One painful experience that is repeated throughout the Scriptures is infertility. It’s surprising how many biblical stories involve infertility. Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 11-21), Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 25), Rachel (Genesis 29-30), Samson’s parents (Judges 13), Hannah (1 Samuel 1-2), Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1) all experience the pain of infertility. Each deals with this difficulty for years. In many of the cases above, God speaks a word directly to those who are experiencing infertility and promises the birth of a child. Some do not have to wait long for the promise to be fulfilled (Samson’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth). Some have to wait much longer (Abraham and Sarah).
In Mark 9:30-37, Jesus’ disciples demonstrate concern over who is the greatest. The issue of rank among the twelve takes on new meaning as we consider the context of the passage.
Mark’s Gospel is one of immediacy. Without the account of John the Baptist’s birth or that of Jesus Christ, Mark moves immediately to Jesus calling the disciples, healing, casting out demons, cleansing the leper, teaching parables, and raising the dead. In Mark, Jesus also feeds the five thousand and walks on water. His ministry created quite a stir. So much so that the Pharisees and teachers of the law came from Jerusalem to investigate—as seen in Mark 7:1–13. This investigation was likely motivated by jealousy, insecurity, and fascination or curiosity.
This blog post is adapted from Lutheran Bible Companion, Volume 1: Introduction and Old Testament.
One of the first matters to require attention is the real import of Ruth’s oft-quoted speech in 1:16–17, expressing her resolve to accompany Naomi. One should take care neither to read into Ruth’s words more than is actually said nor fail to hear them in total context.
Relief had finally come. God created Adam and Eve perfectly. But their wicked transgressions brought sin into the world, taking the Lord’s unblemished creation into destruction. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, forced to work a stubborn earth, and forced to give birth in pain. Their son Cain killed his brother, Abel, confirming the wickedness of man’s heart.
Seeing this egregious depravity in humanity, God chose to flood the earth, destroying everything. Yet He kept Noah in the faith, making him blameless among his generation. God instructed this servant to build an ark so a pair of every living creature, male and female, could reside during the deluge.
This blog post is an excerpt from the Lutheran Bible Companion, Volume 1: Introduction and Old Testament.
By breaking the seemingly innocuous command to “make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land” (Jgs 2:2; cf Ex 23:32), Israel began its downfall. Israel was to be His arm of justice against Canaanite peoples whose measure of wickedness was full and overflowing.
One of the most overlooked books in the Bible is that of the prophet Haggai. Still, this brief book holds a relatable experience to our current context this summer in the United States—a return from exile.
In Mark 4, Jesus and the disciples are on a boat in the Sea of Galilee when a violent storm arises. Crippled with fear, the disciples wake their sleeping Savior. Jesus takes this opportunity to teach His followers, show His power, and apply mercy.
After God had graciously formed Jacob’s descendants into His covenant people and named them as His own, He provided them a choice for the future: “If you will … then I will … ” Joshua presented this if/then choice to the people at Shechem in the renewal of the covenant. They could continue on the path God established for them, or they could follow the road to destruction by rejecting the covenant.
From Ascension to Trinity Sunday, the three-year lectionary treats us to four straight readings from the first two chapters of Acts. Before Jesus ascends into the heavens, He directs His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they “are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49b). As they are waiting, in Acts 1:14, Luke notes that the gathering of people in the upper room (about 120 people including the Apostles, Jesus’ family, and the women who followed Jesus from Galilee) “were devoting themselves to prayer.”