The Glory Has Departed


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Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Third Sunday after Epiphany, 2017. Two Miracles by the Word - Leper and Servant



The Third Sunday after the Epiphany, 2017

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 264  Preserve Thy Word           

The Word of God Declares His Will

The Hymn # 249    Isaiah Mighty Seer - Luther             
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #45     Now the Hour of Worship                       

KJV Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

KJV Matthew 8:1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 

5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Third Sunday After Epiphany

O almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all dangers and necessities stretch forth Thy mighty hand, to defend us against our enemies; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.



The Word of God Declares His Will
KJV Matthew 8:1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

The Gospel gives two examples of complete trust in Jesus. One is the leper and the other is the centurion.

The examples are not by accident, because each one has a special message. Both are outsiders rather than the Chosen People. The leper is an outsider by virtue of being unclean and shunned by everyone.

The centurion is an officer of the Roman Imperial Army, the ones who occupied the Holy Land at that time and for a long time afterwards. They were the law and the taxes extorted by the Empire paid for their service to enforce the taxes and peace. Two different revolts brought Jerusalem to its lowest point in history, with all Jews banned from being there after the Bar Kochba revolt.


2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 

Leprosy was incurable at that time, but this leper had so much faith in Jesus that he prostrated himself before the Lord and asked for healing - if it be Your will. That was not the leper's demand, but his humble request.

Jesus' answer was very simple. He touched him first, showing He had no fear of the leprosy and no repugnance toward the man. And Jesus said, "I will, be cleansed." The leprosy immediately left the man.

The healing is not from the touch, as shown in the next miracle, but in the Word of God. When He speaks, His will is carried out. 

In a few words, this miracle teaches us that the leper trusted Jesus, His Word, and His merciful love.

2. Here behold the attitude of faith toward Christ: it sets before itself absolutely nothing but the pure goodness and free grace of Christ, without seeking and bringing any merit. For here it certainly cannot be said, that the leper merited by his purity to approach Christ, to speak to him and to invoke his help. Nay, just because he feels his impurity and unworthiness, he approaches all the more and looks only upon the goodness of Christ.

This is true faith, a living confidence in the goodness of God. The heart that does this, has true faith; the heart that does it not, has not true faith; as they do who keep not the goodness of God and that alone in sight, but first look around for their own good works, in order to be worthy of God’s grace and to merit it. These never become bold to call upon God earnestly or to draw near to him.

3. Now this confidence of faith or knowledge of the goodness of Christ would never have originated in this leper by virtue of his own reason, if he had not first heard a good report about Christ, namely, how kind, gracious and merciful he is, ready to help and befriend, comfort and counsel every one that comes, to him. Such a report must undoubtedly have come to his ears, and from this fame he derived courage, and turned and interpreted the report to his own advantage. He applied this goodness to his own need and concluded with all confidence: To me also he will be as kind as his fame and good report declare. His faith therefore did not grow out of his reason, but out of the report he heard of Christ, as St. Paul says: “Belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the Word (or report) of Christ.” Romans 10:17.

4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

This verse is another evangelism mission. The leper, well known for his horrible disease, should follow the Law, take a gift to priest, and witness to his faith to them. This means the religious community will hear from a known, healed leper that Jesus healed him of this dread disease. This miracle would grow faith within the community, not only from those in the crowd, but also where the opposition was. And that is where it still is - in the religious community.

This is an example of Luther saying - go to the village against you. Go to the opposition with the Gospel. Today he would say, "Do not go to the plum churches of today, with huge staffs and budgets. They will soon be pruned churches, shriveled and small. And later they will be raisin  parishes, dried up and harder than rocks."

It also illustrates what St. Paul teaches in Romans 10 - literally - that faith comes from hearing the sermon. As I have shown before, the wording of Paul refers not just to the act of hearing but hearing the report or sermon, quoting Isaiah 52-53, "who has believed our report/sermon?"

This is also a correction for those many clergy who miss the entire message of these miracles. That is an emphasis on the impact of the Word and trusting in that Word, not in forcing a result and proving the Word by the result. Clergy think, "If only I have this and this and this to show as results, like more new members, bigger buildings, then it will show my work is effective." No that is Pietism. A Biblical Lutheran will say, "Maybe nothing will show until after I am long gone, but I will trust the Word to have a divine effect, because the Word never fails to accomplish His will."

5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 

As Luther commented, Jesus never refused a request. Several details stand out. One is that a man grown up in paganism was already a believer. He called Jesus Lord, and he made a request, showing that faith in Him. Some might have had their faith stirred by the impact of the Greek Old Testament, that made the Hebrew Old Testament available to the entire cultured world. Educated Romans knew Greek, so some contact with the Gospel in the Old Testament was possible.

Another detail is that the centurion simply stated the situation, without asking anything directly. Servants or slaves were often like family, so this was a terrible burden, to see the man suffering so much. Jesus graciously offered to come to him, which allowed the centurion to show his faith in the Word of God.

8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it

16. In this sense also is it to be understood that at the time of his preaching he found not such faith either in his mother or in the apostles, whether or not he found then or afterward greater faith in his mother and the apostles, or in many others. For it may easily be possible that at the time of his conception and birth he granted great faith to his mother, and afterwards never or seldom like great faith. At times he may have permitted it to decline, as he did when for three days she had lost him, Luke 2:48. He deals thus with all his saints; and if he did not, the saints would doubtless fall into presumption and make idols of themselves or we would make idols of them, and look more upon their worthiness and persons than upon God’s grace.

17. Now learn from this how foolish and void of understanding we are in regard to God’s works and wonders, when we despise the plain Christian man and think that only the “men with pointed mitres” and the learned know and understand God’s truth; whereas Christ here exalts this heathen with his faith above all his disciples. This is because we hold to persons and dignities, and not to God’s Word and grace. Therefore with persons and dignities we also plunge into every error, and then say, the Christian church and the councils have declared so [UOJ]; they cannot err, because they have the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile Christ is with those despised ones and gives dignitaries and councils over to the devil. Therefore note well, how Christ exalts this heathen. He surpasses Annas, Caiaphas and all the priests, scholars and saints, all of whom ought by right to be the pupils of this heathen, not to say that they ought never to be above him in their opinions and judgments. God sometimes grants to a great saint no faith and to a small saint great faith, in order that one may always esteem another better than himself. Romans 12:10.

I love this answer by the centurion because I have known and taught many military officers. In Yuma, senior Marine officers sometimes listened to new college students go on and on about world affairs. They would say something like this, "We have been there and we know what is happening from all kinds of sources." They did not bother to argue with the ignorant. They knew. And their basic attitude was commanding. They gave orders and obeyed orders. If I said, "Listen up, maggots," the young women gasped, but he Marines were quiet and listened. I told the young women, "Don't worry. These Marines are used to verbal abuse."

The centurion sounds  exactly like the military officers of today in expressing his complete trust in the efficacy of Jesus' Word. He did not feel worthy to have the Lord visit his home, but he trusted that issuing the divine Command would cure his beloved servant.

10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Jesus marveled at the officer's great faith, which often elicited comments in Luther's sermons. Jesus did not mention vast crowds but extolled the faith of individuals, especially those who did not belong.

The same situation prevails today. Laity understand and confess the truth of Justification by Faith alone. The clergy either teach the opposite or they remain silent about the errors.

I said something on Facebook, and someone said, "Oh, a Calvinist." I posted the graphic on the Chief Article of the Christian religion. "Do you agree with Melanchthon, Luther, and Chemnitz? He backed down.

Efficacy of the Word of God

13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Both miracles teach, among other matters, the efficacy of the Word of God. There is no difference between God's Word and God's will. When God speaks in His Word, His will is carried out - and there is no other way for His will to be carried out.

I carry on a prayer ministry through the social media. When someone has a problem, I do not send "positive thoughts," an occult term I avoid except when mocking it. I post a short prayer and end "In Jesus' Name. Amen." I pray for friends, acquaintances, people I have never met, and many graduate students in Old Testament classes."

That is a practical application of the Word. The main point of the entire Christian Church is simply to send out and teach the Word, however we can. 

  1. Does God declare us forgiven when we believe His Gospel? Read these miracles.
  2. Does He forgive through the Sacraments? Read these miracles.
  3. Does He make the body and blood available to us through consecrating the elements with His Word? Read these miracles.
  4. Does He plant faith in the baptism of babies, through the Word. Read these miracles.
  5. Does He provide miracles for us today? Read these miracles.
  6. Does He reach the least likely with the Word, beyond any expectation of ours? Read these miracles.

Baptize little children?
46. In short, the baptism and consolation of children lie in the word: “Suffer the little children to come unto me; forbid them not; for to such belongeth the kingdom of God.” He has spoken this and he does not lie.

Therefore it must be right and Christian to bring little children to him. This can only be done in baptism. So also it must be certain that he blesses them, and bestows the kingdom of heaven upon all who come to him, according to the words: “To such belongeth the kingdom of God.” Let this be enough for this time.

47. Finally it would be in order here to treat of the spiritual meaning of leprosy and the palsy. But of leprosy much has been said in the Postil of the ten lepers. Therefore it need not be treated at length here.