Second Sunday of Epiphany – Sermon 236
2nd Sunday of Epiphany
10.00am Holy Communion
19th January 2014
Bible References :
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Prayer to start
May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ
There was an upset in the Body!
Eyes had seen a friend in the distance and wanted to catch up with him
He had a great sense of humour – and ears liked listening to him-
So together they urged mouth – to shout out his name
But she refused
Ears might like to listen – and eyes to see – but the friend talked so much – and so fast – that mouth could never get a word in edgeways
So mouth kept silent.
Legs ran and arms waved – but mouth said nothing – why should she do what body wanted – body didn’t catch him up.
Later when body went to bed – he didn’t sleep – tossing and turning –it had a hard day – with little relaxation – not a day to remember
Mouth had time to think
Perhaps they would have all slept better – if she hadn’t gone her own way
This story is about failure of the mouth to speak
But breakdown in communication can also result when we speak too much – and don’t listen enough – or don’t look enough –
Failure to communicate may damage our friendships – but when it comes to God – it can affect the whole of our lives
First Point Isaiah – Seeing Jesus
Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away -…… God will give you a light to the nations – …whose salvation may reach to the ends of the earth –
In our OT reading we have – Isaiah’s second servant song – the prophecy of Jesus’ coming – the story from before His birth – to His mission –
He – will be called from His mother’s womb – have to wait – hidden by God’s hand – until the appointed time – His task is great – He will face discouragement – will be despised and hated by nations – yet served by kings – and in God – He will find the strength to succeed –
God’s Glory – will be seen – through His – life and work – He will be given the task of a shepherd – to restore God’s people – and bring them home to Him –
Isaiah was a prophet who spoke out for God – in the corridors of power in Judah – after its split from Israel –
He served politicians and Kings – and refused to temper his message – for the sake of popularity – or position –
His name means – ‘the Lord saves’ – and the New Testament quotes him more than all the other prophets combined –
Known as the Shakespeare of Hebrew Literature –
His vision – awareness and voice was needed at a time when Judah was beginning to falter – slide down the slippery slope –
The people of Judah were moving away from God’s dependence – keeping an outward appearance of religion – but doing little more –
Paul – in our NT lesson – takes a similar line –
He had heard of the many divisions in the Corinthian Church – and wanted to bring an end to the squabbling –
Corinth was a busy port – and the people and church reflected much of the cities life and differences in its congregation.
He writes to tells them how important Jesus is to them – and that they should focus on the real issue – the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ –
In these first nine verses – he mentions Jesus eight times –
He speaks of Jesus’ Authority – character – grace and peace – of the great enrichment He provides – His witness – expectations – confirmation – and fellowship – and how much He is a part of them – and they are of Him –
Jesus is the pivotal presence that we must all turn to –
Through Jesus we will be kept blameless and strong – till the time of His return – blameless because of what He has done for us on the cross – strong because of the Spiritual gifts – He will pour out on us – through the Holy Spirit –
These two passages are clear descriptions of what we can see in Jesus – what we know about Him – what we can say and speak to others about Him –
Point 2 The Lamb of God
But perhaps the most telling declaration – comes from John’s gospel – through John the Baptist –
Here we have the first public appearance of Jesus
John – points to the key things that Jesus has come for – His death – and the bringing of the Spirit –
Jesus is the One on whom God’s Spirit rests – He is the One who will baptize not just with water – but with the Holy Spirit – and only after the temple – (our human hearts) – has been purified by Jesus – through His death – will the Spirit be given –
When John the Baptist saw Jesus walking towards him – he called him “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world”
For Jews the Lamb has a special significance – because it’s used to symbolize forgiveness of sins – and plays an important part in the Passover meal and in the deliverance of the people of Israel from Egypt –
By linking Jesus with the sacrificial Lamb – John reminds us of the cost – that will be paid by God for our sins –
Sacrifice is central to the Christian experience – and in any relationship – it’s the sacrifice that God has made for us – and the sacrifices we make for each other – that make the love so much stronger –
The Passover Lamb is without blemish – Jesus is without sin – The Passover Lamb died in the place of the firstborn – Jesus died in our place on the cross –
Jesus has overcome the worst the world can offer – defeated death – and shown us that His love can never be taken away –
But if we want Jesus to rescue us – it has to be done His way –
Point 3 Reaction of the disciples
Listen to this poem by Shel Silverstein;
“I walked through the wildwood and what did I see – but a unicorn with his horn stuck in a tree-
Crying someone please help me – before its too late – I shouted , ‘I’ll free you” – He shouted back, “Wait!”
How much will it hurt? How long will it take?
How hard will you pull? How much must I pay?
Must you do it right now – or is Wednesday OK?
Have you done this before? Do you have the right tools? Have you graduated from horn-saving school? Will I owe you a favour? And what will it be? Do you promise you will not damage the tree?
Should I close my eyes? Should I sit down or stand? Do you have insurance? Have you washed your hands?
And after you’ve freed me – tell me what then – can you guarantee I won’t get stuck again?
Tell me when – tell me how – tell me why – tell me where – I guess that he‘s still sitting there!
Are we still sitting there wondering – should I or shouldn’t I – accept Jesus’ help
John wasted no time sending his two disciples to Jesus – and they both took His testimony to heart –
Andrew in turn tells his brother Peter – and Peter follows Jesus – [and became the rock of His Church]
Jesus calls us to turn away from our old nature and turn to His – The disciples didn’t waste any time – and neither should we
In our readings Isaiah, Paul and John all point us in the direction of Jesus
we may feel we are – slow to speak – slow to act – slow to listen to Him or to help others – but let’s not hold back –
Jesus encourages us to ‘come and see’ – what He has to offer – what He can do for our lives – and for our future
And as the disciples discovered – when you go looking for Jesus – what you find – is that He’s been looking for you – and when you find Him – you will treasure that day forever
Prayer to Finish Amen