless compassion to your apostle Saint Peter in a three-fold vision: Forgive our unbelief, we pray, and so strengthen our hearts and enkindle our zeal, that we may fervently desire the salvation of all people, and diligently labor in the extension of your kingdom; through him who gave himself for the life of the world, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. [19]

Short Verse

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

Midday Reading

Judges 9:7-15, Anointing the bramble

7 When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you lords of Shechem, so that God may listen to you.

The trees once went out

    to anoint a king over themselves.

So they said to the olive tree,

    ‘Reign over us.’

The olive tree answered them,

    ‘Shall I stop producing my rich oil

        by which gods and mortals are honored,

        and go to sway over the trees?’

10 

Then the trees said to the fig tree,

    ‘You come and reign over us.’

11 

But the fig tree answered them,

    ‘Shall I stop producing my sweetness

        and my delicious fruit,

        and go to sway over the trees?’

12 

Then the trees said to the vine,

    ‘You come and reign over us.’

13 

But the vine said to them,

    ‘Shall I stop producing my wine

        that cheers gods and mortals,

        and go to sway over the trees?’

14 

So all the trees said to the bramble,

    ‘You come and reign over us.’

15 

And the bramble said to the trees,

    ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you,

        then come and take refuge in my shade;

    but if not, let fire come out of the bramble

        and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’

Midday Lesson

The bramble

“Jotham hoped to persuade people that Abimelech was a poor choice to be their king. If they would reject Abimelech, God would answer their prayers. Jotham spoke as a prophet might speak, but he is never called a prophet.” [20]

“Jotham’s parable [vv. 8-10] features plants that can speak, representing various rulers… Jotham’s story did not oppose kingship but rejected Abimelech as king. The olive tree, fig tree, and vine all produced abundant food in the land, but the bramble was worthless and its thorns were harmful. The parable also voiced a warning to the Shechemites. If they had not made their choice in good faith, and if their choice did not give proper recognition to Abimelech’s father and his family, the ‘bramble’ would stir a fire that would devour their beautiful ‘cedars.'” [21]


Eventide Prayer

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. [22]

Short Verse

But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.

Hosea 12:6

Eventide Reading

1 John 2:18-28, Knowing the Son

18 Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge.[a] 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?[b] This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he has promised us,[c] eternal life.

26 I write these things to you concerning those who would deceive you. 27 As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him.[d]

28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he is revealed we may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming.

Eventide Lesson

To abide in Christ

The last hour (v. 18) is “the eleventh hour” (Mt 20:6), the era of the New Covenant. It is “the present age, which began with the coming of Christ and is seen as the final era in salvation history; it is also called ‘the last days,’ ‘the end times,’ etc. Vigilance is necessary for Christians to remain faithful to Christ and to resist sin.” [23] 

In view here is the deception at hand, as opposed to being a prediction of the end of the world. The many antichrists (v. 18) – note that “antichrists” are only mentioned in the Epistles of 1 John and 2 John – are “heretics, through whom the Antichrist of the end times (1Th 2) is doing his spadework.” [24] As Didymus the Blind (313 – 398 A.D.) explained in his commentary on 1 John, “These things are not said of all who teach false doctrine but only of those who join a false sect after they have heard the truth. It is because they were once Christians that they are now called antichrists.” [25]

“Very early in the second century, on his way to martyrdom in Rome [sometime between 98 and 117 A.D.], Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote, ‘These are the last times [see 1 Co 7:29]. Let us then be ashamed and fear God’s patience so that it may not become condemnation for us. We should either fear the wrath to come or love the grace which is present, one of the two, just so that we may be found in CHrist Jesus for true life [see Acts 17:30; 1 Th 1:10]. Nothing should seem fitting to you apart from him in whom I bear my bonds as spiritual pearls. May I rise again in them by your prayer, in which I may always participate so that I may be found in the lot apportioned to the Ephesian Christians, who have always agreed with the apostles by the power of Jesus Christ.” [26]

Verse 19 says, They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. According to St. Andreas of Crete (650 – July 4, 712 or 726 or 740 A.D.) in his Catena (Catenae), “John says this because there were some people who had become teachers but had subsequently departed from the truth in order to follow the blasphemies of their own minds. But even if they were once among us, John adds, they were never really part of us, since if they had been, they would have stayed with us.” [27] Furthermore, “being on the roll of the Church, even receiving the sacraments, is not enough. We must continue in our belief and manifest the fruit of faith.” [28]

In verse 20, John wrote, But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. The word anointed (criso in Greek) “recalls the coronation of kings and the ordination of priests in the OT, which activated the spiritual gifts and energies needed for their offices.” [29] In light of this spiritual anointing of the Holy Ghost, John continued, I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Note the word lie. “This was the heresy of Simon [Magnus], which said that Jesus and the Christ were two different people. According to [Simon Magnus], Jesus was a man, the son of Mary, but Christ descended from heaven in the form of a dove at the Jordan. John therefore condemns those who think like that and brands their belief with the name of the devil. There were still others who made a distinction between the Father and some nameless deity beyond him, whom they called the Father of Christ. These too denied Jesus, saying that he was a mere man and did not have the nature of God” (St. Andreas of Crete). [30]

In regards to theology, “the issues are: (1) Does God the Father have a consubstantial Son? (2) Is the Man Jesus the same Person as God the Son? These, of course, are two basic issues of Christology: that Jesus Christ is one divine Person in two natures.” [31]

John continued (v. 23), No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. As St. Bede (673 – 26 May 735) explained, “John is looking for a confession of faith which involves the heart, as well as confessing in both word and deed. He is saying the same thing as the apostle Paul when he wrote [in 1Co 12:3]: ‘No one can say that Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit,’ which means that unless the Holy Spirit gives us the power to do so, we cannot serve Christ with perfect faith and action.” [32] Therefore, wrote St. Bede,“Follow with all your heart that faith and that teaching which you have received from the apostles at the beginning of the church, for only this will make you partakers of divine grace.” [33]

“Fundamental to the Christian Faith is the belief that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. To know Christ is to know God the Father since God the Son is the perfect reflection of the Father.” [34] Thankfully, Christians have within them the Holy One. Therefore, “Christians have the certainty of faith because we have received the grace of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit at Baptism.” [35]

“To abide in Christ involves not only mental assent to the doctrine of the Incarnation. It is a sacramental union with Him, effected in Baptism and nourished in the Eucharist (Jn 6:53-59; 15:1-8). For John, apostolic teaching and writing (vv. 24-26) is identical of being taught of God (v. 27). Without both the work of the Spirit and apostolic doctrine, we would remain in darkness.” [36]

“The Holy Spirit remains in believers… Those baptized into Christ have received the Holy Spirit through God’s Word. They have no need for false teachers, who deny God the Father by denying His Son. The Spirit who accompanied Jesus is the same Spirit who remains in us. He always reminds us of our Lord’s words to us.” [37] As Saint Bede (672/3 – 26 May 735 A.D.) wrote, “Since you have been taught by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, you do not need contrary teachers to teach you. The anointing of which John speaks may be understood as the love of God itself, which has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”  (On 1 John). [38] He added, “Those who stand firm against the persecutions of unbelievers and the ridicule which comes from worldly people around them will have complete confidence when Christ comes again, because they know that the patience of the poor will not perish at the end. But anyone who is ashamed to stand up for Christ in this life or to do anything else which the Lord commands, or who in time of persecution is afraid to be known as a believer, will have no confidence at all when Christ returns, because he has not stuck to his profession of faith in this life” (On 1 John). [39]

“If a person believes that Jesus is without sin and that He fulfilled the whole Law… that believer will want to behave toward God and neighbor the way Jesus behaved… We cannot begin to truly fear, love, and trust God or love our neighbor the way Jesus loved us unless we are first born of God (cf Jn 3:3-5).” [40]

“True Christians abide in Christ through faith in Him and all His teachings. There are many antichrists, false teachers who infiltrate the Church and attempt to draw Christians away from the true Christ. There is great danger for us if we do not know the Scriptures well and are able to recognize false teachers. In God’s Word and by His Spirit, we have everything we need to be certain of our eternal life. Heavenly Father, keep us steadfast in Your Word, and ever guard us from the deceptions of the many antichrists who seek to lead us away from Your Son, who is forever true God and true Man. Amen.” [41]

Concluding Prayer of the Church

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [42]


Citations:

[1] The Northumbria Community. (2015). Invocation of the Holy Spirit. In Celtic Daily Prayer (Kindle ed., p. 38). London: HarperCollins.

[2] Tickle, P. (2006). March. In The divine hours: Prayers for Springtime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 220). New York, NY: Image Books

[3] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office, Rite I. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 57). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[4] Pitre, B. J. (2016). The New Passover. In Jesus and the Jewish roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the secrets of the Last Supper (Kindle ed., p. 62-63). New York: NY.

[5] Ibid. 4, P. 65

[6] Ibid. 4, P. 69

[7] Ibid. 4, P. 69

[8] Ibid. 4, P. 70

[9] Ibid. 4, P. 72

[10] Ibid. 4, P. 77

[11] Tabory, J. (1996). The Crucifixion of the Paschal Lamb. The Jewish Quarterly Review, 86(3/4), 395-406. doi:10.2307/1454912

[12] Pitre, B. J. (2016). The New Passover. In Jesus and the Jewish roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the secrets of the Last Supper (Kindle ed., p. 78). New York: NY.

[13] Ibid. 12, P. 79

[14] Ibid. 12, P. 79

[15] Ibid. 12, P. 80

[16] Ibid. 12, P. 81

[17] Episcopal Church. (1979). The Holy Eucharist. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 362-363). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[18] Pitre, B. J. (2016). The New Passover. In Jesus and the Jewish roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the secrets of the Last Supper (Kindle ed., p. 87). New York: NY.

[19] http://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/07-Midday-Prayer-11.21.2019.docx

[20] A., E. E. (2016). Judges. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 1745). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[21] Ibid. 20

[22] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office, Rite I. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 70). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[23] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). 1 John. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3777). Downers Grove,, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[24] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). 1 John. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1731). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[25] Didymus the Blind. (2019). 1 John. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 3539). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[26] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). 1 John. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1731). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[27] Andrew of Crete. (2019). 1 John. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 3530). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[28] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). 1 John. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1731). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[29] Ibid, 28

[30] Andrew of Crete. (2019). 1 John. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 3530). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[31] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). 1 John. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1731). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[32] Bede the Venerable. (2019). 1 John. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 3530). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[33] Ibid. 32

[34] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). 1 John. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3777). Downers Grove,, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[35] Ibid, 34

[36] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). 1 John. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1731). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[37] House, C. P. (2009). 1 John. In HOLY BIBLE: The lutheran study bible (p. 2175). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing HSE.

[38] Bede. (2019). 1 John. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 3530). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[39] Ibid. 38

[40] House, C. P. (2009). 1 John. In HOLY BIBLE: The lutheran study bible (p. 2175). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing HSE.

[41] Ibid. 40

[42] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office, Rite II. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 133). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

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