1. What is Jesus' conception of, “How is God’s kingship made effective?” It would happen through preaching.
  2. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus establishes a whole new standard for what it means to live as one of His people.
  3. The followers of Jesus have a function to perform. When they do not perform it—that is, when they are not being themselves—the world suffers.
  4. Our first mistake in thinking about the blessed life is we expect to experience it fully in this life.
  5. This week Jesus continues by discussing the behavior of his people. He’s particularly interested in the way his people treat others—especially those who mistreat them. Like last week, the only way to describe it is backwards.
  6. Backwards. That is the only way to describe the world Jesus portrays in Luke 6. Consider what He says about blessings. The blessed, He says, are the poor, the hungry, those who weep. It is those who are hated, excluded, reviled, spurned. Who among us wants to be “blessed” like that?
  7. Much like the Old Testament reading from Isaiah, Luke helps us consider discipleship by inviting us to identify with an individual.
  8. During Epiphany we reflect on the things God has revealed about the world and Himself through His Son. The Gospel readings, which come from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, serve as introductions to Jesus—both for the people of His day and ours.
  9. This text reminds us that Jesus was a preacher. He also healed and worked wonders, delivered from danger and forgave sins. But here, immediately following his baptism, Jesus came to his own people in the synagogue of his hometown, and he preached.
  10. And there is Jesus to save the day. With a little prodding from His mother, and some help from obedient servants, He swoops in and solves the problem before anyone even knew it existed. That is what we are looking for from God, right? To swoop in. To save the day. These are good reasons to like this text, but they all miss the point.
  11. The first Sunday after Epiphany is traditionally a time to think about the baptism of Jesus. It is common on this Sunday for preachers to make connections between Jesus’ baptism and our own. That seems like a natural move, for most sermons are directed primarily to the baptized.
  12. On Christmas morning many congregations sang Isaac Watts’ familiar hymn, “Joy to the World.” My home congregation was among them. I was already thinking about Epiphany and Matthew’s account of the magi as I sang, which is probably why the third verse caught my attention.