Jesus' Custom
Thursday of Epiphany 4
31 January 2019
When I was first in the ministry many years ago, I was baffled by my congregants, because they did not attend Bible class. I did pastoral visits on the small community and asked people why they would not come to Bible class. They told me that they didn't understand the Bible, and for that reason would not come to Bible class. So, I asked them "Have you ever read the Bible?" Sheepishly they replied, "No." Hmm, that might have something to do with not understanding it. It's pretty difficult to understand a book that you've never actually read.

In Nehemiah 8, Ezra read the word of God to the people and the text tells us that the people understood the reading (Ne 8:3). The book that he was reading is the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. That is quite a lengthy reading. What did the people do? How did they receive this reading of the Word of God? They humbled themselves before the Word of the Lord and received it in deep humility and faith.

Jesus also reads the Word of God to the people of Nazareth (Lk 4:16-21). And in an irony above all ironies, Jesus who is the author of God's Word, is reading the very Word that He authored. This is why St. Paul tells us that all Scripture is breathed in by God (2Ti 3:16). Imagine having the book's author, the Bible's author actually show up at church. And not only that; for Jesus it was habitual. It was the custom of Jesus to go up to the synagogue every Sabbath day. He who made the Sabbath for man sought the Sabbath's blessings Himself. He who made the Word came to hear it every Lord's Day.

And even at Nazareth Jesus came for Sabbath service, although He knew there would be animosity toward Him as a son of the synagogue. How different the habit of Jesus is from ours, who will give the hearing of the word a miss at the slightest provocation! If anyone had the right to go to brunch and skip church, it was Jesus! He would not. Jesus is not stopped by the animosity of his fellow members, neighbors, friends, and even relatives. Compare his teaching as one who had authority to the clumsy, incompetent, and legalistic rabbis! Even those who despised him recognized how gracious the words were that came from his mouth. The Word of God was so sweet to Him that He made it His custom to be in Sabbath service.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

  Martin Luther
"One must not only hear and read the Word of God, but one must take it to heart. Therefore, it is not enough to preach or hear the Gospel once. No, one must constantly move forward and progress. For the Word has such grace that the more one deals with it, the sweeter it becomes. Although the doctrine of faith is always one and the same, one cannot hear it too often, unless there are impertinent and coarse hearts."

Martin Luther, Sermons on 1 Peter, 1.25
Nehemiah 8:1-8

And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose....And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground...The Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate our study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and proper discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

For Ileene Robinson, who is undergoing therapy for cancer, that her gracious Lord Jesus would grant her strength and healing

For Bob Schreiner, that the Lord Jesus would be his strength and aid in his advancing years
For all medical research, that those who seek to alleviate human suffering and bring proper therapies to humanity would be blessed with success in their labors
Art: MICHELANGELO Buonarroti Isaiah (1509)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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