Sunday, January 10, 2010

First Sunday after the Epiphany

The Last Supper, by Norma Boeckler

The First Sunday after the Epiphany

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn # 134 Songs of Thankfulness 4.9
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 # 396 O For a Faith 4.18

Temple Alone – God Made Manifest

The Hymn #304 An Aweful Mystery 4.6
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 #81 O Jesus Christ Thy Manger 3:60

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.

First Sunday After Epiphany
Lord God, heavenly Father, who in mercy hast established the Christian home among us: We beseech Thee so to rule and direct our hearts, that we may be good examples to children and servants, and not offend them by word or deed, but faithfully teach them to love Thy Church and hear Thy blessed word. Give them Thy Spirit and grace, that this seed may bring forth good fruit, so that our homelife may conduce to Thy glory, honor and praise, to our own improvement and welfare, and give offense to no one; 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.

Temple Alone - God Made Manifest

The Gospel of Luke has so much material that is loved and known by all Christians. Many favorite stories about Jesus are from Luke and unique to Luke – the birth story, the essence of every Christmas program by children, Jesus in the Temple, the Good Samaritan, the Lost Sheep, Zacchaeus…

KJV Luke 19:2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

If we learned the story in Sunday School, it was probably in Luke.

The relationship between Luke and the New Testament is also interesting. We know from brief references that he was a traveling companion with Paul (Acts).

I smile when people try to compare world religious leaders, because I have to gather information about each world religion. The earliest biography of Mohammed is from 200 years later. Our Gospels are from the same generation as Jesus – not two centuries later.

What if our first biography of George Washington came off the presses this year? There would be no first-hand witnesses around. The Virgin Mary was with the apostles in Jerusalem and stayed with John in Ephesus, according to tradition.
What a difference in factual knowledge alone, not to mention the details that make history valid.

The factual basis of Luke is overshadowed by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, but it is not divorced from reality. Luke had all his historical details correct, which proves how painstaking he was.

Jesus in the Temple

This is a story for all children and for the child or parent within us. We can identify with Jesus as a boy (to some extent) and as parents with Joseph and Mary.

The details are very important. Nothing should be overlooked, because the Gospels are quite condensed. And this story has abundant details.

Here is one:

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

Joseph and Mary always went to the Passover in Jerusalem. In this story, Jesus is twelve, so we can assume from the details provided that He went many times with them, perhaps every time. A large extended family went together, which is ideal for traveling with small children.

We took a tour of the famous St. Louis Zoo when our middle grandchild was just a baby. It was hot and sticky, normal weather for St. Louis. Baby Dani got crabby with the heat, so I got to hold her. Her big sister was pushed in the buggy and kept checking on us. Dani fussed from the heat. A couple (not grandparents yet) said, “You must be tired of holding her.” I said, “Never.”
Going to Jerusalem was an annual tradition, and doubtless it included the extended family each time. We can see how this developed. Jesus was probably entrusted to others at various times, and the parents were secure in the thought that they knew where he was.

Most importantly, Jesus was present many times in Jerusalem. Later, when he mourned over the future destruction of Jerusalem, it would be like a Midwestern adult knowing that Chicago would be utterly destroyed, or like a New Yorker knowing that the entire city would be leveled one day. When Jesus wept over Jerusalem, it was a city He knew well, and one that knew Him.

They were given every chance.

When people worry about the salvation of unbelievers, they forget how often God has provided the Gospel for them. The population is always shifting. For example, the Jewish population does not stay Jewish. There are many Christian Jews, ethnic Jews who believe in Christ, who have congregations and ministries in various parts of America. No one talks about it. Phoenix has three Messianic Jewish congregations, which now attract non-Jews. Northwest Arkansas has another group, and no one expects that in the rural South.

Jesus in the Temple explains why this is so and how many things developed in the time of Jesus.

There are believing Jews in the religious leadership when Jesus was on trial and crucified. Two of them are named – Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. We know how Nicodemus encountered Jesus in John 3.

The seed was sown early, when Jesus made Himself known in the Temple a second time. After all, He was already known there once before:

Simeon in the Temple

KJV Luke 2:25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Anna in the Temple

KJV Luke 2:36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

We can see that God already provided multiple witnesses to Jesus. Simeon alone might have been enough, but Anna also spoke about seeing the Messiah in their own Temple.

Perhaps people forgot, or only one person remembered, 12 years later. But no one could forget what happened when Jesus made himself known to the most distinguished Jewish religious leaders.

Joseph and Mary left Jerusalem after the Passover traditions were completed. They traveled downhill toward home for one whole day before they realized Jesus was not with the company.

Has that happened to any other family? We left my sister at a gas station on a trip. My mother assumed she was in the front seat. I did not hear her in the back seat, so I asked first. “Why she is up there with you.” It was dark and my father was occupied with driving. Mom was in the back. We headed back to the gas station, where my sister was being consoled. Every minute that passed made her think that no one missed her. It was just a matter of false assumptions. A hit movie was based on the same concept.

Joseph and Mary had to travel uphill for an entire day to reach Jerusalem again, doubtless going between feelings of anxiety and fury with each step. They looked for Jesus three days. Was that three days plus one? Either way, that was a long time to look for a lost child. Jerusalem was a large city and choked with pilgrims at that time.

The personal details remind us of Luke and Mary being associated. One of the greatest icons of the Christians in Constantinople was a portrait of Mary painted by Luke. Lutherans are not inclined to believe the factual nature of many of these sacred objects, but the painting does show the traditional association of those two New Testament figures.

KJV Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. [This is the last mention of Mary in the New Testament.]

Parents can identify with Mary’s response to finding Jesus in the Temple:

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.

Nothing sounds so up to date as that response. Losing a child in this way combines sorrow and anger at the same time.

This story emphasizes the divine nature of Christ. There are no details about how He obtained food or shelter, or how He worried about His parents. He was unlike all other boys His age. His human nature did not limit His divine nature in any way.

Jesus had amazed the most learned teachers of the Law. He had three days to teach them about the Messiah. These men were astounded at His learning.

Luke 2:46 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.

The time from His manifestation in the Temple as a baby until this moment was not so long that everyone forgot Simeon and Anna. This was additional proof of what was said at that time.

Jesus said to His parents – Don’t you realize that I must be about my Father’s business? He could not stop being the Son of God, and His mission was to take the Gospel to His people first.

This is so often mixed up by the belly-servers of today. They talk about mission, but they want to take the Gospel to those who are already believers (in a way) and want a different spin, a different market plan. So these characters brag about how they fill their movie theaters – by appealing to the Old Adam.

Jesus took the Gospel to the opposition and gave His own people every chance to believe in Him. That began with the official circumcision in the Temple, the prophecies there, the lengthy appearance in the Temple, and the public ministry later.

This Gospel shows us how God brings us Christ in spite of our sin and failings. We do not come to Him. He comes to us. We love Him because He first loved us.

He gives us the Gospel in many different ways – Word and Sacrament, through faithful pastors, the written Word, hymns, the liturgy and Creeds. The witnesses are abundant and varied.

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