Epiphany in Four Parts 03 - The Word and Spirit
Epiphany in Four Parts (03) - The Word and Spirit
Psalm 19:14 - Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Neh. 8:8 - So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
1 Cor. 12:28 - And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues.
Luke 4:18 - "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
Explanation - The lectionary texts today remind us of the centrality of the Word of God in the Light that is come into the world. In Epiphany we celebrate this Light in the incarnate person of Jesus Christ.
Exposition - 1) Psalm 19 expresses vividly the twofold revelation of God in the world: God's revelation through nature (heavens declare), general revelation, and His Law (Torah), special revelation which equips his servants. 2) Nehemiah 8 is a great occasion of national renewal under the leadership of Nehemiah and Ezra. The Word was not simply read but explained (translated). God uses our understanding. 3) Luke 4 teaches that Jesus was anointed with the Spirit to declare the good news and work the deeds of redemption.The Spirit of God must empower even Christ as the Preacher. 4) Finally in 1 Corinthians 12 we see the Spirit of God working in the Body. Believing this Gospel, we were baptized by the Spirit into the Body. We have different gifts and different capacities for ministry. We should work together in one Body. The priority of gifts is first apostles, prophets, teachers, e.g., the gifts that declare and explain the Word have a kind of priority.
Exhortation - The theme today is the Light of God’s Word which creates the Body of Christ by the power of the Spirit. The revelation of God in nature is insufficient, the Torah is insufficient, even the Old and New Testaments together are of themselves insufficient. Only when the Spirit illumines and empowers this Word in the lives of people is there fulfillment of God’s purpose. The Spirit applies the Word to form us into a functional Body (Eph. 4:11ff). We cannot approach the Spirit’s work of applying the Word individualistically. “It takes a Body.” He empowers the Word of God to become in us more than mere ideas, mere words or mere doctrines, but to see our Savior and our Lord there and in one another.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more