Full Text for Homiletical Studies (Text)

CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY Volume 47, Number 4 OCTOBER 1983 Announcement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 289 Luther on the Ministry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eugene F. Klug 293 Luther on Prayer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . David P. Scaer 305 Homiletical Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 17 Books Received . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 369 Indices to Volume 47 (1983) AuthorIndex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 371 Title Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 375 Subject Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 377 Scripture Index to Homiletical Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAC SEMI LIBRARY FI. WAYNE, INDIANA 4682 Homiletical Studies EASTER SUNDAY Matthew 28: 1- 10 April 22, 1984 Early on the first Easter morning the women hastened to the tomb of Jesus. They went early. They hurried because in the very warm climate it was essential that they do their work as soon as possible. They had remembered the spices and the various materials needed for the embalming task. Their minds were sharply focused on the task at hand. Ther2fore they were sad. They were still remembering the crucifixion and the death. They had forgotten something. They had forgotten that Jesus, who had died, was the Son of God. They had forgotten (or could not believe) what He had said, that He would rise again on the third day. Thus as they approached the tomb they were completely taken by surprise to find God's angel sitting on the stone, the door of the tomb. His message was one of joy. GOD'S JOYOUS RESURRECTION MESSAGE I. Don't Be Afraid. A. The earthquake had increased the fear of the women. 1. In it God spoke a message of judgment to the unbelievers and to the enemies of Jesus. 2. But to the women and those who loved the Lord it was assurance of His gracious presence. B. The angel of the Lord sitting upon the stone, the door of the tomb, was God's spokesman. 1. His presence rendered the guards helpless. He filled them with fear and trembling. - - 2. To those seeking Jesus He was a messenger of great joy, in- viting them to see the empty tomb, proof that Jesus was alive. 11. Come and see the empty tomb. A. To draw near to God's angel, aglow with God's glory, was no longer an occasion of fear. 1. Sin was paid for. God declares the sinner "not guilty." 2. The penalty and punishment earned by man because of sin was paid for by Christ. God accepted the payment when He raised His Son from the grave. B. Death has lost its powers. 1. Death came (set in) as the inevitable consequence of the sin of our first parent., Adam and Eve (Gn 3:1-7). So death has come upon all men. 2. In the living Jesus death's sting is gone. In Jesus the human spirit is brought back again to a right relationship to God. In the living Jesus eternal separation is turned into 3 18 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY eternal togetherness with God. In Jesus temporal death has become the doorway to eternal life. In Jesus our bodies too shall be raised up and perfected forever. m. Go quickly and tell people that Jesus lives. A. Especially those who are fearful, gudty, and sad. 1. Fearful disciples are gathered behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. They are afraid that their faith has been misplaced. Tell such that Jesus is victorious over His enemies. 2. Guilty disciples remember how they forsook and denied the Lord, contributing to His suffering. Tell such that Jesus lives and that they are forgiven and restored. 3. The disciples are sad at the loss of their leader and friend whom they had hoped was the Messiah. Tell it to those who are sad at the death of a loved one and to such as are close to death that Jesus lives and they will conquer death. B. Tell it by showing the power of Jesus' resurrection. Jesus met the women on the way and spoke to them (v9). Evidence of His resurrection is meant to be manifest in the lives of Chris- tians. God's people are not meant to be enslaved by sin. When it is plain that we are freed from the slavery of sin (cursing, greed, selfishness, lust, chemicals, tobacco, etc.) then people can see that Jesus lives. He lives in us. We are freed to serve and to love our fellowmen. C. Tell people to meet Jesus where He promises to be, namely in Word and Sacrament (v10). This is a message of joy. The joy of it is illultiplied as we see its lasting value, and as we see its application in every circumstance of life. Jesus lives! Rudolph Haak Cambridge, Minn. SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER John 20: 19-3 1 April 29, 1984 The problem with the discipIes was not merely their concern for unfair pmuit or imprisonment by the Jewish leaders. They really were not sure just where they stood with their Lord. Suddenly Jesus is in their very midst, announcing His peace! His peace is not some self-induced euphoric state of mind; it is a new relationship with God through Him Who assumed the place of all who were by nature enemies of God. The central thought of the text is that the peace of God is both real and available in Jesus Christ. The goal is that the hearers will focus on Christ as the source of their peace. The problem is that we are tempted to look at superficial, circumstantial "evidence," thus doubting the loving, mighty working of God for our peace. The Homiletical Studies 3 19 means are the things "written, that ye might believe that Jesus is, the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (v31) Introduction: The sermon is ended. The pastor says: "Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting." You've heard the words so often they almost sound commonplace. But when your best friend, who died a couple of days ago, suddenly is with you in a locked room and says, "Peace be unto you," it really grabs your attention! That is precisely what Jesus did. Let us give our attention to that about which men dream, talk, and fight endlessly : PEACE I. Jesus declared peace. A. What is this "peace"? 1. It is not a mere feeling of tranquility. Being tranquil in the face of real danger can be deadly (Jn 14:27). 2. Peace is the cessation of hostility between God and man, hostility caused by man's sin (Eph 2:3&4). B. Jesus declares this peace because He made (won) this peace. 1, By waging war against sin and Satan, the peace destroyers. 2. By paying the price of peace in His death on Calvary (v20; Eph 2:13-14). 3. By rising from the dead Easter morning (v20). II. We are to declare peace. A. That is our divine mission (v21). What a privilege! B. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit (~22). C. We are to speak it authoritatively (v23). D. That is our common mission - people and pastor. Lk 24:33 in- dicates other believers were present besides the "eleven minus Thomas." Dl. We are to believe the declaration of peace. A. Doubt is a common enemy - when cults seem to multiply, when our own church seems to drift, when personal problems challenge our faith. B. Doubt is an historic enemy. 1. We can identify with the disciples, who hesitated to believe the report of the women of Jesus' resurrection. 2. We can identify with Thomas (v24ff.) who wanted hard evidence before committing himself to Christ again. C. To believe is to commit ourselves to Christ. His loving, sav- ing, lordship is evidenced by: I. His special appearance to Thomas and the accompanying exhortation ( ~ ~ 2 6 - 2 9 ; note the gift of peace once again. Ro 5: 1); 2. The many signs which Jesus did (v30); 320 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY 3. The inspired record of i t all - for our faith. Conclusion: Cast doubt and fear aside. Be not faithless, but believ- ing, for today Jesus has a word for you: Peace! Lloyd Strelow Covina, CA THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER Luke 24: 13-35 May 6, 1984 Our text does much more than present a made-for-Hollywood scenario of tragedy and tears turned into a triumphal conclusion. If Jesus were merely demonstrating His resurrection to these two disciples, He could have easily astounded them with His appearance. But "their eyes were holden" (v16). Little is known of Cleopas or the other traveler - or of Emmaus. But much is learned about Scripture and Jesus. One must not allegorize or romanticize the invitation: "Abide with us" (v29). The two disciples did not yet recognize they were with Jesus. Nor does the "day is far spent" have anything to do with growing old. The in- vitation showed genuine hospitality to a stranger, especially one who had shared so well with them along the way. But this is not the main point. The "breaking" of bread (v30) seems to be just the shar- ing of the meal, not a celebration of the Lord's Supper, by which Jesus revealed Himself. Their eyes being opened (v31) is the counter- part to their being "holden" (v16). The central thought of the text is that God reveals Jesus - in the Word and His work - as our living Redeemer. The goal is that the hearer will believe in and share the risen Jesus. The problem is that Christians are sometimes superficial in their study of the Word, thus leaving themselves open to doubts and assaults of false doc- trines concerning their Savior. The means to the goal is the written Word (Scripture) which gives us the Living Word (Jesus.) Introduction: It happens all the time! You look at a puzzle of lines and see something, only to look at it from another angle and see something quite different. Example: This 6 looks like a 6, unless you're looking at that figure upside down. You lose a small item on the carpet and search a wide area to find it. Fifteen minutes later you find it right in front of where you started. The Emmaus disciples seemed to handle things that way. But we shouldn't be too hard on them for not seeing - not recognizing Jesus. Actually, our text says "their eyes were holden." The question for us today is: WHO SEES JESUS? I. To see Jesus, atudy the Word. A.Fallacies about spiritual growth, understanding, seeing Jesus. 1. "I'm interested in religious topics, even Jesus." So even Homiletical Studies 32 1 these two disciples (v18), but that wasn't enough. 2. "I engage in a lot of religious discussion." The two disciples pooled their ignorance (w14-15), but remained puzzled because they didn't see the risen Christ (~24). 3. Living in a society that stresses sharing, people today love to talk about religion, but faith is not produced by sharing our ideas about Christ. B. He is already revealed. 1. To discover what kind of a prophet Jesus was (v19), the disciples should have dug deeper into the Word (v25; J n 539). 2. The 0.7". directly points to Jesus as the Messiah (v27). Pic- ture Jesus walking and recalling God's promise to Adam; Job's faith; Isaiah's portrayal of the suffering Savior. 3. How shallow is our faith because we too often skim the Scriptures and skip over the O.T. promises of God's salva- tion for a tost world. II. To see Jesus, know His work. A. A mighty Prophet (v19; J n 6: 14). B. One Who paid the ransom price (redeemed) (v21), crucified (v20), suffered (v26). C. Entered into His glory (v26). Resurrection and ascension soon. D. The "oughtn of Christ (v26) is His love (1 J n 4:9-10). m. To see Jesus, believe. A. Personally. 1. The Emmaus disciples believed in Jesus as their promised, crucified, and risen Savior. 2. With eyes of faith, we see Jesus as our Savior, Lord, and Conquerer of death. B. Share your faith in Jesus. 1. Share what is historically true: He came, He died, He lives for sinners. 2. Share how Christ lives in your heart by faith. Cbnclusion: Led by God's Spirit in the Word, you - and others through you - will see Jesus as Savior. Lloyd Strelow FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER John 10:l-10 May 13, 1984 In many respects John's Gospel is unique among the four Gospels, the major source for our knowledge of the life and teachings of Christ. Almost all features of this inspired book are distinctive. John alone records the great discourse on the new birth, the Living Water, and Bread of Life, the Good Shepherd, and the Light of the 322 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY World, and that Jesus is the Resurrection; John alone records at length the momentous Upper Room Discourse and events, and the great Intercessory Prayer (Chs. 13-17). Ninety-three percent of John's Gospel is not found in the Synoptics. Witness is one of the key words of John's Gospel, occurring at least fifty times. By the use of this word John calls attention to in- dividuals who witnessed to the deity of Christ. John's Gospel presents many antitheses and contrasts. One great contrast powerfully presented is that between belief and unbelief. The difference between unbelief and belief is also depicted under the terms "darkness" and 'light," or between ''life" and "death." John regards all people in the light of their absolute antithesis: light and darkness, heaven and earth, truth and error, love and hate, Christ and the devil, God and the world. Dunng the years that Christ exercised His public ministry, He met with great opposition and hatred. Eventually this opposition, which began early in His ministry, resulted in His condemnation, crucifix- ion, and death. Introdwtion: In many respects the situation today has not chang- ed from that which existed in Jesus' day. Just as Christ was opposed in the years A.D. 26-30, so today opposition to Him is world-wide. This opposition and hatred of Jesus takes different forms. In certain lands it manifests itself by persecution resulting in imprisonment and sometimes in death. Today it is dangerous to be.a Christian in countries controlled by some form of Marxist philosophy. Opposi- tion to Christ is manifested in our society by humanists, atheists, agnostics, and haters of religion. Sadly, within Christendom there are theologians and pastors who are opposed to the Christ of the Bible. In view of so much opposition and hatred of Christ in today's world, should we accomodate ourselves to the spirit of the times? Should we water down our teaching and preaching? With God's Word we answer: No! LET US, DESPITE ALL OPPOSITION, PROCLAIM THAT CHRIST IS THE WORLD'S omy SAVIOR This we assert because: I. Christ truly deserves the title of World's Only Savior. A. Unlike the thief, Jesus enters the sheepfold by the door (vl). B. Jesus proves Himself as the true Shepherd. 1. Jesus calls His sheep by name; He knows them personally (~3) . 2. Jesus protects His sheep (v4). 3. Jesus feeds the sheep (Ps 23:l). Jesus went so far as to give His life for His sheep (Jn 10:15,10:11,10:17). C. Jesus is the door of the sheep (v9). 1. Thm sheep who enter God's sheepfold (the kingdom of Homiletical Studies 323 grace) will be saved (Jn 14:6; Hb 10:20; Ac 4:12). 2. Those who enter by Christ the Door will lack nothing for this earth or for a happy eternity (Jn 20:31). 3. Those who enter by Christ the Door will enjoy the abun- dant life while on earth (v10,2 Cor 923). Despite much opposition to the true Christ of Scripture, it is our duty and privilege to proclaim the Gospel of the Good Shepherd (Ac 4:12; J n 15:l-10). II. All other self-styled saviors are robbers and murderers (v8). A. In this text Jesus speaks of others who are false saviors (v2). 1. They are false because they claim to be able to help people to be saved. 2. Their call will not be heeded by true believers (w4&5). B. Jesus calls false messiahs robbers and murderers (vl). 1. False teachers rob God the honor due Him (Is. 4293). 2. They encourage people to worship idols and false gods who cannot help. False prophets in Jeremiah's time did this. 3. They encourage people to save themselves by their own works (cf. Ro 3:20). Conclusion: In order to proclaim Christ as the world's only Savior, 'it will be incumbent on Christians to build themselves up in their most holy faith. Faithful use of Word and Sacraments will produce strength and determination to resist all false christs and their claims and create and maintain the energy to cany out Christ's com- mand to evangelize the world. Raymond F. Surburg FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER John 14: 1-12 May 20, 1984 After Jesus had celebrated the Passover for the last time, in which the slain lamb was a type of Christ's sacrificial death, He left the Up- per Room with His disciples to go to the Garden of Gethsemane, where His betrayal by Judas and capture by the temple guard were to occur. It took about one hour to walk from the Upper Room to Gethsemane. Having announced to His disciples His separation and approaching death, the Savior spoke words of comfort and counsel to His disciples. These are contained in chapters 14-17, known as "the Farewell Address," which climaxes in "the High priestly Prayer." Chapters 14, 15, 16 are concerned with three dominant truths of this Gospel, namely, witness to the divine nature of Christ, the character and development of faith in Christ, and the ex- periences and qualities of the life in which faith issues. The first twelve verses of chapter 14 contain the answers to mankind's basic needs and fundamental questions. 324 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY Introduction: Even though the twentieth century is quite different in many respects from the f i t century A.D., yet in some respects there are no differences. People today are asking the same basic questions as Jesus' contemporaries did, or for that matter, which early primitive people did. Where did the world come from? What is the origin of the planetary system? How did life originate? Why are human beings on this earth? Does our existence have any meaning? Is God interested in each person, considering there are nearly four bi ion on the earth today? Does man's life end permanently in the grave? Since Christ's deity was certified by His resurrection from the dead, His answers given in John 14:l-12 are authoritative and dependable. Our text shows: THE ALL-SUFFICIENCY OF THE RISEN CHRIST TO SATISN MA.NKIND'S BASIC CONCERNS AND QUESTIONS I. Jesus is all-sufficient because He is the Way. A. Jesus shows how to walk the straight and narrow path (Mt 7:13,14). 1. Jesus tells us to avoid the evil way that leads to destruc- tion (cf. Pr. 215; 12:15; 13:15; Is. 5923). 2. Jesus describes for His followers what is invoIved in walk- ing on the narrow path (cf. Is 26:7; J r 42:3; Lk 1:79). B. Jesus is the only Way to the Father (v6; Ac 4:12; J n 3:16). II. Jesus is all-sufficient because He is the Truth. A. Jesus reveals the truth about sin and salvation. B. Jesus reveals the truth about the great issues that make life meaningful (6). C. Jesus reveals the truth as to His Person. IU. Jesus is all-sufficient because He is the Life. A. Christ is the source of all forms of life - plant and animal (Jn 1:3; 1~6). B. Christ is the source of all human life (Jn 1:3; Hb 1:3). C. Christ is the source of spiritual and eternal life (Jn 17:3). IV. Jesus is all-sufficient as the Way, the Truth, and the Life because of His unity with the Father (w9-11). A. Christ is one with the Father because of His works' sake (vl 1) B. Those who believe in the all-sufficient Christ will be able to perform mighty works (v12). Conclusion: The words of John 14 are full of mystery. Human reason is tempted to question, yea, even to reject them. Let us ask the Holy Sirit to remove all doubts from our hearts and minds, and accept with every fiber of our being these remarkable and comfort- ing claims of Christ. Christ alone can and does give meaning and purpose to life and answers and satisfies all basic needs and wants. Raymond F. Surburg Homiletical Studies 325 SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER John 14:1621 May 27, 1984 All of us have probably had the experience of walking down the tell, narrow aisles of a department store and coming upon a little child crying for his mother. With a voice choking with tears, the child cries out his deepest longing: Y want my mommy!" A child is so much more open than an adult. We may not get lost in a department store and cry out our anguish, but we do, down deep in our aouls, express that basic fear: What if I am all alone in the universe? What if no one is there to hear my cry and come to my side to wipe my tears, take my hand, and lead me safely home! This is our cry when we are lost in grief or trial or spiritual doubt. We may fill our lives with many comforts in order to stop the feel- ing, but even these fairly shout our fear of being abandoned. In our text for today, Jesus reached out to His fearful, lonely hurting followers of all ages and said: "I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU DESOLATE" I. The Spirit will come. A. The disciples felt abandoned. 1. Jesus' words (Jn 14:l-4) and Thomas' troubled question of abandonment (Jn 14:5). 2. The events in Jesus' life that they would experience: ar- rest, trial, crucif~on, entombment - a feeling of abandon- ment. 3. Soon: resurrection, ascension, and Pentecost. 4. And yet - the fear expressed Ro 8:35 - who shall separate us? B. We experience the same feelings of abandonment. 1. In the midst of trials, sickness, and death. 2. When all our options seem to be bad. 3. When we live with such rapid change - in family life, in jobs that are threatened, with nuclear threats, with economic problems. 4. It is then -&at we know how precarious physical life is and how weak we are. C. Jesus understands and promises another Counselor. 1. One who appears on our behalf, a mediator, intercessor, helper. 2. The Counselor is the Spirit of truth; the One who can be known and received only by faith; the One who dwells and lives in us. D. We are not orphaned! 1. The helpl&ness and precariousness of life are ultimate and overwhelming only if we live spiritually alone. 2. But by God's grace through the Gospel, the Holy Spin't, the Advocate, lives in us. 326 CONCORDIA THEOLOGlCAL QUARTERLY 3. We are not alone, abandoned, mere objects of fate, spiritual nobodies going nowhere. 4. Thus, we by the indwelling Spirit can say: Ro 8:35,37-39. II. Jesus will come. A. Jesus spoke of His leaving. 1. He would soon leave them by dying on the cross. 2. He would leave them by ascending back to heaven's glorg. B. But Jesus gave a promise. 1. "You will see me" - the resurrection and 40 days of Jesus' earthly presence. 2. "Because 1 live, you will live also" - the promise of resurrec- tion to all who believe on Christ. C. Christ comes to remove desolation. 1. He comes to live in us by faith (v20). 2. He comes to shape love and obedience within us (v21). 3. He comes to give the daily resurrection of grace and the find resurrection to glory (v19b). Conclusion: All of these words were spoken at the supper table on Maundy Thursday. Soon the events that led to Jesus' death on the cross would be put into motion, and the disciples would wonder if Jesus had in fact failed and abandoned them. But on Easter Sunday He came back to deliver on His promises, and the disciples would know that He who was abandoned on the cross would, by the cross, never abandon them. By faith we know that also. The Spirit says so. The living Christ says so. "I will not leave you desolate." Richard G. Kapfer Ames, IA THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD Luke 2444-53 May 31,1984 ~t this h e of year high schools and colleges throughout the nation are marking the end of an academic year with commence- ment exercises. The ending of one period of the students' lives will be noted, and the beginning of a new period in their lives will be anticipated. High school graduates look forward to jobs or college, and college graduates look forward to beginning their careers. They will say farewell to friends they may never see again or only ma- sionally. It is a time of ending and beginning. The ascension of our Lord marks an ending and a beginaing also. The earthly ministry of Jesus had been accomplished. Now, as recorded in the closing words of Luke's Gospel7 Jesus gave final instructions to His disciples. Then he ascended on high to the posi- tion of eternal glory that He, the Son of God, had left in order to be our Redeemer. But ending was truly a b e m n g , for now He would bestow on HIS faithfui people Homiletical Studies FOR ENDING Am BEGINNING We end and begin with the powerful word. A. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Word. I. The sweep of salvation history: "Everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms." 2. Luke's Gospel: a record of fulfillment (Here the preacher will want to review Luke's theme and progression through the life of Jesus. Ascension provides a good opportunity to swnmarize Jesus' life from J o k the Baptist through the ascension .). B. Jesus reveals Himself as the Center of the Word. 1. He "opened their minds to understand the scripturesn (Without Christ the Word becomes a mere record of an- cient history.). 2. His death and resurrection is the key that opens up the Word. C. The fulfilled, Christ-centered Word must be ~rwlaimed. 1. The proclamation: repentance and forgiveness in His name. 2. Toallnations. Z'mnsition: Scripture's purpose. is not a dead end. It is a new begin- ning, for it has power through proclamation to bring repentance, forgiveness, and new beginnings. Thus: rl[. We end and begin with the power of the Spirit. A. We are called to be witnesses. 1. What the disciples had seen in Christ: past tense. 2. What we by faith have seen: past tense. B. But wait! Power will come! 1. Pentecost would 6'clothe" the disciples with the power of the Holy Spirit. 2. We too begin by the power of the Spirit to witness to Jesus Christ. Tmnsition: A witness is one who cannot but speak and live the en- dings and beginnings that God by grace has bestowed. As we begin, we receive the living Christ and thus: III. We end and begin under Christ's powerful blessing. A. The ending point of Jesus' earthly ministry was the ascen- sion. 1. He ascended to heaven to receive all glory and honor. 2. He ascended to bless His Church as its living, present Head through Word and Sacrament. B. We are blessed with iov. . "~ 1. The disciples did not mourn Jesus' leaving; they rejoiced. 2. This is far different from Memorial Day sadness and helplessness. 3. ~ e w h o ra4e is with us, and He will return at fis Second Advent. 328 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY Conclusion: So, filled with joy, the disciples waited and %ere con- tinually in the temple." We too await the Lord's return, not with sadness, but joy; not in weakness, but in His power. The ascension is the ending that brought new beginnings. It is power like that of our baptism, like that of our earthly lives that will end but begin again with joy and eternal life. Richard G. Kapfer SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER John 17:l-11 June 3, 1984 The unifying word in this text is clearly glory. In some form the term is used five times in the first five verses, as Jesus sought to establish in conversation with God, the Father, that a mutual glorification between Father and Son has resulted from His faithful earthly duty, just as had been planned all along. Glory, in fact, was being distributed all around . . . to the Father for the splendid salva- tion plan which led man to ''know" Kim (w2,3), to the Son for the faithful and sacrificing ministry soon to be fully accomplished (v4), and even to the struggling disciples whose glory came from knowing Christ (v7,8). This '?High Priestly Prayer," as the 17th chapter of John has often been labeled, is in truth the Son recalling with the F~ther a magnificent ministry, faithful to its purpose and worthy of glory from and for both God and man. The central theme of this text is that Jesus, fully aware that His mission of salvation will soon reach a successful culmination, is anx- ious to "spread a little glory" to the Father in heaven, through whom He also will be glorified, and to His disciples, in whom, through faith, He also dwells in glory. The goal of the sermon is that the hearers will glory in knowing Christ and in participating by grace in a perfectly crafted salvation plan for which God in His fullness deserves all glory. The problem is that we are often slow to under- stand this glory and even slower to realize that life eternal is know- ing God completely (v3), all because we too readily follow our natural inclination to be with ourselves alone and not one with God (vll). The means to the goal is that God leads us from sin to salva- tion. Irt troduction: Sometimes people pat themselves on the back because no one else will do it. They want at least someone to acknowledge that they have done something praiseworthy. But God has honored us, not because we have done something worthy, but because He has. He has glory in the accomplishment of our salva- tion, and we share in this glory. In Christ's redemptive work there is no question that Homiletical Studies 329 THE "GLORY HOUR" HAS ARRIVED I. For a Father whose plan was perfect. A. He gave Jesus the power to save (v2). B. He guided the process from beginning (v5) to end (v4). C. He directed His Son to the right people (v6) in the right way with the right words (v6). 11. For a Son whose mission was accomplished. A. He had surrendered His rightful glory in order to carry out His work (v5). B. He did exactly what He was supposed to do. 1. The rrieaning of eternal life was made plain (v3). 2. The people to whom He was directed learned and belived ( ~ 8 ) . C. He would leave this world with confidence that salvation and strength were assured for His own (vll). III. For disciples whose faith is Christ-centered. A. They are the recipients of a saving knowledge that only God could give them (v7). B. They have a Savior who is praying for their endurance (vll). C. They have the honor of reflecting the "oneness" which comes from knowing Christ by faith (vll). Conclusion: When Jesus was on the verge of accomplishing everything He came to do, He knew the time for glory had arrived. His Father deserved glory, He received glory, and His people benefitted from the glory of His salvation. In Christ the "glory hour" has arrived, and He has honored us by inviting us through faith to share in it. David E. Seybold Fredonia, Wisconsin THE DAY OF PENTECOST John 16:6-11 June 10, 1984 The inability of Jesus' disciples to understand the necessary course of events in God's salvation plan is the not-bsurprising undercurrent which affects this text. Often Jesus explained, and often they grasped very little. This occurred even though the Savior was careful to "spoon feed" His hand picked followers only as much as He thought they could handle at one time (cf. v4). As the hour of His death and eventual departure approached, however, Jesus knew it was time to tell His disciples why He had to leave them. Predict- ably, they did not really understand (v5), and, in fact, they would not understand until the events that Jesus described finally tooh place. The incredible miracles of Pentecost surely confirmed exactly what the Lord had told His followers. It was the eventual and dramatic arrival of the Spirit that began the unfolding of the scenario described by Jesus in this text. 330 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY The central thought of the text is that the coming of the Counselor establishes the divine continuation of the work begun by Jesus as this Spirit enlarges the task of "convincing the world." The goal of the sermon is that the hearers will be involved in the Pentecost miracle by the "convincing" work of the Spirit in their own lives. The problem is the common failure to understand our need to be con- vinced, as if our understanding is complete enough and needs no fur- ther growth. The means to the goal is the Spirit's power, which can in the environment of the Word convince, soften, and bring move- ment to stubborn and stagnant hearts. Introduction: Occasionally situations arise in which people have to admit that they have done as much as they are able and that further efforts would have little effect. This may happen to a physician treating a seriously ill patient or a teacher working with an un- cooperative student. In similar fashion Jesus realized that His minktry had a limit beyond which it was important for someone else to keep the message moving. Having the assurance of the successful completion of His task, He could confidently announce to His disciples that, although He would physically depart, the Counselor would be sent to continue the work of underscoring the importance of KEEPING THE MESSAGE MOVING I. By convicting the world of sin. A. Faith cannot exist for long in the presence of a defiant sinful lifestyle. 1. Unbelief is to be expected in a sinful environment (v9). 2. The growth of sin effectively crowds out spiritual growth. B.Faith can exist in the presence of the kind of "convicting" work that the Spirit has undertaken. 1. In the Word of Law He convicts by accusation. 2. In the Word of Gospel He heals by promise. II. By convicting the world of righteousness. A. The arrival of the Spirit was God's announcement that Jesus completed His work with success and distinction. 1. He completed His task so that the Spirit could begin His work on a worldwide scale. 2. Jesus' departure is evidence that what He accomplished is righteous and perfect and complete (v9). B. The arrival of the Spirit was the next step in convincing the world that righteousness has triumphed over wickedness. C. The arrival of the Spirit provided the opportunity for more people to "see" Jesus than could ever have seen Him phys- ically (v10). ID. By c o n f i i g the world of judgment. A. Because the Spirit came, the judgment against Satan is con- fmed (vll) . 1. The ruler of this world could not stop God. Homiletical Studies 33 1 2. He was unable to control Godg plan and its movement on- ward. B. Because the Spirit came, the victory of Jesus over sin is final and universal. Conclusion: As Jesus departed and the Spirit arrived, God con- firmed that the plan was moving ahead just as He wanted it to. The message was clear: the world is sinful and Satan has been judged. Hope rests alone with the rightousness of a Savior who defeated sin and Satan, and a Spirit who arrived to keep this message moving to all people. David E. Seybold TRINITY SUNDAY Matthew 28: 16-20 June 17,1984 Christ directs the disciples t~ meet Ifim on a mountain in Galilee. Christ has promised to meet us in the Word (Ro 10:6-17; Jn 5:39). On Trinity Sunday the emphasis is on the nature and work of the Triune God. The Creator of the universe is also its Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament (visible Word) brings (gives) salvation to men. AU PRAISE TO THE TRIUNE GOD I. For His work. A. The Father in love created the world and sent His Son. The heavens and the earth and, of course, man himself all testify to the loving kindness of the God whose mercy endures forever (Ps 136:l-9); whose tender mercies are over his works (Ps 145:9). B. The Son in love redeemed the world. The nature of this love is unconditional. Its purpose is not to get something in return. It was done, not for lovable but for unlovable people, for people in rebellion, haters of the God of love. (Ro 5:810, Ps 81:15) "All power (authority) in heaven and in earth" quite naturally should be given to Him (vl8) because of what He has done. He deserves it. He should be worshipped (v17) by everyone (Php 2:611) Heaven and earth me reconciled in Christ. C. The Holy Ghost in love sanctifies the world. Through the Gospel He "calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith." In the Scriptures, then, the Holy Spirit not only describes God's great work, but He also distributes to the poor miserable sinners that which he describes. I.. For His mission. A. Sending men into the world (v19). 332 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY The message of redemption and reconciliation is for everyone (Mt 24:14; Lk 24:47). We have been given a "Gift" which we are happy to share with everyone we meet (Cf. 1 Cor 9:16-19). This is showing love for our neighbor. B. Making disciples of all nations. 1. By baptizing them in the name of the Triune God (v19). This is one of the means of grace. Through it saving faith is born in people (Jn 3 3 , and the forgiveness of sins con- veyed (Ac 2:38). 2. By teaching them all things commanded (v20). This thought is comprehensive. All Scripture comes to us from the heart of Christ. People become disciples also through this means. However, the thought is also of continuous instruction for the sustaining of faith. Conclusion: The assurance that He will be with us in the mission (v20) is for our comfort. Alone we would fail miserably. With Him, we cannot fail. By His mighty work of redemption Christ has pur- chased the power of the Triune God (the God of heaven and earth) and has put it on our side. The whole creation is now marshalled behind Him in our behalf. And "if (this Triune) God be for us, who can be against us?" (Ro 8:31) John Saleska SECOND SUNDAY A . PENTECOST Matthew 7: (15-20) 21-29 June 24, 1984 Introduction: The Sermon on The Mount, of which this text is the last section, seems to be almost a declaration of war, particularly against the pride, self-righteousness, and theology of the scribes and Pharisees. For example, "Blessed are the poor in spirit . . ." (Mt 53) ". . .except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. . ." (Mt 5:20) "Beware of false prophets . . ." (Mt 7:15). The verses immediately preceding the text (15-20) dealing with false prophets dressed in sheep's clothing contribute heavily to a coiTect understanding of the text. The "thorns" and "thistles" (v16) could be considered the theology of "signs" and "wonders" which gives no good, nourishing food. The Jews sought and even required such signs (Mt 12:38 and I Cor 1:22). Many of today's media ministers (T.V., radio, tapes, etc.) lead people astray with their theology of signs and wonders. On the last day these "theologians" will have the nerve to stand in front of the mighty Lord of creation, who has done everythmg for the salvation of all mankind, and talk about their own works (v22). Christ calls them "workers of iniquity" as He drives them from His presence (v23). These "false prophets" appear good externally with their pious behavior, their preaching, and their "amazing" works, but this is only camouflage behind which lurks the ravening wolf who seeks to devour rather than feed. In tiomiletical Studies 333 effect Christ is saying, "Give God's children the blessings of this Ser- mon (on the Mount)." Give them His Word which is real food, and you will be giving them "grapes and figs." This nourishment comes from the true Prophet who not only hears but is a genuine doer of the will of God. The text is about hearing the word of God and doing it. I3EAR3NG AND DOING THE WORD I. Hearers of the Word. A. Those who are hearers only are foolish men (v26). 1. Foolish men do not really listen. They have ears to hear but they hear not (cf. Mt 13:13-17). ". . .fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Pr 1 :7). 2. Foolish men do not really believe God's word - what Christ says about such things as pride and self-rightousness. 3. By nature we are all foolish men who do not listen or believe. We harden our wicked hearts when we hear the word. "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God" (Ps 14:l). That is, "no one will ever know what I do or call me to account ." B. Those who are hearers only trust their own works and righteousness to save them (v22; Ro 9:31-33,lO:l-3). C. Those who are hearers only have no sure foundation when the storm comes. Sorrow, affliction, the shadow of death destroy their self-made, self-grounded house (w26-27). II. Hearers and doers of the Word. A. Hearers and doers are wise men (v24). "A wise man will hear and increase learning. . ." (F'r 1:5; Ho 14:9). B. Hearers and doers build on a rock (~24). The "rock" is a solid foundation which will withstand the fiercest storms of life. 1. Building on a rock means trusting the Word of God (v24). This Word of God is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ which provides comfort in every circumstance. "Even though I pass through the valley of the shadow of death" (Ps 23:4). "When every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my hope and stay . . . . On Christ the solid rock I stand . . ." (TLH 370). 2. Building on a rock means to "bring forth good fruitn (Ps 1:3). This is the "doing" in the text which is produced by the hearing (v24); Jas 1:22; Ro 2: 13). C. Christ is ultimately the hearer and doer of the Word. He fulfilled it all for us (Mt 5:17-18; J n 4:34, 5:30, 6:38, 8:29). Whoever trusts His righteousness and builds on this Rock will be safe and secure. He will weather every storm. In Christ he will have heard and done everything required. Conclusion: When the Word of Christ is spoken, it pays to listen. His worda are not empty promises as were those of the scribes and 334 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY Pharisees or those of today's "false prophets." By the Spirit's power His words produce both the hearing and the doing, because His words carry with them the authority of the God of heaven and earth (w28-29). John Saleska THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 9:s-13 July 1, 1984 Even though the Holy Spirit has stated clearly in so many texts that our Lord's grace is universal, many burdened by their sin or guilt doubt His love for them, while others infected with pietistic self-righteousness would try to limit God's grace in some way or another. This text once again, however, teaches us that our Lord's grace is not to be limited in any way by anyone, certainly a theme which can never be stressed enough. V9-- The ptc. paragon seems to imply a coincidental meeting between Jesus and Matthew but what often appears to us as mere coincidence is carefully ordered by the purposeful grace of Him who came to seek the lost; The ipv. akobuthei is present denoting continued discipleship; The two aorists, anastas and ekolouthi?sen, reflect the decisive break with his former life made by Matthew here; v10- St. Luke adds that it was Matthew himself who held this banquet; J. Jeremias reports that the telonai or tax-collectors were not only despised .and hated but were "officially deprived of rights and ostracized" (Jer., In the Time of Jesus, p. 31 1). The Mishnah classified them as being bclean." "If tax gatherers entered a house (all that is within it) becomes unclean" (Toh. 7,6). Note the stark contrast -- while l s tentury Judaism classified and condemned entire groupings of people our Lord freely loved and accepted everyone in His grace; The verb sunanekeinto shows that Christ's love is not aloof or abstract. Our Lord Jesus still feasts with sinners in His Holy Supper in a much more intimate way as Luther comments when he applies v12 to the Lord's Supper in his Large Catechism, "(Precisely) those who are heavy-laden with their sins (should). . . go joyfully to this Sacrament" (Par 70-71); vl l - The Pharisees, proud of their ritualistic cleanliness, had no word of comfort for those classified as "unclean" (their very name "Pharisee" meant "the separate ones," untainted by any ritual impurity); v 13-The words eis metanoian are found only in Luke's account. Introduction: It is a constant temptation to limit God's free grace . . . But in this text the Holy Spirit shows us clearly that JESUS IS THE FRIENR OF SINNERS I. Jesus is eager to bestow His healing forgiveness and grace on sinners. Homiletical Studies 336 A. Jesus came into our world for this express pllrpose -- to forgive sinners (v13) for it is they who have great need for that which He gives (v12). B. Jesus seeks out His elect and carefully calls them individually lest they doubt His love for them; even as He called Matthew by name (v9) today He calls His people by name in their Holy Baptism. C. Jesus shows His love for sinners by sharing Himself with them in intimate fellowship; even as He feasted with Mat- thew and the other "sinners" (v10) today He invites His forgiven people to feast a t His Holy Supper to assure them of His intimate union with them. II. Jesus desires His forgiven people to reflect His compassion for sinners to others. A. Jesus has called us to renounce our self-seeking past and follow Him in continuous discipleship even as He called Mat- thew to a new life (v9b akolouthei). Matthew, moved by the Savior's compassion, made a clean break with his seKish life of exploitation to follow his new Lord and Master (v9b). B. God desires such compassionate living towards others more than religious ritual (v13a). C. Only those who themselves feed regularly on the Savior's compassion will be able to extend the same towards others (unlike the Pharisees who fed on their own self-righteous pride and felt only disdain for others less "untainted" than themselves (vl I)). Conclusion: May God ?ant that we, who have been eternally befriended by Jesus the frlend of sinners, might befriend other sin- ners, Iike ourselves, with such sincere and free compassion. Steven C. Brie1 Wsie ld , Kansas THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 9:35- 10:8 July 8,1984 Christ's Church can never afford to relax in her Christ-given mis- sion of disciple-making. Our Lord's words in this text stil l call us ta more fervent activity: "The harvest is great but the workers are few!" While careless misapplication of this text should be avoided, the pastor ought to use a text such as this to encourage young men and women to consider professional service to their Lord in the various ways offered in His Church. Textual notes - v35 -- impf. verbperiege'n suggests Jesus' constant activity and also the unfinished nature of it; of the three participles (didaskijin, kErusso'n, and therapezujn) note that two of them deal with the Word which was always primary in our Savior's ministry, which was to be primary in the apostles' ministry (cf. 10:7), and 336 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY which must also be of primary concern to the Lord's Church today; te's bileirrs is an objective genitive. The good news about the Kingdom was the content of the gospel Jesus was preaching; v36 --The verb espkmgnisthi? is one of the strongest words rendered "compassion" and is used in the Gk. New Testament only of God and His Son; note the periphrastic construction (. . .Esun eskulmenoi h i errimmenoi) emphasizing Israel's hopeless confusion and 'lostness;" v37 - Note the "men - den construction which highlights the heart- rending contrast between the abundant harvest and the lack of laborers; v38 - The harvest always remains the Lord's and not ours (wtou), for God "gives His Spirit where and when it pleases God" (AC V). However, it is also true that the harvesting of God's elect is directly tied to the use of God's appointed means of grace, as this text clearly shows and AC V also carefully points out: '"Rmough the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given" (see also, of course, the 3rd article in Luther's Small Cat.); 10:l - Three times in this pericope Matthew very carefully points out that this special "commissioning" was spoken to a select group (the apostles) and not to everyone, reminding us that we should not carelessly imply to people today that they can expect such "exousia" over demons and sickness; v6 - the present impv., poreuesthe, im- plies that they should keep on going; v7 -- The substance of their preaching is once again e'ngiken hi? b i l e i u t5n ounm6n. What is this Tingdom?" M. Scharleman says simply, "God active redemp- tively in Christ reestablishing His rule over and among men" (Pro- claiming the Pumbles, p. 45). Luther's answer in the Large Cat. is perhaps still the best, *(It is) nothing else thRn what we learned in the Creed (about Christ and His work) . . ."; The perfect verb e'ngiken suggests that in J e w the kingdom is here; v8 -- these miraculous works served to verify the apostle's unique authority and these "signs and wonders" done by our Lord's apostles (recorded in the gospels but especially in the Acts of the Apostles) still serve to authenticate their written word which the Church prodaims today. Introduction: In the past year many Americans have been rightly concerned over unemployment ... But our text makes i t clear that there doesn't have to be any unemployment lines in the Kingdom. Our Lord always needs more workers in His Kingdom. WANTED - KINGDOM WORKERS! I. Who share in His compassion for the lost. A. An entire world of confused and lost sinners lies before us (v36b); we were also at one time part of that confused and wandering crowd (v36, ochlous; I Pe 2:25; Eph 2:12). B. It was our Lord's unmerited compassion which moved Him to come to our world to "seek and to save the lost" by dying for the world's sins and bestowing the forgiveness of sins by the Gospel (v35); it was our Lord's undeserved compassion which Homiletical Studies 337 moved Him to seek and find us with His life-imparting Gospel in our baptism. C. Our Lord wants His forgiven and renewed people to share His compassion for the lost (v38). II. Who are sure of their call and mission. A. Just as no one will work without having been hired, so no one will work in God's kingdom without having been rightly call- ed to do so; our Lord carefully called the apostles by name (w2-5a); this same Lord has carefully called each of us by name in our baptism. B. He gave the apostles careful instructions as to their particular mission (w5b6). He has aZso given us our mission today (Mt 28:19a; Mk 16:15); some He calls to full-time Kingdom work as pastors, missionaries, etc. (Eph 4:ll; 1 Tm 3:1), but all His baptized people are called to testify to His grace by word and deed (2 Cor 5: 15; 1 Pe 2:9). m. Who have been properly equipped for their work. A. Jesus equipped His apostles with their necessary tool -- the message about the Kingdom, the Word (v7). It is the same Word about Christ that His Church is to take into the world today (Mk 16:15). God's own almighty power always accom- panies His Word (v8; Ro 1:16) and is inherent to it. B. Christ gives individual &ts and talents to His people to be used in service to His Kingdom (compare and contrast the dif- ferent apostles w2-4). So today our Lord gives His people dif- fering &ts and talents (1 Cur 12). Our Synod has established colleges and semhr ies in order to develop those gifts and talents and equip people for professional service to His church. Conclusion: There will never be any unemployment problems in Christ's Church. Moved by His Holy Spirit let us eagerly and joyfully serve our Lord in our respective callings, whether professionally or nonprofessionally as we sing, "Let none hear you idly saying, There is nothing I can do' . . . Answer quickly when he calls you, "Here am I. Send me, send me!" Steven C. Brie1 F'IFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 10:24-33 July 15, 1984 St. Matthew's Gospel presents Jesus a s the Teacher and the M i e r of the Law (e.g. 5:17ff; 7:28), and the disciple as the learner of Jesus' Word and the follower of His way (e.g. 5-7;9:9)., Hence, the text is characteristic of the theme of the entire Gospel. The initial question that confronts the interpreter of Matthew 10 is whether it has application today or whether it was intended only for the original Rvelve? By what principle do we distinguish? 338 CONCOKDIA THEOLOGlC.4L QUARTERLY Answer: The entire Galilean ministry described in Matthew 8 to 10 is a fulfillment of O.T. Messianic prophecy. Some portions refer specifically to the ministry of Jesus and the Twelve while others have a broader application. The Messianic ministry has the imprint of the Servant of the Lord upon it (Is 42-53), namely, of suffering, of service, of compassion, and of final success. (See Franzmann, Follow Me, St. Louis, 1961, pp. 65-97). Thus Mt. 10: 1-15 applies specSically to the Twelve, while the lessons are helpful for the entire N.T. era. Mt . 10: 16-42 contains general eschatological utterances which apply to the broad "end timen (1 Cor 10:ll). This is verified by the parallels in Lk 12:2-9; J n 13:16; J n 1520 within their contexts. The three-fold ministry of preaching, teaching and healing (show- ing compassion) continues to the present. The positive results of that ministry are acceptance, peace, and rejoicing. The negative reactions of rejection, persecution, and blasphemy are likewise with us yet. What the Messiah experienced, the disciples shall inevitably realize, because a "disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master" (10:24). Introduction: Our discipleship is serious business. Our witnessing to the works of God is a mandate. Our success is already determined. In the struggle we do well to remember the maxim: The Church is like an anvil; it has worn out many a hammer! DISCIPLESHIP IS MORE THAN ROLE-PLAYING I. Discipleship rests upon a real relationship with God, w24-25. A. The learner (discipletteacher; slave-master relationship. 1. The Messianic imprint is on us since our baptism; our We is set. 2. The blasphemy against us is evidence to our faith that God is present and at work through us. B. Jesus Christ is Lord. 1. How He became such -- His incarnation. 2. He won us by His suffering and death -- His redemption. C. We are His slaves-stewards. 1. We were sinners who rebelled. 2. We were won by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel. II. Discipleship relies upon a real calling, w26-31. A. The calling and naming of the Twelve (Mt 10:l-4). 1. This applied to the Twelve specifically. 2. We too are sent: called, commissioned, and let loose (Mt 28: 19-20). B. The call involves suffering. 1. It seems strange, but this is the mind-set we are to put on (cf. I Pe 4:l or I Pe 3:18-4:6; Col1:24; Ro 8:17). 2. The three "fear not's!" in w26, 28, 31. Luther's 'Battle Hymn" based on this: "And take they our life, goods, fame, child and wife." Homiletical Studies 339 3. The suffering centers in the teaching and preaching of the Word of Jesus: This is the thing said in the "dark" which we are to speak in the light; the "hearing in the ear" that we shout from the housetops. III. Discipleship reaches for a real reward, w32-33. A.Confessing Jesus before men is a costly enterprise (cf. Mt 10: 16-1 8). 1. His attitude toward us on the Last Day wil l correspond with our attitude toward Him in this world. 2. Witnessing to and for Jesus involves eternal consequences al l along: hence, we must be serious about it. B. We shall prevail. 1. Grace is given for the task, i.e. He is with us always (28:20). 2. Grace shall crown our labors (1 Cor 15:58). G. Waldemar Degner SMTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 10:34-42 July 22,1984 Albert Schweitzer agonized long over Matthew 10. He attempted to find a pathological flaw in Jesus' psychological make-up. His search led him to conclude that Jesus was a deranged psychotic, suf- fering from paranoia. We do better by a f f h g Jesus' integrity as the Son of God in this chapter, and, also, by seeing the prescription of this text as the ongoing condition of the Apostolic Church. Above al l the text em- phasizs the total reliance of the disciple upon the grace of God in converting us to faith, in supplying our needs, and in assuring us of our final reward. This is the specXic Gospel which every weary worker in the kingdom wants and needs. The pattern for mobilizing the saints for service is clearly enun- ciated. The pattern was proscribed in the Messianic utterances of the O.T. and fully revealed in Jesus' own Messianic ministry. Not on- ly the !helve but also aU subsequent disciples follow the etchings of His life. Thus the theme: ARM YOURSELF m H THE MIND OF CHRIST I. A reminder, w34-35. A. Not peace but a sword. 1. The Prince of Peace will not have a cheap peace, the peace of compromise, or a peace with the world. 2. His peace destroys sin and all love of evil, and it creates the new man in Christ: It i s His last will, Jn 14:27ff. B. A separation is required that cuts through all relationships. 1. The Church which has its roots in the quiet privacy of the home now roots out every sinful relationship, even be- 340 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY tween parents and children. 2. The divisions of enmity removed, the home is now the most pure church. 3. As prophesied in Micah 7:6, this is part of the woes of the daughter of Zion, viz. that the kingdom of peace will be ushered in with the conflict of those who are in close physical union. 11. A warning, w37-39. A. What constitutes worthiness? 1. There is nothing wrong with loving father, mother, son, daugther per se - this is even commanded, e.g. by the Fourth Commandment. 2. The lesson is: "more than me" - a question of priority. Other loyalties must be defined. B. Take up the cross! 1. The pattern of Christ's suffering is the outline of our ministry. 2. It tells us that grace alone can make and keep the disciple. C. Find life or lose life. 1. Life, psyche, is the life principle. It refers to temporal life and what supports it. To lose that life in contrition and faith is to find etamil life. 2. This again points to grace -- nothing in us but God's ena- bling power toward us. III. A promise, w40-42. A. The disciple is the extension and vehicle of Christ Himself. 1. The persuasive call of the Gospel goes out through us. 2. The peace of forgiveness rests on those who receive the messengers of God. B. The disciple's work is never in vain. 1. The most menial service (a cup of cold water) rendered to His messengers shall receive a reward. 2. The blessings of grace are assured to us, and through us they are scattered to others. G. Waldemar Degner THE SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 11:25-30 July 29, 1984 In one sweep of the hand Jesus sets aside ail human claims to in- tellectual and spiritual prowess. Looking straight into the eyes of the debater of this age, the philosopher, the metaphysical theorist, he says the "true truth" is hidden from you. The map to find the hid- den treasurers of what is really true about this universe and our place in it is not based on worldly wisdom. Jesus makes it clear, we do not move closer to God by climbing some intellectual ladder to the sky. Once before God dealt mightily with a tower of arrogance. Homiletical Studies 341 Jesus in our text deals with another of humankind's attempts to mch the heavens. Introduction: The simple child's game of Wide and Seek" could be utilized to introduce the concept of seeking to find that which is hid- den. THE HIDDEN THINGS OF GOD I. The hidden things of God are hidden from the wise and learned 6725). A. God does not despise wisdom and learning. 1. God is the Creator of our minds (Gn 1: 3 1). 2. God rejoices in our intellectual growth (Lk 2:52). B. God does ?zspise the socalled wisdom and learning that re- jects Him (Ro 1). 1. God is rejected when reason functions autonomously as the highest authority. 2. God is rejected when reason acts independently of God's revelatoj Word. II. The hidden things of God are revealed to little children (v25). A. God chooses to reveal the hidden things. 1. God is the first and prime mover in revelation (Mt 16: 17). 2. God chooses what to reveal (Col1:25-27; Eph 1:9). B. God chooses to whom He reveals the hidden things. 1. God has an aversion to the arrogant (1 Pe 5:5c). 2. God has a father's heart toward the intellectually humble (Mt 18:3). Mark R. Oien Bedford, Mass. EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 13: 1-9 (18-23) August 5, 1984 There can be little debate regarding the meaning of the "Parable of the Sower" because in w18-23 of this same chapter, our Lord gives an authoritative, straightforward interpretation of the parable. The task of the preacher is to enable this clear Word of the Lord to be heard by 20th century ears. The following outline will primarily center on the good soil and what enables i t to bear fruit. Introduction: Mary, Mary quite contrary how does your garden grow! Well, it depends on a number of things, not the least of which is the soil. So it is for the Christian, the condition and attitude of the soil (the heart) are critical to spiritual responsiveness and fruit- fulness. GOOD SOIL PRODUCES GOOD FRUIT I. Good Soil hears the Word (v23). A. Good soil has heard the converting Word. 1. The converting Word is God's first intervention into our lives (1 Pe 1:23). 342 CONCORDIA THEOLOGlCAL QUARTERLY 2. The converting Word transforms us into good soil. 3. The converting Word is God's power unto salvation (Ro 1:16). B. Good soil hears the sanctifying word. 1. The sanctifying Word is God's continuous call for us to grow (cf. 1 Th 4:3). 2. The sanctifying Word is God's continuous call to service (Eph 210). TI. Good Soil understands the Word (v23). A. The Word is understood only through the work of the Holy Spirit. 1. The human disposition by nature is set against the truth of God in Christ (Ro 8:7). 2. The Holy Spirit by softening our hard heart and making us into good soil graciously works understanding (1 Cor 12:3). B. The Word is then understood in light of the cross. 1. The theology of the cross alone reflects the truth of God in Christ (1 Cor 2:2). 2. The theology of the cross alone produces the fruit God desires. III. Good Soil lives the Word (~23). A. The Word is lived through an inward change of attitudes. 1. The inward attitude toward God changes (Ro 8: 15). 2. The inward attitude toward our nsghbor changes (Mt 22:39). B. The word is lived through an outward response. 1. The outward response of a Christian toward God is wor- ship p s 26:s). 2. The outward response of a Christian toward his neighbor is service (Mt 7: 12). Mark R. Oien NINTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 13:2430 August 12,1984 Introduction: Both mystery and clarity appear in Jesus' parables. To the world they are a mystery, not onIy beyond comprehension, but also foolish. To the worldling the kingdom has never made any sense. Paul reminds us that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to the world. It is-in this case-a genuine mystery! But to those who believe the Gospel the cross and the kingdom are precious truths and realities. This is not because Christians are exceptionally brilliant or spiritually superior. It is because the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts and opened them to faith. The kingdom is indeed important because Jesus takes time to discuss its various aspects with a number of parables. Biblical mysteries are not "who dunnib?" They are indeed beyond the scope Homiletical Studies 343 of human reason, ergo they are mysteries. They are believed, trusted, accepted by God's children; they are never fully understood. The kingdom is one of these mysteries. The text presents the mystery of THE GOOD PLANTING OF THE KINGDOM I. God plants His kingdom in our world. A. Jesus, the Son of Man, is the Planter. The establishment of the kingdom is not the ideal or the work of men, but the will and work of God Himself. Jesus came to give His life as a ran- som for all men. His blood has reconciled the world to God. Now Jesus "casts" His word into the world to call men to that reconciliation. God's work, not ours! B.The good seed are the sons, the children, of the kingdom. God's Word is always effective. His Word brings resulta. What God sows, grows! The Word is the Good News that Christ is the Son of God and has given His life on the cross to redeem men from the bondage of sin and death. There is great comfort here for us. Our work in the kingdom, our "sow- ing the seed of the Word," will bring results. We never waste our time in mission work. God promises us: My word will not return to me void! (Is 55) God's work succeeds! C. The field is the world. Here is a magnificent mission goal, the whole world. No one is excluded from this mission directive. God wills that the church is active all over the world. There is to be no part of creation excluded, big cities, rural, foreign, every corner of the globe is our responsibility. Our worst enemies are even our field of endeavor for Christ. The world is to be won for Christ. Satan attempts to destroy the kingdom. A. Satan sows the tares in the field. Triurnphalism is not for God's people. Many a missionary, clergy or layman, has made the mistake of believing that mission work is one triumph after the other. We need to be aware of the enemy, the dead- ly, powerful, consistent enemy, Satan. He does not want sin- ners to be saved, obviously? He will ravage the soul of anyone who confronts the Word of Christ. His tares are his triumphs! He "errins" souls as does Christ. Men whose hearts are enslav- ed to sin reject the Gospel of forgiveness. Satan will never rest; where there is Gospel there is Satan. Satan is well and active on planet earth! B. God's children are tempted to destroy the tares. Every Chris- tian knows the frustration of seeing evil prevail and people reject Christ. Christians know the disappointment of seeing believers succumb to the temptations of Satan and leave the faith. Christians want to do something - expow the hypocrites, denounce the false Christians, pin-point t h e 344 COKCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY destined for judgment! Our failure to trust God leads us to play God. God's plan will not fail! C. Christ warns us to be patient; He alone is the Judge. Jesus wants us to exercise the greatest patience with God's church. We are unaware who is the true believer and the hypocrite. We live in the kingdom militant, not the kingdom trium- phant. The harvest time is not yet. Now we are to work and build, not to harvest and separate. God's timing, not ours! George R. Kraus TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 13:44-52 August 19, 1984 Introduction: Whether we buy a diamond, a pearl or a simple piece of jade we take the purchase into the light and turn it around so we can view it from every side and facet. We inspect it for texture, color, flaws, beauty. We want to make a "perfect" buy. In the three parables of our text Jesus invites us to take a great treasure - the kingdom - into the light and to look at it from three facets, to inspect it from three points of view. Let us look, then at THE K3NGDOM TREASURE I. A hidden treasure. A. This hidden treasure is Christ. 1. There is a dire need for this treasure. The world is lost in sin and guilt, "poverty stricken," spiritually "bankrupt," '%broke." 2. Christ is the treasure because He offers the riches of forgiveness. He is the Way back to God. He is the treasure that gives life. 3. This hidden treasure has great value. God can give nothing greater than Himself; He does so in giving us His Son. B. This treasure is hidden in a field. 1. The field is our world. The treasure, Christ, the kingdom, is now in the world, our world. The treasure is now with us and is to be found by us! Gal 4:4, Lk 2. 2. The treasure is hidden from natural man (I Cor 2:12; Eph 58). 3 Yet the treasure is intended for all. In the text a man (Greek word "man" is generic) finds the treasure. God has no favorites. Christ came to redeem all men. II. A singular treasure. A. Christ is the pearl of great price. 1. In His person. 2. In E s work. B. Christ far surpasses all other pearls. 1. No earthly treasure can compare with Christ. Wealth, Homiletical Studies 346 education, success are not equal to Him. 2. All other pearls are sold. All can be counted as lose com- pared to Christ (Phl3:7). m. ~ m h i n g - . A. In His Word Christ seeks us out. 1. Neb catch; they are not caught. Just when we thought we had to seek out the treasure suddenly the treasure finds us. In His Word God seeks us out and calls our attention to the treasure He has prepared for us in His Son. 2. Through His Word Christ invites the world to the Gotqel. Furthermore, His Holy Spirit leads us to faith. His "fuhing" is the mission work of the church in the world (Lk 4:43-44; Lk 5:lO). 3. He catches fish of every kind. No one is excluded from the Gospel call. Men of every race and nation are called to Christ the Savior. All are welcome. Christ died for all. B. The "catchn is accounted for on the Judgment Day. Faith is required. Those who reject what Christ has done for them will be cast aside and abandoned by God. There will be an accounting for the souls of men. Conclusion: Do we understand what these parables teach us? (v51) Understanding implies faith and trust, not mere intellectual assent. Let our answer be: Yes, I believe Christ is my Savior. No longer is He hidden. He is my pearl of great price. Because He found me I shall be in His kingdom forever. George R. Kraus ELEVENTH S W A Y AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 14: 13-2 1 August 26,1984 The uniqueness of this text (always an important consideration, but espeaally so when a miracle account is under scrutiny) is threefold: 1) it is the f& deed of Jesus recorded by Matthew after the "opposition chapters" (11-13) and the account of John's death (14:l-12); 2) unlike Mark and Luke, Matthew focuses on Jesus' heal- ing (v14) when the crowd came to him; and 3) only Matthew records Jesus' pointed "you give them something to eat'' (v16). Lenski's comments on this pericope are genedly excellent, especially his suggestions for harmonization with the other accounts of this miracle. He also notes the simihrity between the language of 4:12 and 14: 13, suggesting that Jesus withdraws from the limelight upon hearing of the Baptist's execution just as He had entered it when John was imprisoned. The central thought of the passage is that Jesus used Xis power constructively when He was opposed (in this sense, the entire event is an elucidation of Jn 3:17). The goal of the sermon is th& the hearers live constructive lives. The problem is that we tend to think 346 CONCORDIA TH EO1.-OGICAL. Qli AKTERLY only of ourselves when we are "under pressure." The means to the goal is that Jesus brings the same love and power that He manifested in the text to bear on our lives. Introduction: Hemingway styled courage as "grace under pressure." That may be, if "grace" is seen as mere elegance. But the grace of God is far stronger, far more active. It does something. In this text we see Jesus showing IT. CONSTRUCTNENESS: GRACE UNDER PRESSURE Compassion for the crowd. A. The etting for compassion 1. Matthew begins reporting opposition to Jesus in chs 11-12. The parables are spoken "because seeing they do not see ..." (13:13). Now Jesus is opposed at home (13:53-58) and by Herod (14:l-12). 2. Jesus withdraws (v13), not so much out of fear of Herd as to mark a new phase of His ministry. He no longer seeks publicity. B. It's hard to be compassionate. 1. Our responsibilities put us under pressure. It would have been understandable if Jesus had turned the crowd away because He had a lot on His mind, or because He had to teach the disciples. 2. When we know we are right, but are opposed anyway, we throw God's justice and love in His face. It would have been understandable if Jesus would simply have wanted nothing more to do with people, on that day or any day. C. Jesus is compassionate. 1. He healed their sick (v14). He did what was hard - impos- sible! - for sinners. He reacted constructively to the pressure situation. He fulfilled the Law, the sum of which is love. 2. His constructive work was not easy. It entailed the cross (cf. Mt 8:17 and Is 53). 3. The resurrection shows His last work is a constructive one. He does something. Delegation for the disciples. A. The setting for delegation. 1. The disciples seem to have learned the compassion-lesson well (v 15). 2. But now Jesus will teach them another lesson (v16). B. It's hard to delegate. 1. The busy executive could do things himself, perhaps even better. But he can't afford the time. Jesus can do things better. It would have been understandable if He had reflected on how easily men had misunderstood Him, and then decided to do it Himself. Homiletical Studies 347 2. We are even quicker to understand God than to believe Him. The disciples' reply (v17) shows a lack of belief, if not understanding. It would have been understandable if Jesus had said, "Just forget it." C. Jems delegates. 1. He said, "Bring them. . ." (vl8). He did something construc- tive - and something only He could do. But He did it with the disciples (w19-20). 2. The Father entrusted the salvation of the world to His Son. The Son took on human flesh. He is our Brother: He obeyed our obedience, He died our death. He was pleased to be the "delegate." In His resurrection He shares the bless- ings of His constructive work with us. 3. He also shares His work (cf. 1 Cor 15:58). God doesn't need our help in either of the two kingdoms. Yet, while His power is of paxmnount importance, He does things through us. What a privilege! What a perspective for constructive living! Conclusion: I've heard that a good engineering student never lets a locked lab door deter him. He picks the lock, if need be, to get the work done. Jesus got His saving work done, too -- even under pressure. In fact, that's when He did His most crucial work -- and we sti l l benefit from it. Ken Schurb Columbus, Ohio TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 14:22-23 September 2, 1984 Introduction: "0 man of little faith, why did you doubt?" How the words must have seared Peter's conscience, as they do ours. It is embarrassingly easy to identify with Peter as we hear WHAT JESUS THINKS OF LITTLE FAITH It shouldn't exist. A. Jesus takes care of His disciples (w22-29). 1. He sent them away - they would not be tempted to join the crowd that wanted to make Him bread-king (v22; see Jn 6: 15). ~~ with us - see 1 Cor 1093. 2. He came to be with them on the sea, though the danger was not overpowering (w23-25; cf. Mt 8:23ff). He is with us too (Mt 28:20). 3. He comforted them by identifying Himself (Vv26-17). 4. He granted Peter's request with an enabling word (~28-29). B. But His disciples forget (v30). 1. Peter thought the wind and the waves were a bigger threat 368 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY than Jesus was a help. We also face many forms of this- worldly materialism: a. Teenagers half-joking, "I hope Judgment Day doesn't come until after my date Friday." b. Forgetting the Lord in our day-to-day concerns, relying instead on ourselves, our friends, money, cleverness, etc. c. In the Church, a preoccupation with gimmicks. People then think the Church is only concerned with self- presemation. 2. We believe Jesus - but only partway. And that's worst of all. Peter was in no great danger till he got on the water and doubted. II. Yet it doesn't stop Jesus. A. He saves men of little faith (v31). 1. He is motivated by grace - the text leaves no question about Who is caring for whom. 2. He substituted for all - even those of little faith. a. In His life of unflagging confidence in God (e.g., v23). b. In His death, facing the danger that results from little faith. 3. Believing is receiving. Even when Jesus works a miracle (v32) its meaning must be apprehended in faith (v33). But faith receives Him and His forgiveness regardless of how great or small it is (see J n 1:12). B. He is the Son of God (v33). 1. This is the great reality that exists prior to - or even apart. from - faith. Even Jesus' enemies had to recognize it (cf. Mt 4:3,6; 8:38; 2754). 2. He had come to save, not destroy (Jn 3:17; 12:47b; cf. Is 42:3). As the Son of God, He carried out the saving plan. His substituting worked because He was God (cf. 2 Cor 519). 3. Those who have great faith are those who receive this great God in riU His power and compassion (cf. Mt 8:5-13: 15:21-18). 4. His Gospel-word tells us about Him and brings Him to us. It engenders faith, just as this event strengthened the disciples' faith (see above. I. A. 3 and 4). Conclusion: The Lord is more than worthy of our trust. For a Christian to have faith in Him is like a child loving his mother. Ken Schurb Homiletical Studies 349 THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 15:2 1-28 September 9, 1984 The Canaanite woman approached Jesus with a cry for mercy which is a Christological confession of faith. The title "Son of Davidn underscores her understanding that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah- an important theme in the text (cf. v24). Her use of the title "Lordn shows that she understood Jesus to be the Redeemer of the world to whom all turn for mercy. This woman's faith is unwavering in the face of the obstacles placed in her way. This faith is praised by Jesus (v28), and her request is finally answered. Jesus' silence at her initial request (v23), the disciples' request to send her away (v23), Jesus' reply to the disciples about the scope of His minisky (v24), and Jesus' answer to the woman referring to the children's bread cast to the dogs (v26) are all overcome by the woman's unrelenting and persistent pleas for help. Even Jesus' reference to the dogs, however, is not an absolute snub of this woman's cry for mercy, since he refers to the household dog (note the use of the diminutive Kunariois and the reference to the household setting) rather than wild dogs which were an object of scorn. The woman recognizes this as a correct description of her p i t i o n and continues to seek a scrap of bread falling from the master's table. Jesus has just learned of the offense taken by the Pharisees at his teaching on defilement (15:12) and has withdrawn to the region of Tyre and Sidon. It is important to relate this event to that fact. The central thought of this text is that when people continually seek God's blessings, they will be blessed. The goal of the sermon is that the hearer will be persistent in seeking God's blessings, for God blesses those who diligently seek him. Introduction: Too many people give up too soon. Suicide victims, divorced people, even those who relent in seeking God's help in prayer-these all might be thought of as giving up too soon. But what about us? Even those who never consider suicide and who pray regularly need encouragement not to give up on God. Here we have an example of one who did not give up. We see reason, therefore, to be persistent in seeking God's blessings and help. No matter the obstacle you face or the help you seek, DON'T G N E UP! I. It is sometimes necessary to persist in seeking God's help. A. So many things seem to hinder us. 1. The Canaanite woman faced many obstacles (see notes above). 2. We get so much help in falling away from God. Friends, family and society--not to mention Satan and our own flesh all hinder us from persisting in seeking God's help. 360 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY B. We give up too easily. 1. Discouragement at delay in answer to our prayer causes us to let go. We aeldom wrestle with God. 2. What if the C;lnRanite woman had given up just before Jesus granted her request? C. God delays his help ultimately to bless us. I. Jesus r edy did not snub this woman. He sought to teach his disciples and her about His ministry. 2. By waiting to answer our prayers, God seeks to bless us (cf. 2 Pe 3:9). II. God blesses those who seek his help. A. This means approaching God in humility. 1. The Canaanite woman recog.luzed her place and did not presume to take that which was not hers. She accepted God's plan for her as it was. 2. We must not presume to tell God how and where to act on our behalf. An attitude of repentance in God's presence is called for. B. This means approaching God in faith. 1. The woman's cry for mercy was a cry of faith, "Have mercy on me, 0 Lord, Son of David. . ." Each title is important. 2. Our God has had mercy on us in Jesus Christ. On the basis of His love in Christ, we cry to Him for help. 3. If God has forgiven our sins, we can certainly count on His help in our homes and marriages, with our jobs and children. The temptation to give up in see- God's help is great. But when we consider the blessings that God has given us through Jesus Christ, we will realize that we will be blessed by God when we per- sist in seeking His help. David L. Bahn Vernal, Utah FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 16: 13-20 September 16, 1984 The Church which Jesus builds is vitally connected with the cor- rect teaching of who Jesus is. This teaching is inseparable from the result of that teaching. For this reason, the text does not fit easily into a category about Jesus or the Church. We must talk about the Church which is built on the teaching of Jesus. The answers to Jesus' first question (w13-14) indicate that the people of Jesus' day knew that Jesus was someone extraordinary. Jesus was not yet ready, however, to have it taught that He was the Christ (~20). This could too easily be misunderstood and thus thwart Him in His true messianic task (cf. 16:21f .) Homiletical Studies 351 The relationship between the rock (v18) and Peter must not be ig- nored. Though Peter is not that rock on which Jesus will build His Church, Jesus' Church is built on the rock of Peter's and the other disciples' apostolic teaching. When built on the rock of the Apostolic Word (cf. Eph. 2:20) nothing will overcome it (cf 724-25). 'The gates of hades" (v18) is a pregnant reference. Hell may pour forth its hosts to assault the Church (Lenski). This assault will culminate in the death of the Lord of the Church and continue in the deaths of the martyrs. But no matter. The Church which Jesus builds will withstand the onslaught. The central thought of this text is that Jesus is the Christ who builds His Church on the foundation of that teaching. The god of this sermon is that the hearer will let Christ build His Church in His own congregation through the preaching and teaching of the Gospel. Introduction: Men build churches by erecting buildings to the glory of God. But in spite of their beauty and importance, these are all susceptable to fire, decay, and ruin. Jesus speaks of building His Church which will always prevail. So as we gather in the building we call a church, let's LET CHRIST BUILD HIS CHURCH I. He builds it wherever the Apostolic Word is taught. A. The Apostolic Word is the message about Jesus. 1. Jesus is more than someone special. Today, as in Jesus' day, this message must get to those who think of Jesus as a great teacher or a prophet or a holy man. 2. This Apostolic Word must clear up our own misunderstan- dings about who Jesus is. Our confession of Jesus as Lord must constantly be renewed. B. The Apostolic word points us to Jesus the Christ. 1. To confess that Jesus is the Messiah is more than a recital of a mental understanding. To say that Jesus is God's Son without faith is of no use. 2. The Apostolic Word is that word which the Holy Spirit uses to create faith in our hearts. That faith lays hold of Jesus as the Christ, the Savior of the world who died to secure the forgiveness of our sins. mitional thought: When the Word of God is preached and taught Jesus builds His Church And what a Church it is, for, 11. He builds a lasting Church. A. Many things seem to tear down the Church. 1. ~ttenda-nce wanes during the summer months. Families move. Few churches are "super churches." Scandals plague congregations. Rifts develop. Congregations split. 2. We may be led to wonder whether the Church will survive, B. But Christ's Church stands forever. 1. Because of its nature: A communion of believers, it is not 362 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY tied to the existence of one congregation or one system of Polity. 2. Even the gates of hades have not overcome the Church though Satan tried: Jesus' death, the early persecutiom of the Christians. 3- that has happened through any attempt to destmy US Church that the Church has gotten shger . a ~ U I C ~ d dways stand. Transition: Why d m C u t build a lasting Church. m. He builds His Chureh for ao important task. A. Chirst's Chmch possesses the keys to the kingdom. 1. The Church has no authority to tel! you what color house you must have, nor the brand of toothpaste to buy, not even for whom you must vote. 2. But the Church has authority. The authority is to forgive the sins of repentant sinners and to retain the sins of those who refuge to repent, to admbbter the Sacraments and to preach the Guspel. B. Onr important task is to use that authority. 1. We preach the Law and the Gospel. We comfort the despairing and confront the arrogant. 2. We Beelr to let Christ build His C h m h by using His Word and declaring His message of sin and &race to all. David L. Babn ~ ~ A Y A F J ! ' E R P ~ S T Matthew 16:2 1-26 September 23,1984 Peter had jnst put into words the foundation fact on whkh the Church of God is a~tablish& Jm is ''the Christ, the of the fiv- ing God." See last Sunday's Gospel. The &iples had come to know the pemn of Christ but had an awful lot to learn about the work of tbe Chdst. Just as God intended to create a servant people when He alled*'s familyto be& people, s o ~ e & ~ i s % n t o h e tbe h e b the Suffering Servant a d Redeemer of the world. For Jeeus the way to purpose and glory was the cmw and empty tomb. The way of txcw~.bearing and self-denial for those who vaold follow Him in faith was a difficult pill to swdow for Peter and the others-and still is for would-be disciples todap! In fact, it is even difficult to preach about unless we remain squarely under the emss and in the Spirit's fight. Intmduetion: How great it is to know and relish Jesus, our k u t i f u l Savior," who by His cross has won for us forgiveness of &S and an e t , life in heaven. But like the disciples in d f s Chapel lesson we still haue a ht W 1- about CROSS rSFE Homiletical Studies 353 I. Selfdenial and burden-bearing are very contradictory to man's normal goal for life. A. Peter's visions of sharing messianic glory and power collided with Jesus' announcement of His coming suffering and death. 1. Peter and the other disciples were still blinded by the Jewish concept of the messiah as an earthly king who would bring victory, glory, and wealth to his people. 2. This explains why Peter so strongly resisted the Lord's prediction of suffering and the cross (v22). B. In varying degrees the goals of man are self and success oriented. 1. People live for wealth, health, happiness, freedom to "do your own thing. " (Illustrate with contemporary evidence in people's lives, advertising, etc.) 2. Caught in the patterns of this world many Christians have great trouble with "self denial7' (putting ourself out for others) and "crosses" (standing up for Christ .). Unfortunately, when we live for self-satisfaction only, at the end of life that is all we have (cf. v26.) God has something better for us. II. Red life is ours when we deny self-fulfillment in order to follow God's claim on our lives. A.Christ's life was controlled by the divine "must" of the Father's will for Him which climaxed on the cross ( ~ 2 1 , J n 4:34, Lk 22:42, etc.) B. In Christ God has filed His claim on our lives not only for the hereafter but for the here and now. 1. By baptism our sin and self died with Christ and we were raised with Him to new life (Ro 6:3ff, 2 Cor 5:15). 2. The dimensions of life with and for Christ are: a. We must deny self ("Deny" means "to turn someone off . . .to disown himw--Led). b. We must take up His cross which was the sacrifice of servanthood (text; Ro 121). Clarify that "cross" is not merely the pains of mortal humanity but the burden and cost of being Christ-like in life. c. We must follow Christ in commitment to the will of the Father (Eph 5:l-2, 1 Th 4:3a). We are called to obe- dience after Christ's perfect example. Conclusion: Peter missed the meaning and power of Christ's cross because he did not catch the promise of resurrection victory. In the power of our living Lord we can confidently live our Cross Life with and for Him. Edwin Dubberke St. Louis, MO 364 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 18: 16-20 September 30, 1984 This text is commonly seen as the "sedes doctrinae" of "church discipline." Two extremes are common in approaching it: Seeing here the "proper" procedure to remove undesirables from the Church, or defending complete disregard of the Savior's instructions "because we don't have the right to judge people." We can only understand the text if we remember what the loving, seeking heart of our Savior is like. His allconsllminp purpose was always to bring to the sinner the grace and forgiveness of God. The mechanics of church discipline are familiar, but the spirit of deep concern for weak, erring, fellow believers should dominate in a sermon on these words of our Lord. Introduction: A vacationing family from the midwest was seeing Niagara Falls. While on Goat Island above the falls a younger son fell into the swift current. A teenage brother managed to grab him and cling to a rock. When it seemed the older boy's strength would not last until help arrived, the mother's cry, "Don't let go, he's your brother!" was enough encourgment so that he did hold on and both were saved. That mother's cry illustrates the Savior's concern for weak and endangered believers in the text and what He wants us to do about them: DON'T LET GO, HE'S YOUR BROTHER. I. Whose responsibility is it to look out for stumbling Christians? A. Any beliver who sees a brother or sister in spiritual danger is obligated by our Lord to reach out with help (v 15; Ga 6:l-2). £3. Not to help lift up a falling brother is to share his guilt (cf. Eze 3:18ff). II. We must be fully aware of just who our "brother" is about whom we are to be concerned. A.Common faith in Christ links us together like mountain climbers who are tied together in one cause (1 Jn 3:14, also Communion). B. Each of us, not merely church officials, has responsibility for the weak and erring in the church, in the family, etc. III. It is essential to consider what sins should concern us lest we become merely judgmental. A. Our concern is not just sins against our person but flagrant sins against God and His Word and which offend His people. B. W e we all daily sin out of weakness, when a believer per- sists in sin against God's clear Word his salvation is in jeopar- dy (vl5b). C. Since those closest to a person wil l first see the sin they have fmt respo11sibility to call the erring to repentance. IV. The seriousness of this Christian duty is emphasized by what is at stake (w15b, 17b). Homiietical Studies 356 A.Since sin separates from God, the person's salvation is en- dangered. B. Continuing open sin robs God of His glory and endangers other believers through bad example. C. For all that is at stake the strong measure of excommunica- tion, as a last step is essential. V. It is the authority given by Christ Himself that promises effec- tiveness in this ministq to erring fellow believers (v18). A. God alone can forgive sins but He works through His people to warn the straying and comfort the penitent. B. It is God's word that really does both the judging and the comforting in Christ. Conchion: What a blessed work has been entrusted to us by our Lord. May He fill us with a d i e d concern to cany it out (w19-20). Edwin Dubberke SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 18:2 1-36 October 7, 1984 The central thought of the text is that we are to keep on forgiving others as God forgives us. The goal of the sermon is that we make forgiveness a way of life. The problem is our tendency to retaliate rather than to forgive. The means to the goal is God's generous, unstinted forgiveness of our sins for Christ's sake. Intraluction: Not reconciliation but retaliation is the operating principle in the world. Jesus flatly contradicts the world's procedure and lays down a better principle. By means of the parable He is say- ing to us: MAKE FORGIVENESS YOUR AIM I. Our forgiveness is empowered by God's forgiveness. A. The debt God forgave was great (v24). 1. Our debt of sin includes not only our transgressions but what we should have done and failed to do, like not notic- ing that lonely person, not speaking an encouraging word, not helping a neighbor in need. 2. We cannot pay our debt (v26). Good intentions will not suf- fice. Our efforts won't expiate our guilt. B. God forgave at great cost. 1. Our debt to God had to be paid. Jesus paid it, down to the last penny (1 Pe 2:24). 2. God forgives us for Jesus' sake (Mic 7:lB). It is when we ex- perience God's forgiveness that forgiveness can be our aim. II. Ou forgiveness is an imitating of God's forgiveness. A. We forgive from the heart (v35). 1. This does not mean that we can always forget the offense. The memory of it may still disturb us at times 2. It does mean that we do not allow the evil w k h was done 366 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY to separate us from the other person. B. We set no limit on our forgiveness. 1. The servant set a limit (v28). 2. Peter wanted to set a limit (v21). 3. We too stand accused of setting a limit. Yet if we are to im- itate God's forgiveness the spirit of vengence cannot be permitted to rise. C. We reflect the love of God. 1. The unforgiving servant reflected hate, not love (w28-30). Refusal to forgive causes distress among Christians and makes a mockery of God's forgiveness (w31-33). 2. We are to refled God's love to the meanest and the worst. The worst that can be done to us is still only a pinprick compared to what we have done to God. By forgiving we beget Iove rather than retaliation. Conclusion: "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beIoved, compassion. . ." (Col3:12-13). Let us make forgiveness our aim. Gerhard Aho EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 20: 1- 16 October 14,1984 It is natural to sympathize with the first workers. It seems only just that they should have received more than the last workers. But that is precisely the point Jesus is making. God operates differently than labor and management. God is so generous that we have dif- ficulty accepting it. When Jesus first spoke this parable the grumbl- ing of the first workers was a reference to the grumbling of the scribes and Pharisees over the graciousness of Christ toward publicans and sinners. The Jewish leaders had not been wronged; they were jealous (had an evil eye) that others had been treated generously. These others (tax collectors and sinners) who were con- sidered last were nevertheless the first to receive God's gracious of- fer, while those considered first (Pharises and scribes) were the h t to receive it, if at all (v16). The point of the parable is that as the owner dealt very generously with all his workers so God is generous beyond our understanding. The goal of the sermon is that we would be happy that God is so generous to all. The problem is that we sometimes live more under law than under grace and do our share of pharisaic grumbling about others receiving more than we. The means to the goal is God's a m ~ z - ing and undeserved generosity to us all. In trodwtion: The wage question can be troublesome. Strikes and marathon negotiations are part of the economic picture in the world. The wage question can be troublesome also in the spiritual realm. It troubled a rich young ruler who came to Jesus (Mt 19:16). Jesus offered him work and a fine wage (Mt 19:21), but the young man Homiletical Studies 357 went away dissatisfied. The question troubled Peter also (Matt 19:27). We too are often concerned about what we will get for following Jesus. In the text parabIe Jesus deals with THE WAGE QUESTION IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD I. The wages me based on grace. A. God's pay scale contradicts our notion of rewards. 1. The Jewish leaders grumbled about Christ's gracious offer to sinners (wll-12). 2. Even Peter thought he and the other disciples should receive more than others who had not left their homes and j o b (19:27). 3. We +m get jealous when God seems to be blessing others more than we. B. Yet God deals fairly with us. 1. No injustice has been done, for we have received the agreed-upon wage (w13-14). 2. God never promised to give us what we think we deserve for our efforts. 3. Our grumbling reveals our loveless and unmerciful at- titude and shows that we are more under the law than under grace than we perhaps realize. 11. The wages are uniformly high. A. God is generous to al l (v15b). 1. God is a real equal-opportunity employer. 2. Whatever we give up we receive back a hundredfold, and f d y eternal life (19:29). 3. Isn't it wonderful that even those of us who worked only one hour also receive a denarius? B. The work itself is already a reward. I. Just to be a Christian is a privilege - not a wearisome duty but a happy service no matter how long or how God lets us Seme. 2. There is no richer, fuller life than that of a disciple of Christ. ConcZusion: The wage question in the kingdom of God need not trouble us, for in the kingdom there is no unemployment and the wage level is uniformly high. Gerhard Aho NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 2 1:2&32 October 21, 1984 The fmt soson in the parable represents the tax collectors and the prostitutes who in living a sinful life refused to do God's will. Never- theIess, when John the Baptist came these outcasts of society repented, believed, and entered God's kmgdom. They did the 358 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLk Father's will. The second son reflects the attitude of the religious leaders who, though they saw the response of sinners to John's message, refused to be baptized by John. They appeared to comply, at least outwardly, with what John and Jesus were saying, but they refused to believe and in that sense failed to follow through. Jesus invited the Jewish leaders to pass judgment on His simple story. Before they realized it they had implicated themselves. They were forced to admit that the reprobates who made no great pious claims for themselves were the ones who had done God's will by responding to His call. The point of the parable is that obedience and not mere profession constitutes membership in God's kingdom. The goal of the sermon is that the hearers would support their words with their actions. The problem is that we don't always do what we say we wilI do. The means to the goal is that God is merciful to us and calls us to work in His kingdom. Introduction: There is an enormous step from good resolutions to good actions. We often fail to see a thing through. Sometimes this bothers us. At other times we don't really care. Whether it's inten- tional or unintentional, the problem remains. The text deals with this problem of MATCHING THE DEED WITH THE WORD I. It is difficult to match the deed with the word because of our in- nate opposition to God. A. Which sometimes shows up as open disobedience. 1. Neglecting to hear God's Word and to support His Church. 2. Becoming attached to the world and even to works of the flesh, such as drunkenness, adultery, quarreling, and revenge. 3. Defending such behavior by saying Y am what I am. I don't pretend to be something I am not. I tell it straight." But is it praiseworthy for a child to tell his father blatantly, Y will not?" Is sin more acceptable because it is done openly? B. Which at other times is a veneer of godliness. I. We may be decent people who attend church and observe Christian customs. 2. But are we also people who see no need of repentance and who regard the Gospel as foolishness? 3. What is the good of our respectfully answering, Y go, sir," if we have no intention of obeying our heavenly Father? II. It is possible to match the deed with the word because God calls all of us to work in His kingdom. A. He calls those of us who are openly disobedient. 1. God has a forgiving heart toward us. Jesus by His perfect obedience atoned for our disobedience and washed us from our sins in His blood. Homiletical Studies 369 2. Like the disobedient son who afterward repented and heeded his father's call, we can admit that we have behav- ed badly and trust in the Father's forgiving grace. Then we are matching the deed with the word. God still prefers rude obedience to polite disobedience. B. He calls those of us who have been living a lie. 1. He reminds us that Christ has atoned for our self- righteousness and hypocrisy. He assures us that He has no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies (Eze 18:32) and that He does not want to destroy us on account of our sins. It is this goodness of God that leads us to repentance. 2. The more conscious we are of our sin, the more we yearn for God's forgiveness. Then we will not merely say, "I go, sir," and not go. We will match the deed with the word by daily confessing our sin and receiving God's abundant forgiveness . 3. We match the deed with the word also when our faith pro- duces God-pleasing deeds -- when we tell others what Jesus has done for us, when we invite them to hear God's Word, when we help the troubled and comfort the sorrowing. Conclusion: It will be a continuing struggle to match the deed with the word. Yet it can be done because God enables us to repent, to believe, and to do God pleasing deeds. Gerhard Aho TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 2 1:33-43 October 28, 1984 This parable, recorded also in Mark 12:l-12 and Luke 209-19, describes the miserable treatment the Jewish leaders accorded the prophets and finally Christ. The chief priests and Pharisees realize that Christ was speakmg of them as the wicked tenants of the vineyard (v45). These leaders also caught Jesus' reference to Is 5:l-7 where Israel is described as God's vineyard. In response to Jesus' q d o n (v40) they are forced to incriminate themselves. Then Jesus -shifts the imagery by quoting from Ps 118 and showing that the tenants were also stupid builders who by rejecting the stone (Christ) had destroyed themselves. The point of the parable is that while God has incredible patience He will f i y destroy those who obstinately refuse to bring Him the fruit He is entitled to. The goal of the sermon is that we would bring to God the fruits of faith that He expects. The problem is that we who are tenants or renters too often act like owners. The means to the goal is that God is extraordinarily patient with us. Intduction: It's possible to rent an amazing variety of things. God too has a rental arrangement. For centuries the sign has been out; 360 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY VINEYARD FOR RENT The terms specified. A. God puts the vineyard into excellent condition (v33). 1. He did so for Israel (Is 5: 1-7). 2. He does so for us through the good news of Christ by which He gathers and preserves us as His people. B. God "rents" out the vineyard (the message of His love and forgiveness) by giving it to us and through it supplying us with faith, strength, and hope. C. God expects us to pay Him rent in kind. 1. He wants the fruits of faith (Ga 5:22-23). 2. Because of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit fruit bearing is not a chore but a spontaneous outpouring in response to God's benefits. II. The difficulties encountered. A. God had difficulties with His renters. 1. n e y killed the prophets (w 35-36). 2. Finally they killed the Son Himself (w38-39). B. God still has difficulties with His renters. I. When we fail to love God's mission to the world. 2. When we fad to love God's people. 3. When we fad to love God's messengers. IIX. The action of God. A. God shows patience. 1. He kept on sending s e ~ a n t s (w34,36). What a contrast to what we probably would have dorre under similar cir- cumstances! 2. He went so far as to send His only Son (v37). Through Christ's death God atoned for the tenants' s e K i e s s and ours. To what great lengths God went to show His love and patience!" 3. He is still giving us time to bring forth fruit. He keeps on loving and seeking our love. B. Yet God's patience has a limit. 1. When the Jewish nation rejected Christ, God gave the vineyard (the Gospel message) to the Gentiles. 2. If we reject Christ, the Gospel will be taken from us and given to others. Christ the cornerstone will one day fall on us and destroy us. Conclusion: God's sign is still out: Vineyard for rent. The terms are as generous as they can be. In His marvelous love God has sur- mounted all the difficulties we caused Him. How wicked we are if we spurn His love! What a privilege to be a tenant in God's vineyard and to bring Him His fmts! Gerhard Aho Homiletical Studies 361 TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST Matthew 22: 1-14 November 4, 1984 This parable, along with the parable of the two sons and the wick- ed tenants, should be understood against the toodbackground of the final events in Christ's ministry. Jesus is relating Israel's shameful treat- ment of the prophets God sent to call them to repentance. Christ's hearers were well aware that kings dispatched armies to destroy op- ponents and to set fire to their cities. The emphasis in w9&10 is on the mercy that God extends to all sinners. Yet while everyone is welcome at the wedding of the king's son, each guest must have the proper clothes (wll-14). The king himself provides the necessary garment. To refuse to wear it is to show contempt for the host. The person who insulted the king, refusing to sit at the banquet on the king's terms, represents the self-righteous person who rejects the righteousness God offers through Jesus Christ. Anyone who thinks he does not need the gar- ment of righteousness Jesus secured for him must suffer the conse- quences. The point of the parable is that although everyone is welcome at W s wedding feast, one can be a guest there only on God's terms. The goal of the sermon is that the hearers would take seriously God's offer of grace. The problem is that we sometimes make God's gracious offer an excuse for sinning. The means to the goal is that God invites all sinners and provides them with the needed garment. Introduction: One of life's pleasures is to hear the announcement, 'Dinner's ,ready," when we're hungry. God has prepared a dinner -salvation. Forgiveness of sins now and life eternal. Quite a dinner! This dinner has been ready for a long time. God is st i l l announcing: DINNER'S READY God invites. A. He doesn't command people to come. 1. He doesn't demand that we first make ourselves worthy. 2. He won't force us to eat. B. Yet many refuse the invitation. 1. They allow activities acceptable in themselves to become more important than God's invitation. 2. We need to watch that we do not put off accepting God's invitation. 3. The consequences of such procrastination can be drastic. God invites all. A. He sends His messengers out again. 1. He won't let rejection by some prevent the banquet from taking place. 2. He wants the food to be eaten. 33. God shows no partiality or prejudice. When the respectable 362 CONCORDlA THEO1,OGlCAL QUARTERLY people refuse He invites the lowIy and the despised. III. God invites on His terms. A. He provides for each guest the needed wedding garment. 1. Not only has He prepared salvation but He makes it possi- ble for all to partake of salvation. 2. The wedding garment is the righteousness Christ earned for us which alone makes us acceptable to God and qualifies us to be guests at God's wedding feast. 3. Without Christ's righteousness which we receive by faith we are doomed, for our righteousness condemns us. B. While letting Christ's righteousness cover our sins we must be on guard lest we continue to love and practice sin. 1. That would amount to playing games with the grace of God. 2. That would mean that we are no better off than the blatant unbeliever. Conclusion: God Himself has prepared a wedding dinner. &%at joy to hear Him invite, saying, "Dinner's ready," to hear Him invite us also, and to receive from Him the beautiful garment of Christ's righteousness! Gerhard Aho THIRD-LAST SUNDAY IN THE CHURCH YEAR Matthew 23: 1-12 November 11, 1984 According to w2-3 the scribes and Pharisees were worthy of respect because they had inherited the authority of Moses. Insofar as their teaching was derived from the Scriptures and not from their own interpretations, that teaching was to be heeded. It was their practice that was to be shunned, for they bound or tied together like sheaves (desmeuouszn, v4) heavy backloads of rules but made not the least effort to follow their own rules. Here Christ is denouncing not the law itself but the false inferences and deductions which put a yoke on the neck of disciples. A second pharisaic evil Jesus warns against is ostentation in religion. Insofar as they did comply with their rules they did so only to get the honor of men. Phylacteries were little boxes attached to the forehead and the left arm near the heart containing pieces of parchment with injunctions written on them to keep in memory God's laws and dealings. The more zealous teachers enlarged the phylacteries to focus attention on their religious and careful obser- vance of the law. The tassels fastened to the corners of the garmeiits were supposed to remind the wearers of God's commandments. The Pharisees also coveted the place of honor at banquets and in the synagogues and loved to be respectfully greeted in public places (w6-7). In v8 Christ does not forbid respect for teachers but con- Homiletical Studies 363 demns eagerness for titles and the desire for abject discipleship from followers. A good teacher will influence his followers to look to God and not to W I f (v9). In v10 Christ censures the kind of spirit that manifested itself in the Corinthian Church (1 Cor 1:12) where one said that he belonged to Paul and another said he belonged to Apollos. Paul and Apollos were servants of Christ who alone is the supreme teacher because He is the Messiah, the Savior. True greatness lies in servanthood (vll). Such God Himself exdts (v12). The central thought of the text is that relygous forms must not degenerate into mere f o d t y . The goaI is that the hearers would use the forms of religion to serve God and not themselves. The pro- blem is that we often use the forms of religion to exalt ourselves. The means to the god is that Christ who humbled Himself all the way ti a cross will I3imseIf exalt His humble followers. . . Introduction: (%mshm, both clergy and lay people, are often criticized for not practicing what they preach. Dkgreement be- tween the word and the deed can cause offense d weaken the church's witness. The leaders of the church in Christ's day were notorious for saying one thing and doing another. In taking them to task Christ reminds us that WE ARE TO PRACTICE WHAT WE PREACH Let's not substitute forms of true religion. A. By emphasizing externals. 1. Such as observing certain Christian customs only to fulfii what we regard as divine requirement. 2. Such as using W s Word mechanically so as to lose i& meaning and to quench the Holy Spirit (w23a). B. By loading people with obligations which we ourselves do not take seriously (v4). C. By greedily grasping for titles and recognition and any means to obtain them (w5-7). The end result of not practicing what we preach is self- righteousness, unbelief, and perdition (the 'Woes" Jesus pro- nounced on the scribes and Pharisees, w13-36). Let's use the forms of religion to exalt God rather thrrn ourselves. A. Jesus is not opposed to our calling someone our father in the faith as long as in doing so we give highest honor to the Father who is in heaven (v9). 1. Our fathers in the faith have led us to know that we are children of the heavenly Father by faith in the Christ (vlO) who died for us and reconciled us to God. 2. Our fathers in the faith encouraged us to live in the grace of the heavenly Father. B. Nor does Jesus forbid the use of titles of respect and the giv- ing of recognition for work well done. 364 CONCORDIA THEOLOGlCAL QUARTERLY I. These f o d t i e a can be a means of honoring God who p m vides leaders and blesses their work. 2. Jem wants us to quench the desire for self-glory that makes us eager for respect and recognition. 3. He wants us to seme not ourselves but others. C. Whatever we do for others, even for the least of Christ's dheiples, we do as to Him, and we shall not lose our reward (Mt 10:42). I. The Christ who has exalted us by making us sit with Him in heavedy places (Eph 2:6) regards highly the smallest good we do for others. 2. When we follow the forms of religion - worshiping, pray- ing, giving money, observing God's laws so that we can serve others, we are thereby serving God. And God exalts those who serve Him. What an encouragement to practice what we preach! Gerhard Aho SECOM)-LAST SUNDAY IN TIIE CHURCH YEAR Matthew 24: 1- 14 November 18, 1984 The &pIes, disturbed by Jesus' words about the destruction of J e d e m (Matt 23:38), call Christ's attention to the seeming solid- ity of the magmficent temple compIex (vl). Jesus speaks even more pointedly (v2), uttering a prophesy which was literally fulfilled when Titus ordered the tobl demolition of the temple, the walk, and the city. The disciples' question in v3 was prompted by their assumption that the temple's destruction was connected with Christ's f d coming and the end of the world. They wanted to know whether this would come to pass in their lifetime or in the distant future. Jesus does not satisfy their curiosity but warns them of the dangers they will have to be on guard ag&t before the end, the co-tion of the age. In the succeeding verses (w4-42) Christ foretells events which for the most part will precede both the destruction of Jerusalem and His final coming. The popular m e sianic hope of that day was political independence, and there were political Christs who advocated war against Rome. False Christs of other kinds have continued to deceive. Jesus warns the disciples and us to stay aloof from any such movement (w4-5). The prediction concerning wars, famines, and earthquakes applied to the period both before and after the destruction of Jerusalem. While these things would be taking place the disciples would be propagating the faith in many areas of the world. That activity and the rdting persecution will be duplicated in the lives of Christ's followers in future generations (v9). Many Christians, fearful of losing their lives, would inform against friends (v10). As if this were not bad enough, from within the Christian fold false teachers would arise-- Homiletical Studies 365 Judakers, Gnostics, and their present day counterparts, deceiving many with their pernicious doctrines (vll). All these troubles wil l contribute to a spirit of worldliness and seKihness that will weaken the love of Christians for one another. What is needed is patient perseverance in the faith (v13). The primary task of the Church is to get the Gospel message out to all nations (v14). Christ does not promise wholesale conversions, only that there will be extensive evangelization before the final day. The central thought of the text is that Christ prepares us to cope with the crisis preceding the end. The goal of the sermon is that the hearers would endure to the end by persevering in the faith. The problem is that we allow the crisis occurrences to weaken and destroy our faith. The means to the goal is that through the Gospel we make it known that Christ Himself works to preserve our faith. Introduction: There will be an end &earth's poverty and riches, joys and sorrows, plans and enterprises. The last hymn will be sung, the last sermon preached. The earth we know, the life we experience, the existence we share with all human beings will end, for Jesus says: "THEN THE END WILL COME" I. Signs of the end. A. Many being deceived (w4,5,11). 1. By those who purport to be Christs. 2. By false religious movements. B. Nations being distressed (w6-7). 1. By wars and rumors. 2. By earthquakes, famines, and recessions. C. Christians being persecuted (w9-11). 1. The world's antagonism will be sharp. 2. The result will be that the love of many Christians will grow cold. D. The Gospel being preached. 1. The Bible will be translated into more and more languages. 2. Salvation will be offered to more and more people. II. Enduring to the end. A. We endure by remaining in sound doctrine. 1. Established in the truth through diligent use of God's Word. 2. Thereby guarding ourselves against false teachings. B. We endure by continuing in the faith. 1. Clinging to Christ as our Savior. 2. F'iding in Christ strength to overcome callousness and despair. C. We endure by exercising our faith in kingdom work. 1. Spreading and helping others to spread the good news of salvation. 368 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY 2. Thereby hastening the end so that the period of suffering is shortened and fewer fall away. Concltcsion: The end will come. But to be forwarned is to be forearmed. We who are in a faith relationship to Jesus Christ can endure to the end. Gerhard Aho LAST SUNDAY IN THE CHURCH YEAR Matthew 25: 1- 13 November 25,1984 The concluding verse of the text shows that the context of the parable is Christ's teaching about His final return. The parable makes clear that those who are not prepared for His return will be excluded forever from His kingdom. When Christ comes it will be too late to get ready. Those who are unprepared are contrasted to those who are prepared, and thus the emphasis of the parable is on wise and foolish preparation. The ending of the parable echoes Jesus' teaching in Mt 721-23. Since the wise as well as the foolish girls fell asleep while they were waiting, watchfulness does not appear to be the point of this parable but rather preparedness. The goal of the sermon is that the hearers would prepare wisely for Christ's coming. The problem is that we all tend to rely on inade quate and therefore foolish ways of preparing. The means to the goal is that Christ the Bridegroom Himself enables us to make the proper preparations and will receive us into His eternal kingdom. Introduction: It is important to be prepared for life's exigencies- tests in school, market fluctuations in business, changes in middle life and old age. It is more important stiIl to be prepared for the final event in human history. In the parable of the wise and foolish maidens Jesus is telling us to BE PREPARED FOR TIIE LORD'S COMING I. Do not prepare for it foolishly. A. We are foolish if we rely on Christian associations. 1. Such as membership in the church. 2. Such as the designation 'Chrjstim'' or "Lutheran." B. We are foolish if we rely on someone e W s faith. 1. Such as the faith of our parents. 2. Such as the faith of an illustrious Christian ancestor. C. We are indeed foolish because when Christ comes it will be too late to make proper preparations. 1. Our fate wi l l then be irrevocably f d (~10). 2. We will be left in darkness behind the closed door. II. Prepare for it wisely. A. We are wise if we have an ample supply of oil, 1. This is a way of saying that only through Christ are we adequately prepared because by faith we receive the Horniietical Studies 367 forgiveness of sins that Christ earned for us. 2. Wise preparation is possible because of God's gift of faith to us. B. We are wise if we trim our lamps. 1. This is a way of saying that our faith must be nurtured by regular use of the Word and Sacraments. 2. As our faith is being nurtured we can go about our or- dinary activities in the relaxed confidence (v5, "all slumbered and slept") that we are prepared to meet Christ whenever He comes. C. We are indeed wise because we have attended to that which is most important--our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. 1. Christ will know us as His own. 2. We will enter the heavenly marriage feast with Him. Conclusion: The Bridegroom is coming. Are we prepared to meet Him? It is possible to make preparations and yet not be prepared. The Bridegroom soon will call us, "Come to the wedding feast." May slumber not befall us nor watchfulness decrease. But may our lamps be burning with oil enough and more. That, with our Lord returning, we find an open door. (LW No. 176, st. 1) Gerhard Aho