Readings: January 22, 2017, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings from the Message Bible (© 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson )

  • Isaiah 8: 23 – 9:1-3

A Child Has Been Born—for Us!

The Lord brought the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali into disrepute, but the time is coming when he’ll make that whole area glorious— the road along the Sea, the country past the Jordan, international Galilee.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—light! sunbursts of light!

You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy!

The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings. The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants — all their whips and cudgels and curses — is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian.

  • 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17

The Cross: The Irony of God’s Wisdom

I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.

I bring this up because some from Chloe’s family brought a most disturbing report to my attention—that you’re fighting among yourselves! I’ll tell you exactly what

I was told: You’re all picking sides, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.”

I ask you, “Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?” God didn’t send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my

own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words.

  • Matthew 4:12-25

Teaching and Healing

When Jesus got word that John had been arrested, he returned to Galilee. He moved from his hometown, Nazareth, to the lakeside village Capernaum, nestled at the base of the Zebulun and Naphtali hills. This move completed Isaiah’s sermon:

Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, road to the sea, over Jordan, Galilee, crossroads for the nations. People sitting out their lives in the dark saw a huge light; Sitting in that dark, dark country of death, they watched the sun come up.

This Isaiah-prophesied sermon came to life in Galilee the moment Jesus started preaching. He picked up where John left off: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.”

Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.

A short distance down the beach they came upon another pair of brothers, James and John, Zebedee’s sons. These two were sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, mending their fishnets. Jesus made the same offer to them, and they were just as quick to follow, abandoning boat and father.

From there he went all over Galilee. He used synagogues for meeting places and taught people the truth of God. God’s kingdom was his theme—that beginning right now they were under God’s government, a good government! He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives.

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