Continuing the calendar in Ordinary Time, our message series “Walk in the Light” continues as we look at the readings from this weekend. We are called to be lights in the world and we are looking at different ways in which we are the light of Christ. This week we see a theme of that day that informs us we are fulfilled by God. God has a plan that is revealed, offers forgiveness and restores our relationship with him eternally.
Three weeks ago celebrated the feast known as the Epiphany. A celebration of Three Wise Kings following the light of Jesus to his crib, in a stable in Bethlehem. Their presence acknowledging his Kingship, a welcome to the new King they bring royal gifts. We read many places in the gospels about light, Jesus saying, “I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46) We are called to be light and to let our light shine. Our message focused on knowing the light has come and challenged us to be ready to walk in the light. Walking in the light does not mean we just let our good work show. Walking in the light let’s all we do show, though we are not perfect. When we fail as disciples we have a God who is mercy and gives strength to our vulnerabilities. Walking in the light requires we actually walk in a new way of life.
Two weeks ago we were challenged again to walk in the light and let all we do show. We read how Jesus at his baptism hears the voice of the Father proclaiming, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” This is a message God speaks to each of us as we do the work of spreading his Word and living according to his teaching. We looked at how we are the beloved of God. As the beloved of God we should be willing to walk in the Light. Nothing can attract people more to God than seeing our belovedness shine in the Light. When walking in the Light we are joining in fellowship with one another and with Jesus as the light that leads us all.
Last week we saw Jesus beginning his public ministry and in particular the story of the Wedding at Cana where we heard the words, “Do whatever he tells you.” This is a great mantra for all followers of Jesus, it is advice that will lead to a life of peace and joy. It is being obedient in God, which was our message last week. We have freedom to choose, we are free to choose good over bad, love over hate, generosity over selfishness, serving others over self-pleasure and devotion to Christ over promotion of self. Choosing to follow the path of Christ is the obedient choice and one that leads to a life of abundance. As we continued in our series theme; “Walk in the Light” we were challenged to live obediently in God.
This week we continue our message series “Walk in the Light” as we look at how we are fulfilled by God. Jesus declares his mission has begun and God’s plan to fulfill us is put in motion. It begins a time when God will do absolutely everything to bring us freedom and fulfillment. Jesus reveals he is the Son of God, the Messiah and we as a people are to be set free and fulfilled. This is a time when Jesus walks in the light and all is seen, recorded in an orderly fashion by Luke. The message today, Jesus life and death are the message we are to understand as God’s plan for our fulfillment.Jesus declares his mission has begun and God’s plan to fulfill us is put in motion. It begins a time when God will do absolutely everything to bring us freedom and fulfillment. Click To Tweet
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time; Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10; Psalms 19:8, 9, 10, 15; 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 and Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21. In the readings we see the importance of God’s Word to the people. We discover our importance in God’s church and we see the announcement that Jesus has come to bring God’s plan of fulfillment to human kind. The common message we will discuss through these readings is we are fulfilled God and how we should remain in the light so others see God’s fulfillment.
The first reading from Nehemiah has the priest Ezra reading from the Torah to the people and they are given over to complete respect for the Word of God. Those who were present where of an age to understand the Word wile Ezra and other Levites in attendance did what they could to help the people understand. This happened after the Day of Atonement so the people, the entire nation was free of any sin and would be ready to rejoice in the Word of God. The reading of the Word by Ezra was all morning and into the afternoon, continuing for the week and once he began reading the people stood out of respect until he finished. Hearing of the Word and understanding filled the people with joy. They didn’t have a bible to read of their own so having this chance to hear God was remarkable to them. It begins the message we want to talk about that we are fulfilled by God. The people believed hearing God’s Word was being in touch with God, and this at first made them weep until Ezra told them to rejoice and celebrate. Hearing God’s word made them happy, gave them strength, peace, presence and purpose. They were truly fulfilled by God.
In the second reading from First Corinthians we read Paul’s description of the importance of all the parts of the body. We cannot live complete lives without one of our body parts and in many cases if one of the parts of the body are not working we could be ill and even die. Paul also makes clear that no part of the body is superior or inferior to any other, all parts are needed and have equal importance in the role in the body. Paul compares the body to the church, we need every member of the church and we need all the gifts of each member. No church member is more important than any other. Any member of the church that suffers brings suffering to the entire church and any member of the church who is honored brings joy to the entire church. Paul knows the church is diverse and that we need diversity to be whole. Paul says in another place the church is the Body of Christ and the people are the many parts that make up that Body. In our jobs, or places we play games, maybe even in our home life we may not feel that important, but with God we are as important as every other member. It is again through God we are fulfilled, by participating in the Body of Christ we are given our mission and are able to use our gifts. We are important with God, we are given our sense of worth.
In the gospel reading from Luke we read the opening of the gospel and Luke’s telling of how careful he investigates the stories and then writes and ordered account. The reading then jumps ahead to early in Jesus ministry. Jesus returns to his hometown and it as is his custom attends service at the synagogue. During the service Jesus was given a chance to read from the scriptures and reads a passage from Isaiah that people believe is about the Messiah. Finishing he sat and said that this scripture is fulfilled in their hearing. It becomes shocking and unbelievable as they hear Jesus telling them this passage is about him and he was here to usher in an acceptable year of the Lord. Jesus was speaking about his own ministry in which he brought good news, bankrupts sinners, and heals the brokenhearted, delivering many from blindness, bondage and disease. It had been a spiritual uplifting for the people of Israel. It is God fulfilling his promise of a new covenant with Jesus announcing it had begun.It is God fulfilling his promise of a new covenant with Jesus announcing it had begun. Click To Tweet
It is not included in the reading but Luke continues indicating the people of Nazareth did not believe Jesus and in fact were plotting to get rid of him. But despite the unbelief of the people of Nazareth, Jesus of Nazareth is God’s Son, the Messiah, sent to fulfill God’s promises. It is an amazing story of God coming to fulfill us. God knows what we need to be fulfilled and has put in motion the very things needed for that fulfillment. It is up to us to accept God’s fulfillment and to “Walk in the Light” so others may see God working in our lives.
Fulfilled by God
God had a plan to create a system of fulfillment, a way for the original shame to be revealed and understood, for forgiveness to be given and for creation’s relationship with the creator to be restored. None of what Jesus does has any dependency on us to be worthy, to earn it, for us to justify God including us in the plan. Everything comes from God, who allows himself to need us and who wants to be close to us. God fulfills his plan for all to see and know, God is a God who will do almost anything to bring mercy to his creation.
In the reading from Nehemiah the people are in the temple hearing the Word of God, which has followed a Day of Atonement. Atonement is a way of covering up the sin of the people with an offering to God in order to restore the relationship. Through the old covenant the nation of the Hebrew people would come to the temple and as a nation offer a sacrifice to atone for their sins. The High Priest would lay his hands on the head of a goat, placing the sins of the nation on the goat. Then the goat would be led into the wilderness and abandoned, leaving the sins in the wilderness at the mercy of whatever would happen to the goat. This is the definition of a scapegoat. For the next year the nation would be sinless but at the end of the year they would have to atone again through another Day of Atonement.Atonement is a way of covering up the sin of the people with an offering to God in order to restore the relationship. Click To Tweet
This is the people sacrificing something for God, thinking this would be something that would make God happy. God had a covenant with the people that said I will always love you but there were times when God needed to punish the people for unfaithfulness, the equivalent of giving a child a timeout. God allowed animal sacrifice for atoning, but not human sacrifice which other faith communities had offered to their gods. God was more interested in obedience than sacrifice. We see this in the wisdom of Solomon, “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3)
Atoning was temporary and God had a plan for something new and permanent. God would replace the scapegoat with who John the Baptist called the Lamb of God. God’s plan was for his only begotten Son to bow down from heaven and walk in humanity to live a life of weakness and suffering atoning and sacrificing for the sin of the world. Jesus would be the sacrifice on behalf of the human race and it would only have to occur once to become a permanent solution for all. God offered the sacrifice for our fulfillment.
God’s fulfillment for us is that Jesus, the Lamb of God, would live a life of example, teaching, and a core principle of doing the will of the Father. He would teach us that we should love one another and love God. He would ask us to walk in the Light so we could make new disciples, and they too could be fulfilled through God’s plan. They too then can walk in the light, love and make new disciples.God’s fulfillment for us is that Jesus, the Lamb of God, would live a life of example, teaching, and a core principle of doing the will of the Father. He would teach us that we should love one another and love God. Click To Tweet
God’s fulfillment for us came through the sacrifice of his Son, the Lamb of God. He would be crucified, sacrificed, atoning for our sin, and he would be raised again declaring that eternal life is available to all. God forgave us, he forgives what we have done and what we will do. Sin can no longer hold us back, or keep us from being fully in relationship with God. We are eternally forgiven.
But, as we see in the reading in Corinthians, it didn’t end at the resurrection. In fact we are asked to be part of the Body of Christ. To sacrifice for the Body of Christ. To build up a community of people who will see us walk in the light, fulfilled by God and want to become a part of the Body of Christ. In view of God’s sacrifice for us we should offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God as our gift of fulfillment that continues to share Christ’s love. We celebrate God’s sacrifice and return our own sacrifice by living in such a way that God is pleased, others see us walking in the light fulfilled by God.In view of God’s sacrifice for us we should offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God as our gift of fulfillment that continues to share Christ’s love. Click To Tweet
Walk in the light
We are challenged to submit to God’s love, giving our lives and doing so walking in the light. We are fulfilled through God. This fulfillment brings us into full relationship with God where we can live eternally. We can be in God’s presence, find peace, have forgiveness, purpose and discover how deeply we are loved. The fulfillment of God made this all available to us. God’s plan reveals God more fully to us, provides our forgiveness, restores our relationship with God eternally. To respond to God fulfilling us, we must let others see God working in our lives and we must offer ourselves as a sacrifice pleasing and holy to God. When we live in the light, and we accept that light shining on us, glorifying God, sacrificing our lives for God, we are submitting to Christ and doing what his love requires of us.
As disciples we are always required to live in such a way that others see us and want to glorify God. It is not easy and it requires service, putting others first and walking in the light. But what can be easy is doing the will of God, being obedient, listening to the one who has created us and tells us in a special way you are an important part of the Body of Christ. You have special gifts that the Body of Christ needs in order to fulfill its mission. We need to reveal our gifts living in the light so others will see the beauty of God’s plan. Accepting God’s fulfillment we can share love so others will be encouraged to find God and walk in the light.As disciples we are always required to live in such a way that others see us and want to glorify God. It is not easy and it requires service, putting others first and walking in the light. Click To Tweet