Worship Helps for Epiphany 2
Art: St. John the Baptist
Artist: Matthias Grunewald
Worship Theme: This Lamb would take away the sins of the world and bring both Israel and the Gentile nations into the kingdom of God. The hearts that see this Savior in faith cannot help but take news of this salvation to the ends of the earth.
Old Testament: Isaiah 49:1-6
Listen to me, you coastlands. Pay attention, you far away peoples! The Lord called me from the womb. When I was inside my mother he mentioned my name. 2He made my mouth like a sharpened sword. He hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me a polished arrow. He concealed me in his quiver. 3He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my glory.” 4But I myself said, “I have labored in vain. I spent my strength and got nothing at all. Yet my verdict is with the Lord, and my reward is with my God.” 5But now the Lord who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to turn Jacob back to him, so that Israel might be gathered to him, so that I will be honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— 6the Lord said, “It is too small a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the ones I have kept in Israel, so I will appoint you to be a light for the nations so that my salvation may be known to the end of the earth.”
1. Which person of the Trinity is speaking through the prophet Isaiah in these verses?
2. What job was given to this “servant” in verse 5?
3. What additional job was mentioned in verse 6?
Epistle: Acts 13:38-49
“So, gentlemen, brothers, let it be known to you that through this Jesus forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you, also forgiveness from everything from which you could not be justified through the law of Moses. 39In this Jesus, everyone who believes is justified. 40So watch out that what is said in the prophets does not happen to you: 41Look, you scoffers, be amazed and perish! For I am going to do something in your days, something you would never believe, even if someone were to explain it to you.” 42As Paul and Barnabas were leaving, the people kept begging them to speak again on this same subject on the next Sabbath. 43When the meeting of the synagogue had been dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. 44On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of God. 45But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with envy and began to contradict what Paul was saying by slandering him. 46Then Paul and Barnabas responded fearlessly, “It was necessary that God's word be spoken to you first. But since you reject it and consider yourselves unworthy of eternal life, look: We are now turning to the Gentiles! 47For this is what the Lord has instructed us: I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the end of the earth.” 48When the Gentiles heard this, they were rejoicing and praising the word of the Lord. All who had been appointed for eternal life believed. 49And the word of the Lord was being carried through the whole region.
4. How was Jesus both the fulfillment and replacement of the sacrificial system given by God through Moses?
Gospel: John 1:29-41
29The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘The one coming after me outranks me because he existed before me.’ 31I myself did not know who he was, but I came baptizing with water so that he would be revealed to Israel.” 32John also testified, “I saw the Spirit descend like a dove from heaven and remain on him. 33I myself did not recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34I saw this myself and have testified that this is the Son of God.” 35The next day, John was standing there again with two of his disciples. 36When John saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned around and saw them following him, he asked, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39He told them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying. They stayed with him that day. It was about the tenth hour. 40Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. 41The first thing Andrew did was to find his own brother Simon and say to him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which is translated “the Christ”).
5. What did John mean when he called Jesus “The Lamb of God”?
6. How did John know that Jesus was who he said he was?
7. What was the first thing Andrew did after he realized that Jesus was the Messiah? (verse 41)
2. To “bring Jacob back to (God) and gather Israel.” In other words, Jesus was sent specifically to win the Jews to faith (Mt 15:24).
3. To be a light to the Gentiles. While Jesus was sent specifically to the Jews, he also realized that the Gentiles were meant to be brought to faith as well (Jn 10:16).
Listen to the message meant for all nations: The Messiah is a weapon in the hand of God. God concealed him like an arrow in a quiver: the Messiah would come with his glory hidden in flesh. That meant the Servant would suffer, but in that suffering God would display his splendor. Jesus struggled with the cup he was to drink, but trusted in God’s promised reward (v 4). God would use the Servant to restore Israel and shine the light of his love on all the Gentiles, too. The salvation won by the Lamb would be brought to the ends of the earth. When Simeon laid eyes on the Christ-child, he remembered these words and could depart in peace, because he knew that God had now kept his promise.
4. In Pisidian Antioch, Paul preached the message of the Lamb of God: the sacrifices in the Law of Moses could not justify; only the Lamb sacrificed for sin could. The Gospel resulted in faith in some Jewish hearts and rejection in others. In the face of opposition, Paul and Barnabas fulfilled the promises of God in Isaiah and made Christ a light to Gentiles and brought salvation to the ends of the earth.
5. As the last and greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist rightly summarizes the totality of God’s plan of salvation by pointing to Jesus and calling him the Lamb of God. Though not an Old Testament title, John’s name for Christ is the perfect sum of the sacrificial system. Christ is the fulfillment of all the sacrificial victims of the Old Testament, from Yom Kippur’s goat to the Passover Lamb and every sin and guilt offering in between. They are all fulfilled in the Son of God made flesh that he might stand in our place, that he might take the burden of sins off the world and onto his shoulders, and that he might die in our stead. Seeing the Lamb of God leads believers like John and Andrew to bring his salvation to the ends of the earth.
6. He had seen the Holy Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.
7. He went and told his brother Peter, a wonderful model of the joy Christians feel when their spiritual eyes are opened to the truth of God’s Word. That joy automatically leads to action: go and tell others!
Putting your faith into action
The word “Epiphany” means “revealed.” John the Baptist reveals Jesus as the Lamb of God—the one that the Passover sacrifice was foreshadowing. Just like the blood of that lamb saved the Israelites from the angel of death at the first Passover, so also the blood of the perfect Lamb of God saves us from eternal death. Both John the Baptist and the Apostle Andrew were eager to lead other people to their Savior. We live in a world where precious few know Jesus. Many who do know his name don’t know who he really is. Look for opportunities to continue the Epiphany today and point people to Jesus as their Savior.
The elect are described as follows: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life” (John 10:27–28). “In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). They hear the Gospel, believe in Christ, pray, give thanks, are sanctified in love, have hope, patience, and comfort under the cross. Although weak in them, they hunger and thirst for righteousness.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.… The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:16–26).
Holy Scripture also testifies that God, who has called us, is faithful. So when He has begun the good work in us, He will also preserve it to the end and perfect it, if we ourselves do not turn from Him, but firmly hold on to the work begun to the end. He has promised His grace for this very purpose. (1 Corinthians 1:9).
We should concern ourselves with this revealed will of God. We should diligently think about it. Through the Word, by which He calls us, the Holy Spirit bestows grace, power, and ability for this purpose. – Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article XI, God’s Eternal Foreknowledge (paragraphs 30-33)
Hymns: 622; 86; 354; 397; 753
1 Father, God of grace, you knew us, Chose us, named us as your own,
Through eternal ages planning To redeem us in your Son.
Praise the Father, God who loved us Ere creation was begun!
2 We, your creatures, sinned against you, And our guilt was crimson red.
Son of God, you came incarnate, Crushed the crafty serpent’s head,
Died our death, now live triumphant: Praise the firstborn from the dead!
3 Counselor, you bring as promised From the Father and the Son
Righteousness fulfilled, accomplished, Free forgiveness, heaven won.
Praise the Spirit! He assures us Our salvation’s work is done!
4 Lord, your changeless Word has fed us, Spanning time, transcending space. Water, bread, and wine sustained us When the darkness hid your face.
Keep us with you, faithful Shepherd, By your saving means of grace!
5 Forward lead us; Christ, we follow, Drawn by Word and promise true:
“To all nations preach the gospel; I am evermore with you.”
Keep us faithful! Then, Lord Jesus, Quickly come! Make all things new!
6 Praise the Father, great Creator. Praise the Son, who took our place.
Praise the Spirit, Sanctifier, God of free and faithful grace!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
Masterfully minted for the 150th anniversary of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, this hymn calls to mind God’s grace in the past, which compels us to proclaim his gospel promises into the future.
Text: Paul E. Eickmann, 1928–2006 © 1999 WELS. All rights reserved. Used by permission.