The Incarnation Reveals the Unseen God to the Eyes of the Faithful
These are the readings for the Second Sunday after Christmas.
God’s Word for This Week
God’s grace has been bestowed on us through the coming of the promised Savior. Righteousness, peace and eternal salvation are ours. We marvel at these great gifts and take time to praise him for the wonderful things that he has done for us.
Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 61:10–62:3
What is the picture drawn by “garments of salvation” and “robes of righteousness”?
Our salvation is such that it completely covers up our sinful nature so that we are seen as holy by our God. What’s more, we do not put on the garments ourselves; we do not have the power. “He has clothed us,” making us recipients of salvation.
How are the redeemed a “crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand”?
Through his redemptive work, Christ presents us as sparkling jewels to God, perfect and flawless. His amazing grace has transformed us from sin-ridden creatures to beautiful adornments for our God, our very lives proclaiming his praises.
Supplemental First Lesson – Genesis 16:1-16
When you see “the angel of the LORD” in the Old Testament, who is the Bible talking about?
The pre-incarnate Christ—the second person of the Trinity, before he became a man through his birth by the Virgin Mary.
How did the angel of the LORD reveal the characteristics of God to Hagar and to us?
Abram and Sarai believed in the promise of God, but ten years of waiting caused doubts to surface in their minds. Though their intentions might have been good, they did not act according to God’s wisdom and revelation. Hagar conceived, but was mistreated by Sarai and fled into the desert—pregnant, alone, helpless. Then the angel of the LORD, the pre-incarnate Messiah, appears for the first time in the Old Testament and makes the unseen God known by loving the unloved, caring for the abandoned, and helping the helpless. The angel of the LORD spoke words of prophecy and revelation to Hagar that revealed what God is like. He is a God who hears, sees, and cares for us. Like Hagar, in Christ, we now have seen the One who sees us.
Traditional Second Lesson – Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18
If “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons,” does that mean he predestined others to hell?
This is a message of comfort and assurance to believers. Before we were even born—before we existed—God had his plan for us to be his. It was by no decision or action of ours. However, we must not blame God for those who choose to reject him. Salvation was won for all; those who choose to reject him bring upon their own damnation.
Does the word hope imply some uncertainty in our salvation?
“Hope” is used in the sense that we are looking forward to having the salvation God has made ours through his Son. The nature of God’s perfection makes his promises an absolute surety even as we await their fulfillment.
Supplemental Second Lesson – Ephesians 1:3-14
What is the mystery of God’s will that Paul mentions here?
With the blood of Christ God bought us back, forgave our sins, and lavished on us wisdom and understanding. True wisdom is understanding the mystery of God’s will. That could not be discovered or uncovered; God’s will had to be revealed. This is the gospel message which God purposed in Christ: we would be redeemed by the Son of God made flesh and be presented blameless in his sight.
Gospel – John 1:14-18
What is the “grace and truth” that the one and only, Jesus brings?
God’s message of grace and truth is the message of the Gospel. The law has condemned all to hell, and all need a savior. Jesus has been sent by God out of grace—nothing is deserved or earned. Jesus is the truth that leads people to heaven.
How has Christ made God known?
Christ IS God. To know Christ is to know God. Christ is the direct contact we have with the Father, for the only path to heaven is through Christ.