3rd Sunday After Epiphany, January 22, 2017
Third Sunday After Epiphany (Year A)
Scripture Readings*: Isaiah 9:1-4, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, Matthew 4:12-23, Psalm 27:1, 5-13
The lands of Zebulun and Naphtali (Northern Israel) had been conquered by Assyria. Isaiah sees a future time when a “great light will be revealed” and the nation will multiply and experience increased joy. This “great light” will be the Messiah, who will be human and deity: “A Child is born… A Son is given” (v. 6).
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Paul is concerned about the division in the church at Corinth. He stresses three Christian priorities: unity, allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ and the proclamation of the gospel. He asks three questions: Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul (v. 13)? His intent is to have them focus solely upon Jesus so that only the gospel will be proclaimed.
Following the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus begins his own ministry in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, in the region of Capernaum. Matthew quotes Isaiah, reinforcing that Jesus is the “great light” spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. At that time the population was mixed, with many Jews but also many Gentiles present. The great light dawning in this area (vv. 15–17) may foreshadow the fact that the salvation Jesus brings is for all.
What makes a disciple is his or her willingness to follow Jesus. Following Him produces people who share Christ’s concern for drawing others to God (v.19). People who are truly excited about Jesus are still the best way to communicate the Gospel.
Seeing Is Believing
Today’s readings reveal a future that is yet to be experienced. His nation in ruins, Isaiah’s words reveal a future when his people and nation are restored… prosperous… joyful. Paul’s words and admonition point to a unified Body of Christ. The ministry of Jesus in Zebulun and Naphtali touch the lives of Jews and Gentiles alike, foretelling a salvation for all people.
This season of Epiphany – as well as life’s seasons of epiphanies – does the same. Christ is revealed, as is our future found in Him. The Word enters our life and reveals healing even in the midst of sickness… peace as we wrestle with chaos and uncertainty… provision even as we hear headlines of economic and political turmoil.
As we read today’s scriptures, we recognize that even now, parts of the Word are yet to be fulfilled. The same is true in our lives. Epiphany offers the opportunity to see through eyes of faith the reality God is in the midst of creating. It is this faith – based on the Word of God – He uses to fashion our world and us into His ultimate image of restoration and wholeness.
Prayer for Third Sunday After Epiphany – “Gracious God, open my eyes to see Your glory and the good You are creating in my life and the world around me. Blessed be God forever. Amen.”
*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A