The Savior’s Sermon: Trust in God’s Strength
These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)
God’s Word for This Week
The Savior’s Sermon: Trust in God’s strength! The Beatitudes are hard for us to swallow. Jesus seems to be espousing a Christianity imbued with fatalism, at best, or defeatism, at worst. Look closer, however, and see what he says. The weaker you are, the stronger God is in your life. The weaker you are now, the readier you are to trust in a future reward. Look at the past acts of God’s grace, and you will find many reasons to trust his strength in the face of adversity, persecution, or sorrow.
Traditional Lesson One – Micah 6:1-8
In this courtroom scene, who are the witnesses? For what reasons does the Lord call them as witnesses?
The witnesses are the mountains, the hills, and the foundations of the earth. The Lord calls them because they have been around so long, have witnessed so much, and are so firm and reliable.
What is the Lord’s charge against his people?
“Why do you think I have burdened you? I have been so gracious to you!”
What three things does the Lord require of us above all?
To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
Supplemental First Lesson – Daniel 3:13-27
How does the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego help you understand the promises of Jesus in the Beatitudes?
Rejoice and be glad, Jesus said, because great is your reward in heaven. He does not promise to keep us from a martyr’s death or Christian persecution on earth. He promises to reward us in spite of them. That we might trust his promises of future reward, however, he shows us his righteous acts of the past. The God of the three men in the fiery furnace can be trusted! As they stood before great Nebuchadnezzar, these men looked weak. When they chose the path of righteousness rather than accommodation, they seemed stupid. As they spoke about a powerful God, their words and actions seemed powerless. At the weakest moment of their lives—despised, condemned, bound hand and foot, and falling into an inferno—they trusted that God was their strength, and he did not fail them.
Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Why does God often choose the lowly and despised to be his children?
He chooses the seemingly foolish to shame those who think themselves wise. He chooses what seems weak to shame those who think of themselves strong. He wants no one to boast before him.
What three things does Paul call Jesus? What does he mean?
Paul calls Jesus “our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.” Without us doing anything, he makes us right with God by his blood, holy in God’s sight. He paid to set us free from Satan and hell.
Gospel – Matthew 5:1-12
Why are the Beatitudes of Jesus so striking?
The Beatitudes are striking because they go against the conventional wisdom of this world. Jesus reminds us that God plays by a different set of rules than this world.
What word does Jesus use to describe those who trust in him? What does he mean?
Jesus calls us “blessed.” He doesn’t mean we are happy, necessarily. He means we have it good, even if we do not feel good. All God’s blessings come to us by grace alone. Surely Jesus means what he says.
Where does Jesus promise to reward us?
Jesus promises to reward us greatly in heaven.