Summary: Year C Third Sunday After the Epiphany January 21, 2001

Year C Third Sunday After the Epiphany

January 21, 2001

Lord of the Lake Lutheran Church

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By The Rev. Jerry Morrissey, Esq., Pastor


Text: Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Title: “Grace from Faith”

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving me my sins and giving me eternal life. Empower me to be the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

Jesus speaks his first recorded words in Luke proper, notwithstanding Chapter 2 verse 49, by reading from Isaiah in a synagogue service at Nazareth and proclaims the words he read to be fulfilled in their hearing of them.

This text gives us two introductions or beginnings. One is by Luke himself (1: 1-4). It is an introduction to the gospel. The other is by Jesus (4: 14-21). It is an introduction of the gospel.

In Luke Chapter 1 verses 1-4: Introduction to the Gospel according to Luke. Luke is writing for non-Christians, claiming a place for Christianity on the stage of world history. He begins in typical fashion for a work of serious literature in the Greco-Roman world, employing excellent Greek.

A narrative: The Greek, diegesis, means “orderly account.” He is claiming to write history, much like a Herodotus or Thucydides, who was a Greek historian; considered the greatest historian of antiquity.

Eyewitnesses: Luke is not an eyewitness. He has interviewed them and claims to be faithful to what they report seeing.

Ministers of the word: Only here is this term used to refer to those who preach the Christian gospel. Thus his “authorities” are not academic historians, but people who knew and lived by the word they preached.

Theophilus: This could refer to an actual patron who financed the project Side bar: It would be most politic to mention his name and quite customary. However, since the word means “lover of God” it also has symbolic import, referring to anyone reading his account with an open mind.

In Chapter 4 verses 14-21: Introduction of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Both the above and this introduction are formal and solemn. Both speak of things that have been “fulfilled.” Both represent a true beginning. This one contains the content of the gospel as Jesus himself preferred to present it. This is Luke’s understanding of what Jesus meant by “Repent, the kingdom is at hand” recorded as his first words in Mark and Matthew.

In verses 14 and 15: Jesus begins his ministry with his return to Galilee from the wilderness after his baptism and victory over temptation. He opens with a formal address in the synagogue of Nazareth, his hometown, before setting out on his journey south to Jerusalem where he will be crucified. This short summary tells of his debut as a teacher corresponding in content to Mark Chapter 1 verse 14 and Matthew Chapter 4 verses 12-17.

Initial acceptance turns to rejection. In Verses 14-21, this week’s reading, speaks of the acceptance of Jesus and his message of Old Testament fulfillment, while verses. 22-30, next week’s reading tell of rejection. Luke has deliberately put this story at the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus to encapsulate his entire ministry and the reaction to it.

In verse 16 in the habit of doing: Luke alone among the Synoptics stresses Jesus’ weekly worship at synagogue, conforming to custom and obedient to the third commandment. As a side bar: There must have been many things he disagreed with and which grated on him, yet he went.

He stood up to read: This passage is the oldest known account of a synagogue service. With local variations it looked like this: After private prayer on entry into the building there was first the singing of a psalm; second the recitation of the Shema, which is the Jewish confession of faith which begins, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deut 6:4). The complete Shema is found in three passages from the Old Testament: Num 15:37-41; Deut 6:4-9 and Deut 11:13-21.

The first of these passages stresses the unity of God and the importance of loving Him and valuing His commands. The second passage promises blessing or punishment according to a person’s obedience of God’s will. The third passage commands that a fringe be worn on the edge of one’s garments as a continual reminder of God’s laws. This collection of verses makes up one of the most ancient features of worship among the Jewish people. According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus quoted from the Shema during a dispute with the scribes (Mark 12:28-30), third the Eighteen Blessings; fourth a reading from the Law, that is Genesis-Deuteronomy, this was a fixed reading for each week read in Hebrew and paraphrased in Aramaic; fifth a reading from the Prophets- not yet fixed during Jesus’ time; sixth a sermon- done by anyone competent or invited; seventh a blessing-prayer by the president of the synagogue; eighth the Priestly Blessing “May the Lord bless you and keep you…” Numbers 6: 24-26, which reads, “The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.” It is clear that the structure of the Lutheran Service comes from the structure of the synagogue service. Jesus would be doing number five and six here. The passage could have been selected by Jesus or chosen by the president of the synagogue. Side bar: Apparently, they did not expect their sermons to be prepared either.

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