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Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany



The Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #39 Praise to the Lord 3.1
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
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 370 My Hope Is Built 3.11

God’s Transforming Word

The Hymn #294 O Word of God Incarnate 3.31
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 O Jesus, Blessed Lord 3.70

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.

God’s Transforming Word
Lenski:
“Here are the items that count. Jesus had left his home to begin his career as the Messiah; he had been baptized by John and had returned with six disciples; the report of what had transpired right after his Baptism together with the testimonies of the Baptist, of the six disciples, and of Jesus himself, reached Mary’s ears first of all. These things brought back to her mind the great facts connected with her Son’s conception, birth, etc. We know this woman’s character, the depth of her nature, the clarity of her knowledge and intuition. She knew her son was the Messiah of whom wondrous things were to be expected. Like Mary of Bethany, who foresaw Jesus’ death by violence and grasped the moment at the feast made for him by his friends and anointed him for his burying, 12:1–8, so Jesus’ mother turns to her son at this critical moment during the wedding feast. Just what she did expect of him—was it fully clear to her own mind? The answer: ordinary help, fails to meet the case entirely. The answer must be: extraordinary, wondrous help. This touch, too, is true regarding Mary—she asks nothing, not even, “Can or will you do something?” She simply states the difficulty and humbly leaves all else to Jesus.”
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 187

This is a well known miracle, one of the best known of all, even though we only read about it in John’s Gospel. Because it is so famous and so often used for sermons and essays, there are also many wondrous claims about the meaning of the miracle. When I was looking for artwork illustrating the miracle, I ran into these explanations. Some decided this was a miracle about the intervention of Mary, and turned it into a sermon about Mary and the need for her intercession. Needless to say, this miracle concerns Jesus and the power of the Word, and Mary plays a subordinate part, with an important point made about her relationship to her Son.

The wedding of Cana miracle has many lessons in it, which we can discern from the details offered to us, and by comparing to other parts of the Bible.

First of all, Jesus attended this wedding. That may be overlooked as an important point, but this very fact shows that Jesus honored and blessed the institution of marriage, which was established by God’s command for all people on earth. God established marriage because it is good for people. That is what we call natural law – God commands what is good and forbids what is harmful.

When I study pagan religions, I am struck by how bizarre and damaging they are to the vulnerable. In many examples, women and children are subject to the whims of the culture and are lower than domestic animals in how they are treated.

The most alarming danger signal about our Western culture is the willingness to copy paganism in so many respects. The institution of marriage is despised and rejected by the children of Boomers. It only took one generation for the grandchildren of WWII to decide that marriage did not suit them.

One sign of natural law’s truth is this – the best way to live in poverty is to be a single mother. Poverty encourages a lack of education, and a lack of education encourages single motherhood. In contrast, a married couple is more prosperous and encourages all the habits that promote prosperity in their children. The poverty cycle goes well with a lack of education and raising children alone. Add crime, the unattached boyfriend, and government programs – and the cycle is endless.

The old Judeo-Christian tradition was – “Get married and have children early, before you notice that you do not have any money.” In Judaism, the parents sign contracts to financially support a couple for the first 10 years, for example.

Another tradition has been that every adult should be married, because marriage is good. My wife Chris has encouraged many couples to get married. One woman wrote a personal thank-you from her honeymoon. Another couple was a iffy situation, where the young woman was raising a child alone. Chris said, “Who is this guy? If you love him and he loves you, why aren’t you married?” He came over to the gathering, a few minutes later. Soon after we attended their marriage, which has been blessed by a child.

Luther was aware of people despising marriage. He noted that people put off marriage in his era as excuse to engage in fornication. When he wrote in favor of priests getting married, the monasteries were emptied almost overnight. The Church of Rome was not happy because the tax on priests’ concubines was a major source of income. Of course, a cruder term than concubine was used. The faux-wife would be associated with the priest, be around the church, but had to live with her shameful condition.

But the Church of Rome attacked Luther for having a legitimate marriage and encouraging what the Bible clearly taught. The pope said Lutherans encouraged immorality when just the opposite was true. Luther observed that the people of his time worshiped those cardinals as gods “who were satisfied with a woman.” That is natural law – God puts the solitary in families.

3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

They did not run out of wine because Jesus brought so many guests. Wine was the normal beverage, and the couple should have had plenty for everyone. Mary’s request indicates that she was in charge, so the couple was probably without parents to manage and pay for this wedding.

Mary’s statement to Jesus shows that she trusted in Him to provide an answer. John’s Gospel emphasizes His divinity by revealing in John 1:1 that He is the creating Word who fashioned the entire universe in six ordinary days. Scoffers like to say that the Virgin Birth is never mentioned in John, which is like saying that the NBC news report did not mention New Ulm. The Virgin Birth is assumed throughout John and certainly reflected in many different passages. Why did Mary believe so firmly in her Son (verse 5)?

4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

Translators have added “dear” to this address, to soften the sound of it. The KJV is not so inventive and careless. In John’s Gospel, Jesus addressed His mother twice, as “woman.” This shows that He was still her Lord. He as indicated the same in His response to her when He stayed at the Temple and spoke to the leaders there. Finally, He addressed her as “woman” on the cross. He commended Mary to John’s care, so they would have a mother-son relationship, underling by His use of “mother” that He was her Lord.

KJV John 19:26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

This is an important distinction, because Roman Catholics have made Jesus subordinate to Mary and given her attributes of the Savior (mercy, grace, comfort) while making Jesus the stern judge. This is not only true in their popular art but also in their official statements, encyclicals, essays, and books. Mary commands Him as His mother! She is the co-Redeemer (Redemptrix) who offered up her Son the same way a priest offers the Mass. Like all false doctrine, each generation has to be more extreme and absurd than the previous one. One sure sign of Lutheran pastors going off the deep end is their new-found obsession with Mary and their efforts to defy Scripture by making Mary the most important person in the New Testament.

5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

Mary’s response shows that her faith in Him was based upon her knowledge of His Virgin Birth and all the wonders associated with Jesus, including His stay in the Temple.

I agree with Lenski – that Jesus’ exchanges with people draw out their faith, so it is stated in the open. We can imagine Mary’s trust in Jesus, but this statement shows total reliance on Him as the Son of God. She does not tell anyone what to do, except to have the servants follow exactly what Jesus ordered. That is an example of faith, which is always exalted in the New Testament.

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.

The commands are rather elaborate, but we can see why they are so detailed. The waterpots were empty and filled with water. The servants did this, so there was no mistake that empty clay jars were filled with water to the brim. What would that look like? Anyone can imagine – there is no mistaking a jar filled with water. In most conditions one can see down to the bottom or at least most of the way down, depending on light and sediments.

There is not trick. Wine is also quite obvious, not only in color but also in aroma. One glass of wine on the altar has a pungent aroma, from the fermentation process and the original source of the wine.

The same servants who poured the water took liquid from those water jars.

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.

This response shows a bit of ironic humor. This great miracle is greeted with obvious irritation. The manager of the feast complained that the best wine had been kept back, which was not logical, not practical.

This was the first miracle performed by Jesus as the Messiah.

Left unsaid, though often mentioned in other examples of His divine power, is the commotion caused by the miracle. The servants knew what happened. Would they not tell? Water turned into very good wine. Did the manager hear about the oddness of his complaint? Everyone was left to marvel that this Teacher performed a miracle that no one could even imagine.

The Transforming Word
Every question we have is answered in many places by the Word of God. Every doctrinal error is addressed by the Scriptures.

The Synodical Conference taught an error about Holy Communion, an error which reflected their poor grasp of the efficacy of the Word. They said the elements were not the Body and Blood of Christ until they were received by the communicant. They even said, “They become the Body and Blood when they are received…” So this error is called Receptionism.

In debating this, the leaders said, “We do not know the exact Moment of Consecration…”

The same leaders have presided over the complete take-over of the Synodical Conference by false doctrine Fuller Seminary. And they love their UOJ – their only doctrine, because everything else disappears when UOJ is taught. The error is the same.

At Ft. Wayne, various Lutherans asked me about Consecration. I said, “If you believe in the efficacy of the Word, as I do, there is nothing to debate.”
The same is true with the Creation in six 24-hour days. Is that possible, compared to the intellectual richness of chaotic evolution over billions of years? Yes, if someone believes in the efficacy of the Word.

The Lutherans leaders of today are truly pathetic, because they lead people to and fro, in error’s ways confounded. They do not grasp or trust in the most basic teaching of the Bible – the divine effectiveness of the Word. Worse than that – they are against this teaching. They refuse to discuss it. They are antagonistic toward anyone who tries to remind them of their own heritage.

And this is the truest sign of their error – they shun the entire topic. They will not go near it because it lays waste to their entire edifice of man-made wisdom. Their posh jobs are also endangered by this most basic truth. They are not leaders but parasites who live off the generous donations of their members and the manipulative grants of Schwan and Thrivent.

What Should We Believe about the Transforming Word?

Most non-Lutherans are bewildered by the Sacraments, and we should not listen to them. What God commands is true and take effect from the divine power of His Word. If it is “This is my Body…given for the forgiveness of your sin,” then both are true. The Word consecrates and gives God’s energy to the Body and Blood of Christ.

Likewise, Baptism is not a cute ceremony, but the effect of the Word associated with water, so we know a baby or adult is taken into the Kingdom, given the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and rescued from the power of original sin.

God’s blessings and His forgiveness come through the Word alone, although the Word comes to us in many forms – preaching, teaching, the sacraments, hymns, and creeds. The power of the Word is related to its purity, as H. E. Jacobs wrote.

The pure Word is the most powerful, so we should trust in that alone. That means the true Gospel will always produce God’s gracious will, which includes the cross.

False teachers think their prosperity, based upon greed and deceit, is proof of God’s blessing. They look down on those who bear the cross, thinking it is their punishment. This only shows how deceived they are by Satan. It is dangerous to juggle God’s Word as if it were a toy. Those who do so are in worse shape than the ones who wander or break into high-power electrical stations. They think they can defy the most basic rules and live.

On the other hand, the Gospel leads us to eternal life, no matter what gets in the way.

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SERMON NOTES

The Second Sunday after Epiphany





Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16. KJV)



"The liberal movement in Lutheran circles is not a thing of sudden growth. In our circles it began half a century ago. In its early stages it showed itself by an aping of the sects in external things, while our doctrine remained sound. Perhaps the first thing to go was the Lutheran hymn...Many of the pastors and congregations gave up the ancient Gospels and Epistles, and began to preach on free texts, in imitation of the sects. There was a fad at one time for series of sermons on Old Testament characters. Lent was still observed, but the sermons became mere character sketches of Pontius Pilate, Judas, Simon Peter, and the Roman centurion.

"Contributed," "The Development of Liberalism, The Confessional Lutheran, 10/45. p. 121.



"That it is good and pleasing to God to sing spiritual songs is, I think, not hidden to any Christian. Everyone is acquainted not only with the example of the kings and prophets of the Old Testament ...but also with the common use of music, especially in the singing of psalms, in Christendom from the very beginning. St. Paul, too, instituted this in 1 Corinthians 14:15 and bids the Colossians (3:16) heartily to sing spiritual songs and psalms unto the Lord in order that thereby God's Word and Christian doctrine might be used and practised in diverse ways."

What Luther Says, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 980.



"In view of their spiritual meaning the psalms are really lovely and sweet; for they are comforting to all depressed, wretched consciences, who are in fear of sin, the anguish and agony of death, and all sorts of trouble and misery. To such hearts the Book of Psalms is a sweet, comforting, lovely song, because it sings and preaches the Messiah,...Thus David, too, often dispelled, or at least checked or weakened, the evil spirit for Saul with his minstrelsy (1 Samuel 16:17ff.). For the evil spirit is not at ease when one sings or preaches God's Word in true faith. He is a spirit of sadness and cannot stay where a heart is spiritually joyful (joyful in God and His Word." What Luther Says, II, p. 981.



"We know that music is hateful and intolerable to devils. I firmly believe, nor am I ashamed to assert, that next to theology no art is equal to music; for it is the only one, except theology, which is able to give a quiet and happy mind. This is manifestly proved by the fact that the devil, the author of depressing care and distressing disturbances, almost flees from the sound of music as he does from the word of theology."

What Luther Says, II, p. 983.

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