FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
(5 February 2017)
1 Corinthians 2:1–12 (13–16)
The Righteousness of Christ
Jesus warns that “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20), but He also calls His imperfect people “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13, 14). That’s because the Lord Jesus came not to abolish the Law or the prophets, “but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17) in perfect faith and love. Since He does and teaches all of God’s commandments, He is “called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19). God manifests His “demonstration of the Spirit and of power” in “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2–4), and through the preaching of the Gospel He gives His “secret and hidden wisdom” (1 Cor. 2:7). Christ gives this perfect righteousness to His people, and it leads them to true fasting, which is “to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free” (Is. 58:6) and “to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house” (Is. 58:7).
SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
(12 February 2017)
1 Corinthians 3:1–9
Christ Sets Life Before Us so that We Can Walk in His Ways
The God who reveals Himself in His incarnate Son promises life and blessing to all who obey His commandments “by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules” (Deut. 30:16). However, we are “people of the flesh” and “infants in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1) among whom “there is jealousy and strife” (1 Cor. 3:3). Jesus must instruct us against the human ways of anger, adultery, divorce and false witness (Matt. 5:21–37), because all who live in these ways “shall surely perish” (Deut. 30:18). On the cross, He died to forgive our sins and free us from the ways of curse and death. Since Jesus Christ is our “life and length of days” (Deut. 30:20), we can be reconciled to our brother, live in chastity and marital faithfulness, and speak with honesty. He who serves from His cross also offers His gift of reconciliation at His altar, and we can be at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are “God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9).
SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
(19 February 2017)
Leviticus 19:1–2, 9–18
1 Corinthians 3:10–23
God Manifests His Perfect Holiness in Christ through Compassion and Forgiveness
God reveals His perfect holiness in compassion as “he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). By His grace in Jesus Christ, we are holy just as He is holy (Lev. 19:2), and we are “God’s temple” in whom “God’s Spirit dwells” (1 Cor. 3:16). This gift of holiness begins with fearing, loving and trusting God above all things, and it leads us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Lev. 19:18). No longer should we practice “injustice in court.” No longer should we “be partial to the poor or defer to the great.” No longer should we “go around as a slanderer” among God’s people. No longer should we “take vengeance or bear a grudge” (Lev. 19:15–18). Though we were His enemies, our Lord Jesus Christ has loved us and forgiven us. Nourished and sustained by His holy body and blood under the bread and wine of His holy Supper, we “shall be holy” (Lev. 19:2) even as the Lord our God is holy.
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD
(26 February 2017)
2 Peter 1:16–21
God Manifests His Glory in the Body of Christ Jesus, Transfigured for Us by His Cross
The Transfiguration confirms “the prophetic word … to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). The divine glory of Jesus is manifested in the word of His apostles, who were “eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). “He was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun” (Matt. 17:2). Moses and Elijah witnessed the fulfillment of the Old Testament in this Lord Jesus, and the Father testified concerning Him: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 17:5). By His own blood, shed on the cross, Jesus makes and seals the new covenant with us. Hence, “the appearance of the glory of the LORD” is no longer “like a devouring fire” (Ex. 24:17), but it is graciously revealed in His own body. As “Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel” went up the mountain with Moses and “beheld God, and ate and drank” (Ex. 24:9, 11), we also behold the Lord our God in Christ Jesus, and we abide with Him as we eat and drink His body and blood at the altar.