FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
The Lord Jesus Brings Division on Earth for the Sake of Peace with God in Heaven
False prophets preach what their hearers want to hear, promising peace even when the Lord has spoken “war, famine, and pestilence” (Jer. 28:8). But if “the Lord has truly sent the prophet,” he speaks what the Lord has spoken, and “the word of that prophet comes to pass” (Jer. 28:9). The preaching of God’s Law is hard, because it confronts sin, brings it to light and makes it worse, “sinful beyond measure,” thereby “producing death” in the sinner (Rom. 7:13). But through our Baptism into Christ, “we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive” (Rom. 7:6). Now we belong “to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God” (Rom. 7:4). Belonging to Him puts us at odds with the world and divides us from all earthly ties, not only from our human family, but each person from his own life. For Christ does not come “to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). Yet, whoever takes up his cross to follow Christ, and “loses his life” for Christ’s sake, finds new life in Him (Matt. 10:38–39).
Posted on June 26, 2023 8:00 AM
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Matthew 10:5a, 21–33
Delivered from Sin and Death, You Now Live before God in the Righteousness of Christ
The outcome of sin is death, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). He has set you free from the slavery of sin and has brought you “from death to life” (Rom. 6:13). No longer are you under the condemnation of the Law, but you live “under grace” (Rom. 6:14). Such is your courage in the face of “those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matt. 10:28). For though “you will be hated by all” and maligned by the world for the name of Christ (Matt. 10:22, 25), you abide in the care of your Father in heaven, who numbers “even the hairs of your head” and values you more “than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:30–31). By the Word of Christ, you have become like Him, your Teacher and Master in whom you endure to the end, and “will be saved” (Matt. 10:22, 25). For He is with you “as a dread warrior,” who has overcome your enemies (Jer. 20:11). By the righteousness of faith, He delivers your heart, mind, body and life “from the hand of evildoers,” and He brings you into the land of the living (Jer. 20:12–13).
Posted on June 19, 2023 8:00 AM
THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Matthew 9:35—10:8 (9–20)
The Lord Our God Saves Us in Love and Cares for Us by the Ministry of His Gospel
The holy Triune God “shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,” ungodly and at enmity with Him, “Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). The incarnate Son has justified us by His blood and reconciled us to His God and Father (Rom. 5:9–10). Whereas sin and death originated with Adam, forgiveness and life abound for all his children through “that one man Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:12–17). As the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, so does He bring us to Himself by the Gospel and make of us “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6) by our Baptism into Christ. For “all that the Lord has spoken” (Ex. 19:8), Christ has done for us. As He has gone up to God by His cross and resurrection, so does He bring us to the Father in Himself (Ex. 19:3–4). Nor does He leave us “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36), but He sends men with authority “to heal every disease and every affliction” by His forgiveness of sins (Matt. 10:1). In their proclamation, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 10:7).
Posted on June 12, 2023 8:00 AM
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Jesus Calls Sinners to Repentance and Newness of Life in Accordance with His Mercy
In calling Matthew the tax collector to follow Him, Jesus demonstrates that He has come “not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:9, 13). As a good physician, He comes not to confirm them in their sins, but to heal them with His grace, calling them to repentance, faith and newness of life (Matt. 9:12). He puts them to death by the preaching of His Law, in order to raise them with His Gospel, to live before Him in the righteousness of His resurrection (Hos. 6:1–2, 5). It is in this way that God “gives life to the dead,” that is, through faith in Jesus, “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:17, 24–25). Thus, sinners from all nations are called to share the same faith as Abraham, the father of all who trust in Jesus (Rom. 4:16–18). And as our Lord in mercy thus welcomes us poor sinners to recline at the table in His house, so does He “desire steadfast love and not sacrifice” (Matt. 9:10, 13; Hos. 6:6), that we should have mercy on our neighbors and forgive their sins against us for Jesus’ sake.
Posted on June 05, 2023 8:00 AM
THE HOLY TRINITY
Acts 2:14a, 22–36
The Holy Triune God Recreates Us in the Image and Likeness of Christ Jesus
The holy Triune God “created the heavens and the earth,” and “behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:1, 31). However, after Adam and Eve fell into sin and plunged God’s good creation into decay and death, the Son of God would be “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” to be “crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). As Jesus “received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:33), He also raises up all the baptized and pours out the Spirit upon them through the preaching of His Gospel. He sends out His apostles to “make disciples of all nations” by “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and “teaching them to observe all that [He has] commanded” (Matt. 28:19–20). Through such baptizing and teaching — Gospel and Sacraments — the holy Triune God recreates us in the image and likeness of His incarnate Son, Jesus, the Christ, and behold, it is “very good” (Gen. 1:31).
Posted on May 29, 2023 8:00 AM
THE DAY OF PENTECOST
The Risen Lord Jesus Pours Out the Holy Spirit
The Lord took “some of the Spirit” that was on Moses “and put it on the seventy elders” of Israel (Num. 11:25), and they “prophesied in the camp” (Num. 11:26). In the same way, our risen Lord Jesus poured out His Holy Spirit at the Feast of Pentecost — the 50th day and the “Eighth Sunday” of Easter. When “a sound like a mighty rushing wind” and “tongues as of fire appeared” and rested on each of the 12 apostles, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” and proclaimed “the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:2–4, 11). The Lord Jesus grants this same Spirit to His Church on earth to proclaim Him glorified on the cross and risen victorious from the grave for us sinners. From His open heart, our crucified and risen Lord pours out His Holy Spirit in “rivers of living water” (John 7:38) and invites everyone who thirsts to come to Him and drink freely (John 7:37). Through this life-giving work of the Holy Spirit, we hear our pastors “telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11), and “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
Posted on May 22, 2023 8:00 AM
SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
1 Peter 4:12–19; 5:6–11
Our Lord Jesus Is with Us in the Upper Room of His Church on Earth
On the night when He was betrayed, our Lord Jesus prayed for His apostles and His Church on earth. “The hour” had come when the Father would glorify His Son by the cross (John 17:1). Through the shedding of His blood, He would bring forgiveness for the sins of the world, and in His resurrection and ascension He would unite all Christians with the Father “that they may be one” with God (John 17:11). He manifested His name to the apostles and gave them the words of the Father to speak in His name. The apostolic witness of His cross and resurrection (Acts 1:21–22) gathers disciples together “with one accord” into the one Body of Christ (Acts 1:14). “Devoting themselves to prayer,” they wait upon the Lord in “the upper room” (Acts 1:13–14), the place of His Holy Supper. Strengthened by the Gospel, Christians bear the cross of Christ in patience and peace, rejoicing to share in His suffering, in order that they “may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).
Posted on May 15, 2023 8:01 AM