Worship Helps for Epiphany 3

The Calling of Peter and Andrew
Pietro Berrettini

Worship Theme: Jesus shows his glory in the kind of people that he calls to serve him and in using the gospel to make them willing to follow him. This Sunday it is the epistle lesson that gives unity to the readings, since all of the other readings deal with specific calls to a full time following that leaves behind secular vocations. Jesus still calls such to the holy ministry. To all however comes the call to follow him with a willingness to abandon everything should faithfulness require it; the calls in these readings bid us have a mindset that has forsaken everything, even when we are not required to do it.

Old Testament: 1 Kings 19:19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. "Let me kiss my father and mother good-by," he said, "and then I will come with you." "Go back," Elijah replied. "What have I done to you?" 21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.

1. What did Elijah placing his cloak on Elisha signify?

2. Why did Elisha slaughter his oxen and burn his plow?

Epistle: Acts 13:1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. 4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.

3. It is interesting that Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) is mentioned. This was the Herod who had beheaded John the Baptist and put the robe on Jesus immediately before the crucifixion. The Lord had brought to faith his foster brother! It is also interesting that Mark is mentioned. Who was this John who “was with them?”

4. The gathering of believers at Antioch was well served by a diverse group of five spiritual leaders. What new plan did the Holy Spirit have for this congregation?

Gospel: Mark 1:14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" 16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

5. What does it mean that “the kingdom of God is near”?

6. Compare the message of Jesus with that of John the Baptist. Describe their similarities. Can you find any dissimilarities in their messages? What does this tell you about the preaching of both Jesus and John?

7. What would Jesus do with the disciples over the next three years? (v 17)

1. This was no ordinary cloak. This was the prophet’s cloak. The same cloak Elijah later threw down from the fiery chariot and Elisha then used to part the waters of the Jordan River. Placing the cloak upon Elisha passed on the prophetic office from one to another, much the same way pastors lay hands upon the head of a new teacher or pastor.

2. The oxen and plow were no longer needed by Elisha, so they were killed and burned. This was a farewell feast and then he was off to vicar for Elijah. He was saying goodbye to his family and father’s farm, his work and inheritance. He was giving up everything and unconditionally accepting his calling. He was devoting himself entirely to his calling as a prophet.

3. This was John Mark who was the cousin of Barnabas. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first overseas mission. He would later write the Gospel of Mark.

4. The Holy Spirit took two of their five leaders and sent them overseas to do mission work.

5. Jesus came to establish God’s kingdom of love, grace, and power for all. We become part of that kingdom through repentance and faith. The word “near” can be better translated as “at hand,” giving the word the sense of immanence implied in John’s and Jesus’ message.

6. The messages of both Jesus and John are the same: prepare the way for the coming of the Lord by means of repentance and Baptism for the remission of sins, because the kingdom of God is near. There are no essential differences in their proclamations, since they are both sent by God the Father. We need to reject the notion that John was a preacher of the law and that Jesus was a preacher of the gospel. Both of them preached the full message of law and gospel.

7. Jesus called these men to follow him. In these words we have the definition of discipleship. Simon, Andrew, James, and John were called to follow Jesus as pupils to learn how to proclaim the good news of Jesus. Jesus would make them fishers of men. They would learn from him how God intended to establish and extend his kingdom and the role they would play.

Putting your faith into action
Ever since Christ came into the world, things have been different. The kingdom of God is near. We must respond to it. We can’t just shrug it off or push it to a later date on our “to do” list. It demands our immediate attention. It’s a matter of life and death, a matter of eternity. How do we enter the kingdom of God? Repent, Jesus said. Through repentance and faith the kingdom of God is ours. Now, what do we do with it? We cast it out into the world, like fishermen cast out a net. We become fishers of men. Some will listen to Jesus’ call and do that in full-time ministry. But the kingdom of God is not just theirs to share. It is still ours by faith. All of us need to cast out the net into the world. Supporting the mission and ministry of WELS is one way we participate in spreading the kingdom of God and fishing for men. 

A reading from the Book of Concord for the Third Sunday after Epiphany
The adversaries say that satisfactions benefit by the outward work in such a way that, even though they are done in mortal sin, they still deliver from the punishments.  When the passage of Paul is cited against us, “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged [by the Lord]” (1 Corinthians 11:31), “to judge” should be understood to include all of repentance and required fruit, not works that are not required.  Our adversaries pay the penalty for hating grammar.  They understand “to judge” to equal making a pilgrimage dressed in armor, or similar works.  “To judge” means all of repentance; it means to condemn sins.  This condemnation truly happens in contrition and the change of life.  Isaiah 1:16–19 teaches, “Cease to do evil, learn to do good.… Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.… If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.”  Neither should a most important meaning be transferred from all of repentance, and from works required or commanded by God, to the works of human traditions.  Common evils are reduced by our repentance and by the true fruit of repentance, by good works completed from faith.  Here belongs the example of the Ninevites (Jonah 3:10), who by their repentance (all of repentance) were reconciled to God and received the favor that their city was not destroyed. – Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XIIIB, Confession and Satisfaction (paragraphs 65-69)

Text of the Hymn of the Day: O God From God, O Light From Light
O God from God, O Light from Light,
O Prince of Peace and King of kings,
To you in heaven's glory bright
The song of praise forever rings.
To him who sits upon the throne,
The Lamb once slain but raised again,
Be all the glory he has won,
All thanks and praise! Amen, Amen.

Deep in the prophets' sacred page,
Grand in the poets' winged word,
Slowly, in type, from age to age
The nations saw their coming Lord;
Till through the deep Judean night
Rang out the song, "Good will to men!"
Sung by heav'n's hosts in splendor bright,
Re-echoed now, "Good will!" Amen.

That life of truth, those deeds of love,
That death of pain mid hate and scorn --
These all are past, and now above
He reigns, our King once crowned with thorn.
Lift up your heads, O mighty gates!
So sang the angel hosts again.
Lift up your heads -- your King awaits.
We lift them up, Amen, Amen.

Sing to the Lord a mighty song;
Sing to his name, his glories tell!
Sing, heav'nly hosts, your praise prolong,
And all on earth, your anthem swell!
Worthy the Lamb for sinners slain!
Forever let the song ascend!
Worthy the Lamb enthroned to reign,
Glory and pow'r! Amen, Amen.


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