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Sunday Thoughts for February 17

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday (February 17) is the sixth Sunday after the Epiphany (Epiphany 6). We will be using the second setting of the Divine Service configured for Communion. The appointed lessons are Jeremiah 17:5–8; 1 Corinthians 15:1–20; and Luke 6:17–26. The sermon text will be 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. The sermon is titled “First Importance”. Our opening hymn will be “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise” (LSB 394). Our sermon hymn will be “Alleluia! Jesus Is Risen” (LSB 474). Our closing hymn will be “I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus” (LSB 729). Our distribution hymns will be: “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus” (LSB 821), “In Thee is Gladness” (LSB 818), and “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing” (LSB 633).

Below are the lessons and some initial thoughts.

Jeremiah 17:5–8
5 Thus says the LORD:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
8 He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Initial Thoughts: This pericope reflects Psalm 1, only Psalm 1 speaks of the man who trusts in the Word of God and this reading speaks of the man who trusts in the true God. They are actually one in the same. The word translated “Lord” is Yahweh, the divine name of the God of Israel. This is no “god as we know him,” as if anything we imagine is God. This is the one true God revealed in the Bible. The word “trusts” is an imperfect, indicating an ongoing action. This is not a moment of weakness but a man who continues to reject faith in the true God and instead opts for the weakness that looks like strength found in temporal things. Those who trust in the true God are like trees whose roots are well watered, no matter where they are. Such trees flourish. Those who trust in human devises are like trees whose roots can not find water. Such trees perish.

1 Corinthians 15:1–20
15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Initial Thoughts: This is the famous “resurrection chapter” of the Bible, or at least most of it. As the theme of this chapter will be the theme of the sermon, I’ll not say much here. All I’ll say is that, as you read it, notice how everything hinges of Christ’s death and resurrection. It is no small wonder that this is one of the primary truths attacked by Satan and his allies.

Luke 6:17–26
17 And [Jesus] came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

Initial Thoughts: Just before this text Jesus picks his twelve disciples. Last in the list is Judas Iscariot, who Luke clearly says “became a traitor.” This sermon by Jesus is known as the “Sermon on the Plane.” It has many similarities with the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), which confuses some. In the days before television, radio and newspapers, speakers often gave the same message over and over, with variations based on local circumstances. Spirit caused Luke to record this message and Matthew to record the other. They are not the same occasion. However the themes are similar and they can be used to illustrate each other. The Latin word “beatitudes” basically means “blessings.” So any “blessed are you …” statement is a “beatitude.” Notice that people from Tyre and Sidon are present, not just people from Judea and Jerusalem. Jesus is preaching to both Jews and Gentiles. God has always sought the salvation of all.

Well, it is still snowing outside, so I should go home while the roads are still passable. Stay warm.

Blessings in Christ,

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