Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany

Jesus is Our Surprising Savior

These are the readings for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany.

God’s Word for This Week

Jesus did some surprising things during his life and ministry. For instance, he was born in a manger. He instructed the teachers of the law at twelve. He associated with the tax collectors and sinners. He allowed himself to be crucified. He also said some surprising things, things that ran directly contrary to the basic convictions of the world in which we live. For instance, he commands us to love our enemies and to follow him patiently in suffering. And in all these things he promises to be our Savior. Yes, Jesus is our surprising Savior!

Traditional First Lesson – Jeremiah 17:5-8

Whom does the Lord curse in these verses?

The Lord curses those who would put their trust in man and the things of this world. This is the fundamental approach of sinful mankind: they put their hope in things and people that they can see. They desire honor, glory, and power in this world.

Whom does the Lord bless in these verses?

The Lord blesses those who put their trust in him. Such faith is not always easy because we do not see the Lord, and he does not always work in our lives in a most obvious way. But, the Lord promises, when trouble comes our way, we will have no worries when we put our faith in him.

Supplemental First Lesson – Deuteronomy 30 1-10

When would God’s promises to restore Israel take place (30:2,5)?

The LORD would restore Israel when they returned to him in their hearts, and he brought them back to their promised land.

Along with prosperity, how else would God restore Israel (30:6-7)?

God would circumcise their hearts and the hearts of their descendants, so that would they love God deeply and obey him willingly. He would also put curses on all their enemies. (Deuteronomy 30:6-10 seems to give God’s first specific promise of his new covenant through his Son. For expanded promises, see Hosea 2:13-23 and Jeremiah 31:31-34.)

Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 15:12,16-20

What misconception did some of the Corinthian Christians have about the resurrection from the dead?

Apparently, there were some Corinthians who, although they didn’t deny Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, did not believe that all people would one day be raised from death.

What arguments does Paul put forth to prove that there will be a general resurrection from the dead?

Paul argues that the Corinthians can’t have it both ways. If they say that there is no resurrection, then they can’t claim that Christ is raised. And if Jesus is still lying in a grave, then our faith in this dead person is worthless, we are still in our sins, those who died in the faith are eternally lost, and we are to be pitied more than all people. But thanks be to God, Christ is indeed risen!

Supplemental Second Lesson – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

From what was Paul suffering (12:7)?

Paul was suffering from a “thorn” in his flesh. We cannot pinpoint his problem, but it was physical, and it was painful. Satan also tried to send him a message through it—probably to despair: “Give up! God has turned on you. He is punishing you for all your sins.”

Why didn’t Jesus heal Paul, after Paul pleaded with the Lord three times to take away his ailment (12:9)?

Jesus didn’t heal Paul because his grace was enough for Paul. His power is made complete when we are weakest. That is, the weaker we are, the stronger we are—through the strength Jesus supplies, not our own.

Gospel – Luke 6:17-26

Whom does Jesus say are the blessed of this world, and why?

Surprisingly, Jesus says that the blessed of this world are those whom the world would say are the less fortunate and the downtrodden. The reason why these people are blessed, Jesus says, is because through faith in him they will have eternal riches.

What does Jesus suggest we should do when the people of this world hate us because of Jesus?

Surprisingly, Jesus tells us to rejoice when we are persecuted for the sake of Jesus. Our reward will be great in heaven.

To whom does Jesus preach woe?

Surprisingly, Jesus indicates that the powerful, rich, and happy of this world are in danger of eternal woe. Those who have so much in this world don’t often realize their need for a Savior. They have their “reward” in this world but will suffer for an eternity because of their rejection of Jesus.

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