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Epiphany 7

In each of these four texts there is an affirmation from God of a sinner or community of sinners and in each text there is an affirmation of God by people. The basic elements of worship are present, therefore, in these texts.

Isaiah 43:18-25

Even though the people of God had not honored God with their burnt offerings and sacrifices, it is said that God would affirm them by providing for them a way in the wilderness for their return to Jerusalem. As we see below, the Apostle Paul made a similar statement of faith in 2 Corinthians 1:18-22 that in spite of their sins God will declare righteous the chosen people of God. There is no particular reason given for this gracious act of God. This “new thing” is simply announced and celebrated. The affirmation from God is evidence of the inscrutable nature of God as noted by Paul in Romans 11:33-36.

The affirmation of God and of God’s grace is implied rather than expressed in the Isaiah 43:18-25 text. The affirmation is implied in the proclamation of the good news about the willingness of God to forgive and to forget the sins of the people.

Psalm 41

Within the context of this psalm, the Hebrew adjective dal at the end of Psalm 41:1a (in Hebrew, 41:2a) should be translated as “weak” or as “suffering” rather than as “poor,” even though the word dal elsewhere is used to describe persons who are poor.

Unlike the person in the Mark 2:1-12 account who had been suffering from a serious affliction and says absolutely nothing, the psalmist in Psalm 41 speaks profusely. Most of the psalmist’s lament, as in the Job drama, pertains to the attitude taken by enemies of the afflicted person. The psalmist asks for physical recovery so that the psalmist will be able to do to the adversaries what they have done to the psalmist. The psalmist is vindicated, or at least anticipates vindication.

The affirmation of God comes in the doxology at the conclusion of the psalm, which is also the conclusion of Book 1 of the Psalter. The affirmation is appropriate for the day.

Mark 2:1-12

In this text the affirmation of God of the forgiveness of sins and the healing of the paralyzed man is of course mediated through Jesus. Our emphasis as we use this text should be upon the affirmation from God mediated through Jesus rather than on the controversy dialogue inserted in verses 6-10 that makes of this text the first of a series of controversy stories that culminate in Mark 3:6. We are aware from our own experiences how debilitating deep feelings of guilt can be. The text depicts a miracle. The paralyzed man has been affirmed, forgiven, and healed. The proper response is given in 2:12. The man who had been paralyzed rises and walks and the people who witnessed this miracle of healing glorify God. The circle is complete.

2 Corinthians 1:18-22

This text, which brings the affirmation theme to its climax, asserts that the affirmations from God in history are focused in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As Paul expressed it in 1:20, “For as many as are the promises of God, in him (the Son of God) they are all kept with the ‘Yes!’ he supplies.” The affirmation is further expressed in the Spirit of God present in the hearts of the followers of Jesus as a continual affirmation from God.

The “Amen” (“Yes, indeed! It is certainly so in our experience!”) expresses our affirmation of God in response to the affirmation from God expressed in the life and teachings of Jesus. We are called to live our lives as expressions of this affirmation from God and as affirmations of God.

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Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen