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Bible Study Guide for Sunday, January 30, 2022

January 30, 2022
  • Jeremiah 1:4-10
  • Psalm 71:1-6
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
  • Luke 4:21-30


Jesus's preaching this week results in about the quickest turnaround in all of scripture. He goes from an admirable young man of the community to being violently cast out with just a few words. Following last week's reading, it seems that being filled with the Holy Spirit is no guarantee of a warm reception - indeed, the Spirit has Jesus saying unpopular, unpleasant things. Here, he's reminding his fellow synagogue-goers that occasionally the Gentiles receive blessings even when the people of Israel do not, i.e. God's grace is not as exclusive as we humans are.

In Jeremiah, our narrator is being empowered with similar powers of prophecy - a difficult task which he accepts only with fear and claims of weakness. For both Jeremiah and Jesus, prophecy is the fastest way to be shown the door, and Jeremiah has some healthy trepidation and is not sure he can bear that kind of burden. Divine authority is difficult to accept, not only for those who hear it, but for the prophet, too.

Paul's letter to the Corinthians stands in interesting contrast to this controversial tone of prophecy. Paul notes that prophecy and wisdom must be infused with love for these gifts to have meaning. What sort of love is found in Jesus and Jeremiah's words? Their harsh messages of prophecy are harsh for a reason. As much as the phrase "tough love" is misused, I can categorize their messages that way. Certainly these words are not easy to hear or accept, but the people needed to hear them nonetheless, because God was separated from His people by sin and wanted them to voluntarily turn towards Him in humble love.

The people of Israel did not listen with love, even to one of their own brethren. Unlike in Paul's letter, they did "insist on [their] own way" with quite a lot of irritation and resentment. I can certainly imagine myself in the crowd, impatiently dismissing a message I didn't want to hear because it doesn't fit with my idea of the truth. Truth and love are intimately intertwined in God's kingdom. Jesus doesn't always offer soothing comfort, because he knows we need to awaken to the radical truth of God's love. When we listen, give, speak, and receive in love, the Holy Spirit works through us, and God's kingdom comes a little closer to our hearts.

Betsy Noecker

When have you had to give a difficult message in the name of truth? How did prayer play a part?

Have you ever felt the Holy Spirit guiding your actions?

What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit's power?

Where in your life can you invite the clarifying love of divine truth?






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