Today’s Reading: Matthew 8:1-13
“I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 8:11)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. A great theme during the Epiphany season is that the Gospel is for everyone. It’s why we sing, “Joy to the World.” Not just to some, but to the world. No one is right with God because they are different somehow, or better than others. Not even you. You’re not in with the Almighty because you responded the right way and met all of God’s promises with faith. Or because you have this work or virtue in you that sets you apart from others and declares you to be God’s child.
No. Jesus would rather we identify with the leper at His feet who, because of his present condition, has no claim at all on God. His only hope is that God lays claim on him through Jesus, no matter what. Jesus would want us to identify with the centurion who also knew how unworthy he was. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8).
Faith does not say, “Look at me, God. I’ve got what it takes.” Faith knows it has no merit, no value or worth of its own to count on. It’s why faith says, “Look at Jesus, God. He’s all I have to count on. In fact, He’s Your claim on me, God. Your promise of love and forgiveness for me, no matter what.” As rare as that may seem, Jesus calls that faith.
Are you concerned that there’s nothing in you, from you, about you–no quality, virtue, or work–that sets you apart from the damned, that gets you in with God or qualifies you for His forgiveness and favor? Fear not. For under orders from God in heaven to bring His goodness and mercy to all on earth, Jesus is God’s favor on you. He is God’s claim on you. “Joy to the World.”
Don’t let anyone tell you faith means anything less–as if faith isn’t so great. Faith does not mean the leper, the centurion, or you. It just means Jesus. How great is that? Like I said, a great theme of the Epiphany season is that the Gospel is for everyone. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities and stretch forth the hand of Your majesty to heal and defend us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany)
-Rev. Bradley Drew is pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, LA.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch
Pastor-psychiatrist duo Rev. A. Trevor Sutton and Dr. Brian Smith have teamed up to help you evaluate your technology use through a Christian perspective. Learn how to form healthy, faithful technology habits with Jesus at the center. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.