The Sunday after Christmas
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn # 85:1-8 From Heaven Above 4.55
The Confession of Sins
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #85:9-15 From Heaven Above 4.55
Redemption, Atonement, Forgiveness
The Hymn #657 Beautiful Savior 4.24
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #83 Hark! What Mean Those Holy Voices 4:40
KJV Galatians 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
KJV Luke 2:33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. 36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. 40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
Sunday After Christmas
O almighty and everlasting God, mercifully direct our ways, that we may walk in Thy law, and be made to abound in good works: through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
Redemption, Atonement, Forgiveness
All we are able to say is that God knew when the proper time had arrived. Judaism was bankrupt, and paganism had always been so. We can enumerate some of the providences which helped to open the way for the gospel such as the vast extent of the Roman Empire, the spread of the Greek language, the facility of travel throughout the empire, the extensive diaspora of the Jews, its many proselytes from Gentilism, etc. All of these aided the spread of the gospel. What God saw and regarded as the fulness of the time in the spiritual condition of men, barbarian as well as Greek, is too difficult for us to predicate because his thoughts and judgments are too unsearchable for us. Paul, too, refrains from stating details.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians. Columbus, O. : Lutheran Book Concern, 1937, S. 197.
We have discussed in the Formula of Concord class the proper distinction between the Law and the Gospel. There are many ways to consider this issue, which is the only way to understand the Scriptures. If someone is blind to the difference between Law and Gospel, he will read the Bible and not understand it. He may know a wealth of facts about the Bible, but he will not have any spiritual wisdom.
Spiritual wisdom does not come from academic degrees. Many who have been trained as clergy have no knowledge of this at all. Some laity attend church all their lives, serve on committees, and still cannot get up to the first principle of this matter.
The way we learn about this is: first) from studying the Word of God, the Confessions, and reliable books. And secondly) from experience in applying what the Holy Spirit teaches us in the Word.
St. Paul’s illustration in this lesson is very good and easy to learn. We know there is a world of difference between being an heir and a servant on an estate. We had the good fortune to live on the estate of a wealthy young couple in Milwaukee. We lived there and enjoyed many benefits of the estate, but we never imagined that anything was ours, in the present or in the future. On the other hand, the children were heirs. They had to listen to us at first, but they would grow up in time and inherit what was around them in abundance. We were their tutors, but we had no authority on our own.
The Law confuses people, because people become too familiar with being servants under the Law and unwilling to be free with the Gospel. The Law is a tutor, leading us to Christ. This tutor teaches us individually that we have certain duties and responsibilities, that the Creator has given us a world in which certain laws must be obeyed at all times, not just when the mood strikes us.
The Law is good and useful, but limited. If we live under the Law alone, we are still servants. When family members take turns accusing each other, they are using the Law alone. We cannot help feeling like children when we only hear the Law and no Gospel, no forgiveness.
On this first Sunday after Christmas, it is important to remember that God sent His Son to be completely obedient to the Law. Jesus, true man, was born under the Law, circumcised as a Jew, raised as all children were at that time. He obeyed the 10 Commandments and taught them with the power and authority of the true Son of God. In other words, many people would like to say that they have not broken this or that commandment, but Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount that even mental sins are the same as actual sins.
We cannot escape from the verdict of the Law. Many of our conflicts come from our ability to see the nature of sin in other people without seeing the sinfulness in our own behavior. All this was foreseen by God the Father, who sent His Son “in the fulness of time,” at the right time, born of a woman, to redeem us from the Law.
Jesus had to accept the verdict of the Law in order to save us from the ultimate penalty of the Law, which we all deserve, eternal death and punishment.
Gal 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem [purchase] them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
This is another clear reference, like Romans 1:1ff to the Two Natures of Christ. The divine nature is described as “God sent forth His Son” and the human nature “made of a woman, made under the law.”
The phrase is very important – to redeem them that were under the law – because it says literally that Jesus paid the price for those under the law. A house has a price. A car has a price. Our sins have a price. The wages of sin is death.
Jesus paid that price, so we might receive adoption as sons. Some our latter day feminists are always discovering gender distinctions in the Bible, even when they don’t exist. Or they cover them up. (One notorious case is the feminist creed in the WELS hymnal. The phrase “and was made man” was perverted to read “fully human,” with the claim that the verb and root cannot mean man. However, in John 3:1 and many other cases, the root, anthrwpos, is used for man. W is used for the long o in Greek, the omega. There was an anthrwpos from the Phraisees by the name of Nicodemus. If that means “fully human,” then we should read, “There was a fully human from the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, who came to Jesus at night.)
In this case we have a specific word with a precise meaning. The word is “son” and not “child.” There is quite a difference. Child is not a bad word, but “son” is special. A son inherits. In this case, if the Holy Spirit had been more sensitive to current trends, He would have had St. Paul say “adoption as children.” But he does not. We know there is a difference.
A son inherits the estate and there is a special relationship between a father and son. Abraham was promised a son and commanded to sacrifice his only son. Explain that to your only son. The binding of Isaac is intended to teach all believers from a personal standpoint what it would mean in the future and what it did mean in the past for the Father to give His only-begotten Son.
The Father/Son relationship is especially emphasized in the Gospel of John, but also in the three passages where Abba is used of the Father. We are supposed to realize and to be thankful that we have received the same relationship with God that is enjoyed by the Son, so that we can call upon our heavenly Father and ask Him just as we ask our earthly fathers.
First we have the example of Jesus in His agony of prayer, when He called His Father, Abba. His greatest request, of all His prayers, was begun with this term, Abba.
Mark 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
The term Abba is familiar and not formal. Very few of us, except a few Episcopalians, would call our earthly fathers “father.” Instead we would use a familiar term. I heard on ethics professor from Texas consistently refer to his father as “mah daddy.” I have heard others say “dad” or “papa” or “pops” or “pa.” Familiar terms are loving terms, so Abba means we are given the same loving relationship to God as Jesus has.
That relationship is not based upon the Law but the Gospel. We are not redeemed by the Law but by the Gospel. Jesus did not die because we were worthy. He died on the cross to make us worthy. We receive His righteousness through faith. Gospel promises create and sustain faith. Trusting, believing hearts receive the promises of God: forgiveness, peace, love, and eternal life.
Paul also used the term Abba too in order to contrast it with the spirit of bondage, fear, and the Law.
Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
In this passage from Romans, the language is all Gospel. While we as Lutherans do at times emphasize how sinful we are, and that is true, we also should grasp these comforting promises as well. The Gospel is freedom. We are adopted as sons and heirs. God Himself helps us in our prayers, because we are His children and heirs. We are joint-heirs with Christ, a supreme honor, and we have a promise to share in His suffering and His glory.
It is fun to watch parents with children. I remember one little girl working on her father for a certain request. Then she said, “But daddy, you always call me your princess.” He was tongue-tied.
One girl simply asked the same thing over and over, with a big smile on her face. Finally her father gave in. I praised his discipline. He laughed. The children were being so charming that he could not say no. He said no but it did not last.
Parents know that they often give in to requests because they love their children and not because the children have fulfilled their promises. In the same way, we should always think about God’s loving response to our requests. He has answered our prayers repeatedly, often before we can even ask. He has given us what we ask and far beyond that, not because we are perfect in the eyes of the Law, but because He loves us.
Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Isaiah 65:21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. 24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
These are not minor promises, because God Himself is speaking them. When people are troubled about what is happening around them, I remind them to dwell on the promises of God. It is true that the sins we can list are many. But a list will not comfort or heal. It will not bring forth the fruits of the Spirit. Only the Gospel can do that.
Quotations from the Apology (Defense) – Augsburg Confession
When people despair, they should think about a passage in Pilgrim’s Progress. Christian has been captured and is in the Castle of Despair. He is locked in a dungeon where he can hear the giant discuss how he will be tortured and killed. Eventually he realizes that he can escape the dungeon. The keys were in his pocket all along. They are the promises of God.
If you are worried to death, anxious about fears for the future, or riddle with pain over bad things that have happened, your mind can torment you just the way Christian was tormented in the Castle of Despair. Locked up and hearing the taunting words. But the promises of God will set you free, give you comfort, quiet your fears, and provide far more blessings than you can imagine.
Quotations from the Apology (Defense) of the Augsburg Confession
"In reference to original sin we therefore hold nothing differing either from Scripture or from the Church catholic, but cleanse from corruptions and re- store to light most important declarations of Scripture and of the Fathers, that had been covered over by the sophistical controversies of modern theologians."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article II, Original Sin, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 113.
"All Scripture ought to be distributed into these two principal topics, the Law and the promises."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 121.
"Their feigning a distinction between meritum congrui and meritum condigni [due merit and true, complete merit] is only an articifice in order not to appear to Pelagianize. For, if God necessarily gives grace for the meritum congrui [due merit], it is no longer meritum congrui, but meritum condigni [a true duty and complete merit]. But they do not know what they are saying. After this habit of love [is there], they imagine that man can acquire merit de condigno. And yet they bid us doubt whether there be a habit present. How therefore, do they know whether they acquire merit de congruo or de condigno [in full or in half]?"
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 125.
"Now, that faith signifies, not only a knowledge of the history, but such faith as assents to the promise, Paul plainly testifies when says, Romans 4:16: 'Therefore it is of faith, to the end the promise might be sure.' For he judges that the promise cannot be received unless by faith. Wherefore he puts them together as things that belong to one another, and connects promise and faith."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 135. Romans 4:16.
"But Christ was given for this purpose, namely, that for His sake there might be bestowed on us the remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness [to manifest Christ in our hearts, as it is written John 16:15: 'He shall take of the things of Mine, and show them unto you.' Likewise, He works also other gifts, love, thanksgiving, charity, patience, etc.]. Wherefore the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Ghost is given."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 159. Romans 3:31; John 16:15.
"James, therefore, did not believe that by good works we merit the remission of sins and grace. For he speaks of the works of those who have been justified, who have already been reconciled and accepted, and have obtained remission of sins. Wherefore the adversaries err when they infer that James teaches that we merit remission of sins and grace by good works, and that by our works we have access to God, without Christ as Propitiator."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 189. James 2:24.
"And since the Gospel is taught among us purely and diligently, by God's favor we receive also from it this fruit, that in our Churches no Anabaptists have arisen [have not gained ground in our Churches], because the people have been fortified by God's Word against the wicked and seditious faction of these robbers. And as we condemn quite a number of other errors of the Anabaptists, we condemn this also, that they dispute that the baptism of little children is unprofitable."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IX, Baptism, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 245. Matthew 28:19.
"But as the Confutation condemns us for having assigned these two parts to repentance, we must show that [not we, but] Scripture expresses these as the chief parts in repentance and conversion. For Christ says, Matthew 11:28: Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Here there are two members. The labor and the burden signify the contrition, anxiety, and terrors of sin and of death. To come to Christ is to believe that sins are remitted for Christ's sake; when we believe, our hearts are quickened by the Holy Ghost through the Word of Christ. Here, therefore, there are these two chief parts, contrition and faith."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XII (V), #44, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 263. Matthew 11:28.
"But if ordination be understood as applying to the ministry of the Word, we are not unwilling to call ordination a sacrament. For the ministry of the Word has God's command and glorious promises. Romans 1:16 The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Likewise, Isaiah 55:11: So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please...And it is of advantage, so far as can be done, to adorn the ministry of the Word with every kind of praise against fanatical men, who dream that the Holy Ghost is given not through the Word, but because of certain preparations of their own...."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XIII (VII), #11, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 311. Romans 1:16; Isaiah 55:11.
"Our adversaries have no testimonies and no command from Scripture for defending the application of the ceremony for liberating the souls of the dead, although from this they derive infinite revenue. Nor, indeed, is it a light sin to establish such services in the Church without the command of God and without the example of Scripture, and to apply to the dead the Lord's Supper, which was instituted for commemoration and preaching among the living [for the purpose of strengthening the faith of those who use the ceremony]. This is to violate the Second Commandment, by abusing God's name."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV, The Mass, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 414f.