Reflections: Tuesday of the First Week after the Epiphany

Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 33:1-20; Romans 3:1-18

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. (1 Corinthians 1:26)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. How insulting. Imagine your pastor walking out on Sunday morning and addressing your congregation like Paul addresses the Corinthians here, going so far as to call the majority “foolish,” “weak,” “low and despised,” and even “not noble” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). How rude. Right?

The story is as old as Cain and Abel. You can read in Genesis about the accomplishments of their families. Cain’s has all the high achievers. Earth is clearly their home. Abel’s? It’s as if his people are pilgrims here, strangers and aliens. Their thoughts seem to be elsewhere.   

With his offering, Cain was shocked when God didn’t recognize his amazingness. In contrast, Abel trusted that God would remember the coming sacrifice of His Son on the Cross for the sins of the whole world, including his own. Heaven is clearly his home.

There is a Cain in all of us, sticking his chest out, imagining that God’s got the best pickup team of all time since he has us on His side. The old Adam within doesn’t always have a tail and a pitchfork. Sometimes he sports a halo and wears a crown.

Repent of that Cain within. And repenting, hear the promise and joy of the Gospel again: “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).    

Not because of you, but because of God–His doing, His water, His Word, and His Supper–you are in Jesus now. That is, you are in God’s wisdom now, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. You are saved not by the aid or help of grace, but entirely by grace. Insulting? Sure. But for the “foolish,” the “low and despised,” who have only sins to offer God? What good news! 

Luther says he needs to hear the Gospel every day, because he forgets the Gospel every day. Great confession! Because it’s not our smarts, our grip, or anything about us that saves us. It’s all God. It’s all grace. It’s all Jesus. Call that our shame, fine. We call it our boast. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Thy works, not mine, O Christ, Speak gladness to this heart; They tell me all is done, They bid my fear depart. To whom save Thee, Who canst alone For sin atone, Lord shall I flee? (“Thy Works, Not Mine, O Christ” LSB 565, st.1)

-Rev. Bradley Drew is pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, LA.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch