by Pastor Edwin Lehmann on January 6, 2023 in Matthew 2:1-12
Epiphany 1 (The Baptism of our Lord) January 8, 2023
Text: Matthew 2:1-12 Historic Series for Epiphany Day 23:2360
Theme: Revealed ….
It was night. Joseph, Mary, and the Child Jesus slept. By now Joseph had secured a house in Bethlehem and intended to live there – at least for a while. In the darkness there came a knock on the door. On the doorstep were strange looking visitors from distant lands to the east – Arabia, Babylon, Persia or beyond? Perhaps all and more. They entered with their royal retinue.
We call them Wise Men, but in Scriptures and the world of that day they were known as Magoi. If that name seems strange to you, the word is related to our English word “magic” or “magician.” But they were far from the kind of magicians that we know today. They were not entertainers who stood in front of an audience to pull rabbits out of a hat or attempt to saw people in two. No. The Magoi were deep thinkers, serious students of the powers in nature that the Maker of heaven and earth has put into His creation. They might not have known the truth about God, but they also did not immerse themselves in the black magic of Satan. They desired understanding of created things, interested in true, natural science, particularly astronomy so that they might discover the mysterious processes in nature, harness them, and advise kings and others to use in productive ways.
King Solomon was like them, later the prophet Daniel. Those two were led by the Spirit of God. To Solomon was given considerable awareness of the secrets God placed into nature. Solomon made fine use of them (1Kgs.4:29ff). Of similar character were these Magoi. They were without the God-given gifts of a Solomon or Daniel, yet they were learned and experienced in the knowledge of things. Perhaps not everything they did was above board, nor was it of faith to start with. Yet, their knowledge was not worthless, nor fallen into self-centered decay like much of man’s reason and science in our day that turns so many things topsy-turvey, misleading themselves and everyone else in the process. Such is not centered on the wonders of God but on fallen man’s reason which so often errs.
Concentrating on the stars and their courses, these men seriously searched for answers to life and the questions that occupied their minds – perhaps like: “What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What does the future carry in its hands for us?” Such are questions that God has planted through the natural knowledge of Him into the mind of every person, which only He in His Word answers. But many run away from Him and His Word. We bury ourselves from God by filling our lives so full of activities that we do not have the time or will left to think on Him and life. Not so the Magoi! They were deeply concerned and earnestly seeking answers. And God, who has promised, “Seek and ye shall find; knock and the door will be opened to you,” had prepared to reveal an answer for these men that extended far beyond their wildest hopes.
And so the Magoi sat in their towers and studied the heavens that stretched above their heads. It is there that God “spoke” without words to them in the very last place that we might expect.
At the beginning of this world’s existence, we are told that God made the stars and heavenly bodies to “serve as markers to indicate seasons, days, and years and to serve the earth with their light.” So it is that from the rising of the sun you learn that the day has begun; from its setting, that the day is at an end; when it reaches the sky’s zenith it is midday. It is set by God to be a sign and measure of time for you. And so you regulate your work and activity by it. The moon and the stars function in a similar way for you at night.
The Scriptures also teach that there will be signs in the heavens that will signify things like the end of the world (Lk.21:25f). Thunderstorms, lightnings, floods, tornadoes, fire in the sky and on earth are signs of such from God to you. How this happens or what natural and divine powers are at work, or how things are activated, are the types of questions the Magoi star-gazers would investigate. As for us who know Him through His Word, it is enough that you recognize God and His wrath in these things and lead a better life in Him and His Christ through whom alone He reveals important and eternal matters to us.
So it was that one night the Magoi saw a star that they knew immediately was so much more than any other they had ever seen. A king must have been born that night. How that was revealed to them, I don’t know; the Scriptures do not say. But in their records of history they certainly knew that the Israelites were a special, chosen people of God, for whom God did great things above all other nations. Perhaps men like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, whom you know as Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego, left testimony behind about the coming King during their time of O.T. captivity in the east. Such a lovely star! They were sure that God had given them a new king above all kings. They hoped to find Him in splendor at the royal court in Jerusalem. So they set out with the God-given need to go and see this newborn King.
It would be a hard journey, taking preparation and care. Perhaps it required up to two months’ or more worth of arduous travel. On the way, the star disappeared from sight. So they headed for Jerusalem.
If they expected to find the city wildly celebrating the birth, they were highly disappointed. Not a one was aware of it. Surely the best place to go was King Herod’s palace. But all were astonished at the news. Herod was troubled, fearing being ousted from his kingdom by this new king. On the other hand, the city’s inhabitants feared Herod and what he would do. There would be much bloodshed if a new king arose. Such panic in Jerusalem revealed lack of faith. Eyes were fixed, as in many political situations today, on human might and reason rather than the mercy and power of God. But the pious people, like Anna, Simeon, Elizabeth or Zechariah were not troubled when they heard. On the contrary, they rejoiced to see the Savior in their day. But no one knew where He was until the scribes allowed the Scriptures to respond, “In Bethlehem, in the land of Judah will come a ruler who will shepherd God’s people Israel.”
Right here, dear friends, we might ask why Christ did not lead these Magoi to Bethlehem with the star. Then they could have avoided the mess with bloody Herod and ignorant Jerusalem. But instead, Christ permitted his birth to be searched for in the Scriptures. He did this to teach us to cling to the Word of God and not to follow our own presumptuous ideas or any human thoughts. For the Scriptures are not given to us in vain. It is in God’s Word and nowhere else that He reveals and permits Himself to be found. If you set Scripture aside, you will never find Him. Only therein is He found, not even in a special star. Here He is enclosed; here you possess Him. His Word alone guides you to Him. So it is that Jesus later admonished, “Search the scriptures for in them you have eternal life. It is they which bear witness to me” (Jn.5:39). To the Magoi the prophecy alone bore witness to the place of His birth and His purpose – to shepherd the people of God.
So, they set out for Bethlehem. And behold, a wonderful thing happened! The star that they had seen in the east, reappeared, and they rejoiced with overwhelming joy. It led them, led them down the road, stopping right over the house where heaven’s King lay. These great men, learned professors, skilled scientists, wise advisors to world leaders, bowed in the dust before Him, as finally He revealed Himself to them. With eyes divinely opened, they adored Him as heaven’s King, perhaps even as the Savior, and gave Him the best they had to offer. Warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they slipped away before dawn. Herod would wait in vain. His plot to kill the child foiled for God would have His Son accomplish His blessed mission to sacrifice Himself on Golgotha for our sin. He would die then, only then, not before, that all might be fulfilled, even as the Scriptures declared, to bring us back to God.
You and I do not have to make a long and arduous journey to have the Christ revealed to us. For He is to be found so easily in your homes here, in the Scriptures. No miracle, not even a wondrous star, will guide you rightly, apart from the testimony of God’s Word. It is here that you will find Him revealed in all His glory.
So make God’s Word your norm for life. How immeasurably different and vital His revelations are in the Word in comparison with any human words! These are they which testify of Him and His redeeming love for us, without which we are lost. Then, with the best gifts you have, kneel down in the dust with the Wise Men. Adore Him today and in the years that lie ahead. God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
www.zionluthchurch.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find us on Facebook
The First Sunday after the Epiphany January 8, 2023
“This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
The family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today. We encourage children to worship with us. However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary. The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary. We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“Endow the King with Your justice, the royal Son with Your righteousness. May all kings bow down to Him and all nations serve Him. Then all nations will be blessed through Him, and they will call Him blessed. Praise be to the LORD God, who alone does marvelous deeds” (Psalm 72).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Revealed as the Christ. “See that man over there?” the old soldier said to the new recruit. “He’s the one to hang around. Go where he goes. He will show you everything.”
It is in a similar way with us and the Lord Jesus – except on a much, much higher plane. He not only shows us everything, but as God’s Son He does everything needed. We need to know Him better, for the better we know Him, the better we will understand the reason to follow Him whom God has now revealed for our eternal good.
To that end we pray: Father in heaven, at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan, You proclaimed Him Your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. Long before that You had chosen Him to bring us salvation. Keep us who believe and are baptized into Christ faithful in our calling as Your children. Enable us to follow Him without hesitation, and make us heirs with Him of everlasting life, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
The Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 42:1-7
The Lord God directs all things to meet His goal – a heavenly kingdom of pardon, peace, and justice. He promises to send a trusted Servant to carry out that goal. He will equip the servant for the task by filling Him with the Spirit.
The Epistle Lesson: Acts 10:34-39a
God sent Peter to bring the Gospel to a Roman soldier named Cornelius. But first God had to open Peter’s eyes to see that His desire is to show mercy to all in Christ, whether to Jew or Gentile. To that end Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power to do the work.
The Gospel Lesson: Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus begins His earthly ministry by submitting Himself for baptism by John in the Jordan River. In that He “fulfilled all righteousness” and was thereby revealed as the Messiah, God’s chosen Servant who would bring salvation to fallen mankind.
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The Organist: Jane Rips
The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “‘Arise! Shine, for Your Light has come, and the glory of the LORD is dawning upon you’ (Is.60:1).
Our Light has indeed come. In the gross darkness which covers this groping, stumbling world we have once more seen the light: the Light from heaven, God’s own Son come down to earth. With aged Simeon we say: ‘Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation…a Light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.’
What are we to do now that we have seen the Light? ‘Arise, shine,’ says the prophet. We are to spread the light. We are to tell all, both near and far, about Him who has called us out of darkness….We are to arise from our lethargy, our inactivity, our indifference, holding high the light of our salvation…..How have we been proclaiming to all, near and far: ‘The Lord is come”? To that end we pray, Lord, grant us Epiphany grace to share Your light with others.”
— Herman Gockel on “Arise…Shine!”
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Thoughts on the Service
Opening Hymn: #347
Order of Worship: The Service: Setting One page 154-160
Prayer of the Day
The Ministry of the Word
Hymn Response: #381
Gospel Acclamation: pg.161
Sermon: Matthew 2:1-12 Revealed
The Apostles’ Creed pg.163
Our Response to the Word
Prayer of the Church: pg.164
The Lord Blesses Us
The Closing Prayer and Blessing Hymnal page 171
Closing Hymn: #373 st.1-3
Epiphany 1: The Baptism of Our Lord – Series A
Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 42:1-7 – The LORD’S Chosen Servant
1 Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight. I am placing my Spirit upon him. He will bring forth the verdict for the nations.
2He will not cry out. He will not raise his voice. He will not make his voice heard in the street. 3A bent reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not snuff out. He will faithfully bring forth the verdict. 4He will not grow dim, and he will not be crushed until he establishes the verdict on the earth. The coastlands will wait for his teaching.
5This is what the true God says, the Lord, who creates the heavens and stretches them out, who spreads out the earth and everything that comes out of it, who gives breath to the people upon it and life to those who walk on it. 6“I am the Lord. I am calling you in righteousness. I will grasp your hand, and I will guard you. I will appoint you to be a covenant for the people, to be a light for the nations, 7to open blind eyes, to bring the prisoners out of the dungeon and to bring those who live in darkness out of prison.
Epistle Lesson: Acts 10:34-39a – God Anointed Jesus with Power
34Then Peter began to speak: “Now I really am beginning to understand that God does not show favoritism, 35but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36He sent his word to the people of Israel, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
37“You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached. 38God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, because God was with him. Indeed, we are witnesses of all the things He did.”
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 3:13-17 – John Baptizes Jesus
13Then Jesus came from Galilee to be baptized by John at the Jordan. 14But John tried to stop him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?”
15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, because it is proper for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John let him. 16After Jesus was baptized, he immediately went up out of the water. Suddenly, the heavens were opened for him! He saw the Spirit of God, descending like a dove and landing on him, 17and a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my Son, whom I love. I am well pleased with him.”
The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.
C a l e n d a r & A n n o u n c e m e n t s f o r Z i o n L u t h e r a n C h u r c h
Divine Worship Service
Fellowship & Bible Study
|4 pm Confirmation Class
Midweek Bible Class
Faith LC, Carthage invites you to the installation service of Pastor Daniel McQuality. A meal will follow the service.
Divine Worship Service
with Holy Communion online – Facebook
Annual Voters’ Meeting
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
“Why did Jesus need to be baptized? Isn’t baptism for sinners?” That’s a common question among Christians. It doesn’t seem to make sense that our Savior, who was perfectly sinless, would need to be baptized. Yet He was. Why? Because Jesus came to be our perfect substitute. He is revealed as such in His baptism. God laid on Him the sin of the world. From birth He endured the effects of sin. Jesus wasn’t a sinner Himself, but He was carrying our sin, pain, and sorrow (Is 53:4). He needed to fulfill all righteousness and fill the waters of baptism with its saving blessings, which He did for us.
The Epistle Lesson: Acts 10:34-39a (answers are found on the back side)
- What realization did Peter finally have about God?
- What did Jesus receive in His baptism? (v. 38)
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; William & Laurie Moon; Pauline Jaeger; Kirsten Jaster (Laurie Moon’s sister); Greg Pierson (the Long’s son-in-law); Libya, Jodi Milam’s granddaughter, diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis; Lucille Huston; Barbara Long; Lois Wiese.
Forward in Christ’s January issue has arrived. There are plenty of copies in the narthex for family and friends.
Thank You for your kind holiday greetings and gifts by which you have remembered our family this Christmas. Your expressions of thoughtfulness mean a lot. We are happy to say with Paul: “I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way.” May the Lord bless your families with a rich measure of grace in the days of the New Year that lie ahead. A blessed New Year to you in Christ.
– The Lehmann family
2023 Offering Envelopes are in your mailboxes or fellowship hall where you may pick up your new set for the year ahead.
Tuesday, January 10 – Monthly Church Council Meetings
Sunday, January 15 – Annual Voters’ Meeting following the ending of the 4th quarter
The Week in Review
New Year’s Day Worship: 28; Communed: 27; Bible Class 15; Midweek Bible Class: 4; Offerings: $4,921.
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Epiphany 2: Isaiah 61:1-6; Romans 12:6-16; John 2:1-11 (Historic Pericope Series)
Answers to Today’s Epistle Lesson Brief Study:
- Peter now realized that God didn’t show favoritism toward his Old Testament people, the Jews. Jesus was the Savior of all people. God wants that truth shared with all nations.
- Peter says that he received a special measure of the Holy Spirit and power. In Jesus’ baptism, God the Father was preparing his Son for the tough road ahead. He assured him of his faithful love and guidance.
This week I am praying for……