Year A – Epiphany 7 – 1 Corinthians 3:10–11, 16–23

1 Corinthians 3:10–11, 16–23 – According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 18 Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Summary – Paul addresses the hero worship problems in the Corinthian church and while he does this he provides some amazing theological insights. He likens the church to a building and the foundation has been laid. We can read of the actual foundation of the Corinthian church in Acts 18. Paul had first gone to teach in the synagogue in Corinth, but at some point they began to strong oppose and revile him. After being rejected at the synagogue, Paul moves into the house next door! So essentially Paul creates a rival congregation next door to the synagogue. Paul was preaching that Jesus is the Christ and as such is building His Church which is a new temple of God (as opposed to the temple in Jerusalem). It is striking. He says, “you are the temple of the Holy Spirit.” Don’t boast about any human leader, God dwells in your congregation. What does it matter if Paul or Apollos or Cephas has worked on your building. If the king has come to your home, why are you talking about the plumber? Why speak of the A/C repairman? God is here. Not only are you part of God’s eternal kingdom, “all belongs to you” and you belong to God. This is similar to the Psalms/Christ’s teaching that the meek will inherit the earth. We must see current issues in the light of eternity.

Insight – What if you inherited a billion dollars. The catch is that for a few years, you can’t access the money and are really poor. How would that change your life immediately? Would you be able to endure a few years of limited means? God has promised us resurrection life eternal, no more pain, no more sorry and perfect joy, but we must endure in the mean time. We must persevere in hope.

Prayer – O Lord, we thank you for your great promises of resurrection life, paid for by our Savior, Jesus. Help us walk in the knowledge that we the temple of the Holy Spirit and to see any of God’s servants in that light. Grant us the grace to endure this life in faith with hope that we may fully enjoy the glorious world to come, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Year A – Epiphany 2 – John 1:29-42

John 1:29–42 – The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” 35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

Summary – John recognizes that Jesus is the Christ (1:29-34). The Baptizer’s ministry of baptism through the Jordan was to “manifest” Christ. John confesses that Jesus is the Lamb of God who “takes away our sins” (1Jn. 3:5, Lev. 4:32, and paschal lamb, Ex. 12). The confirmation is that He is One who confers the Holy Spirit since the Spirit is embodied upon Him in the dove. This draws upon the fulfillment of new covenant themes. John confesses He is the “Chosen One” of God or “Son of God.” This passage shows the transitional nature of the Baptizer’s ministry. John was there (lit., “stood,” perf. tense) while Jesus was passing by (pres. tense) which emphasizes the shifting from John’s baptism to the ministry of Jesus. That leads to John’s disciples recognizing that Jesus is the Christ (1:35-39). The calling of the disciples begins with a very understated incident. Two of John’s disciples believe John’s word about Jesus and begin to follow Him (literally walking behind him). Jesus then “turned and saw them following” (v38). Jesus asks an open ended question, “What do you seek”? The response to Him is somewhat encoded. These disciples (probably John himself with Andrew) ask, “Where are do you stay”? They certainly wanted to ask more, just imagine . . . But the question is pregnant. The term for “stay” is significant in John’s writings. It is meno or “abide.” Where does Jesus abide? In the Father (and He is in Me). Jesus bids them to see this for themselves, “Come and see.” In the last part of the passage Peter recognizes that Jesus is the Christ (1:40-42). The Gospel never mentions it, but John himself with Andrew, is the first to receive the Baptizer’s testimony and to “see” where Jesus “abides.” Now Andrew testifies to Simon (Peter). “We have found the Messiah.” So now the disciples are leading others to Jesus. Perhaps at the beginning, they thought the Baptizer was He, but now they have “found” Him. As a result, Simon (Peter) comes to Jesus, just as did John and Andrew. Jesus calls Simon. First he “looks” “into him” (Lk. 22:61) and then names him, “Peter” (rock).

Discussion – Once I was meeting some Chinese college students who had never been in a church, nor read the Bible, and they knew nothing of Christianity. We were in a church fellowship hall which had banners on the wall. One of the banners was, “The Lamb of God.” One Chinese woman turned to me and asked, “Why Lamb? Why not pig or cow?” How would you answer the question, “Why the Lamb of God”?

Prayer – Almighty God and Loving Father, You sent Your only-begotten Son as a sacrificial Lamb for us to die the death we should have died. For this we give you endless praise. Grant that we continually have the joy of knowing that our sins are washed away through the once-for-all work of this Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.