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First Reading: Proverbs Chapter 21 and 22

Proverbs 21

The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD;he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.
2 All a man's ways seem right to him,but the LORD weighs the heart.
3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart,the lamp of the wicked, are sin!
5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
6 A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.
7 The violence of the wicked will drag them away,for they refuse to do what is right.
8 The way of the guilty is devious,but the conduct of the innocent is upright.
9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
10 The wicked man craves evil;his neighbor gets no mercy from him.
11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom;when a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge.
12 The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin.
13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor,he too will cry out and not be answered.
14 A gift given in secret soothes anger,and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.
15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.
16 A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead.
17 He who loves pleasure will become poor;whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.
18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous,and the unfaithful for the upright.
19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.
20 In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil,but a foolish man devours all he has.
21 He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.
22 A wise man attacks the city of the mighty and pulls down the stronghold in which they trust.
23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.
24 The proud and arrogant man — "Mocker" is his name;he behaves with overweening pride.
25 The sluggard's craving will be the death of him,because his hands refuse to work. 26 All day long he craves for more,but the righteous give without sparing.
27 The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable — how much more so when brought with evil intent!
28 A false witness will perish,and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever.
29 A wicked man puts up a bold front,but an upright man gives thought to his ways.
30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.
31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle,but victory rests with the LORD.

Proverbs 22

A good name is more desirable than great riches;to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
2 Rich and poor have this in common:The LORD is the Maker of them all.
3 A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge,but the simple keep going and suffer for it.
4 Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.
5 In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares,but he who guards his soul stays far from them.
6 Train a child in the way he should go,and when he is old he will not turn from it.
7 The rich rule over the poor,and the borrower is servant to the lender.
8 He who sows wickedness reaps trouble,and the rod of his fury will be destroyed.
9 A generous man will himself be blessed,for he shares his food with the poor.
10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;quarrels and insults are ended.
11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.
12 The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge,but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.
13 The sluggard says, "There is a lion outside!"or, "I will be murdered in the streets!"
14 The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit;he who is under the LORD's wrath will fall into it.
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
16 He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich — both come to poverty.

Sayings of the Wise

17 Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise;apply your heart to what I teach, 18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. 19 So that your trust may be in the LORD,I teach you today, even you. 20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you,sayings of counsel and knowledge, 21 teaching you true and reliable words,so that you can give sound answers to him who sent you?
22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, 23 for the LORD will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them.
24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man,do not associate with one easily angered, 25 or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.
26 Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; 27 if you lack the means to pay,your very bed will be snatched from under you.
28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.
29 Do you see a man skilled in his work?He will serve before kings;he will not serve before obscure men.

Second Reading: Mark Chapter 15

Mark 15

15:1 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
2 "Are you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate.
"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.
3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, "Aren't you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of."
5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.
6 Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.
9 "Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.
12 "What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?" Pilate asked them.
13 "Crucify him!" they shouted.
14 "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"
15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, "Hail, king of the Jews!" 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
25 It was the third hour when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left. 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!"
31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! 32 Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"-which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, "Listen, he's calling Elijah."
36 One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down," he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!"
40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

Bible Background


Part 4 of 6

We have already discussed covenants (promises) that God made to the Fathers: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These were unconditional promises. God will not destroy the earth with water again. Through Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed. Abraham will possess the promised land for ever.

The Covenant that God made with the Children of Israel in the wilderness was conditional. They would receive blessings and stay in the land as long as they obeyed. If they disobeyed they would lose the blessings. Deuteronomy details the conditions and outcome of this covenant. Much of the history details the failure of the Israelites to meet the conditions of this covenant. But God also promised a new covenant for Israel:

"The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.

"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Hebrews 8:8-12 as quoted from Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NIV)


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