Art by Norma Boeckler.
The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn # 239 Come Thou Almighty King 2:72
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 #269 O Lord Our Father 2:56
Built on the Word
The Communion Hymn # 315:11-15 I Come O Savior 2:66
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 #651 Be Still My Soul 2:17
KJV 1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
KJV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
Eighteenth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father: We are poor, miserable sinners; we know Thy will, but cannot fulfill it because of the weakness of our flesh and blood, and because our enemy, the devil, will not leave us in peace. Therefore we beseech Thee, shed Thy Holy Spirit in our hearts, that, in steadfast faith, we may cling to Thy Son Jesus Christ, find comfort in His passion and death, believe the forgiveness of sin through Him, and in willing obedience to Thy will lead holy lives on earth, until by Thy grace, through a blessed death, we depart from this world of sorrow, and obtain eternal life, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
Built on the Word, Built on the Gospel
Matthew 22: 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
Lenski had extensive parish experience and was also a district president. He edited a periodical for German Lutherans, taught at the seminary in Columbus, wrote a complete commentary on the New Testament, and published other books as well. A Baptist missionary doctor brought up the fact that he loves Lenski’s work. Augsburg-Fortress let it go out of print, but it came back because people appreciate his scholarship.
Lenski had a unique perspective when he said that “Programs come and go, but only one thing builds the church – the Word of God.”
Today’s lesson is a good example of how this happens. This section of Matthew shows a typical Passover type setting, still employed today, where questions are asked, first by the audience, finally by the rabbi. This tradition encouraged the teacher and the audience to study the Word of God, and it applied to the head of the household as well. Fathers can do the same thing today with their own families. That is God’s design, which is often neglected.
The audience was supposed to stump the rabbi and the rabbi was supposed to ask them a question they could not answer. Jesus led the religious leaders into a difficulty they could not resolve, and it clearly indicated He was talking about Himself.
Already the ancient fathers saw that Jesus here renews the supreme question he had a few weeks ago addressed to his own band of disciples, 16:13–16. Peter had given the true answer; the Pharisees refuse to give that answer. Until Palm Sunday Jesus had avoided use of the name “Messiah” because of its political and nationalistic implications. Now the time has arrived to disregard all such implications. On Palm Sunday Jesus had entered Jerusalem and the Temple as David’s son, Israel’s King, the Messiah. The pilgrim multitudes had shouted his great titles, the boys marching in the Temple courts had echoed those shouts. As the Messiah Jesus now asks the Pharisees this question, and they know that it is not an academic or a theoretical inquiry but the supreme question concerning his own person. It is put objectively, in the third person: “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” It is thereby made easier to answer; but it pertains to Jesus himself nonetheless.
Luther finds a natural connection between the question concerning what makes a commandment great in the law (v. 36) and the answer Jesus gave (v. 37–40) and this great question which Jesus now asks and answers from Ps. 110. This connection has been denied, and yet it is only too obvious. Why would the covenant God of Israel, Yahweh Eloheka, ask his people to love him as he did if that love could never be realized in their hearts because of their sin and their doom under sin? His very covenant name points to the covenant promise of the Messiah in and through whose grace Israel would, indeed, come to love the Lord their God with the whole heart, soul, and mind (Jer. 31:33, 34). “The great and first commandment” (v. 38) and the Messiah, David’s son and David’s Lord, will ever belong together.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 884.
The first question in this lesson concerns the love of God (First Table of the Ten Commandments) and the love of our neighbor (Second Table). The famous religious leaders of Israel agreed that this statement summarized the entire Old Testament, and that is Jesus’ answer as well.
Left unspoken, as Luther observed, is how this love relationship is resolved when all of us are sinful. When people are sinful and only expect divine justice, their response to God is hatred and fear, not love. Notice how hardened criminals respond to the police. They only see punishment in the police, so they hate and fear them. If an honest citizen sees a police vehicle, he feels safe, but a criminal runs. One Chicago policeman made a name for himself because of his own checkered past. He knew where to show up, and when suspects ran for no apparent reason, he chased them down and solved crimes.
That is how many people view God, and atheists are especially strident in their remarks. They are not indifferent. They use up their lives getting people to stop believing in God. This hatred and fear is obviously fueled by the Word hardening and blinding them.
KJV 2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away [Greek word – Apostasy, believers becoming atheists] first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
And we would be in the same darkened place, without faith in the love of God, which is shown to us in Christ crucified for our sins.
When Jesus asked about the Messiah, He brought up a subject He avoided until then. Hundreds of articles have been written about why Jesus did not want to discuss His Messianic role when He performed miracles.
One example explains it – the crowd wanted to crown Him as king (Messiah). Their political ambitions were opposed to the role of the true Messiah. The strength of this popular feeling can be measured by the Zealot war 40 years later, which cause the destruction of the Temple and the enslavement of the people who were not killed. And yet, another Messianic revolt started up another 50 years later.
Hundreds of rationalistic articles and books by “scholars” claimed that Jesus suppressed His messianic title because He did not consider Himself the Messiah. However, the truth is that almost no one could understand Him at that point, so He spent three years instructing the disciples. Even then, all but John ran away during the crucifixion.
Jesus asked this question using the assumptions of the religious leaders.
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.
Their assumption was that the Son of David was inferior to King David, the model of the Messiah for his military might and political savvy.
43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
This seems quite puzzling to the newcomer to this passage, so I will put it in more familiar language –
If you assume the Son of David is inferior to King David, then why does King David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, call Him Lord? How can the son of the king be the Lord of the king?
That silenced the religious leaders.
Silence is the most telling form of opposition. It shows a great level of anger, anxiety, and hatred than shouting and carrying on.
This silence led to opponents to put an end to Jesus. He not only had great power, divine power, but He also had popularity with vast crowds and the ability to teach the Word. He was a threat to them, and they could use His messianic claims as a threat to Rome.
Thus Jesus knew from the beginning how His ministry had to proceed. He had to gather disciples and plant members of the Christian church in various places. He did this through teaching the Word, inspiring faith in Him, and gathering disciples to organize the Christian Church after His resurrection and Ascension.
This Gospel creates and sustains faith in Jesus when it is taught in context. As I said before, hundreds of scholars have looked at this passage and missed its meaning. They know the words, they know the language. Without faith in Christ they might as well be reading blank pages. That is exactly what Jesus warned against – not having a child-like faith.
Someone said recently, “The synods have lost the Gospel by attacking faith.” I added my version. I said, “If everyone is born forgiven, why bother with any article of faith. The Confessions are meaningless, too.” That is being acted out on all fronts. The most obvious show it with their obvious contempt for the Word. The least obvious are the ones who want to politely engage over tea and cookies, anxious lest anyone take offense at their objections. Would anyone accept a 30-year plan of renewal if they knew they had five years left?
The Word of God is like seed. It will grow where it is broadcast, and we cannot tell exactly where that will be. I talked to someone about tomatoes, so I brought up dill. I said, “Plant dill.” Dill seed is very cheap. I bought a large envelope and scattered it all over the yard in Midland. Dill is weak the first year and reseeds itself after that. I did not examine each seed or determine where each one would land. I scattered the dill and saw it grow and seed itself.
The Gospel seed is exactly the same. When the Gospel of forgiveness is proclaimed, faith springs up in some for the first time and faith is renewed in others. This Matthew passage has Jesus teaching with authority that He is the Messiah. He is the one predicted by the Holy Spirit in Psalms of David. The mightiest king of Israel foresaw the coming of Christ and exactly how He would die and become our Good Shepherd.
Read Psalm 22 and 23. Notice the Messianic predictions in Psalm 22 and the great comfort proclaimed in Psalm 23.
In the midst of a dark, dying world, the Word of the Gospel builds up the invisible Church and gives eternal-life to all those who hear and believe that Jesus is their Savior, that He died for their sins, that He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven.
"The New Testament is the inerrant record of the revelation of Jesus Christ in word and deed, and of the truths and principles proceeding, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, from that revelation. The Old Testament is in like manner an inerrant record, having the express and often repeated testimony and authority of Christ, of the preparatory and partial revelations made concerning Him before His coming. Hebrews 1:1." Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 3. Hebrews 1:1.
"The Old Testament dealt with the promises of God to the chosen people. Thereby God placed Himself in 'covenant' relation to Israel (berith). This relation, like the promises and the gifts of God to Israel, is always onesided. It is always God's covenant, not Israel's, and not a mutual agreement, not a suntheke. This promise and covenant indeed obligates Israel, and Israel assumes these obligations, but the covenant emanates entirely from God." R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Columbus: Lutheran Book Concern, 1938, p. 235. Hebrews 7:22;
"In view of their spiritual meaning the psalms are really lovely and sweet; for they are comforting to all depressed, wretched consciences, who are in fear of sin, the anguish and agony of death, and all sorts of trouble and misery. To such hearts the Book of Psalms is a sweet, comforting, lovely song, because it sings and preaches the Messiah, although one merely reads or recites the words without notes. Nevertheless, the use of notes or music, as a wonderful creation and gift of God, helps greatly to produce this effect, especially when the people sing along and do so with fine devoutness...Thus David, too, often dispelled, or at least checked or weakened, the evil spirit for Saul with his minstrelsy (1 Samuel 16:17ff.). For the evil spirit is not at ease when one sings or preaches God's Word in true faith. He is a spirit of sadness and cannot stay where a heart is spiritually joyful (joyful in God and His Word). What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 981. 1 Samuel 16:17ff.