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Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Today we focus on the Old Testament Reading, which is a passage from Nehemiah about the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem and teaching the city’s inhabitants to follow God’s Law. Our devotion comes from Concordia Commentary: Ezra and Nehemiah.

Scripture Readings

Nehemiah 8:1–3, 5–6, 8–10
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 12:12–31a
Luke 4:16–30

Read the propers for today in Lutheran Service Builder.

Devotional Reading

This instruction in God’s Word had the effect intended. It led to a joyful celebration of the Festival of Booths and to repentance and cries for God’s mercy. This in turn led to the solemn agreement in which the Judeans would endeavor to follow God’s Teaching. Then and only then came the proper time to repopulate Jerusalem and to produce in Yehud a faithful people, thereby ensuring support for the temple and its priesthood, which would serve until the Messiah came to his temple.

Once all this had been accomplished, it would then be the proper time to dedicate the wall of renewed Jerusalem and its people, who had been renewed through God’s Word of Law and Gospel. Nevertheless, in this world God’s people remain sinners who struggle with the temptations of the flesh as well as saints since they are justified before God by his grace alone. Because of their persisting sinfulness, there necessarily will be times in the future when God’s people will need to be reminded and even prodded by the Law to call them back to faithful lives. This was true as Jerusalem and its inhabitants awaited the first advent of the Savior, and it remains true for Christians in the church age as we await the second advent of the Messiah.

The holy city was more than a temple and a city wall—it was also a holy people inhabiting the city. To accomplish that, the study of God’s Word as well as repentance and faith followed by sanctified living were essential for repopulating the city with holy people. The same is true in the church age. Baptized believers in Christ are citizens of the holy city Jerusalem that is above. Yet because of their sinful nature and for the growth of God’s kingdom, the church continues the ministry of proclaiming God’s Word of Law and Gospel to bring people to repentance and faith until Christ returns, and then the new Jerusalem will be populated with all believers, who will be free from sin forevermore.

Devotional reading is adapted from Concordia Commentary: Ezra and Nehemiah, pages 507–8 © 2010 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Hymn

Video is of “Preserve Your Word, O Savior” from Twenty-Seven Hymn Harmonizations for Reformation © 2016 Concordia Publishing House.

Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.

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