One Holy Catholic and Apostolic
January 13, 2024 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Christ Lutheran Church
January 14, 2023
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Second Sunday of Epiphany
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Behold! A true Israelite in whom there is no deceit." Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you I saw you under the fig tree." Nathanael answered back, "Rabbi! You are the Son of God. You are the king of Israel." Then Jesus replied and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree’ do you believe. You will see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Amen, Amen I say to you/p, you/p will see heaven open with your own eyes and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
On this 2nd Sunday in the Epiphany season, the season of revealing, manifesting and making the unknown, known – in this season it is shown to us that the Christmas Child whom we worship is: the Messiah, the Lamb of God, Son of God, Son of Man, Son of Joseph, Resident of Nazareth, and Rabbi of the New and everlasting Covenant in his blood on the cross.
We learn these things from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, with an emphasis today on the word “Apostolic,” which means the church is not free to conduct herself in any old way she chooses.
And so if Pope Francis – anti Christ that he is – approves of homosexual unions. Or if “evangelicals” deny their people Holy Liturgy and Sacraments and feed them sociological scraps we will not participate, because they are not running on tracks that are one, holy, catholic or apostolic.
Mark that word – apostolic – and what it means. It means that the church cannot, as we say, choose what to believe, how to conduct Divine Liturgy, or what is Moral and what is not. But that she must conform her doctrine, practice and morality to what she learns from the Lord’s apostles. As Samuel in today’s Old Testament lesson was made the Lord’s spokesman, even so the “glorious company of the apostles,” teach us what we are to believe and how we are to worship and how to walk in holiness day by day.
And what do these blessed Apostles teach us today?
Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This means that he is no humanly chosen or elected “savior” who will fix the world, and all that is wrong with it. As scripture says, “Trust not in princes, they are but mortal.” And again, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to trust in princes.” But the LORD says of Jesus, “Behold my servant whom I uphold my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice (Salvation) to the nations.” (Is. 42:1)
Jesus is Messiah – that’s what Andrew and Philip quickly realized and that realization set the course for the rest of their lives!
They had found the One whom God had promised to send. To send from outside the cosmos to be the cosmos’s Savior. Jesus is the Man whom the Father appointed, and the Holy Spirit anointed. Not with the sacramental element of olive oil as he did prophets, priests and kings in the Old Testament. But by descending upon Jesus of Nazareth in the form of a dove, and remaining upon him! So that Jesus could impart the Holy Spirit to us in Christian baptism!
“Now the Spirit is the Lord, and where the Spirit is there is liberty.” (2 Cor. 3:17)
Jesus is King of Israel which is to say that Jesus is God himself because we learn from Isaiah and Zephaniah that the King of Israel is God. (Is. 44:6 & Zeph. 3:15) And so this Man is God! And a good thing because no man can redeem another man. (Psalm 49:7) No man could bear what Jesus bore. But he who is according to Saint Paul “Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5) has redeemed all humanity. He has born the sins of every man, woman and child, past, present and future, in his Body on the cross. So that any who call upon him will never be put to shame. (Romans 10:11) “Let heaven and nature sing!”
Jesus is the Son of God, or said another way “the Son who is God.” Being God’s One and Only Son means that he alone is able to reveal the true God to us. To teach us things that make our hearts burn with longing, and yearn “to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD in his holy temple,” (Psalm 27) the very thing that we are engaged in at this very hour.
Jesus is the Son of Man, or said another way, “the Son who is Man.” By his assuming human flesh he, in his Body on the cross, reunites mutinous man to the Source of his Life, the Living God. And now our warfare is over. Now we receive double from the hand of the LORD for all that we lost to sin! “Comfort Comfort ye my people,” says your God! (Is. 40)
He is Jesus of Nazareth, which shows his solidarity with sinful man. Not only by becoming man, but by living in Nazareth that area of Israel that had been infested by pagans. He made is home there and not in Jerusalem where the upper crust of Israel made its home – which elicited from Nathanael who knew the scriptures to ask, “can anything good come from Nazareth?” But this is where the Lord chose to call home. Why? Because “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Nor did Jesus come to “call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32) Truly! “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14)
Jesus is the son of Joseph, who is not the Lord’s biological father, but his foster father – and may every foster father learn from him! The icon we have by the offering plates is an icon of St. Joseph, who in great faith took on the responsibility of raising God’s Son to adulthood, when he would begin his final mission; and of caring for the Virgin who is blessed among women in every generation.
Jesus is Rabbi. This was not merely a term of respect, but by it Nathaniel understands that Jesus is the New Teacher of the New Covenant in his blood, by which he feeds his people with Holy Communion.
This is what we must believe, Beloved in Christ, and the standard to which we must conform our worship and our lives. There is no foolishness here, but only holy reverence, and great awe as we behold the holy angels descending and ascending on the Son of Man.
And so on this Second Sunday of Epiphany let us praise God for “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands … the word of life” (1 John 1:1) Amen.