Sunday Sermon Epiphany 3A

by Pastor Mazikas

Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Epiphany 3A –

  1. I have been overwhelmed this past week by God’s amazing grace and mercy shown to sinners like us…me
    1. I have spent hours immersed in worship music, traditional, contemporary, you name it
      1. It began with our OT lesson, I looked ahead last week to see the lessons so that they could begin to percolate in my heart and mind.
      1. I noticed that the OT came from Isaiah 9 which we use at the Christmas Candlelight service at 11
      1. This past Christmas I discovered something in the text that we miss in our modern translations.
      1. Our text reads, For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    1. And they are beautiful words, comforting words, majestic words – think of how they were used by Handel in the Messiah.
      1. Our modern translations have made Wonderful describe Counselor, but if you’re familiar with Messiah you hear it as: and His Name shall be call-ed Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
      1. Wonderful is a name it’s not a description of counselor, that’s what we see in the KJV, Luther’s translation, Calvin’s translation.
      1. Now you know what a nerd you have as a pastor because you’re probably not thinking wow now the planets have come into alignment.
    1. Before you think there’s a mistake in our translation there’s not – the Hebrew can be read both ways and it doesn’t add or change any beliefs but think with me about the difference.
      1. Of course, our God is a Wonderful counselor, making wise the simple and giving understanding to those who trust Him.
      1. But our God is also a Wonder, beyond all comprehension, explanation, or human insight – wrapped in glory and light to which the only appropriate response from all of creation is worship and adoration.
      1. As we see in Revelation as the Lamb sits on His throne, After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
  2. The Lord would receive unending worship just by virtue of His existence, because He is glory, power and might but…BUT the eternal WONDER is that GOD chose to reveal Himself NOT in power and might but grace and mercy
    1. Wonder of all wonders that the King of Glory would set aside His glory for you and me.
      1. As our hymn says today, But when I think that God His Son not sparing sent Him to die I scarce can take it in – does that ever strike you…knowing who you really are in the secret recesses of your heart and mind?
      1.  God knows that and yet, on the cross my burden gladly bearing He bled and died to take away my sin. Then sings my soul How Great Thou Art!
      1. That our God, our Wonder, would choose to lay aside all that He is by nature to take on our weak, mortal nature out of love to save us.
      1. Listen to Paul as he contemplates this glorious mystery, Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
    1. In the history of the church and her quest for right faith, we have substituted cold reason for the wonder this profound mystery should evoke.
      1. We reduce God’s person and work to doctrinal statements thinking that we’ve captured His essence in our formulations.
      1. And the effect has been a propositional faith – do you intellectually agree with our statements of faith then you must be a true Christian because you checked all the right boxes.
      1. But God will not be approached through intellectual assent to our barren doctrines but on your knees just like the angels, elders and living creatures gathered around His throne eternally contemplating the Wonder of His majesty displayed by His mercy that saved a wretch like me – Amazing Grace how sweet the sound.
      1. When was the last time that Amazing Grace drove you to your knees in praise or caused you to dance like King David as he brought the ark to Jerusalem?
    1. Dearly beloved that the Wonder of His mercy shown to sinners like us would uplift and empower you to be joyful witnesses in word and deed to all whom the Lord has put in your life!  

Now may the peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

by Pastor Mazikas