THE 3RD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY AD 2024
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that
great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to
Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three
days 'journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called
out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed
God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster
that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
1 Corinthians 7:29-31 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short.
From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as
though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and
those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they
had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and
saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the
gospel.” Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon
casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I
will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in
their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee
in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
It’s hard to imagine in the midst of all that life throws at you, whether it’s the demands of work
and family life, or all those doctor’s appointments that take their place later in life, that you could
feel like you have all the time in the world for anything. With not a moment to spare how could
you ever feel that there would be lots of time to deal with something later. Strangely enough
though, that’s how it works. The busier that life gets the more time we seem to think that we’ve
got for the things of God. The busier that life gets, later is the time set aside for the Lord. I’ll
get to that later. I’ll have time later. I’ll take care of that later, after all this urgent stuff,
important stuff, needful stuff is done.
Now of course for the Christian all honest work is God’s work. As we serve our families, our
friends, and our neighbours, we’re serving the Lord. Doing your job, looking after your family,
yes, even going to all those appointments with someone else and even for ourselves, these are all
good works that we do as God’s baptized children to serve the Lord and our neighbour. You
don’t have to have hymns playing in the background as you do it for it to be a God-pleasing good
work. Neither does everyone you serve have to be a Christian for you to be serving the Lord in
serving them. Since we are God’s children, He sanctifies - makes good and holy - our day to day
But we mustn’t forget in the midst of all this, beloved, that the Lord asks us to take time
especially for Him. Time where He serves us. Time where He gives to us. Time where He
blesses us. Without this time all the other running around we do, all the other working, and
serving, as honest as it may be, could end up counting for nothing. The only reason all that other
work counts for anything is because Jesus makes it count. Only as we do it as God’s children.
Only as we do it unto the Lord. Only as its all wrapped up in our life in God’s Spirit, is it Godly
praise worthy work.
The high point of our life with the Lord, the essential hour, is this hour, where the Lord comes to
be in our midst as we gather in His name and call upon Him. This hour unfolds the whole
mystery of God’s new life with us, where He claims us and makes us His own, as He establishes
and builds up our life in Jesus. Here God meets with us, shares His life with us, clothes us, feeds
us, forgives us, renews us, and saves us. Here God lives out the truth that we are His children
with us. He makes us holy as He is holy. He serves us that we might serve Him.
This hour is the heartbeat of our eternal lives and we should be as willing to give it up as much
as we’d be willing to have our own hearts stop. But we understand the Christian life wrongly,
beloved, if we think that this means that is the only time I should hear the word of God, call on
His name, or turn my heart and mind toward heavenly things. Taking time to pray and to ponder
the Lord’s Word… we should not be too busy with other things for these, beloved. We should
not treat these things as though we had all time in the world for them, while all the things that are
passing away rule our hours and our days. God’s things are not just another drain on our time,
they are the the very things that give us time, even as they bring His peace into our frantic lives.
As a father and husband, even as a pastor, I know all too well how the business of life and it’s
busyness can get in the way of the Lord’s things. I know those moments when you wonder how
on earth you could fit something else into an already hectic day, but I also know how blessed
those busy days and their business become when God orders them with His Word and blesses
them in prayer. God doesn’t want to be just scheduled in for one hour a week on a Sunday
morning. It is a blessed thing if you come for that hour, but He wants to be so much more for
you. Day by day He wants deepen and enrich your life with Him. He wants to meet you in His
word, share time with you in prayer, and order your days in His peace.
There are plenty of spaces around the Bible Class table, beloved, as your own Bibles are waiting
to be read. There are many things to pray about in our increasingly Godless world - family,
friends, and enemies to be lifted up in prayer. There are so many who need to know the love of
God, so many who need to hear the Good News of Jesus, so many who need us to call on the
name of the Lord for them. The Lord is also ready and willing to help you deal with that mess of
sin in your life, that weighs you down and makes you weary. He’s put His servant here to hear
your confessions and give you His forgiveness. He wants you to make use of him to lay your
burdens down and know His peace.
All the time in the world? No, beloved, we do not have all the time in the world, as Jesus so
clearly proclaims to us today. The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is hand. The
appointed time has grown very short. Jesus has come. The last days are upon us. Now is the
time to repent and hear the Gospel. The present form of this world is passing away. Now is the
time to have our hours and our days ordered by following Jesus. Now is the time to order our
many callings in the world around Christ and not Christ around our many callings. Now is the
time to live as members of the new age that has dawned upon us in Jesus, no longer living in sin
and its ways, no longer living for the world that is passing away but for the new life that Jesus is
giving to us.
All the time in the world? No, beloved, the time is short. Repent and believe the Gospel. Repent
and live in the Gospel. Repent and look to Jesus. He has come here for you today to renew you
in your life with Him by His gracious call away from the dying things of the world to follow
Him. In mercy He is here for sinful you, who has not lived in the fullness of your life as a
baptized child of God - as an heir of heaven, who has not lived for the eternal things - for God’s
purposes, but for the passing things of this world. He is here for you as the one who has suffered
and died to pay for the many ways that you have failed Him, as the one who has given up His
things on the cross to pass away into death, so that you could be forgiven and receive His eternal
things as a free gift from His hand.
Jesus gave up everything for you so that His eternal things could be yours. He suffered and died
so that His eternal life could be yours. He went down into the grave so that you could have so
much, so much, more than the passing things of this world. I know the worldly stuff looks like
so much right now, beloved, I know we can long for more of it, feel so unfulfilled if we don’t
have it all, but it will be nothing but dust one day, it will all pass away, the Word of the Lord is
the only thing that will endure forever. Jesus has died so that the Word and the life that flows
from it could be yours now in this time and into eternity.
The Lord Jesus called Simon and Andrew, James and John, as He has called me, away from the
other labours of the world, so that we could bring the fullness of that Word to you, so that it
could grab hold of your heart and your mind, your body, and your soul, so that it could catch
hold of you with all its love and grace and mercy and save you from this passing world by
making you a part God’s Kingdom as God’s own dear children. Today, your wounded Lord
stands before you, showing His hands and feet and side to remind you of all that He has won for
you and all that is yours in Him. “Repent and believe the Gospel,” He says … “Come follow