Reflections: The Fourth Sunday of Epiphany

Today’s Reading: Matthew 5:1-12

Daily Lectionary: Zech. 8:1-23, 2 Timothy 1:1-18

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. During Epiphany we celebrate that the light of Christ shines forth to people in need of His grace and mercy. In our reading today, crowds of people were following Jesus to hear Him speak, so He led them to a mountainside and began to teach them. He starts by listing who is “blessed” in God’s eyes: The poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted.

Those who have been wronged, who are grieving, and those who work for peace and righteousness often don’t feel blessed. But God sees them, and He pulls them near. He blesses them and shines the light of the Gospel upon their hearts. He did on that mountainside 2000 years ago—and He blesses you today, as well.

Jesus blesses those who are in desperate need. The gifts He gives cannot be earned by any kind of good works. We’re not worthy of receiving them—they are too great. Our Savior offers forgiveness for sins, eternal life, the blessings of salvation in this world and in heaven. 

Only the Holy Spirit can cause you to know how profound your poverty is before God, and only the Spirit can bring you to know and believe that the blessings of Christ are truly yours. The Spirit brings you into those blessings in your Baptism. The Spirit comforts you in those blessings through the Word. The Spirit strengthens you in those blessings in the Lord’s Supper. Through these gifts you find the blessings of Christ to help you through the hardships of this world.

So, when you go through life and mourn, face troubles that need peace, hunger for God’s righteousness in these dark times, or must bear with meekness the vanity of the world—you face all these things in Christ. Even when you are persecuted for your faith in Him, He is with you and blesses you. He endured all these things for you on the cross.  When you suffer, He knows how to comfort you with blessings rich and free. He gives you those blessings He proclaimed from the mountain, the blessings He won for you on the cross. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength and protection to support us in all dangers and carry us through temptations; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

-Pastor Jeffrey Horn is Pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Escondido, CA,

Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.