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Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Second Sunday after Epiphany

Adam and Eve sinned, but heard the First Gospel, Genesis 3:15 -
NKJ Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Hymn #387 by Luther vss. 1-5 Nun freut euch
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual Romans 12:6-16
The Gospel John 2:1-12
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 387 by Luther vss. 6-10 Nun freut euch

Justifying Faith

The Hymn #370 Magdalen
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #309 Old Hundreth

KJV Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

KJV John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

Second Sunday After Epiphany
Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, that of Thy grace Thou hast instituted holy matrimony, in which Thou keepest us from unchastity, and other offenses: We beseech Thee to send Thy blessing upon every husband and wife, that they may not provoke each other to anger and strife, but live peaceably together in love and godliness, receive Thy gracious help in all temptations, and rear their children in accordance with Thy will; grant unto us all to walk before Thee, in purity and holiness, to put all our trust in Thee, and lead such lives on earth, that in the world to come we may have everlasting life, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


John’s Gospel should be memorized, as much as possible, by all Christians. The Fourth Gospel has the most apostolic authority (known as the disciple John’s from the beginning) and the most passages about the meaning of Christ and His relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. I have been reading The Jewish Trinity by Joel Natan, so John’s emphasis on the Old Testament is especially interesting in these Trinitarian discourses.

John’s Gospel sorts out some historical questions which people have. For instance, John reveals a three-year public ministry of Christ.

Two other instances are the early cleansing of the Temple and water turned into wine. The Temple cleansing taking place early explains the opposition of the Jewish leaders from the start. The miracle at Cana explains how Jesus had a following from the beginning, even if many were only miracle-believers.

I mention these matters because the four Gospels weave together a complete portrait of Christ, one that is astonishing in its harmony.

In this Gospel we have a miracle that is so remarkable that it made the divinity of Christ apparent to everyone. People have always claimed to have the power to heal others. We often hear the claim today. Some fakes use animal parts and pretend to pull them out of their patients through “psychic surgery.” Pentecostal healers carefully select those whose ailments can improve temporarily with a shift in mood. Arthritis and hearing problems are quite variable, so an instant cure seems impressive. One fake name Popof was exposed for using a radio setup with his wife. She sent him messages in his earphone about personal information on the cards of members in the audience. So Rev. Popof could miraculously tell someone that her sister was ill, or that she had a son named Bob. Once he proved his powers, thanks to radio, Popof could fool them about anything. As I said, Popof was exposed a few years ago, disgraced, and now he is back again on television. Televangelists are an inspiration to any politician in trouble.

But with this miracle the claim is very clear. The people knew they were out of wine. The servants knew they were dealing with water. They filled the water pots with water. If they had poured in wine by mistake or through cunning, the aroma would have given them away. The texture of wine is also quite different. I doubt whether the whitest wine could pass for water, especially in a culture where wine was a daily staple.

But, at the Word of Jesus, the water became wine. No one asked for a miracle or looked for a miracle, except Mary. Mary knew her Son had the ability to solve the problem. Most mothers think so, but in this text we can see that she is asking for something beyond His immediate desire to fulfill. His response is at least a mild rebuke.

Here the translators often think they are wiser than the Holy Spirit. They do not like Jesus calling His mother woman, so they add words, such as “Dear woman.”

NIV John 2:4 "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come.

Twice when Jesus addressed His mother directly in the Gospel of John, He called her woman instead of “mother.” This shows us that He was her Lord and not just a son. It also shows how the Church of Rome has distorted the relationship between Mary and the Son of God. One papal announcement in my database even claims that Mary offered up her Son at the crucifixion, in a priestly fashion, making her a Co-Redeemer. The term Co-Redemptrix

[Pope Pius XI used the title Co-Redemptrix in the encyclical, Miserentissimus Redemptor, 1928. As Pius X put it, Mary merits for us de congruo what Christ merited for us de condigno. Ad Diem said that Mary is the "aquaduct" as Bernard taught, "or even the neck by which the Body is joined to the Head, and by which the Head communicates force and power to the Body." [p. 96]
Paul F. Palmer, S.J., Mary in the Documents of the Church, Gerald G. Walsh, S.J., Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press 1952, p. 97.

"The authors of the Marian chapter purposely avoid the use of the term 'co-redemptrix,' for while it admits of a correct interpretation, it is also susceptible of grave misunderstanding. They also tread lightly on such controversial ground as the famous promise of the proto-gospel (Genesis 3:15) that Adam's seed shall bruise the serpent's head, because of an erroneous translation in the Vulgate ("she shall bruise your head," instead of it--that is, the seed, referring either to man in general or to the Messiah.) The Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 1854 defining the Immaculate Conception had still taken this as a proof passage referring to Mary's own victory over the serpent."
Titus Cranny, S.A., Is Mary Relevant, A Commentary on Chapter 9 of Lumen Gentium, The Constitution on the Church from Vatican II, New York: Exposition Press 1970, p. 35.

The proper role of Mary is seen in the Scriptures as the mother of Jesus who raised Him in faith. She was a mortal woman, a sinner who died in the same way all must die. She did not fully understand her Son, as shown in the incident in the Temple, but she believed in Him and had a major role in the apostolic church. She is named early in Acts and then never again. (We should marvel that the apostles did not make a cult out of Mary then, for she was there at the beginning and had many years of memories of Him. So we see that the apostles resisted the urge to concentrate on Mary. Instead they preached the Gospel of Christ.)

This miracle raises the issue of justifying faith.

11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

When we speak about faith, the word faith can have many meanings.

For instance, everyone has faith or trust in something. The atheist Carl Sagen did not believe in God, but he believed in extra-terrestrials. He needed to. Anyone who insists on evolution must have life on other planets, to show that life can generate itself spontaneously and without God.
The epistle of James speaks about dead faith. Lutherans should not be afraid of this letter or fail to study it. The Gospel always brings the fruit of the Spirit. If the fruit is lacking, then it points to a lack of faith. We see that in many church leaders who can speak the right words but keep themselves in power through lies, slander, and protecting false teachers. It is good to remember their faith and avoid falling into the same trap. As James says quite vividly, “The demons believe and their hides bristle.” That is not justifying faith. It is an awareness of the power of the Word: hating and fearing it.
Faith in miracles. Martin Chemnitz writes about this in his Loci, and it should make us think. Many hundreds if not thousands saw the miracles of Jesus. Certainly this happened at the wedding feast, at the grave of Lazarus, and in many other instances. They believed it was a miracle but they did not necessarily follow Jesus or believe in Him as their Savior.
Historical faith. Many scholars and people on the perimeter of Christianity have faith in the basic facts about the Bible. They even believe in the historical truth of the Bible. But it never goes farther than that. Luther said in many ways that it does no good to say that Christ died for the sins of the world if we fail to say, “and for me.” Unless we say, Christ died for my sins, we only have historical faith.
Kohlerglaube. A collier’s faith is based upon an incident where a coal handler was asked he believed. “I believe what the church believes.” And what does the church believe? “The church believes what I believe.” In other words, it is just an attachment to the institution, without knowing much or believing. Although this can bring a whole family or ethnic group to church, it is easy for someone to hear the Word and reject it by saying, “This is the right place. All my friends and relatives are here.”

I am not listing all these variations to become a new scholastic but to show how many ways faith can be something other than justifying faith.

Chemnitz and the authors of the Book of Concord were anxious to show the Church of Rome the proper understanding of faith.

"But when we are speaking of the subject itself, it is certain that the doctrine of gracious reconciliation, of the remission of sins, of righteousness, salvation, and eternal life through faith for the sake of the Mediator is one and the same in the Old and in the New Testament. This is a useful rule which we must retain at all costs: The doctrine, wherever we read it, in either the Old or New Testament, which deals with the gracious reconciliation and the remission of sins through faith for the sake of God's mercy in Christ, is the Gospel."
Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 459.

This is beautifully expressed by Melanchthon, the primary author of the Augsburg Confession:

"Thus when we say that we are justified by faith, we are saying nothing else than that for the sake of the Son of God we receive remission of sins and are accounted as righteous. And because it is necessary that this benefit be taken hold of, this is said to be done 'by faith,' that is, by trust in the mercy promised us for the sake of Christ. Thus we must also understand the correlative expression, 'We are righteous by faith,' that is, through the mercy of God for the sake of His Son we are righteous or accepted."
Melanchthon, Loci Communes, “The Word Faith.” Cited in Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, II, p. p. 489.

I doubt whether the authors of the Book of Concord ever imagined that any Lutheran would speak of righteousness apart from faith, apart from the Word, apart from the Means of Grace. But sadly, that is common now and blabbered about as if it were true.

This miracle also shows how Jesus honored the institution of marriage. His decision to appear at the marriage is very significant, especially since He was there with His disciples. Outside influence made the Medieval Church despise marriage and force non-marriage (but not celibacy) on its priests, monks, and nuns. Worst of all, the Medieval Church portrayed a non-married priest as spiritually above a married man, no matter what kind of priest he was.

Marriage is the institution created by God through the Word (Genesis). This natural law concept is so powerful that the entire world honors it, one way or another. Even the Marxists register people as man and wife, apart from any official acknowledgement of God. They realize marriage is a major building block of society.

Luther’s point about this miracle is that marriage, through faith in God, is like water turned into wine. God honors what the world despises. The unbelieving world says, “You must be happy at all times or you have permission to split.” God says, “Whatever is done in faith honors Me.” So marriage offers children an ideal school for learning about the Christian faith, relationships, forgiveness, and love.

Luther has a funny comment about Adam and Eve being married hundreds of years. “You ate the apple,” countered by “You gave it to me.”

I have around 120 students studying communication at the same time, online. One issue is about the difference between men and women in the way they relate to each other. One woman offered a list of rules, but I countered with this concept – One has to start with forgiveness based on faith in Christ, because we are all weak, fallible sinners. What we do is significant, but the foundation is what we believe and applying the Gospel to our lives.

Where justification by faith flourishes, people enjoy the fruits of the Spirit. Everyone flourishes because God’s plan is to give us life in abundance, that our joy may be complete.

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