Homily for the third Sunday after the Epiphany (Year C) – The power of Jesus to speak

Updated: Jan 22

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Good morning bus riders!


I trust everyone received the email with the link to the lectionary page that has today’s readings. There are only the standard four for today.


To return for a moment to the words I ended last Sunday’s lesson with … about the diligence that is self-motivated Bible study … everyone should have all the readings pulled up on their smart phones right now, ready to review what you have already put efforts into understanding.


It is not a bad thing to have made a checklist about questions or revelations you saw while reading these selections set aside for today, which you expect me to answer or confirm.


Again, in my history as an Episcopalian sitting in a pew, I never was satisfied with what any priest said. That says Yahweh is not looking for those who follow others as their leaders … the leaders who tell the people what the people want to hear. Yahweh wants each individual to look to Him for guidance. He wants each individual soul to be infused with the soul of His Son Jesus, so Jesus within is the one who speaks the loudest, the clearest, and is the true teacher of the meaning in Scripture.


This must be seen as the truth of spreading the Gospel. Everyone who knows how to read can read Scripture translations. The true teachers are only those who are filled with the soul of Jesus. It is the truth being told that leads others to become likewise a teacher, who is possessed by the soul of Jesus.


To reach that point, just as we see in the disciples taking time following Jesus, before they suddenly became apostles, it helps to have a teacher that leads you to do your own research. To listen and believe without question is to put your faith in a human being; and, we all know how flawed those are.


So, with that reminder stated, let’s begin!


Today we have a special guest. His name is Nehemiah. Nehemiah is the writer of a history book by his name, which is thirteen chapters long. Today is the only day in the entire three-year cycle of the Episcopal lectionary that anything from Nehemiah is read.


It is eight verses snipped from the whole of chapter eight. In those, we are given a clear idea that a fellow named Ezra read from the Book of Law; but little of the reading selection says much about Nehemiah.


So, let’s talk about him for a while; since this is his only day in the light of Sundays.


Nehemiah was an exilic Jew, who was most likely a descendant of freed Jews who remained in Babylon to serve their Persian liberators. He was in some way close to the King of Persia, with some saying he was a cupbearer. Others say he must have been a eunuch, because he was allowed to watch the queen (and Persian kings usually had more than one of those).


While not written in the known history of Nehemiah, he must have had some expertise in surveying and wall construction, in addition to having been raised a devout Jew. It would have been from some area of expertise that Nehemiah would suggest to King Artaxerxes, “I think I should go to Jerusalem and oversee the extent of the destruction done by the Babylonians and make plans for restoring it. Then, you can send all Jews there, who want to return to a rebuilt city.”


Rather than think King Artaxerxes figured that Nehemiah did such a good job tasting his drinks for poison, so he must be qualified to rebuild a great city that has been destroyed, it makes sense to see Nehemiah in the light of qualified builder.


Artaxerxes made the decision that Nehemiah had an excellent idea AND the king funded everything, making an unlimited amount of Persian timber be available to rebuild all the walls surrounding Jerusalem.


Now, in the time since the fall of Jerusalem, the Jews who remained in the area had become intermingled with Gentiles. When the walls were complete, moves were made to clean up the place, so it was only for Jews. Gentiles were no longer allowed in Jerusalem. All mixed marriages had to be dissolved, as no Jewish male could be married to a Gentile woman. All of this, after twenty years, had Nehemiah call for Ezra – a high priest – to come and consecrate everything done.


Nehemiah was designated the governor of a Persian conquered land; and, Ezra was the new High Priest for the place.


Remembering not too long ago the reading from Zephaniah, who was a priest under the King of Judah, Josiah, I told you that Josiah ordered the tax revenues collected to go into renovating Solomon’s Temple. In that process of renovation, someone entered a hidden tunnel and found the Book of Law.


Do you remember that?


<Look for nodding heads.>


Well, Judah was heading towards ruin, due to a series of bad kings, none of whom knew the Law; so, none of the priests were making the Law be known to the people. Josiah commanded the Law be known; and, that is much like what we read today. That forgotten, relative to Judaism, needed to be remembered


The reading from Nehemiah is then clearly establishing the theme for today’s readings, which is the Law being known. It is written down in a book to be read; but that is a tool for teaching. The laws must be written within one's heart, making it always be remembered.


Raise your hands if you know how many laws the Jews recognize.


<Look for raised hands.>


If you think there are only Ten Commandments, then think again. There are 613 Commandments.


When we read that Ezra began reading from the Book of Law “from early morning until midday,” that equates to about three hours of reading aloud.


Raise your hand if you would wait three hours for the bus to arrive … much less sit in a church that long listening to a priest or pastor read from the Bible.


<Look for no hands raised.>


One Episcopalian once told me he converted from Baptist because he could not handle the all day Sunday expectations. He said hour-long sermons were hard enough to sit through; but then they wanted everyone to hang out at church after the service was over. He told me he fell in love with the cold-hearted, wham-bam-thank-you-maam Episcopalian way of being religious.


Of course, there is something to say about not wanting to listen to B.S. any longer than necessary; so, a shorter dose of crap is better than the all-you-can-eat buffet of politicized religion.


Remember what I said about doing homework … willingly? Time is no obstacle when you are having fun being divinely led by inspiration.


This is where one needs to realize the Commandments are not simply recommendations to do good. They are the fixed, non-negotiable terms of divine marriage to Yahweh. Yahweh gave them to Moses. Moses gave them to the people. The people agreed with the terms, so the concept of “chosen people” really means “married souls.”


Yahweh chose wives … extended family not so much.


The Law is one of those ‘all or nothing’ principles. It is Yahweh saying, “You are My wife. As My wife no cheating is allowed. Cheating wives become ex-wives.”


When this is understood, a wife married to Yahweh is allowed to ‘see the world,’ but only when the one watching after them is a eunuch, so the world never becomes a lure to cheat on Yahweh … one’s Holy Husband.


Nehemiah was a eunuch in that sense, as the queen(s) become metaphor for human souls. So, Nehemiah was a trusted wife of Yahweh, who never tempted anyone to break the laws of divine union.


Ezra needs to be seen in the same light, as Ezra has his own book, which is part of the Hebrew Bible. We Christians only know of him by this reading in Nehemiah.


When we hear how Ezra read the entire set of laws to the Jews in Jerusalem, this needs to be seen as a restating of the marriage vows. It is kinda like a married couple renewing their vows.


To read about all “who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to Yahweh ha-elohim; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law,” think about how women love to cry at weddings.


It was tears of joy that sprang from the bodies of souls that had just renewed their vows to Yahweh. The Hebrew word “ha-elohim” means the people had again become extensions of Yahweh in the flesh, having received His Spirit.


When the leaders told the people, “do not mourn or weep,” that was relative to the “mourning” that comes from death. The metaphor here says all of their self-egos had just died in sacrifice to Yahweh, at His altar of marriage. Therefore, there would be no need for the crying that sinful souls are known to do, when death comes and judgment is rendered. No weeping means salvation is guaranteed.


With each soul knowing that meaning, the tears of happiness flowed.


Marriage vows are such tender and moving words of commitment and love; but the true reason the Jews wept is Ezra reading the Law fell upon their hearts and souls as the Spirit from which the Law was given. By Ezra speaking the Law and the people listening, the Jews became reborn in commitment to Yahweh.


Can you see that symbolism?


<Look for nodding heads and weeping women.>


Okay. Well, let’s have a nice round of applause for Nehemiah, sending him off for another three years of silence.


<Wave hand and begin clapping.>


Our next guest is not only David, but his Psalm 19. Psalm 19 is read in unison or sung loudly no less than seven times in a three-year cycle, with five of those times on a Sunday. So, this song of praise is a popular one to sing.


Following in line with the theme of the Law, here David sings, “The law of Yahweh is perfect and revives the soul” and “The statutes of Yahweh are just and rejoice the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear and gives light to the eyes.”


That is David knowing the Book of Law and his receipt of the Spirit causing him to weep tears of joy. David knew what Nehemiah wrote of, when he told of the Jews of a rebuilt Jerusalem weeping.


While that element of the Law is clear, Psalm 19 places focus on marriage also. That is heard when he sang, “it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber.”


Yahweh symbolizes the “bridegroom,” while our souls become His bridesmaids.


In verse one of Psalm 19, the translation shows it singing, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork.” In that, “God” is written “el,” which is wrong to overstate that with capitalization.


One “el” is one soul married to Yahweh. Yahweh has many human ‘wives,’ which are collectively His “elohim.” Thus, David knew his soul was one “el” of his true God.


This is where the metaphor of poetry needs to be realized. When David wrote of “the heavens,” it is easy to get lost in some dreamy imagination of deep, deep space. In reality, the plural number – “heavens” – means the multiple spirits that have combined within one soul.


To have “heavens declare the glory of one el,” this means the Spirit of Yahweh is one “heaven” and the soul of His Son Jesus is another “heaven,” so those two “heavens” have been poured out upon the soul of David [with a soul being like a “heaven”]. So, that triple-whammy set of “heavens” are the praise of Yahweh that comes from one “el.”


The "firmament" says this divine presence becomes one's firm foundation. Jesus becomes the cornerstone of the "firmament."


That sets the theme of Psalm 19 as being divine marriage, where the “heavens” unite as one.


When David’s sixth verse then repeats this, singing “It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens,” “it” refers to verse five ending with “it rejoices like a champion to run its course." That is the “sun,” which has dawned and begun shining the light of truth. The “champion” light of truth is Jesus; and, Jesus is “it” that David sang, “runs about to the end of it again; nothing is hidden from its burning heat.”


Of course the metaphor of poetry is always open for questions as to the meaning, but “the outermost edge of the heavens” is one’s soul having been welcomed into the heavenly family of Yahweh.


David then sang about the “judgements” that bring “righteousness,” which is the symbolism of one’s life being led by Jesus’ soul.


David next placed focus on servitude, stated as becoming “servants.” When a soul marries Yahweh and receives His Spirit, the Law becomes an agreement of servitude, where one’s own will is totally submissive to the Will of Yahweh. That Will comes into one through the Son reborn.


Thus, David sang a “servant” is “enlightened,” receiving “great reward.” That is then said to be what keeps a “servant from presumptuous sins.”


“Yahweh” becomes one with a soul, giving that soul the “strength” of a Savior, which makes Jesus be the “redeemer.”


Can you see this in David’s song of praise?


<Look for nodding heads.>


The Law must be seen as the vows of marriage that unite two as one. They make tears of joy flow because two are agreeing to the same set of rules. A wife of Yahweh pledges to willingly and lovingly comply with the demands of Yahweh; AND, Yahweh pledges to willingly and lovingly lead the wife to comply with the demands of holy union. So, once joined in Holy Matrimony, then the Law simply becomes the new way of life.


It is that new way of life that Paul was writing about, in a letter sent to the newly married souls of Corinth.


Now, as it is with all the Epistles … and I have said this before and the same refrain will always be the chorus … divine language is hard to grasp in paraphrased translations.


It is easy to read these twenty verses and hear it be said that Paul is speaking of a “church” being a “body,” which is made up of different “members.”


Raise your hand if you have heard this before and believe that is what it means.


<Look for raised hands.>


In this reading, the word “church” only appears once; and, that is in verse twenty-eight, near the end.


The word “body” is found written eighteen times, all between verse twelve and verse twenty-seven. The word “member(s)” is found written thirteen times, also in the span of verses where “body” is found.


This separation of “body” and “member(s)” from “church” says they are different. A “body” with “member(s)” is Paul's way [divinely inspired] of classifying souls that are married to Yahweh. The collection of “bodies” can then be seen as Paul writing about “Yahweh elohim.”


This makes a “member” be any soul in flesh that has merged that soul-flesh with the Spirit of Yahweh. The presence of Yahweh’s Spirit … only possible through divine union … means a “member” has been filled with Yahweh’s “Spirit.” Seeing that, a "body" is then the collection of "members" so defined.


This is termed in the Old Testament Hebrew writings as "Yahweh elohim," with that "body" named "Israel."


Thus, Paul wrote, “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” adding “and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”


In between those two statements about the “baptism by Spirit,” Paul wrote, “Jews or Greeks, slaves or free.” Those must be seen as the “members” that make up this “body.” It is whoever Yahweh chooses to be His wife. It is whoever commits to the Laws of divine marriage and drinks from "one Spirit."


Now, with that seen, one can jump to the conclusion that a “church” is also a “body” made up of an eclectic mix like what Paul named. However, that is an impossibility.


Today, the tendency is to define a “church” as a building, or an organization. In that definition there is no soul present. A building is not capable of life. Neither is an organization, even when both are filled with individual bodies that have souls.


Only that having a soul can be part of the “body” Paul wrote of. That means only souls married to Yahweh can be “members” of this one, specific "body" he wrote of.


Now the great debate that Paul created by saying feet and eyes and ears and noses and hands are all equally parts of a body, is those are physical body parts. The metaphor says the parts of a body of flesh all are one with a single body of flesh; but metaphor makes the physical body not be the intent. The symbolism says each physical body part has a specific role that makes the whole body function properly, as intended.


This means no one body part is better than the other. There is no pecking order of members. While each are different, none are superior to the others. All are of the same Spirit from Yahweh. All are Saints. Thus, there are no members of the body that are recognized as ‘Pope nose,’ or ‘Archbishop hand,” or ‘Presiding Bishop eye.’ Every member is a Saint, because the "body" is wholly married to Yahweh.


Because metaphor says only Saints are "members" of one "body," there are no 'tagalongs' that are "members" … such as disciples and students . Those are members of different bodies. Those "members" of different "bodies" can be changed through divine marriage, becoming a new "member" - in the name of Yahweh [Israel]; but until then, they are in different bodies than the one Paul wrote of.


When the symbolism is taken away from the physical and placed in the spiritual, the "body" becomes only the Yahweh elohim of the world. Ordinary souls in ordinary flesh do not qualify as a Yahweh elohim; so, the ordinary are not parts of the divine “body,” where only a divine “body” exists.

So, the placement of an angelic spirit in one’s soul is then for the purpose – designated by Yahweh – to have divine souls in bodies of flesh carry out different roles as one whole that is all Yahweh’s wives in divine marriage – His elohim on earth.


Paul wrote as a Saint, telling other Saints, they had become Saints so Jesus could teach from multiple bodies of flesh, in different places, at the same time. This makes the "members" be in the "body" that is ministry in the name of Jesus.


It is also most important to realize there is no religious organization, nor any religious building – of any denomination – that is a Yahweh elohim. Only souls in bodies of flesh can be “members” of this quite Holy “body.” By “Holy,” I means a collection of Saints walking the earth.


When Paul wrote his letters, he was writing to a collection of Saints that walked the earth. That body of members became known as “Christianity.” By that, a Saint is a soul that has been Anointed by Yahweh, with the Greek for that being a “Christ.” A “body” of “members” that were all “Christs” was then the advent of “Christianity.”


Today there are few Saints walking the earth. As such, there are few "Christs" now walking the earth as Jesus reborn. A big part of the reason why such a decline is the overturning of the “body” consisting of living “members,” and replacing Saints with organizations and buildings that are filled with ordinary souls calling themselves “Christians.”


The two are not the same.


This is comparative to knowing an ordinary American is a member of the body called the United States of America; but [dual citizenship aside] an ordinary member of Kenya, or Russia, or France (et al) cannot (and probably would not attempt) to claim to be a member of two or more separate bodies.


To do so is a lie, because it is an impossibility. In this regard, Jesus made it clear that no man can serve two masters, because he will love the one and hate the other. This relates to the few verses that address a “church” or “ecclesia.”


When Paul did mention a “church” or an “assembly, congregation,” his reference was to those who were truly “Christian.” He was not referring to those who pay ‘dues’ to a ‘club’ that is some religious denomination.


In that, Jesus defined a “church” as being when two or three living members gather in his name – meaning each is Jesus reborn, with “Jesus” meaning “Yah[weh] Saves.” So, each being Saved, there would be the soul of Jesus in their midst – within their souls.


Thus, the key thing to realize from these twenty verses of Paul comes in verses twenty-nine and thirty, when he asks a series of questions that all ask, “Are not all of these qualities listed prior defining traits of all Christians?”


A true Christian is in possession of all the gifts made available to Jesus – the Son’s gifts from the Father – because Jesus’ soul is in ALL true Christians.


While it is harder to see, Paul was writing about the marriage of a soul to Yahweh, so each divinely married soul can be reborn as Jesus … possessing every gift he needs to use.


This then leads to the Gospel reading from Luke.


The marriage theme here is hardest to see; but it is there. It is written where we read, “a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.”


When this is read closely, and slowly, the words written portray Jesus as the minister who marries souls to Yahweh, everywhere he goes to speak.


This should be seen as Ezra reading the Law to the Jews of Jerusalem, making them weep tears of joy. From words spoken, the Spirit overflows and fills souls.


It is like David singing praise that his soul had joined with the heavenly – Yahweh and His Son – so one's lips have declared the glory of that divine marriage.


When Paul went to Corinth, he preached to “Jews and Gentiles, free and slaves.” Paul was not handing out pamphlets and requesting email addresses, so he could send them letters asking them to “Send money!” Paul was married to Yahweh and reborn as His Son Jesus, so when Paul opened his mouth, Jesus divinely spoke and the Corinthians wept with joy, praised Yahweh, and began spreading the news of Jesus – as Jesus touching their souls – so the name and fame spread rapidly.


Can you see the ministry of Paul as being the rebirth of Jesus’ ministry, because Saul had died of self-ego and was reborn as Jesus leading the soul of Paul?


<Look for nodding heads or astonished faces.>


Christianity did not spread around the globe because of slick advertising gimmicks. It spread because souls were open to receiving the Spirit. All those lost souls needed was someone coming by that could read them the Law, making them weep with joy.


It is important to see that Jesus was the presence of Yahweh’s Spirit, in the flesh from birth. Where Jesus went, seekers fell in love with his presence. When Jesus went into a synagogue to teach, those who wanted to hear the truth were amazed. Their souls received the Spirit.


This past week, I was intently looking at the capitalized names of places and looking deeply at what “Galilee” means. I did this because we are told, “Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee.”


The name “Galilee” means “Rolling,” which means one can assume the region that is called "Galilee" has some “Rolling” hills. However, because a capitalized word in Greek Scripture becomes divinely elevated in meaning – the intent behind the name – the same root verb that leads to “Rolling” also means “Encircling.”


In the actual order of the Greek words written by Luke, the literal translation here says that Jesus was filled with the “power of the Spirit for the result of this Encircling.” That says Yahweh was ready to send out His Son, with the Spirit ready to “powerfully Encircle” the souls of lost seekers.


The place named Galilee was where Jesus most certainly did go, because Nazareth is in Galilee; but the power that needs to be seen is Jesus going into “gatherings” of Jews between Jerusalem [after his first Passover of his ministry] and every other place he went, until he reached Nazareth.


In that process, the presence of Jesus “Encircled” the souls of Jews; and, that same “power of the Spirit for Encircling souls” was possessed by Paul [and ALL the Apostles]. That is because they all were members of the body of Yahweh that is His elohim.


Now the caveat of this power possessed by Jesus (and thereby all Saints in his name) needs to be seen in the fact that Jesus would be rejected in Nazareth. We do not read of that rejection today, because the cut off point is before the rejection comes; but the power to “Encircle” souls fully depends on a soul wanting to be divinely “Surrounded.”


Seek and you will be found.


This becomes an explanation how there can be any souls not married to Yahweh and reborn as Jesus. It is why the “body” of “Christs” is only those “members” that say “Yes” to Yahweh’s proposal. The proposal comes via a Prophet or Saint – like Nehemiah, Ezra, David, Paul and Jesus – but each soul of a potential bridesmaid has complete control over accepting or turning down Yahweh's offer.


Raise your hand if you ever rejected a marriage proposal or had someone reject yours.


<Look for raised hands.>


It happens. It is the way of life, where it is hard to decide to self-sacrifice and compromise for a long time, to one commitment.


Now, this is where we need to be able to read between the lines of Luke’s Gospel.


When we read that the attendant handed Jesus the scroll of Isaiah and “[Jesus] unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.” Etcetera …


until we read, “Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”’ This gives the impression that Jesus searched the scroll and then “found the place.”


Jesus read the first full verse of Isaiah 61, then the first four words of verse two. There wouldn’t be much searching to find the beginning of a scroll; but if all the books of Isaiah were on one huge scroll, then Jesus might have unrolled that scroll until he "found" Isaiah 61:1.


This is what one should get from reading this, although this is not overtly stated.


EVERYWHERE Jesus went before reaching Nazareth, in EVERY synagogue, the readings are planned in advance. Just like these readings today are part of a lectionary of planned readings, so too were ALL the reading Jesus read in EVERY synagogue.


EVERYWHERE an attendant handed Jesus a scroll and EVERY scroll he opened it and found where to read …


Are you ready?


<Look for anticipatory faces.>


EVERYTHING written was fulfilled by the Jesus reading it aloud; and, that fulfillment was spilled out upon the Jews hearing that prophecy read. EVERYWHERE Jesus said the same thing: "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."


Like the Jews when Ezra read the Law for three hours, they received the Spirit of divine marriage and wept; so too did those seekers who heard Jesus read 'short and sweet.' Those seekers who heard Jesus before he reached Nazareth; and, even in Nazareth too, they received his Spirit. They wept tears of joy from Jesus reading Scripture to them. The same happened in Nazareth … up to the cut off point in the reading today.


The Episcopal elders who chose to end today's reading from Luke at that point knew - divinely inspired to see - this was what Jesus was - the fulfillment of prophecy!


Let me say quickly that the reason the reading today ends with Jesus speaking and it does not go beyond his words, is today's lesson is about the Law and divine marriage. It is not a day to ponder rejection. To end here allows the after the Epiphany period, which is symbolic of true Christians - wives of Yahweh, reborn as His Son - to reflect on what it is like to let Jesus speak through our bodies of flesh.


Jesus is the Son of Yahweh, as flesh born with the divine soul of Adam. Adam was created by Yahweh to Save souls - Yahweh Saves is what the name Jesus means. Thus, way before Jesus was born, his soul was resurrected in David, and Ezra, and Paul; so, whenever Jesus speaks, "the fulfillment of prophecy" is received by those who say, "Yes" to the Law proposed by Yahweh.


All churches should be led by souls resurrected as Jesus, so sermons touch the souls of the lost seekers … not the brains of political activists.


New Christians weep with the joy of knowing what they did not know before. New Christians sing praises about having the heavens come upon them, where the light of truth now shines and a cornerstone of faith has firmly set them in place.


The after the Epiphany period is when the new toys get played with and when new gadgets are learned to control. It is when the tears of happiness flow because of the Christmas gift one received.


When people want to hear a new Jesus speak, then everything is sweet.


It is when people go to pick up stones that the sweetness disappears. That is for another time down the road when rejection is known, because it is inevitable not everyone is a seeker.


Ordinary members of human bodies of religion do not believe there can ever be more than one Jesus … the one who came and went, who everyone is still waiting for. There can be no Jesuses other than him to come back. They hear the words of Jesus as heresy.


They do not weep tears of joy. Instead, they seek to make tears of sorrow flow.


Speaking the Gospel can become like tossing chum in the waters and waiting for sharks to show. "Crucify him!" they then say.


Jesus warned his followers … and that does not mean tagalongs, it means souls married to Yahweh and reborn as His Son … that persecution is part of ministry. You speak the truth so the lost can be found; but not everyone is able to handle the truth.


God knows Jesus and Paul knew that, up close and personal.


I see the bus is not far from the stop now; so, I’ll end with a homework assignment.


I want you all to go home, pick up a Holy Bible and open it to the Old Testament. I want you to randomly read a chapter – the equivalent of a scroll – and report back here next Sunday how Jesus was not prophesied there.


Think about what I have told you. Go back and reread these lessons and make sure you can see how I am getting this from that commonly read.


The difference between faith and belief is the difference between being a member of a body that is not married to Yahweh and being a member of a body divinely wed. The difference is Spirit added to soul.


I look forward to seeing you all next Sunday. Until then, do take care of your souls.


Amen

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