January 20, 2020

God Reveals His Plan Of Salvation In Jesus (Epiphany 2 Year A)

I had a humbling epiphany moment early Sunday as I was hurriedly typing the Preface for Epiphany into the laptop I use in celebrating the Eucharist - the Readings for the season of Epiphany reveal who Jesus is and God’s plan of salvation. I added a phrase in the car, revised it in my head and as I taught: 

  • ·     We are living in a culture that is unhappy, confused, lost and seeking meaning and new life. 
  • ·     Readings describe three Epiphany moments when Gods plan of salvation was revealed
  • ·     Isaiah prophecies’ in Babylon that God will raise up a servant who will give Israel new life 
  • ·     John realizes that Jesus is the “lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world” and give us new life. (1.29) 
  • ·     Paul describes the new life of  “grace given to you in Jesus Christ”. (1 Cor. 1.4) 

1. Isaiah learned how God would gave the Israelites new life 

Isaiah was speaking to the Hebrew people in captivity in Babylon. They had broken the Covenant of Moses and Abraham, lost their divine protection and suffered a national disaster. Their life as God’s beloved people had ended. Isaiah gave them Gods’ promise of a servant who would give them new life:

  • ·     They were forgiven and would return home 
  • ·     They would be restored as God’s chosen people
  • ·     Servant would have a sharp tongue and teach 
  • ·     Servant would be a light, give life to the gentiles
  • ·     Other nations would respect them

2. John realized Jesus was the lamb of God
It is 600 years later and the Hebrews have returned to Israel, rebuilt the Temple, grown tired of waiting for their messiah and been occupied by the Romans. Jesus comes to him for baptism and he realizes Jesus is the expected messiah who was to save Israel. He also sees the Holy Spirit come down on Him and remain on Him. John describes Jesus as the “lamb of God”:

  • ·     Jesus the “lamb of God” – a divine/human sacrifice
  • ·     Jesus would replace the ancient Hebrew practice of praying the sins of the people on a lamb – scapegoat, and sending it into the desert to die
  • ·     Jesus as a divine / human would be an effective sacrifice for the sins of the whole world
  • ·     The forgiven would be made holy, receive the Holy Spirit and have a new life in Jesus

3. Paul’s Epiphany moment is about 30 years later
He is writing to the new Christian Church in Corinth. Corinth was a seaport where ships were dragged across a narrow isthmus of land to avoid a much longer stormy journey around.  It was a hotbed of immorality and vice. Paul is explaining the blessings of the new life in Jesus Christ that all believers receive:

  • ·     Grace of undeserved forgiveness of sins 
  • ·     Forgiveness frees from the oppression of Satan
  • ·     Forgiveness enables Holy Spirit live in them
  • ·     Holy Spirit teaches, gives words of knowledge
  • ·     Guides them in avoiding sinful behaviour
  • ·     Holy Spirit heals and comforts them
  • ·     Holy Spirit gives them gifts of love, joy, peace, 
  • ·     Gives them new eternal spiritual life in Jesus

4. God’s Plan of Salvation is to provide a saviour
The readings give us the grand sweep of history as God create an effective way for us to come back into a holy love relationship with Him:

  • ·     Like Israel we rebel and move out of relationship
  • ·     Like John we need to repent our separation before we can see who Jesus is
  • ·     Like the apostles we need someone to take us to Jesus so we can be forgiven, healed and filled with the Holy Spirit
·     Those who know Jesus must bring others to Him personally

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