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First Reading: Isaiah Chapter 65 and 66

Isaiah 65

"I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;I was found by those who did not seek me.To a nation that did not call on my name,I said, 'Here am I, here am I.' 2 All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people,who walk in ways not good,pursuing their own imaginations — 3 a people who continually provoke me to my very face,offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick; 4 who sit among the graves and spend their nights keeping secret vigil;who eat the flesh of pigs,and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat; 5 who say, 'Keep away; don't come near me,for I am too sacred for you!'Such people are smoke in my nostrils,a fire that keeps burning all day.
6 "See, it stands written before me:I will not keep silent but will pay back in full;I will pay it back into their laps — 7 both your sins and the sins of your fathers,"says the LORD."Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains and defied me on the hills,I will measure into their laps the full payment for their former deeds."
8 This is what the LORD says:
"As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and men say, 'Don't destroy it,there is yet some good in it,'so will I do in behalf of my servants;I will not destroy them all. 9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,and from Judah those who will possess my mountains;my chosen people will inherit them,and there will my servants live. 10 Sharon will become a pasture for flocks,and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds,for my people who seek me.
11 "But as for you who forsake the LORD and forget my holy mountain,who spread a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny, 12 I will destine you for the sword,and you will all bend down for the slaughter;for I called but you did not answer,I spoke but you did not listen.You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me."
13 Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
"My servants will eat,but you will go hungry;my servants will drink,but you will go thirsty;my servants will rejoice,but you will be put to shame. 14 My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts,but you will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit. 15 You will leave your name to my chosen ones as a curse;the Sovereign LORD will put you to death,but to his servants he will give another name. 16 Whoever invokes a blessing in the land will do so by the God of truth;he who takes an oath in the land will swear by the God of truth.For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes.
17 "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.The former things will not be remembered,nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create,for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people;the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.
20 "Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days,or an old man who does not live out his years;he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth;he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. 21 They will build houses and dwell in them;they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,or plant and others eat.For as the days of a tree,so will be the days of my people;my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. 23 They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune;for they will be a people blessed by the LORD,they and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer;while they are still speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,and the lion will eat straw like the ox,but dust will be the serpent's food.They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,"says the LORD.

Isaiah 66

66:1 This is what the LORD says:
"Heaven is my throne,and the earth is my footstool.Where is the house you will build for me?Where will my resting place be? 2 Has not my hand made all these things,and so they came into being?"declares the LORD.
"This is the one I esteem:he who is humble and contrite in spirit,and trembles at my word. 3 But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a man,and whoever offers a lamb,like one who breaks a dog's neck;whoever makes a grain offering is like one who presents pig's blood,and whoever burns memorial incense,like one who worships an idol.They have chosen their own ways,and their souls delight in their abominations; 4 so I also will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring upon them what they dread.For when I called, no one answered,when I spoke, no one listened.They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me."
5 Hear the word of the LORD,you who tremble at his word:"Your brothers who hate you,and exclude you because of my name, have said,'Let the LORD be glorified,that we may see your joy!'Yet they will be put to shame. 6 Hear that uproar from the city,hear that noise from the temple!It is the sound of the LORD repaying his enemies all they deserve.
7 "Before she goes into labor,she gives birth;before the pains come upon her,she delivers a son. 8 Who has ever heard of such a thing?Who has ever seen such things?Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. 9 Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?" says the LORD."Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?" says your God. 10 "Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,all you who love her;rejoice greatly with her,all you who mourn over her. 11 For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts;you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance."
12 For this is what the LORD says:
"I will extend peace to her like a river,and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. 13 As a mother comforts her child,so will I comfort you;and you will be comforted over Jerusalem."
14 When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass;the hand of the LORD will be made known to his servants,but his fury will be shown to his foes. 15 See, the LORD is coming with fire,and his chariots are like a whirlwind;he will bring down his anger with fury,and his rebuke with flames of fire. 16 For with fire and with his sword the LORD will execute judgment upon all men,and many will be those slain by the LORD.
17 "Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things — they will meet their end together," declares the LORD.
18 "And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory.
19 "I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations — to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. 20 And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD — on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels," says the LORD. "They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the LORD in ceremonially clean vessels. 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites," says the LORD.
22 "As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD, "so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD. 24 "And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

Second Reading: John Chapter 7

John 7

7:1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. 2 But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus' brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world." 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
6 Therefore Jesus told them, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. 8 You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come." 9 Having said this, he stayed in Galilee.
10 However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, "Where is that man?"
12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, "He is a good man."
Others replied, "No, he deceives the people." 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews.
14 Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews were amazed and asked, "How did this man get such learning without having studied?"
16 Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. 17 If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?"
20 "You are demon-possessed," the crowd answered. "Who is trying to kill you?"
21 Jesus said to them, "I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."
25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, "Isn't this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ? 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from."
28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, "Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me."
30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, "When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?"
32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.
33 Jesus said, "I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come."
35 The Jews said to one another, "Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, 'You will look for me, but you will not find me,' and 'Where I am, you cannot come'?"
37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, "Surely this man is the Prophet."
41 Others said, "He is the Christ."
Still others asked, "How can the Christ come from Galilee? 42 Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David's family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?" 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.
45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why didn't you bring him in?"
46 "No one ever spoke the way this man does," the guards declared.
47 "You mean he has deceived you also?" the Pharisees retorted. 48 "Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law-there is a curse on them."
50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 "Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?"
52 They replied, "Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee."
53 [The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11.]

Then each went to his own home.

Bible Background



Part 2 of 3

The Bible defines many roles for Jesus:


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