Fifth Sunday in Epiphany 02-05-2023

Psalm 112:1-9; Isiah 50:1-9; 1st Corinthians 2:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20

In our lesson from Psalms this morning, we can note that both Psalm 111 & 112 begin with “Praise the Lord.” The righteous man will be remembered. The Lord provides for those who fear Him; good will come to those who mirror Go’s compassion. The works and precepts of the Lord are steadfast forever; the righteousness of he righteous will endure forever. Bot God’s compassionate acts and human character formed by God’s love are reasons to praise Yahweh, our God.

In Isaiah, we read where the sinner cannot take God to court and prove Him guilty. He did not divorce His people or sell them into slavery. Israel had separated themselves from God to worship idols and made themselves slaves through treaties with other nations. Still Yahweh, the God of Israel, held legal claim to them and in love would exercise His claim. The fault was Judah’s. God’s people did not believe He would act. To quit waiting expectantly for God’s saving intervention in your life is a sinful act. God’s servant can face adversity and persecution with confidence. Such confidence comes fro listening to and learning from God. God helps His servant in distress and reveals the servant has reason for confidence. Jesus lives out this servant role perfectly. He stands alone as a worthy model for all who seek to serve God. In verse 6, in the middle of the the third servant poem which spells out in detail how God’s Servant would suffer. The suffering Messiah was to endure scourging, spitting, and the pulling of His beard. This ancient description of a contempt is spelled out in all four Gospels (Matthew 26:67; Mark 15:65; Luke 22:63-65; John 19:1). Yet people even today, continue to disbelieve Who the Suffering Servant was. Jesus fulfilled every prophecy, and yet disbelief remains. You think it might be that some people would not feel comfortable trying to walk in His footsteps? It’s not always easy, and I for one will admit I fall short of doing do, yet I can repent of my ways and be restored as one of His own, but you cannot ignore Him and receive anything from Him.

In our Epistle from Corinthians Paul openly and unabashedly stated he refused to use clever language or to manipulate God’s Word. He presented the gospel with a simple and open statement of truth and depended upon the power of the Spirit to change lives. The dramatic change in the heart and life of individuals, which takes place when people are saved and it does not come about by the emotional power of enticing words but by the simple, straightforward presentation of the gospel in all it’s clarity and power. Therefore attention must be focused on the Word, and not on the proclaimer. Love is the central theme of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Saving does not take place accepting some system of theological propositions, but rather by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Our Gospel message comes to us from Matthew, whereby he makes the statement, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives to light to everyone in the house.”

So how does one succeed beyond the Pharisees and Scribes of the Law? It’s not by performing spectacular things or achieve awards or anything like this. You beloved, are the light of the world. You get up every day and seek to praise God for another day to serve Him in our ethical ways with others, by loving others as Jesus has loved you, by building a relationship with Jesus in your prayers and efforts for others, and not caring who gets the credit. It’s about living moral lives being neighbors with whomever you are with. It’s about being honest and seeking forgiveness when we mess up and ask for forgiveness with penitent hearts and a desire not to commit them again. It is about “letting your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” It takes effort, but is worth it; it takes determination, but reveals your belief in God through Jesus Christ, towards all who see you. It is about being a Christian, because it is the right thing to do! How’s your light shining? Amen


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