“How Faith Sees the Epiphany Lord”
by Pastor Edwin Lehmann on January 20, 2023 in Matthew 8:1-13
Epiphany 3 (Miracles of Healing) January 22, 2023
Text: Matthew 8:1-13 Historic Series 23:2362
Theme: The Way Faith Sees Our Epiphany Lord.
Living the Christian life challenges us with many difficulties, many humbling experiences. Anyone who says, “It’s easy being a Christian; it requires nothing special,” has no idea about what faith and true Christianity is. Jesus clearly pictured that for us when He said, “Anyone who would come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt.16:24f).
To be able to completely deny yourself, to accept a cross, and to have a bit of faith, small as a mustard seed, is impossible to create or sustain on our own. God the Holy Spirit is needed. Without Him, you could not say “Jesus is Lord” and follow Him. Without the Holy Spirit, you could not believe or persevere in faith one second. And…
…if trouble should strike or reverses in life hit you;
…if the Lord should ask you to go out on a limb in faith;
…if He should allow you to bear a cross;
…or ask you to consider the needs of others greater than your own;
…if such things should happen, experience shows that the hardest, most difficult thing for the Christian is to acquiesce and, putting one’s own wishes aside, to pray, “Lord, Thy will be done.” Or as the leper said in our text, “Lord, if You are willing.”
I. In submission – “Lord, if You are willing.”
His suffering was great. The disease that overtook him ate away his body. Eventually, it would destroy him. Can you imagine looking down for your fingers and toes or peering into a mirror for your nose and ears and they were gone? That’s what leprosy did; it consumed the body in a slow, painful death. But the worst part of the disease was the emotional and spiritual toll it placed on a person.
A leper would be driven from his home and city, ostracized by the people he loved. No one wanted to be near him. They were afraid to touch him, except for our Epiphany Lord Jesus who stretched out His hand to this man. No one else would do that for it would make them unclean and might pass the disease to them. It was tough, heart-wrenching to live under such circumstances. This man had been banished from society, from friends, from family. Yet, even worse, he could not attend the worship services in the temple.
I don’t know how I would take it: never again allowed to enter church and come into God’s presence in His House; never again to enjoy hearing His Word of forgiveness, singing His praise, or having His blessing spoken over me alongside my brothers and sisters in faith. Such deprivation and rejection would devastate me. How I would wish God to do something, to perform a miracle in my life that would restore me. But chances for that could be slim for God does not always take away our pain and suffering here. We must expect to walk through crosses to follow Him. The cross-less life is for heaven.
Yet, as strongly as this man must have desired to be healed and have his life back again, he left the decision in God’s hands saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” What if Jesus would say “No”? How challenging it can be, submitting to God’s will when all one wants is relief! It’s not always easy for us to say, “Lord, not my will, but Your will be done.”
The story is told of a man who one day was looking out the window in his home that overlooked a lake. He saw his two small sons clinging to a capsized boat. Quickly he dashed down to the shoreline. But before he could reach his boys, they slipped under the water and drowned. Dazed, he spent hours in grief, wondering how he could tell the tragic news to his wife.
Finally, he went to her and asked what she would say to someone who had just suffered a terrible loss. Being a woman of faith, she said that she would counsel a person to submit their will to the will of God, since God’s will is always good, gracious, and right. So he told his wife of the disaster which had befallen their sons. She fainted. When she awoke, it was not easy for her to say with Job: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
When the cross confronts us in life, it’s hard to submit to God’s will for we are weak sinners. It is true that in faith we are saints washed in the blood of Christ. But we are not yet perfected above. We carry many blemishes with us here. Were we in heaven we would perfectly bow to God’s will as the angels and saints do. We pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But as the angels and saints above perfectly carry out His will, it is often difficult to accept it here where the devil, the world, and our flesh torment us to lead us to despair. How, how did this leper seem to so easily say, “Lord, if You are willing”?
Submission that’s how! Submission. Faith submits itself to God, knowing that His will is always wise and good and just. Even when we can’t see it, His will for our lives is always best. He promised it when He said, “All things work together for the good of those who love God.” We may not see it but He who knows and governs all things sees to it.
The Way of Faith Sees Our Epiphany Lord in His redeeming love for us in every circumstance of life. It dreams not, it presumes not to know or dictate to Him what should be done. But because this Helper is revealed to us as God’s own Son who came to save us, faith bows in the dust with the leper to say, “Lord, if You are willing.” Faith is ready to die of disease if it be the Lord’s will. And if the Lord decides that what we ask is best, what a thrill it is to hear Him say, “I am willing.” That is what He said when He went to the cross for us: “I am willing to die for your sin that you might have forgiveness and life with me forever.” In that He blessed us with His redeeming grace and assured us of His enduring love.
The Way of Faith Sees Our Epiphany Lord and in submission is ready to say in all things: Lord, if You are willing. Then it places its confidence in Him
II. In confidence – “Lord, Just Say the Word.”
After healing the leper, Jesus went on His way to Capernaum. As He entered the city, a Roman soldier sent word to Him.
There was no one the Jews hated more than their Roman masters. When Roman soldiers marched in the streets, the Jews scowled with hatred in their hearts. Rome made the laws; the soldiers enforced them; the people must obey. Romans collected taxes that the people hardly could pay and carried their money away to support the emperor. The people submitted unwillingly, with bitterness and anger towards all Romans.
However, here was an exception, this Roman centurion, an officer with 100 soldiers under his command. He was an unusual man. He did not insult and mock the people. On the contrary he had learned to love them. With his own money he built their place of worship the Evangelist Luke tells us (Lk.7).
This man had a slave. Here again is something surprising. The centurion loved his slave. Slaves in that day had no rights at all. Their masters could torture, even kill them if they wished, without answering to anyone. But this man loved his slave; he loved the people. It was most unusual for a Roman leader.
When the slave became sick, he sent to Jesus for help. At once Jesus went. As He drew near the house, the centurion, sent word to Jesus saying, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof. Just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Amazed at such humble confidence in Him as Lord, Jesus said, “Truly, I have not found such great faith in anyone in Israel. Go. Let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very hour.
Many are the times Satan, the world, and our sinful flesh tempt us to count our worthiness before God because we have done this or that, or we are like this and not like those people. To think like that may just throw us out into the outer darkness with those who rejected Jesus, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. God help us look at ourselves and Jesus with the eyes of this centurion. In humility saying, “Lord, I am not worthy.” But the best part is the confidence he placed in our Lord confessing: “Just say the word.”
Do you ever doubt the ability of God by which He wishes you every good? Do you ever doubt His willingness to help, no matter the problem? The Way of Faith Sees the Lord for whom He is, the Savior, and approaches Him in humble confidence, relying on His Word for everything.
He who in love came to give His life for us that we might live with Him forever cannot will us any harm. Though His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways (Is.55:8), still the thoughts He thinks towards us are only thoughts of peace and not of evil (Jer.29:11).
As we come to Him humbly, yet confidently, placing His will before ours, He will not turn from us. But, stretching out His hand to touch our unclean or troubled lives, He will say, “Go, as you have believed I am willing to do for you whatever is best.”
This is The Way Faith See Our Epiphany Lord. He now shines in all His glory as the Savior who came to help us in every need. God grant us to approach Him in such faith, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The Third Sunday after the Epiphany January 22, 2023
Welcome in the name of the newborn Savior. We are happy to have you worshipping with us today as the Lord continues to reveal in His Word the divine glory of His Son born at Christmas.
The changing of the water into wine at Cana was the first of the miraculous signs Jesus performed. Many others followed. The Gospel Lesson today presents two more.
The first sign was performed in regard to inanimate water. The miracles in today’s lesson are different in that they reveal the grace and power of Jesus that He wields on people who desperately need His help. These miracles follow the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) where we are shown how Jesus preached. He went from there to show how He could go about “healing all manner of sicknesses among the people.” He who came to save us from sin, death, and hell manifested His ability to save through His miracles.
May we who have seen His glory in word and deed, kneel in faith before Him and worship Him for every blessing of salvation and life that He brings.
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Jesus Manifests His Glory In Healing the Sick
Opening Thoughts on the Service
The Entrance Hymn: “Arise and Shine in Splendor” #375
The Order of Service: Morning Prayer (Matins) Hymnal pg.207
Prayer of the Day
The Ministry of the Word
(The Lessons for the Day are taken from the Historic Pericope Series of the Christian Church.)
Psalm of the Day: “The Lord Is My Light” Psalm 27
2 Kings 5:1-19 The Prophet Elisha heals Naaman, the commander of the Aramean army, of his leprosy. In it Naaman learns to humble himself in faith before the God of Israel and to place all trust in Him even when Naaman cannot understand His ways.
Romans 12:17-21 As the believer offers his body a living sacrifice to God (v.1), he turns away from anger and revenge, seeking to maintain peace if he can. Placing all things in God’s hands, he trusts in the Lord’s goodness and seeks to overcome evil with good.
Hymn Response: “I Know My Faith Is Founded” #797
Matthew 8:1-13 In the gracious healings of the leper and the Centurion’s paralyzed servant, Jesus reveals His mercy and glory as the Son of God with power. As the believer places his trust in Him, he embraces hope in the Savior.
The Sermon Hymn: “Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness” #517
The Sermon: “How Faith Sees the Epiphany Lord” Matthew 8:1-13
Our Response to the Word
The Te Deum Laudamus pg. 210
The Closing Order of Morning Praise: Hymnal pg.213-214
The Kyrie (“Lord, Have Mercy”)
Prayers and The Lord’s Prayer
The Lord Blesses Us
The Benediction; Hymnal pg.214
Closing Hymn: “Rise Up and Shine” #376
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The Organist: Jane Rips
The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “When the leper here limits his prayer and says, ‘Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean,’ it is not to be understood as if he doubted the goodness and grace of Christ. For such a faith would be of no value, even if he believed that Christ was almighty and was able to do and know all things. But it is to be understood in this way: faith does not doubt the good will God has towards a person, by which He wishes him every good. But it is not known to us whether what faith asks and presents is good and useful for us. God alone knows this. Therefore, faith prays in a way that submits all to the gracious will of God, not doubting that God will grant it. Or, if it cannot be grante, that His divine will withholds it in great grace because He sees it is better not to bestow it upon us.”
— Martin Luther on An Explanation of Matthew 8:1-4
The Third Sunday after the Epiphany – Historic Series
Old Testament Lesson: 2 Kings 5:1-19 Naaman Healed of Leprosy
1Na’aman, the commander of the king of Aram’s army, was a great man in the opinion of his master. He was highly honored because the Lord had provided victory for Aram through him. Although he was a powerful warrior, he had leprosy. 2 Raiding parties had once gone out from Aram and brought back a young girl. She served Na’aman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “I wish my master stood before the prophet who is in Samaria, because he would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 So Na’aman went and told his master what the servant girl from the land of Israel had said.
5 Then the king of Aram said, “Go there. I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Na’aman went, and he took ten talents[c] of silver and six thousand shekels[d] of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 Then he took the letter to the king of Israel. The letter said, “Now, when you receive this letter, you will know that I am sending my officer Na’aman to you so that you can cure him of his leprosy.”
7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothing and said, “Am I God that I can kill and make alive? Why is he sending a man to me for me to heal him from his leprosy? See how he is looking for a pretext to fight against me.” 8 But when Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king: “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
9 So Na’aman went with his horses and chariots and stopped in front of the door of Elisha’s house. 10 But Elisha sent a messenger out to him to say, “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan. Then your flesh will be restored and you will be clean.” 11 But Na’aman was angry and he left, saying, “Look, I said to myself, ‘He will certainly come out and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God and wave his hand over the place, and I will be cured of the leprosy!’ 12 Aren’t the Abana and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went away in a burning rage. 13 But his servants approached and spoke to him. They said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not do it? How much more when he says to you, ‘Wash and be clean’?”
14 So he went down and dipped in the Jordan seven times, just as the man of God had said. Then his flesh was restored like the flesh of a small child, and he was clean. 15 Then he and his whole escort went back to the man of God. He stood in front of Elisha and said, “To be sure, now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel. Now accept a gift from your servant.” 16 But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives, in whose presence I stand, I will not take anything.” Even though Na’aman urged him to accept something, he refused.
17 Then Na’aman said, “If you do not want anything, please give me, your servant, as much dirt as two donkeys can carry, for your servant will never again burn incense or sacrifice to other gods, but only to the Lord. 18 But may the Lord forgive your servant this one thing: When my master goes into the house of Rimmon to bow down there and he supports himself on my arm, then I too have to bow down in the house of Rimmon. When I bow down in the house of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant this one thing.” 19 Then Elisha said to him, “Go in peace.”
Epistle Lesson: Romans 12:17-21 Guidelines for Christian Living
17 Do not pay anyone back evil for evil. Focus on those things that everyone considers noble. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, maintain peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay,”[c] says the Lord. 20 But, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For by doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 8:1-13 Jesus Heals a Leper and Paralyzed Man
1 When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. 2 Just then, a leper came to him and bowed down to him, saying, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
3 Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean.” Immediately he was healed of his leprosy. 4 Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one. Instead, go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
5 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him and pleaded with him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed and suffering terribly.”
7 Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
8 The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy for you to come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I am also a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled. He said to those who were following him, “Amen I tell you: I have not found such great faith in anyone in Israel. 11 I tell you that many will come from the east and the west and will recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Jesus said to the centurion, “Go. Let it be done for you as you have believed.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.
The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019
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A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
The Apostle John tells us that “in (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men” (Jn 1:4). During the Epiphany Season that “light” shines to reveal Him as the Savior who gives true life to all who trust in Him.
The Gospel Lesson: Matthew 8:1-13 (answers are found on the back side)
- What diseases did Jesus heal in the Gospel Lesson?
- How did the people react when new life was given as they requested.?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Greg Miller; William & Laurie Moon; Pauline Jaeger; Kirsten Jaster (Laurie Moon’s sister); Greg Pierson (the Long’s son-in-law); Libya, Jodi Milam’s granddaughter; Lucille Huston; Barbara Long; Lois Wiese; Barbara Breide; Lou Schulz.
Song Service January has 5 Sundays. That means our service next week is one in which we invite the members to pick some of their favorite hymns for us to sing. In the bulletin today is a sheet of paper on which you may write some favorite hymns. Deposit it in the bin on the credenza in the narthex. We will see how many of your favorites we can sing next Sunday.
Monday-Tuesday, February 6-7 – Pastors’ Winter Study Conference in W. Des Moines, IA
Lent begins February 22. Our Midweek Suppers and Services will be held Thursday evenings.
The Week in Review
Sunday Worship: 33; Communed: 29; Quarterly Meetings 20; Midweek B.C.: 7; Offerings: $2,242.
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Epiphany 4: Exodus 14:21-31; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 8:23-27 (Historic Pericope Series)
Answers to Today’s Gospel Lesson Brief Study:
- Jesus physically healed a man with leprosy and servant who was paralyzed. Through the healings He gave “light and life to those living in darkness and in the shadow of death.”
- Matthew does not tell us their reactions. However, we can assume from the humble words of faith that both men spoke, they rejoiced in the great gift of healing the Savior gave in answer to their prayers.