Login / Signup

Free Access

Sermon Illustrations for Proper 13 | OT 18 (2021)

2 Samuel 11:26--12:13a
David was certainly not the last powerful man to take sexual advantage of a woman. We think of Bill Clinton and Matt Lauer (and Donald Trump has indicated he would like to do it). Martin Luther says that such behavior is the essence of sin:

Such is nature that no one wants someone else to have as much as he or she does. Everyone tries to accumulate as much as he or she can, and lets others look out for themselves. Yet we all consider ourselves upright people, and put up a fine front to conceal our villainy. (The Book of Concord [2000 ed.], pp.425-426)

No, we’re as bad as David. We repeat his sin whenever we covet, Luther says.

David was forgiven, and so are we. God’s forgiving love was powerfully proclaimed by Luther from the pulpit: “Our Lord God must be a devout man to be able to love knaves. I can’t do it, although I am myself a knave.” (Luther’s Works, Vol.54, p.32).

Elsewhere he more profoundly sings the praises of divine love:

Our heart is much too limited to be able to grasp the scope of this great blessing. For such is its magnitude that if anyone were able to comprehend it... if we had a full understanding of this love of God for men, a joy so great would come to us from this recognition that we would promptly die because of it. From this we see how great our feebleness is, how great our torpor; since few taste, I do not say, this ocean, but scarcely a few drops of this immense joy.  (What Luther Says, p.821)
Mark E.

* * *

2 Samuel 11:26--12:13a
David was a powerful and wise king, but he was certainly not without sin. His ordering of the murder of Uriah so that he could wed Bathsheba was certainly sin. Nathan was called by God to address David’s sin. David’s immediate response to the hypothetical that Nathan shares, is righteous anger and an order for restitution to be made. Nathan then reveals that it is David himself who has sinned against the Lord. David eventually admits his sin against the Lord. There have been times when it was difficult for me to admit my sin, to reconcile myself with my neighbor and with God. Yet, when once I have admitted my sin, sought reconciliation and forgiveness, my heart has felt an ease and I have felt renewed. How do you feel when you seek forgiveness?
Bonnie B.

* * *

Ephesians 4:1-16
Haddon Robinson, in his book Decision Making by the Book, writes of a concert violinist whose brother was a bricklayer. One day, a woman began gushing to the bricklayer about how wonderful it was to be in the family of that violinist. Not wanting to insult the bricklayer, she added, “Of course, we don’t all have the same talents, and even in a family some just seem to have more talent than others.”

The bricklayer replied, “Boy, you’re telling me! That violinist brother of mine doesn’t know a thing about laying bricks. If he couldn’t make some money playing that fiddle of his, he couldn’t hire a guy with know-how like mine to build a house. If he had to build a house himself, he’d be ruined.”

Robinson observes, “If you want to build a house, you don’t want a violinist. If you’re going to lead an orchestra, you don’t want a bricklayer. No two of us are exactly alike. None of us has every gift and ability. Our responsibility is to exercise the gifts we have—not the ones we wish we had.”

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “The spiritual gifts of the church are for the good of the rebels as well as for the building up of those who are reconciled. Whatever spiritual gifts we have, they are not our own to use as we please; they are only entrusted to us that we may employ them to help our fellow-Christians. There is no person without a talent of some sort or other, no one without some form of power either given by nature or acquired by education. We are all endowed in some degree or other, and we must each one give an account for that talent.”

May we all use the gifts we’ve been given to build up the kingdom of God.
Bill T.

* * *

Ephesians 4:1-6
In Ephesians 4:1 Paul refers to himself as a desmios, a “prisoner” in the Lord. A little further down, in verse 3, Paul makes a reference to what is sometimes translated as “bonds” of peace. The word translated as “bonds” is sundesmios, the sun being the Greek word for “with.” It should be translated “fellow prisoners” in peace. When the Ephesians, with their varied cultural, national, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, make the sacrifices necessary to come together around the fellowship table they are prisoners of Christ, fellow prisoners with Paul. These are chains of love, but unlike Paul’s chains, they are freely chosen.
Frank R.

* * *

John 6:24-35
“Jesus said to them, "I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” The crowds had been seeking out Jesus, seeking to know why Jesus withdraws from the crowds. Jesus admonishes them slightly by accusing them of seeking bread to eat as in former miracles. Yet, Jesus also reminds them that their bodies will be hungry and thirsty once again. Their spirits, however, will be completely and eternally nourished by Jesus and Jesus’ connection to and relationship to the God who provides everything we need. Our spirits are nourished as we seek and move into the embrace of God, accepting Jesus as Savior and brother.
Bonnie B.

* * *

John 6:24-35
We all know Jesus is the Bread of Life.  But he offers more than just a meal, for he fulfills the deepest hunger of the human race.  Pope John Paul II profoundly captured that yearning:

Farmers everywhere provide bread for all humanity, but it is Christ alone who is the Bread of Life...Even if all the physical hunger of the world were satisfied, even if everyone who is hungry were fed by his or her own labor or by the generosity of others, the deepest hunger of man would still exist...Therefore, I say, Come, all of you, to Christ. He is the Bread of Life.  Come to Christ and you will never be hungry again.

Pope Francis made a similar point regarding our need for the Bread of Life:    

As well as physical hunger, man also suffers from another form of hunger that cannot be sated with ordinary food. It is a hunger for life, a hunger for love, a hunger for eternity. Manna is the sign … that prefigured the food that satisfies this profound hunger present in man. Jesus gives us this nourishment — or rather, He himself is the living bread that gives life to the world. His body is the true food in the form of bread.

Jesus the Bread of Life meets our deep needs, because like bread becomes part of who we are when we eat it, so in receiving Christ he becomes part of you and me, we carry him along with us like the breakfast we ate this morning is in our guts.  In short, Jesus the Bread of Life, never abandons us now that we have taken him in by faith.  Here is how John Calvin put it:

For faith does look at Christ only as at a distance, but embraces him that he may become ours and dwell in us...  It is therefore true that by faith alone we eat Christ, provided we also understand in what manner faith unites us to Him.  (Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol.XVII/2, p. 250)

We need to feast on Jesus and unite with him if our deepest hungers are ever to be satisfied.
Mark E.
In addition to the lectionary resources there are thousands of non-lectionary, scripture based resources...
Signup for FREE!
(No credit card needed.)
Proper 23 | OT 28 | Pentecost 20
29 – Sermons
150+ – Illustrations / Stories
27 – Children's Sermons / Resources
25 – Worship Resources
27 – Commentary / Exegesis
4 – Pastor's Devotions
and more...
Proper 24 | OT 29 | Pentecost 21
30 – Sermons
150+ – Illustrations / Stories
26 – Children's Sermons / Resources
28 – Worship Resources
24 – Commentary / Exegesis
4 – Pastor's Devotions
and more...
Proper 25 | OT 30 | Pentecost 22
31 – Sermons
160+ – Illustrations / Stories
28 – Children's Sermons / Resources
27 – Worship Resources
22 – Commentary / Exegesis
4 – Pastor's Devotions
and more...
Plus thousands of non-lectionary, scripture based resources...
Signup for FREE!
(No credit card needed.)

New & Featured This Week

The Immediate Word

Mary Austin
Katy Stenta
Christopher Keating
Dean Feldmeyer
Quantisha Mason-Doll
For October 17, 2021:
  • Not Suffering Alone by Mary Austin — Covid has been so painful, for so many people around the world. Can there be anything redemptive in this season of suffering, for us and for the people around us?
  • Second Thoughts: God Answers Job by Katy Stenta — How do we make time, like Job, to sit with our grief?

Emphasis Preaching Journal

Bill Thomas
Mark Ellingsen
Bonnie Bates
Frank Ramirez
Job 38:1-7 (34-41)
There are a total of 39 questions in Job chapter 38, more than any other chapter of the Bible. It is God’s reply to Job’s situation and addresses his sovereignty.
David Kalas
Note: This installment was originally published in 2006.

When I was in grade school, there was not much freedom for individual children to wander the halls. If a student was seen walking alone down the hallway during school hours, a teacher or administrator was bound to stop the student and ask, "Where are you supposed to be?"

The underlying presumption, of course, was that there was seldom a good reason for a young child to be on his/her own, away from the teacher, and apart from the class. To be


Frank Ramirez
John E. Sumwalt
“Whatever You Ask?” by Frank Ramirez
“I Surrender All” by John Sumwalt

Whatever You Ask?
by Frank Ramirez
Mark 10:35-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” (v. 35)


John Jamison
Object: Chairs for a short game of Musical Chairs. NOTE: You can use pillows or cushions if it is easier. You will want one seat for each child. However, if you have a large group of children, you can just have three or four take part in the actual game if you prefer. For more fun, talk with your music person to see if they will play the short pieces of music for your game of musical chairs.

The Village Shepherd

Janice B. Scott
Clarence was always very particular, even as a fledging only just out of the nest. He happened to have been born with an especially large and beautifully radiant white bib, which he probably wouldn't have noticed if the large snowy owl, who kept a weather-eye on all the young birds, hadn't remarked to Clarence's mother, "Oh my! What a bootiful bib! You'll have some trouble keeping that clean with a young chick like that! But he'll sooon get into mischief, so it won't be white for long."


Robert A. Hausman
What does it mean to be great? That is the question our texts raise today. "Great" is a wide-ranging word: You can have a great king, great skill, a great storm, a great number, great joy, or great fear. You can use it in its Greek form, mega -- as in megachurch; or in its Latin form, magna -- as in magnify. It can refer to physical form, size, or height. Pull yourself up, stand tall, like the cedars of Lebanon! Be great!

Lee Ann Dunlap
Many of you may remember from your grade school days a novel by Mark Twain titled, The Prince and the Pauper. It has been adapted in various forms of Disney productions and even a few cartoon tales. The Twain story begins with two boys with identical features -- one a spoiled royal heir, and the other a street urchin surviving on his wits. By chance they meet. The pauper is enamored with the fineries of the palace, while the prince envies the pauper's freedom to come and go as he chooses.

William G. Carter
Historically speaking, the church has usually painted a pretty picture of the twelve original disciples of Jesus. All except Judas have been considered saints. Pious people have named churches after them, often referring to the first disciples as the rocks upon which Christ has built his church. Yet anybody who hears the Gospel of Mark's stories about the disciples gets a different picture of who they were and what they wanted. Sure, the disciples walked the road with Jesus. They listened as he taught. They watched as he did signs and wonders. They followed where he led.

Special Occasion