Fifth Sunday in Lent

1“Greatly have they afflicted me | from my youth”—let*
          Israel | now say—

2“Greatly have they afflicted me | from my youth,*
         yet they have not prevailed a- | gainst me.

3The plowers plowed up- | on my back;*
         they made long their | furrows.”

4The LORD is | righteous;*
         he has cut the cords of the | wicked.

5May all who hate | Zion*
         be put to shame and turned | backward!

6Let them be like the grass on the | housetops,*
         which withers before it | grows up,

7with which the reaper does not | fill his hand*
         nor the binder of | sheaves his arms,

8nor do those who pass by say, “The blessing of the LORD be up- | on you!*
         We bless you in the name | of the LORD!”
         —Psalm 129

Additional Psalm: Psalm 81, Psalm 102

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 1:1–22
Israel Increases Greatly in Egypt

1These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Pharaoh Oppresses Israel

8Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

15Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16“When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”

New Testament Reading: Mark 14:12–31
The Passover with the Disciples

12And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, 14and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” 16And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

17And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” 20He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Institution of the Lord’s Supper

22And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

26And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

The Sacraments are signs of God’s will toward us and not merely signs of people among one another. Those who define Sacraments in the New Testament as signs of grace are correct. There are two things in a Sacrament: a sign and the Word. In the New Testament, the Word is the promise of grace added. The promise of the New Testament is the promise of the forgiveness of sins, “This is My body, which is given for you. This [cup] is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” [See Matthew 26:26–28; Mark 14:22–24; Luke 22:19–20; 1 Corinthians 11:24–25.] So the Word offers the forgiveness of sins. A ceremony is a sort of picture, or seal, as Paul (Romans 4:11) calls it, the Word making known the promise. Therefore, just as the promise is useless unless it is received through faith, so a ceremony is useless unless faith, which is truly confident that the forgiveness of sins is here offered, is added. This faith encourages penitent minds. Just as the Word has been given to excite this faith, so the Sacrament has been set up so that what meets the eyes might move the heart to believe. The Holy Spirit works through these: Word and Sacrament.
         —Apology of the Augsburg Confession XXIV (XII) 69–70

When You woke that Thursday morning,
         Savior, teacher, faithful friend,
Thoughts of self and safety scorning,
         Knowing how the day would end;
Lamb of God, foretold for ages,
         Now at last the hour had come
When but One could pay sin’s wages:
         You assumed their dreadful sum.
         —When You Woke That Thursday Morning (LSB 445:1)

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, by Your great goodness mercifully look upon Your people that we may be governed and preserved evermore in body and soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (L27)

Lenten Catechesis: Confession
This is what St. John the Evangelist writes in chapter twenty: The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” [John 20:22–23 niv]
         —Small Catechism

Suggested Reading from
the Book of Concord
Solid Declaration of the Formula
of Concord III 54–58

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.