Notes for Next Sunday

Notes for Next Sunday

Notes for Next Sunday

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

The Point of this Week’s Readings

The Old Testament lesson points to the awesomeness of Christ’s coming and the Gospel tells how the amazed the people are when they hear Him speak.

The Psalm (Psalm 111) anticipates the prophecy and fulfillment of Christ’s coming to earth. In response to such great news, the psalm is sentence after sentence of praise for the Lord and His mighty deeds.

The Old Testament (Deuteronomy 18:15-20) has Moses telling the Israelites that he will soon die and pass on his leadership of them to Joshua. Ultimately the greatest prophet, Jesus, will be sent to lead them. They are to listen.

The Epistle (1 Corinthians 8:1-13) is once more a lesson by Paul to the Corinthians. The topic is about eating meat offered to idols. BUT, the message Paul has for them is that they are to not use their personal knowledge and freedom to offend anyone who has a weak faith.

The Gospel (Mark 1:21-28) has Jesus teaching in the synagogue as well casting out a demon possessing a man in the synagogue. Jesus taught from the Scriptures and a not bunch of fables. His teaching and power of demons really impressed the people to the point of amazement.

For more in-depth commentary on each reading, read the notes found after each text below.

Psalm – Psalm 111

Praise the LORD. I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. 2 Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. 3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. 5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. 6 He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. 7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. 8 They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness. 9 He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name. 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

This is a psalm of praise to God for His unfailing righteousness. It is a twin to Psalm 112. These two psalms were mostly likely written after the people returned from the Babylonian Exile. This psalm is framed by the first and last verses. These verses highlight their primary themes.

The main theme in this psalm is introduced by the first verse. The closing verse adds a counterpart. The format of the psalm is alphabetical which means that each line begins with a sequential letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The phrase “I will extol the Lord” (v. 1) tells us that the theme of this psalm is praising the Lord. Verses 2-9 continue the praising of the Lord.

Verse 2 states “great are the works of the Lord.” The TLSB says “God’s works include creation, the exodus from Egypt and the entrance into the Promised Land.” Luther said “God’s greatest work is the creation of believers.”

In verses 3-4 we see terms like “righteousness,” gracious, and compassionate used to describe the Lord. These attributes lead to the “wonders” (v. 4) that God performs to protect His people.

In verse 5 the psalmist gets to the everyday needs that God provides like food. We see this also as a part of the Lord’s Prayer “Give us today our daily bread,” (Mt 6:11).

Verse 5 ends with the phrase “He remembers His covenant forever.” There is nothing that can keep God from fulfilling what He has promised whether it be earthly or heavenly pledges.

The psalmist heaps more praise on the Lord by pointing to more attributes of God like: Power (v. 6), faithful, just and trustworthy (v. 7), faithfulness and uprightness (v. 8).

By providing redemption and keeping His covenant forever God’s name earns the right to be titled as holy and awesome. (v. 9)

God’s Word tells us what He has done, but it also tells us how we should respond to His deeds. We should believe His promises. They are dependable and will all be fulfilled. We should strive to live according to His commands. The Scriptures tell us what is pleasing to God and what is best for our lives. (v. 10) Luther suggested that the words of v 4, “the Lord is gracious and merciful,” should be painted in golden letters around a portrait of the Lord’s Supper (AE 13:375), for in this Supper Christians continue to remember both the words and works of the Lord. (TLSB)

Old Testament – Deuteronomy 18:15-20

15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” 17 The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. 19 If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.”

Moses is about to die and thus will no longer be Israel’s leader. He is giving them the hope that their next leader will be chosen and raised up by God. He will be like Moses and they are to listen to him. That is, they are to listen to God’s Word which the prophet will share with them. Their next leader would be Joshua. Joshua means “Yahweh is salvation.” Later “Jeshua,” was “Jesus”

The fear Israel felt at Sinai is the kind of terror people will always feel when they are faced with God’s perfect demands and they must reckon with their own sin (v. 16). They had been shaken to the core when God spoke through the lightning and thunder at Sinai. This verse we see the name Horeb. Mt. Sinai and Horeb were one and the same.

The Lord agreed with the suitability of their request (v. 17).

Moses was an amazing mediator in the Old Testament. In Exodus 32 the children of Israel worshiped the Golden Calf. In 32:9 God tells Moses that He will destroy the Israelites. In verses 32:11-14 Moses intercedes on behalf of the Israelites and God relents. In verse 32:32 Moses even offers himself as a substitute when he says to God: “But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” He was willing to go to eternal damnation for the Israelites.

Israel’s and the world’s greatest prophetic intercessor, however, was Jesus. He took upon Himself the sins of the whole world by going to the cross and dying. AND, He rose from the dead, again insuring salvation for all who believe in Him. What’s more, He intercedes for us all of the time.

In Joshua 1:8 God gives Joshua a command to: “not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth.” God goes on to say: “mediate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.”

God also gave His message to many more prophets and held them to account. Christ, the ultimate prophet, was truly faithful to all that the Father asked Him to do (v.19) He shared every Word that the Father would have people of all time hear.

There are stern warnings in verse 20. There are dire consequences for anyone who does not listen to Jesus and His Word. False prophets are mentioned here as well in the rest of Scripture. They are to be put to death. What is even worse is that they suffer eternal death as well.

Epistle – 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But the man who loves God is known by God. 4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 7 But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. 9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

Corinth was a Greek city and a very large commercial center. Wealth brings power and power corrupts. Corinth was indeed a very corrupt place. It was filled with unbridled immorality.

The Christians at Corinth were babies when it came to their faith life. They needed much instruction. In this text Paul tackles the problem of “Food Sacrificed to Idols.”

The issue is not so much about food as it is to cause another person of faith to stumble because of our actions.

Various kinds of choice animals were offered to the gods. Part of the meat would be burned on the altar, and part of it would be used for a religious banquet, with the particular god as the honored guest. What was left would then be sold at the marketplace. It is especially this “leftover” meat to which Paul is referring. People who bought meat in the market could never be quite certain whether it had or had not been dedicated to idols.

Furthermore, eating meat at the temples was very much a part of daily social life. It was somewhat like "eating out" in the USA. (Buls)

Paul had evidently discussed this entire matter with the Corinthian Christians. He had told them that the heathen gods and idols were only figments of the imagination. They do not even exist. Therefore, foods which had been dedicated to these idols and gods were not actually contaminated. (Buls)

Many of the Corinthians were all too impressed with their own knowledge as Christians, especially as it might pertain to the eating of idol meats. The Corinthians’ knowledge had become the focus of attention. Their knowledge was not turned outward in love, but inward in self-awareness and conceit. That had some of them feeling that they had unbridled liberty with reference to eating meats. This became stumbling block to those who felt that they had no liberty at all for such eating.

Paul begins the correction process in verse 6 when he says, “there is but one God.” He is the creator of everything and in the person of Jesus Christ is our Lord.

But some of them could not get rid of the notion that there was something real about the idol. The idea that the idol was, after all, a real being gave them a bad conscience, and for that reason their eating, though in itself not wrong, became sinful.

In verse 8 Paul argues that in comparison to God, food is nothing and “does not bring us near to God.” BUT, that does not give them a license to eat food formerly sacrificed to idols just because they could. Because doing so might wound those who had a weak conscience and cause them to stumble in their faith life. Christ has died for this weak person too and wants him to remain faithful to the end (v. 11)

When something causes others to stumble we are sinning against Christ (v. 12). We should use our liberty to not eat of things that might have a person with a weak faith to fall away from Christ (v. 13).

Gospel – Mark 1:21-28

21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil a spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

Jesus had just called the four “fishing” disciples, as recorded in last week’s Gospel reading, Mk 1:14–20. Jesus and the four go to Capernaum. It is the Sabbath and they go to the synagogue.

The service in the synagogue would consist of prayer, reading Scripture, and an explanation of that Word. The custom was that visiting teachers could participate in the worship service by invitation of the synagogue leaders. Jesus uses this situation to teach.

The people were amazed at Jesus’ teaching because His instruction had more authority than the teachers they had been listening to in the past (v. 22). The amazement was a very strong response and was continued action.

The teaching of the scribes was pointless repetition of sentences and man-made rules which would never satisfy the desires of the soul. The people sensed that Jesus Himself was trustworthy.

It is not surprising that Satan, despite his defeat in the wilderness, was not ready to let such a message and such a preacher go unchallenged. Luke 4:13 states: “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.”

A man in the synagogue was possessed by an evil spirit (v. 23). Demonic possession was intended to torment and destroy people. This demon recognized that Jesus was a powerful enemy and capable of destroying Satan and his evil angels. The demon calls Jesus “Jesus of Nazareth” (v. 24). This was not a respectful address.

In verse 25 Jesus takes control. He tells the demon to “be quiet.” That phrase literally means “be muzzled” in the Greek language. It is a command to say nothing further.

Verse 26 states “the evil spirit shook the man violently. The commentator Joh Ylvisaker has this to say of this incident: “This incident teaches three things: 1) the personal existence of the devil; 2) that the devil has a terrific power, which can harm no one, however, who is protected by Him who is stronger; 3) that the devil never willingly but only through necessity, releases his victim.”

If they were awed by Jesus’ teaching, they are now downright astonished and dumbfounded by Jesus action concerning the demon. The “new teaching” spoken of in verse 27 refers to the fact that Jesus’s teaching was supported by the action of a miracle. Mark puts much emphasis on Jesus’s action.

Verse 28 says “News about Him spread quickly.” In the original translation of this text the word “quick” occurs three times. In verse 21 “Jesus went immediately to the synagogue. In verse 23 the reaction, on the part of the demon-possessed, to Jesus' preaching was immediate; 3) In verse 28 Jesus' fame spread immediately and geographically to quite an extent.