Lutheran Worship and Resources



Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
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Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The First Sunday after the Epiphany


The First Sunday after the Epiphany

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

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

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Hymn # 277     I heard the voice            4:57
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 12:1-5
The Gospel           Luke 2:41-52          
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 657            Beautiful Savior             4:24

Days of Faith

The Hymn #130   O Jesus King of Glory   4:49
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 #40     The God of Abram Praise 4:94

KJV Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

KJV Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Days of Faith


No detail in the Word of God is too minor, for two reasons. One is that this is the Holy Spirit teaching us, so we are going to pay attention to it. The other reason is the concise nature of the Scriptures. Every detail matters, even if we overlook that detail one time or another. That should motivate us to know some passages especially well, as anchors to everything else we learn from the Word of God.

If I know 10 passages quite well and keep learning from them, due to repetition and additional study, the rest of the Word opens up, since everything is in mutual harmony.

I am dealing with some historical issues right now, in the history of American Lutherans. That means finding the contradictions and lining them up in some kind of understandable order. Man’s recording of history is full of contradictions, because “all men are liars.” The ancients often destroyed the statues of previous leaders and removed inscriptions that would have told us more about those times. The Italians tore about the ruins of Rome in their various civil wars. In recent times, Yale professor Marsh tossed aside a brontosaurus skull he did not like and put another skull on it. The one he disliked went with the fossil skeleton but not with his assumptions, so every brontosaurus model after that was completely wrong. In fact, now they say there was no such thing as a brontosaurus. We were touring New England when all the full-scale models were being revised to account for the fraud.

God’s Word is different. Instead of accumulating a list of contradictions, we find the criticisms or alleged problems answered and the harmony growing rather than receding.

KJV Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.

Here is one example. Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem every year for 12 years, and Jesus went along. It does not say precisely that He always went along, but that is a safe assumption.

Lenski:
During the childhood of Jesus Joseph and Mary regularly attended the Passover festival at Jerusalem. Every male was originally expected to appear in Jerusalem at the Passover, at Pentecost, and at Tabernacles, Exod. 23:14–17; 34:23; Deut. 16:16; but the dispersion rendered this impossible. Godly Jews, however, made it a point to attend at least the Passover. Women were not required to attend, yet many did, nevertheless, and Mary belonged to this class. We see the devoutness of the parents of Jesus, the kind of a home in which he grew up.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 161.

This was God sending His Son to Jerusalem year after year. Each time was an opportunity for someone to know more about Him, to believe in Him. The Gospels tell us only what we need to know, but we can gather a lot from those telling details.

The first stage of God’s evangelism was proclaiming the Promise, starting with Genesis 3:15. Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms are full of Gospel.

The second stage included the early revelations, which are the focus of Epiphany, from the Star of Bethlehem to the Transfiguration – all pointing to the glory of the only-begotten Son Jesus.

The birth stories include the cousin Elizabeth and the unborn John the Baptist, the shepherds, the Wise Men, and the temple figures Simeon and Anna. Before Jesus appeared in the Temple as a young boy He was already proclaimed in various ways.

Someone posed this question, about Jesus or another figure, in two different ways. The issue was, “What would He preach?”

The answer in both cases was, “Repentance.” I thought that was a telling commentary on American preaching, because the New Testament answer is “Faith.”

To paraphrase Luther, these people want to teach cows how to give milk, goats how to skip, and God how to preach. No one preaches the Word better than God, so we should rely on what He has revealed.

The repentance answer makes me cringe because the solution sounds like something we should do, and we are far too prone to convert grace into works. In contrast, faith in Christ is forgiveness, which does not negate the Ten Commandments in the least. The best fulfillment of the Torah comes from following the Word through love of the Savior rather than fear of Moses.

Jesus did preach repentance, repenting of unbelief in Him, the foundational sin.

Since that was a sin, God provided a solution – to present Jesus many times in the Temple, to give many people a chance to have faith in Him, even before His public ministry started.

42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.

This shows how succinct the Word is. The entire trip to Jerusalem and the ceremonies in the feast are summarized in one verse. At the age of 12, when Jewish boys often have their bar mitzvah today, Jesus would have been considered a young man, but still junior to anyone teaching at the Temple.

First of all, he was there a week for the festivities. That itself is significant. The Word of God incarnate was worshiping with them. I borrowed a line from a Lutheran woman I visited in Canada. When someone more or less bragged about not going to church, she said, “Are you better than Jesus?” No one ever said, “Yes.” They always said, “No, not at all.” She always added to the denial, “Well you must be better than Jesus, because He was always in the synagogue and you never are. I guess you are better.”

43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.

Losing track of a child is easy with a large company of people. Children often spend time with their cousins of the same age, or relatives without children who enjoy having someone to watch. But this was God’s plan.

44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.

At least one day passed before Joseph and Mary despaired of finding Him. One way of viewing this is that they assumed He would come to be with them at night, or check in at night. That did not happen and Jesus did not turn up anywhere with anyone. The familiar question, “When did you last see him?” would have sent them back to Jerusalem, so Jesus had two days before Joseph and Mary got back to Jerusalem. That was just the start, because they spent three days trying to find Him. God gave the Jewish leaders five days with Jesus in the Temple.

46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

Lenski:
These were ordinary rabbis who were ready to teach at any time; they sat cross-legged on the floor like their pupils (4:20; 5:3; said of rabbi Jochanan, “sitting and teaching in the shadow of a temple house”); there was no terrace, the teaching took place in one of the many Temple halls that were open to all and were used for this purpose.
The teaching perhaps began with one rabbi, and then other rabbis and also auditors gathered to make the scene described by Luke. But it is unwarranted to entitle this scene, “Jesus teaching in the Temple”—Luke says not one word about his teaching. He listened and he asked respectful questions (this is the force of the participle). The next verse implies that he also answered questions. The teaching was not mere lecturing but was interspersed with questions both to and from the teacher. We have no unnatural picture of the lad Jesus like that found in the apocryphal gospels. He is a well-trained boy who knows his place and acts with respect toward these rabbis. But he is indeed intensely interested in all they have to say and eager to elicit more information, for these were more important men than the rabbis he could occasionally hear in Nazareth.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 163.

Lenski was probably more of a lecturer. Teaching can also be done by asking questions, leading people to discover truth. My ethics teacher used to say, “What was wrong with the Nazis? They were brave, intelligent, well trained.” The class would sit and stare. Simply asking the question started them on a new way to discuss ethics. I used to get students to beat up the British Empire for bringing their culture and Christianity to India and the other exotic ports. Once the class got into full battle mode, I asked them, “Then was it wrong when the Muslims invaded India and did the same thing?”

I would call this picture of Jesus in the Temple one where He was showing great respect but also receiving it. He was allowed to sit with the teachers and share in discussing the Word.

47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

Jewish learning is full of back and forth, by design, and this allowed Jesus to answer questions and to ask them as well. A penetrating question shows as much understanding as a good answer.

Jesus was there to provide a visible answer to the Messianic promises. It is good that we do not have a transcript, or there would be 200 books on that subject alone. Faith began to grow because God gave the Jewish leaders at the Temple a chance to believe in His Son, long before His public ministry began. That answers two questions –
  1. Why was opposition to Jesus so intense?
  2. Why were so many converted to Christ?

The effort to silence is the surest sign that falsehood is being threatened. Faith grew slowly after His Temple appearance, but the opposition solidified when His preaching and miracles attracted large crowds.

So many want to grab Jesus by the shoulders and tell Him how He should teach. I hear different versions all the time on TV, very little Gospel. I have to assume they think Jesus came to serve as a motivational speaker, to make everyone successful and happy, with all their dreams coming true.

Jesus’ parents were not happy with Him at all. There is no disguising this.

48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

Anger and grief go together. When a child is lost, the first feelings are sorrow. When the answer to the mystery is found, sorrow turns to anger, because “You filled us with grief and terror for days on end, and You were fine.”

49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

Here Jesus reminded them of His divine nature and mission. If He did something, it was God’s will and not something to worry them. He was obligated to do His Father’s will and to be concerned with His mission. This Father/Son relationship is fully explained in the Gospel of John.

This must be. Complete faith in Him means always assuming the goodness of God and never questioning it. Although we are prone to work out our own solutions and to imagine we can make those plans on our own, God shows us otherwise, as He did with Jonah.

Jonah was ordered to Ninevah so he headed in the opposite direction and paid an enormous price for a ticket on a fast ship in the opposite direction. God sent a storm to stop the ship and a great sea monster to vomit him on the shores of Ninevah.

So many ministers spend their lives dithering, waiting for the “right time” to be honest about fidelity to the Word. If God wants to move them, He will. If God wants them in the same place, God can manage that too.

God gave Paul Gerhardt all the ingredients to become one of the greatest hymn-writers of all time, starting with his years as a children’s tutor. What looked like a very difficult life, full of loss and tragedy, was the forge of the Gospel in song.

We are like Jesus in the Temple. Each day presents some way in which the Gospel is communicated. We do not have to look for the opportunities, because they come to us. Sometimes it is communicated in Word, sometimes in deed. Faith in Christ means an abundance of both, for His abundance of grace turns into our abundance.

Quotations


"Later on we read that even the most prominent leaders, both Peter and Barnabas, fell into error and all the other Jews with them.  Then Paul alone rose up and rebuked Peter publicly, as he himself writes in Galatians 2:11."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1983, II,  p. 28.           

"For if they [great saints] should at all times be strong in spirit, and experience only joy and sweetness, they might finally fall into the fatal pride of the devil, which despises God and trusts in self."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II,  p. 40.

"But, they say, the Christian church is always led by the Holy Spirit, who will not permit the church to err or go wrong.  To this we answer with what we said before: However good the church may be, it has never possessed the Spirit in as large a measure as Mary, who although she was led by the Spirit, erred nevertheless, so that we might learn from her experience."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II,  p. 27.

"In a word; He will not permit himself to be found either among friends and acquaintances, nor in anything outside of His Word."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II,  p. 43.

"Thus you see, that God can deal with His saints in a way to deprive them of happiness and comfort whenever He pleases, and cast them into the greatest fear concerning that in which they have their greatest joy.  So, likewise, He can again confer the greatest joy."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II,  p. 36.

"Secondly, God permits His saints to suffer these trials as an example for others, both to alarm the carnally secure and to comfort the timid and alarmed...But when we see and hear that God has in like manner dealt with His saints and did not spare even His own mother, we have the knowledge and comfort that we need not despair in our trials, but remain quiet and wait until He helps us, even as He has helped all His saints."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II,  p. 40f.

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