The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn # 361 O Jesus King 4:1
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 # 388 Just As I Am 4.91
Publican Versus the Pharisee, By Faith or By Works
The Communion Hymn #305 Soul, Adorn Thyself 4:23
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 # 657 Beautiful Savior 4:24
KJV 1 Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
KJV Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Eleventh Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech Thee so to guide and direct us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not forget our sins and be filled with pride, but continue in daily repentance and renewal, seeking our comfort only in the blessed knowledge that Thou wilt be merciful unto us, forgive us our sins, and grant us eternal life; 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.
Publican versus the Pharisee, By Faith or By Works
This brief parable is one of the classic passages about justification by faith, comparing the hated tax-collector against the highly respected Pharisee. The justification prayer is preceded by one about justice:
The parable about justice is another argument from the lesser to the major. In other words, if an unjust man—who disregards man and God—can deal justly with a widow, how much more will God carry out His justice – in His infinite power and mercy.
KJV Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Neither the preceding parable nor the one that is now introduced deal with prayer as such; prayer is only the vehicle in both. So the connection is not from prayer to prayer. The first parable deals with the kind of faith Jesus wants the disciples to have, one that is constantly longing and asking for his return; the second parable adds the true humility of faith, of that faith which alone justifies. It may well be possible that this parable followed the other promptly. Since εἶπε πρός is constantly used to mean “he said to” the persons who are then named, we cannot have it here mean “he said regarding” absent persons.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 898
KJV Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
The chief attribute of those who believe in justification by works is their despising of others. They act and speak as if they cannot stand being on the same planet with such low-lifes. This contempt and arrogance may dismay some, afraid they have offended these great saints who take and abuse church positions. The best way to test the spirits is to listen to them.
They people who trust in themselves, as Jesus says, are always praising their own works and their own merits. Yes, they will list all the marvels they have done as proof of their God-pleasing ways.
For example, when I spoke to Kent Hunter (CG guru, LCMS and WELS) the first thing he said was, “My congregation quadrupled in size while I was there.” I responded, “But you are not there now. If it was so great, why did you leave?” I did not get an answer.
Extolling one’s own work is the same as not trusting in God’s Word, because everything happens through God’s Word and never apart from God’s Word. Only Christ crucified can be the source of our boasting, and that is belongs to God’s realm alone.
This despising is quite common, and we see it communicated by all the followers of Satan. They have reason enough to feel arrogant, because the world favors them and they have plenty of followers. How many faithful ministers are on the cover of a news magazine? None. The faithless clergy have two opportunities – one is for their great skill in telling people what their itching ears want to hear. During that time everyone is astonished that the organization grows so large and wealthy. (Remember Promise Keepers?) The second opportunity is either the prison term (Jim Bakker) or the selling of church property (Schuller, Kennedy). The news magazines love shooting stars in the clergy, on the way, and even more on the way down.
Faithful shepherds do not despise others and even work to convert false teachers to the true Gospel. Being despised is a burden, a cross to bear. It is accompanied by name calling, bearing false witness, shunning, and many kinds of humiliation. This is proof of the cross – although we know what it is, we still hate it at first. Much later we learn that the cross is indeed holy and blessed, for many different reasons. However, our Old Adam still rebels against it.
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
In this parable, two opposites are compared. Jesus’ parables were extremely short, concise, and easy to remember. We can picture them without effort and remember them easily. That is because of the concrete examples offered. Also, there is a surprise, a twist where our normal understanding is turned upside-down. The Pharisees were the good, holy men of the age. They observed the Law strictly, and Judaism had degenerated into Law-mongering rather than Gospel-teaching.
The Gospel of the coming Messiah, the Suffering Servant, was revealed to the Jewish people from the beginning. They turned away from this, even though they longed for redemption from their sin. We can see that the Pharisees held sway over the people, because they all allowed Jesus to be crucified for no other reason than challenging justification by works. That was the bedrock of Pharisaical hatred.
We think of this parable as comforting, but the words stung the Pharisees. There is no escaping their meaning.
In contrast, the public or tax-collector for the Roman Empire was the most hated figure of all, despised more than criminals. He was a Jew who extorted as much money as possible for himself and the occupation troops. We can hardly imagine taxes being taken from us to pay for occupation troops and foreign judges. Our public servants would never support the building of a religious monument celebrating the 9/11 disaster, would they?
This contrast in the parable is also outward. We can see what the Pharisee does and says, because he is the essence of strict holiness. Thousands of books have been written about such saints. The Medieval stories are full of wonders and miracles that never happened, such as a severed head emerging from a well to lecture people on piety (The Glories of Mary).
The Pharisee is outwardly an object of awe while the Publican is outwardly an object of contempt.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
The self-justification Pharisee commends himself for being so holy, and even thanks God that he is not contemptible, the way other people are – naming specific sins and the tax-collector in particular. The resume is impressive. Today it would be – Thank God I reach out to transform lives, that I take risks, doing what other will not do so I can reach others they do not reach. Those mottos are all self-centered.
The favored doctrine of the Romanizers and Fullerizes is justification without faith. They try to make that sound Gospel-centric, but just the opposite is true, as anyone can see in their comments. They are full of contempt for others and praise themselves for having the true Gospel. They lord it over everyone else but refuse to deal with the obvious raised by their false doctrine. Luther’s comments on false teachers, just posted on Ichabod, describes them perfectly.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
Here there are no claims, but only faith in God’s mercy. As one collect says, God’s power is shown chiefly in His mercy. Although He could condemn the world for its sin and weakness, He justifies believers for trusting in Christ alone for their salvation.
The tax-collector has no haughty words for God and no comparisons. We are all sinners, so comparisons are not worthy of a contrite heart. We contribute no merit of our own, so we cannot thank God for being so good. Whatever we do follows justification and salvation, so the glory belongs to God alone.
This entire action belongs to God. He brings about contrition through the Law. All preaching against false doctrine is the Law, and that is why false teachers howl when Luther is quoted against them. They harden their hearts and get even, but they do not realize the effective Word is working on them too. The more they rebel, the flintier their hearts become, the blinder they are to the Gospel – the one for weak, poor contrite sinners.
Grace comes to us only through the Means of Grace, so forgiveness is conveyed by Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, and the Word preached and taught – the Word in various forms. And it can come from the mutual consolation of the brethren and absolution. God is glorified in the many delivery methods, but it is the same Gospel and the same grace.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
God declared the tax-collector justified by faith, not the Pharisee – who justified himself and thanked God for it. That is part of Jesus’ subtle humor, but something designed to make the Pharisees like Him.
Some would like justification by faith sound like an act that is man-centered. But it is God declaring the believer innocent. This parable is a good antidote for those who fear justification by faith is not glorifying God. In the very words of Jesus, man does nothing but receive from God.
In contrast, the bad example shows an outwardly pious man performing all the work himself and showing the marks of works-righteousness.
Believing is justification, because that means the individual is trusting in the Gospel message of the Atonement.