Lessons for Epiphany V, February 4, 2018

Isaiah 40: 21-31

Chapter 40 of Isaiah begins the good news of deliverance for the inhabitants of Judah. Babylon has fallen, Persia has risen, Jerusalem will rise from the ashes of 587 BCE. The prophet Isaiah sees these conditions as emancipation for Judah, as Yahweh intervenes for the exilic people detained in Babylon or scattered about the lands of the Mediterranean. Today ‘s verses chide Israel for their loss of belief in Yahweh; “Yahweh”, he says, “is the foundation, the ground of being.” In his metaphoric and poetic words, Isaiah claims the absolute supremacy of Yahweh and the corresponding submission of temporary earthly rulers. The poetic expressions continue, praising Yahweh as the savior of Judah and the only hope of their future.

I Corinthians 9: 16-23

Paul pauses from his response to the inquiries of Corinth to state his own understanding, his own position as a Christian, as an apostle for Christ. His job is clearly the preaching of Christ and he is able to do this without remuneration. The turning to Christ by some those hearing him is Paul’s only reward. In his work he is very adaptable; he notes he can follow Jewish dietary rules and act as if under the law even though he is no longer bound to the law. He can also eat and live among Gentiles, if it will further his teaching of the Gospel. Christ’s Gospel is first and foremost; it is the only thing that matters.

Mark I: 29 -39

Having left the initial experience of startling the members of his first synagogue reading, Jesus moves on to his public ministry in Galilee. Here he cures the mother of Simon Peter who lives in a complex of rooms adjacent to the synagogue. Quite naturally, the disciples decide to go out from Capernaum to bring the sick and possessed to Jesus for healing. No longer is Jesus relegated to a single work of healing; the whole area rapidly understood they had a most unusual man in their midst. And far from discouraging his disciples from shielding him from the public, Jesus welcomes the task of teaching and healing, knowing this was his task from the Father.