Sunday, February 9, 2014

Time in the Word - Epiphany 6

Time in the Word
Living the Law

The interpretation, understanding, and obedience of the law of God come forth from this week’s lections. The overall theme appears to be life in the light of the Law. The Gospel gives several examples of Jesus’ interpretation of the law of Moses. His view goes behind the letter to the spirit of the Law. In his last address, Moses appeals to his people to obey the Law and to live. To make the right interpretation there must be wisdom. Paul in the epistle lesson teaches that the wisdom of God is revealed only to those of the Spirit. This explains how Jesus was able to rightly understand the Law. He had the Spirit of God and was taught by the Spirit. During this season our prayers must embrace both the understanding of God’s Law (Epistle lesson) and obedience (Old Testament lesson). We must pray to see and understand the things we ought to do with the grace and power to do them.

The Epiphany theme of the manifestation of God’s glory in Jesus continues in Epiphany 6.  In the Gospel, the glory of God in Jesus is seen in His interpretation of the law and in His authority as God’s Son, greater than Moses – “And I say to you.” God’s glory is seen also in the Old Testament lesson where God in mercy makes a covenant with His people and promises them life if they accept and obey the terms of the covenant. Paul refers to Jesus as “the Lord of Glory” (verse 8). Jesus is the true and able interpreter of God’s laws because He possessed the Spirit of God resulting in wisdom and understanding. The readings from Psalm 119 deal with the Law which for the Hebrews was God’s revelation of Himself to man. In other words, today we see the glory of God in Jesus in His understanding and interpretation of God’s law. 

Collects for Epiphany: Lord God, on this day you revealed your Son to the nations by the leading of a star. Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives and bring us at last to the full vision of your glory.

Father, You revealed Your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star. Lead us to Your glory in heaven by the light of faith. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Father, You make known the salvation of humankind at the birth of Your Son. Make us strong in faith and bring us to the glory You promise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Collects for Epiphany 6: O God graciously hear the prayers of Your people that we who justly suffer the consequences of our sin may be mercifully delivered by Your goodness to the glory of Your name for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

O God, the strength of all who put their trust in You. Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without You, give us the help of your grace that in keeping Your commandments we may please You both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Monday, 10 February, 2014Psalm 119:1-8; antiphon, Psalm 119:1—In the Introit for Sunday, the key verses remind us as is explained in verse 2, “happy are those who observe His decrees.” Coupled with the Old Testament lesson for this week, we are reminded on the face that the Law is good and obedience makes one happy.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014Psalm 119:9-16—As an acrostic psalm, this section is focused on the Hebrew letter Beth. The Psalmist would have reason to praise the Lord for blessings received and deliverances granted because  the Lord does not forsake His own.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014—Deuteronomy 30:15-20Moses gives his people a choice of life and death. We live by obeying the Law. 

The two-letter word “if” has theological implications. Our life depends on it. “If” people love and obey, they shall have life. “If” they are rebellious, they will experience death. This implies that life and death are results of meeting certain conditions. This means that we have free will to do one or the other. We are not an automation, not a victim of circumstances. We cannot blame God for our fate. Ultimately our condition depends upon the type of ‘if” we choose.

Thursday, 13 February 20141 Corinthians3:1-9—Those who have the spirit possess the wisdom of God, understand His gifts, and interpret spiritual truths. Live by interpreting the Law through the Spirit.

To be mature, Paul shares the wisdom of God. Last week, in Epiphany 5 we dealt with the wisdom of man. Then we learned that the Gospel is not built on man’s wisdom. There is a greater wisdom, which Paul shares with the mature.  When he preached, he gave the facts of the Gospel. Facts dealing with the basics of Christ’s life, death, and Resurrection. Now comes the understanding of those facts, the doctrine, or the teaching. Mature Christians receive the teaching:  the interpretation, understanding, and meaning of the facts. This maturity is not the modern “man come of age” in the sense of outgrowing God, but it is a growth into the wisdom of God.  

Friday, 14 February 2014Matthew 5:21-37—Jesus places a new interpretation on the law of Moses. Live by the spirit of the Law.

Jesus begins this section with these words, “And I say to you…” Who is this “I”? Who is presumptuous to go beyond what Moses said? Who does the “I” think he is – one greater than Moses, the mighty prophet of God? Here we confront Christological considerations. Jesus is speaking. Here we find a greater than Moses. In the words, “I say.”  Jesus is placing Himself above all other religious teachers and prophets. How can he rightfully do this? Jesus speaks as God’s Son, the Word made flesh. He has the mind, the Spirit, and the essence of God the Father. As the Word of God, Jesus’ word is truth excelling all other teachers. Thus, the Scriptures testify of Him and we interpret them in the light of Christ.

Saturday, 15 February 2014Isaiah 61:1-3; 1 Peter 1:20; Matthew 11:4-5; Revelation 19:1-16— The Hymn for next week is Hymn 394, “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise.” As we are now mostly through the season of Epiphany, we come to a clearer picture of who Jesus really is. Through His words and by His miracles, we see Him as He is, our coming Savior, the one who has come to save us.  
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

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