Book of Concord reading for the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany and
Preparation for next week, the 5th Sunday after the Epiphany
The Righteousness of
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.
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 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.
Book of Concord Reading
for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article XI: Eternal Election
[In the Gospel reading for
to-day, Jesus’ disciples, moved by the Holy Spirit, ascended the mountain to be
in the presence of Jesus and to be taught by Him.]
The entire Holy Trinity—God
the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—directs all people to Christ, as to the Book of
Life. For this has been decided by the Father from eternity: whom He would save,
He would save through Christ. Christ Himself says, “No one comes to the Father
except through Me” (John 14:6).
And again, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John
Christ, as God’s
only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father [John
1:18], has announced the Father’s will to us. He says, “For this is
the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him
should have eternal life” (John
6:40). And again, “God so loved the world‹, that He gave His only
Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John
The Father wants all people
to hear this proclamation and desires that they come to Christ. Christ does not
drive these people from Him, as it is written, “whoever comes to Me I will never
cast out” (John 6:37).
In order that we may come to
Christ, the Holy Spirit works true faith through the hearing of the Word. The
apostle testifies about this when he says, “faith comes from hearing, and
hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans
10:17), that is, when it is preached in its truth and purity.
January 31, 2011—Psalm
Psalm 119:12 Like last
week, the readings for next Sunday contrast the righteous and the wicked, but
with even more emphasis on the righteous. The Introit is a portion of
Psalm 119, the longest
Psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible. It is a meditation on the
characteristics and blessings of God’s Word. Several terms are used throughout
the psalm as synonyms for the Word of God: Law,
and more. The section here encourages us to read, study, meditate upon, and
memorize the Word of God. The more we immerse ourselves in the reading and
studying of God’s holy Word, the more it will become part of our being,
constantly guiding our thoughts and actions.
112:1–9 Psalm 112 lists some of
the characteristics of the righteous person. He fears the
Lord and greatly delights
in His commandments. That is, that is, he believes, respects, and obeys
God’s Word. He finds pleasure in obeying God’s Word. Since his righteousness is
not of his own doing, but by the grace of God, through faith in Christ, He is
described in the same sorts of terms as we would describe Christ: gracious,
merciful, and righteous, looking in triumph on his adversaries,
horn is exalted in honor.
All these describe us, too, who are children of God by faith, bestowed upon us
in Holy Baptism.
Wednesday, February 2,
58:3–9a Many rituals and
observances were prescribed by God for the children of Israel in the Old
Testament, including fasting. But what was it about fasting that the
Lord desired? The mere outward
act, without the proper humble attitude? About such fasting, the
Lord says: Fasting like yours
this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Rather, what God
desires is that we shun evil and do those things that are pleasing in His sight:
loose the bonds of wickedness, share your bread with the hungry,
bring the homeless poor into your house. In other words, just as the
Lord has had pity on us poor
sinners, so we also ought to have compassion for others.
Thursday, February 3, 2011—1
Corinthians 2:1–12 We sinners have
what St Paul calls itching ears (2
Timothy 4:3). That is, too often, we want to have God’s Word
preached on our terms, in ways that we like. Many preachers
capitulate, neglecting to preach about sin and grace, and instead telling people
what they want to hear: that God exists to give them whatever their hearts
desire or ten steps to greater success in the world. Such preachers are to be
avoided, for the preaching content of a true servant of God is this: I
decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Friday, February 4, 2011—Matthew
5:13–20 Jesus teaches His
disciples that they are to be the salt of the earth, that is, a
preservative in this corrupt and sinful world. God preserves the world, so that
we Christians may serve Him here. And our highest form of service is being the
light of the world, bringing the light of the Gospel of salvation in
Christ Jesus into a sin-darkened world. Christ is the true light, which
enlightens everyone (John 1:9),
and, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, we Christians reflect the
light of the Son of God into a world dark with sin, wickedness, ignorance, and
Sunday’s hymn of the day is Thy Strong Word (LSB #578). Jesus told
His disciples (and us) to be the light of the world. By what means do we bring
light into this world? By Thy strong Word, which casts the bright beams of
Christ’s salvation into the world. The hymn proclaims the light which Christ
brought into the world at the Creation and at His crucifixion, and prays that we
might proclaim the work that He accomplished, that is, to be light in the world.
Finally, the last stanza is a rousing hymn of praise to the Triune God, father,
Son, and Holy Spirit.
Collect for the Fifth Sunday
after the Epiphany:
Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our
frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength and protection to support us in
all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ, Your
Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now
and forever. Amen.
Collect for the Purification of
Mary and the Presentation of our Lord (2 February—read
Luke 2:22–38):Almighty and ever-living God, as Your only-begotten Son was this day
presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, grant that we may be
presented to You with pure and clean hearts; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who
lives and reigns . . .
Prayer for the Church:Merciful God, we humbly implore You to cast the bright beams of Your light
upon Your Church that we, being instructed by the doctrine of the blessed
apostles, may walk in the light of Your truth and finally attain to the light of
everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .
Prayer for the Holy Spirit:O Lord God, heavenly Father, by the blessed light of Your divine Word You
have led us to the knowledge of Your Son. Grant us the grace of Your Holy Spirit
that we may ever walk in the light of Your truth and, rejoicing with sure
confidence in Christ, our Savior, be brought unto everlasting salvation; through
the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .
Prayer before the study of God’s
our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your
light our search is in vain. Invigorate our study of Your holy Word that, by due
diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your
holy faith; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .