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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2011 -
No Live Service on October 2, 2011




Trinity 15, 2011 Sermon


Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.  KJV Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.  3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.  4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.  5 For every man shall bear his own burden.  6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.  7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. 

KJV Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.


Creation Teaches Us


Lenski:
Thus far the contrasts are exclusive: either treasures on earth or treasures in heaven. The self-deception thus lies in choosing the one kind in place of the other. Now Jesus turns to the self-deception which would grasp at both. No one can be a slave to two masters. The proposition is again self-evident. The emphasis is on can-be-a-slave with which, as a matter of course, goes the idea of having a master. The matter is viewed exclusively from the standpoint of the slave; hence no one is the subject. How two masters would act in such a case is not touched upon. A slave’s person and his work belong wholly to his master. This excludes the possibility of devoting himself and his work to a second master. Two masters or even more might own a slave jointly and might even share in his service; but this would make the two one, and this thought is thus not a contradiction of the proposition. The thought that underlies this word of Jesus is the fact that no man is his own master; it is ingrained in our very nature that our heart, will, and work be governed by another. The only question is who this other shall be.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 278.

Jesus often used illustrations from Creation, because He is the Lord of Creation, the creating Word who fashioned light before the sun and stars existed.

KJV John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

KJV Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

This is a good text for all of us, whether in times of prosperity or recession. In the past there were crises in one currency or another, one part of the world or another. Now the crisis is world-wide and continuing to develop, like a storm that builds up after a flood, making people wonder, “How much more?”

This text requires faith, because anyone without faith will ignore its meaning. No one is against birds and flowers, but this text is about the Master. Jesus observed, “No one can be a slave to two Masters at once. He will love one and hate the other, or be loyal to one and disloyal to the other. That is often observed in human behavior, when someone pretends to be friendly when he is really serving another person, trying to get information or some kind of advantage.

Long ago I warned a well known editor, “Agent X is no longer your friend.” The editor denied this was happening. I said, “He is defending Bohlmann.” Later, Agent X went public with his animosity. He had switched sides and was serving the opposition. We are not capable of serving two sides at once. We pick one over against the other.

As Luther said, just as our relationships are with others in this life, so is our relationship with God. It is either God or mammon, not both.


Jesus warning is about the most important basics of life.

Matthew 6:24b Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

One way to understand mammon is “excess money.” Mammon is represented by desiring to have more and more, to be secure and yet wanting many times more, just to be sure. In many cases today, those who are wealthy are unhappy that they are not many times more wealthy. A millionaire wants to be a centi-millionaire, and and centi-millionarie wants to be a billionaire. Ted Turner was once worth $10 billion and now has to scrape by on $500 million. He had to give up some luxuries.

Here Jesus is reminding us, “God already takes care of the basic needs of life, for believers and unbelievers alike. Look at the plants and animals.”

Luther is quite severe on this topic, which is good to read over and study, because he puts this lesson in the context of faith rather than logic. Either we believe in God or we believe in mammon. If we love mammon, we hate God.

No believer will say, “I hate God,” but Luther’s observation is accurate. We  say that and worry about a dollar left out in the open – someone might steal it. I was laughing to myself about this at the store, because I kept my eyes on our shopping basket after I paid for the goods. We were having some food at the WM Subway, and I did not want someone to leave with the paid-for goods. Luther’s comment stuck me many times, but I still kept my eyes on the cart.

This is the first time in my life where I have seen everyone threatened by financial meltdown. No one I know has been left untouched. Savings and retirement have suffered. Homes have lost 50% of their value overnight. Some things have a rolling effect. Endowments have lost value, so the benefits from those funds are gone. Times of prosperity seem to be a dream.

Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

The birds fashioned by the Lord of Creation are an excellent example of how our heavenly Father cares for everything. Every single day they start with nothing, yet they sing merrily and look for food.

Blue jays hoard acorns, but for a purpose. God has designed them to nurture and spread oak trees, so they benefit from the food, shade and shelter of the oaks while making sure they have more. Someone said, “Given the concept that the animals themselves (the hardware) have evolved on their own, how does anyone explain the software coding?” (Hardware and software go together, so the question is ironic. Conceding one part of evolution, as a rhetorical trick, makes it clear that design permeates everything we see.)





Believing in Creation and observing it are great habits. Blue jays chose to build a nest outside our bedroom window, in the bush at eye level. Their software directed them to mate and produce a nest together, the female laying eggs, the pair bringing food to the hatchlings. Jays can be very aggressive in attacking those who threaten their young, but they never attacked me for bringing them piles of sunflower seed. Birds cannot live on donated food any more than we can live on Doritos, but it does help them to have some extra nutrition.

Their genetic code moved them to feed their young with great energy and care, so we saw the scrawny little things get bigger and more crowded in their nest.
LI noticed them trying their little wings in place. He said, “Look at that. They wave their wings and say – what are these? Maybe I can fly. And soon they are doing something they never imagined, second nature to them.” We watched them flutter in place a few days – then everyone was gone.

Their software told them to grow up, set up shop somewhere else, find a mate, and start over. I gave them sunflower seeds – for myself and our visitors. We wanted to enjoy their feathers, their military sharpness, their bell-like calls of happiness when food was near. We got to share a tiny bit in what God provided with such lavish bounty.

Now all kinds of birds stop by and peer in the window. Isn’t this where we get the sunflower seeds, crackers, and potato chips?




Clearly Jesus taught this so that birds would be a daily reminder of God’s care for all of us, a reminder of His care for each and every one of us. The birds are so small and insignificant, yet God cares for them. How much more valuable are we, created and redeemed by Him?

Matthew 6:27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
This is interpreted as the span or length of one’s life. That is a real obsession today. In many cases, people have damaged their health by being so anxious and managing their food so severely.  We saw a malnourished baby at the Cleveland Clinic, terribly sick because his parents had some weird hippy organic obsession.

We can see the richest and most powerful Americans dying of one malady or another, because mammon does not buy health. All the doctors and medicine that man can buy will not change that.

Luther:
Of what help are his great treasures and riches to the Emperor when the hour of death arrives and he is called to die? They are a shameful, loathsome, powerless god, that cannot cure a sore, yea, it cannot keep and take care of itself, there it lies in the chest, and lets it's devotees wait, yea, one must watch it as a helpless, powerless, weak thing. The lord who has this god must watch day and night lest thieves steal it; this helpless god can aid no one. You should have contempt for this lifeless god that cannot help in the least, and is yet so scrupulous and precious; it lets its devotees wait in the grandest style and protects itself with strong chests and castles, its lord must wait and be in anxiety every hour, lest it perishes by fire or otherwise experiences some misfortune. Does this treasure or god consist in clothing, then one must be careful and on his guard against the smallest little insects, against the moth, lest they ruin or devour it.

Matthew 6: 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

No matter where people live, they can observe the glories of plant life. In Phoenix we had cacti blossoming, flowering trees, and even weeds with delicate flowers. I bought  one plant because it would grow well in the blazing heat. A landscaper said, “Did you do that on purpose?” Another plant was $1.50 at the store, so I bought three. Later they were 7 feet tall and loaded with blossoms, orange flowers loved by humming birds. My neighbor finally talked to me after 10 years. He stopped at the front door and said, “Please prune those bushes. They are growing into my roses.”

In fact, weeds can be quite attractive – in small numbers. Their abundance is a blessing by itself, because they protect and improve the soil in places where delicate plants would not survive. God has designed a plant for every single habitat, one that will thrive in that climate.

As much as people fuss over clothes, no one can dress as delicately as a wild flower. No one can put together the same colors, no matter how many dyes and fabrics are designed to look good.

One of the ironies of history is the silk trade. China guarded it for centuries, the fabric coming from the tiny silk threads of a little worm. Constantinople finally stole some worms and developed their own industry, but it was an industry based on God’s Creation, not on man-made fabrics. What we prize today are the natural fabrics, made from wool, cotton, bamboo, and worms, not the chemical fibers that color so well and feel like plastic bags smothering our bodies.

Some roses will give up enough perfume from one blossom to fill an entire room with their aroma. Fragrant Cloud is one of the best for that. How much we spend to re-create the perfumes of nature – with little success.

Matthew 6: 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Here Jesus is emphasizing our lack of faith in God’s care and power. Either we trust in man’s wisdom and schemes or in God’s mercy and love. God serves us in the material and spiritual realms, but mammon is a god that must be served.

All the law salesmen serve their god Mammon, so we must be careful not to fall into their way of thinking. They are clever because their Old Adam talks to our Old Adam so well. Look at how prosperous that minister is! He must know the secrets. Look at his wealthy benefactors. He must know how to reach people.

Instead, these prosperity gurus should ask themselves, “Why does this criminal want to borrow my image to make himself look good?” That has happened many times. I had the files of one minister, who had a talking point paper on how to explain the criminal charges leveled by the government against his wealthy member. I thought, “So the price is being his mouthpiece?” So much for Law and Gospel. Being a finger-puppet pays well in the short run, but not in the long run. “The wages of sin is death.”

The little faith rebuke is aimed at all of us. John 16:8 – The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin, because we do not utterly rely on Him.

Luther used the example of our eyes. We have redundancy in almost everything, including our eyes. We take them for granted, even though we pity a person who is blind. We can do almost nothing for a blind person or for someone going blind from such disorders as macular degeneration.

But if we lost an eye through an accident, we would suddenly value that one remaining eye. What would we do without that? We should get up every morning and thank God for those eyes. Gerhard even has a beautiful German hymn, thanking God for all the senses and for God’s daily care.

When we get older, the eyes do not work so well. My eyes are healthy, but they are no longer good for reading a whole book in a day and grading homework. I think aging is a process of becoming grateful for what is left.



Matthew 6: 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Our sinful nature puts Mammon first, as if we need to serve that god, while dispensing with the real treasures of life in the Means of Grace. Many have sacrificed their families, too, in the name of being prosperous, important, or “serving the church.” I met one layman’s son who was utterly sick of church from growing up in the home of a father who was the ultimate church volunteer. In fact, another father neglected his own kids to do “youth work” and film all their activities.

The most important congregation is the home. The pastoral epistles teach that clearly.

“Seek first the Kingdom” means first, not second. First cannot be qualified, as in second or third, or at the end.

Jesus has abundant examples of how this righteousness is given to us lavishly through the Means of Grace.

In John 15:1-10, Jesus is the True Vine. We are fruitful through remaining with the Savior.

In John 10:1ff – Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who knows His sheep. His sheep listen to His voice alone and follow Him alone. They know He is as anxious for them as they are for Him.

Quotations from Luther’s Sermon

"In this Gospel we see how God distinguishes Christians from heathen. For the Lord does not deliver these teachings to the heathen, for they could not receive them, but to His Christians...Satan also hears the Gospel and the Word of God, yea, he knows it far better than we do, and he could preach it as well as we, if he only wanted to; but the Gospel is a doctrine that should become a living power and be put into practice; it should strengthen and comfort people, and make them courageous and aggressive."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1983, V,  p. 103f. Trinity 15 Matthew 6:24‑34          

"The Master uses here the Hebrew, which we do not.  'Mammon' means goods or riches, and such goods as one does not need, but holds as a treasure, and it is gold and possessions that one deposits as stock and storage provisions."
            Sermons of Martin Luther V,  p. 107. 

                                The Weak God:  Riches               
"They are a shameful, loathsome, powerless god, that cannot cure a sore, yea, it cannot keep and take care of itself, there it lies in the chest, and lets its devotees wait, yea, one must watch it as a helpless, powerless, weak thing.  The lord who has this god must watch day and night lest thieves steal it; this helpless god can aid no one."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, V, p. 107.

"The walls of our rooms should spit upon us in contempt that we trust more in the god the moth eat and the rust corrupt, than in the God, who creates and gives all things, yea, who holds in His hand heaven and earth, and all that is in them."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, V, p. 108.

                                A Little Bird Shames Us
"Early in the morning it rises, sits upon a twig and sings a song it has learned, while it knows not where to obtain its food, and yet it is not worried as to where to get its breakfast.  Later, when it is hungry, it flies away and seeks a grain of corn,  where God stored one away for it, of which it never thought while singing, when it had cause enough to be anxious about its food. Ay, shame on you now, that the little birds are more pious and believing than you; they are happy and sing with joy and know not whether they have anything to eat."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, V,  p. 114. 

                                Is Christ Our Treasure?     
"Here are no learned, no rich, no mighty ones, for such people do not as a rule accept the Gospel.  The Gospel is a heavenly treasure, which will not tolerate any other treasure, and will not agree with any earthly guest in the heart.  Therefore whoever loves the one must let go the other, as Christ says, Matthew 6:24:  'You cannot serve God and mammon.'"
            Sermons of Martin Luther, I,  p. 154.




Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Luther's Sermon on God and Mamman:
The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity.
Matthew 6:24-34

All the art in this sermon comes from Norma Boeckler.

Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity; Matthew 6:24-34

A Sermon by Martin Luther; taken from his Church Postil.

[The following sermon is taken from volume V:103-117 of The Sermons of Martin Luther, published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI, 1983). It was originally published in 1905 in English by Lutherans in All Lands (Minneapolis, MN), as The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, vol. 14.] GOD AND MAMMON. DO NOT BE ANXIOUS.

1. In this Gospel we see how God distinguishes Christians from heathen. For the Lord does not deliver these teachings to the heathen, for they could not receive them, but to his Christians. However, he does not consider those Christians, who only hear his Word, so as to learn it and be able to repeat it, as the nuns do the Psalter. In this way satan also hears the Gospel and the Word of God, yea, he knows it far better than we do, and he could preach it as well as we, if he only wanted to; but the Gospel is a doctrine that should become a living power and be put into practice; it should strengthen and comfort the people, and make them courageous and aggressive.

2. Therefore they, who only thus hear the Gospel, so that they may know it and be able to speak about the wisdom of God, are not worthy to be classed among Christians; but they, who do as the Gospel teaches, are true Christians. However, very few of these are found; we see many hearers, but all are not doers of the Gospel. We wish now to examine more closely what kind of doctrine the Lord teaches in this Gospel. First, he begins with a plain, natural example, so that we all must confess it is true; experience also teaches the same to everybody. He says:

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other: or else he will hold to one, and despise the other."

3. Now he, who tries to serve two masters, will do it in a way that cannot be called serving at all; for it will certainly be as the Lord here says. One can indeed compel a servant to do a certain work against his will and he may grieve while doing it; but no one can compel him to do it cheerfully, and mean it from the bottom of his heart. He of course does the work as long as his master is present, but when he is absent, he hurrys away from his task, and does nothing well. Hence the Lord desires our service to be done out of love and cheerfully, and where it is not done thus, it is no service to him: for even people are not pleased when one does anything for them unwillingly. This is natural, and we experience daily that it is so. Now, if it be the case among human beings that no one can serve two masters, how much more is it true in the service of God, that our service cannot be divided; but it must be done unto God alone, willingly and from the heart; therefore the Lord adds:

"Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

4. God cannot allow us to have another Lord besides himself. He is a jealous God, as he says, and cannot suffer us to serve him and his enemy. Only mine, he says, or not at all. Behold now how beautifully Christ here introduces the example: "No man," he says, "can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." As if to say: as it is here in man's relations to his fellows, so it is also before God.

5. We find very few, who do not sin against the Gospel. The Lord passes a severe judgment and it is terrible to hear that he should say this of us, and yet no one will confess, yea, no one will suffer it to be said that we hate and despise God and that we are his enemies. There is no one, when asked if he loves God and cleaves to him? would not reply, yes, I love God. But see how the text closes, that we all hate and despise God, and love mammon and cleave to it. But God suffers us to do this until his time; he watches the time and some day he will strike into our midst with all violence, before we can turn around. It is impossible for one, who loves gold and earthly possessions and cleaves to them, not to hate God. For God here contrasts these two as enemies to one another, and concludes, if you love and cleave to one of these two, then you must hate and despise the other. Therefore, however nicely and genteely one lives here upon earth and cleaves to riches, it cannot be otherwise than that he must hate God; and on the other hand, whoever does not cleave to gold and worldly goods, loves God. This is certainly true.

6. But who are they that love God, and cleave not to gold and worldly possessions? Take a good look at the whole world, also the Christians, and see if they despise gold and riches. It requires an effort to hear the Gospel and to live according to it. God be praised, we have the Gospel; that no one can deny, but what do we do with it? We are concerned only about learning and knowing it, and nothing more; we think it is enough to know it, and do not care whether we ever live according to it. However, on the other band, one is very anxious when he leaves lying in the window or in the room a dollar or two, yea, even a dime, then he worries and fears lest the money be stolen; but the same person can do without the Gospel through a whole year. And such characters still wish to be considered as Evangelical.

7. Here we see what and who we are, If we were Christians, we would despise riches and be concerned about the Gospel that we some day might live in it and prove it by our deeds. We see few such Christians; therefore we must hear the judgment that we are despisers of God and hate God for the sake of riches and worldly possessions. Alas! That is fine praise! We should be ashamed of ourselves in our inmost souls; there is no hope for us! What a fine condition we are in now! That means, I think, our names are blotted out. What spoiled children we are!

8. Now the world cannot conceal its unbelief in its coarse, outward sins, for I see it loves a dollar more than Christ; more than all the Apostles, even if they themselves were present and preached to it. I can hear the Gospel daily, but it does not profit me every day; it may indeed happen, if I have heard it a whole year, the Holy Spirit may have been given to me only one hour. Now when I enjoyed this hour I obtained not only five hundred dollars, but also the riches of the whole world; for what have I not, when I have the Gospel? I received God, who made the silver and the gold, and all that is upon the earth; for I acquired the Spirit by which I know that I will be kept by him forever; that is much more than if I had the church full of money. Examine now and see, if our heart is not a rogue, full of wickedness and unbelief. If I were a true Christian, I would say: The hour the Gospel is received, there comes to me a hundred thousand dollars, and much more. For if I possess this treasure, I have all that is in heaven and upon earth. But one must serve this treasure only, for no man can serve God and mammon. Either you must love God and hate money; or you must hate God and love money; this and nothing more.

9. The master uses here the Hebrew, which we do not. "Mammon" means goods or riches, and such goods as one does not need, but holds as a treasure, and it is gold and possessions that one deposits as stock and storage provisions. This Christians do not do, they gather no treasures; but they ask God for their daily bread. However, others are not satisfied with this, they gather a great store upon which they may depend, in case our God should die today or tomorrow, they might then know a way out. Therefore St. Paul says, in Eph. 5, 5 and Col. 3, 5, riches and covetousness are the god of this world and are idolatry, with this Christ here agrees and calls it serving mammon.



10. Now, how does it come that the Gospel and St. Paul call especially covetousness and not other sins idolatry; since uncleanness, fornication, lust, base desires, unchastity and other vices are more opposed to God? It is done to our great shame, because gold is our god, that we serve, in that we trust and rely upon it, and it can neither sustain nor save us, yea, it can neither stand nor walk, it neither hears nor sees, it has no strength nor power, with it there is neither comfort nor help. For if one had the riches of the whole world, he would not be secure for one moment before death.

11. Of what help are his great treasures and riches to the Emperor when the hour of death arrives and he is called to die? They are a shameful, loathsome, powerless god, that cannot cure a sore, yea, it cannot keep and take care of itself, there it lies in the chest, and lets it's devotees wait, yea, one must watch it as a helpless, powerless, weak thing. The lord who has this god must watch day and night lest thieves steal it; this helpless god can aid no one. You should have contempt for this lifeless god that cannot help in the least, and is yet so scrupulous and precious; it lets its devotees wait in the grandest style and protects itself with strong chests and castles, its lord must wait and be in anxiety every hour, lest it perishes by fire or otherwise experiences some misfortune. Does this treasure or god consist in clothing, then one must be careful and on his guard against the smallest little insects, against the moth, lest they ruin or devour it.

12. The walls of our rooms should spit upon us in contempt that we trust more in the god the moth eat and the rust corrupt, than in the God, who creates and gives all things, yea, who holds in his hand heaven and earth, and all that in them is. Is it not a foolish thing on the part of the world to turn from the true God and trust in base and low mammon, in the poor, miserable god, who cannot protect himself against rust. Oh, what a disgraceful thing this is on the part of the world! God visits gold and worldly possessions with many kinds of enemies, to bring us to see and confess our unbelief and godless character, that we thus trust in a powerless and frail god, we who could at once so easily approach and cleave to the true, powerful and strong God, who gives us everything, money, goods, fruit and all we need; yet we are so foolish and make gods out of his gifts. Shame on thee, thou cursed unbelief.

13. Other sins give us a little pleasure, we receive some enjoyment from them, as in the case of eating and drinking; in unchastity one has pleasure for a little while; likewise anger satisfies its desire, and other vices more so. Only in this vice one must incessantly be in slavery, hounded and martyred, and in it no one has any pleasure or joy whatever. There the money lies on a pile and commands you to serve it; in spite of it letting any one draw from it a thimble full of wine there comes rust and devours it, and yet he dares not attack it, lest he angers his god. And when his servants have protected their god a long time they have no more than any poor beggar. I have nothing, yet I eat and drink as heartily as any one who has a large supply of mammon. When he dies he takes just as much along with him as I do. And it is certainly the case that these people never live as well nor as richly as the poor people often do. Who arranges this thus? God, the Lord, does it. Here some have a certain affliction of the body that they have no appetite; there others are internally unsound and never relish what they eat; here their stomach is out of order; there their lungs and liver are diseased; here is this, and there is that sickness; here they are weak and afflicted at one point, there at another, and they never have an enjoyable hour to relish what they eat or drink.

14. Thus it is with those who serve this god, mammon. The true God is still of some use, he serves the people, but mammon does not, it lies quiet and lets others serve it. And for this reason the New Testament calls covetousness idolatry, since it thus desires to be served. However, to love and not to enjoy may well vex the devil. This all now experience who love the god, mammon, and serve him. Whoever has now no sense of shame and does not turn red, has a brazen face.



15. Thus now it is with the word, "serve." For it is not forbidden to have money and possessions, as we cannot get along without them. Abraham, Lot, David, Solomon and others had great possessions and much gold, and at the present day there are many wealthy persons who are pious, in spite of their riches. But it is one thing to have possessions and another to serve them; to have mammon, and to make a god out of it. Job also was wealthy, he had great possessions and was more powerful than all who lived in the East, as we read in the first part of the book of Job: yet he says, in Job 31, 24-25: "If I have made gold my hope, and said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; have I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because my hand had gotten much?"

16. The sum of all is, it is God's will that we serve not gold and riches, and that we be not overanxious for our life; but that we labor and commend our anxiety to him. Whoever possesses riches is lord of the riches. Whoever serves them, is their slave and does not possess them, but they possess him; for he dare not make use of them when he desires, and cannot serve others with them; yea, he is not bold enough to dare to touch it. However, is he lord over his riches, then they serve him, and he does not serve them; then he dare use them, as Abraham, David, Job and other rich persons, and he casts his care only upon God, as St. Paul teaches in 1 Cor. 7, 32. Hence he aids the poor with his wealth and gives to those who have nothing. When he sees a person without a coat, he says to his money: Go out, Messrs. Dollars, there is a poor, naked man, who has no coat, you must be of service to him! There lies one sick, who has no medicine. Go forth, Squires Anneberger and Joachinesthaler, you must hasten and help him! Those, who act thus with their riches, are their lords; and all true Christians surely do this. But those who save piles of money, and ever scheme to make their heap larger instead of smaller, are servants and slaves of mammon.


17. He is a lord of mammon who lays hold of and uses it for the sake of those who need it and lets God rule, who says in Luke 6, 38: Give, and it shall be given unto you; have you nothing more, you surely have me still, and I have still enough, yea, I have more than I have given away and more than can ever be given away. We see here and there many pious poor people only for the purpose that the wealthy may help and serve them with their riches. If you do it not, you have the sure proof that you hate God. He, whom the sentence does not terrify, that he will hear on the day of judgment, can be moved by nothing. For he will hear then from God: Behold, thou hast hated me and loved that which could not protect itself against rust and moth. Ay, how firmly you will then stand!

18. Hence the sense is, we must own some possessions, but are not to cleave to them with our hearts; as Ps. 62, 10 says: "If riches increase, set not your heart thereon." We are to labor; but we are not to be anxious about our existence. This the Master says here in our Gospel in plain and clear words, when he thus concludes:

"Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink: nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on."

19. And he now uses a reasonable and natural form of speech, by which to close, that they are not to be anxious for the nourishment of their lives; for reason must conclude and yield that it is as Christ says, when he gives the ground and reason of his discourse by asking:

"Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment?"

20. As if he would say: You turn it just around, the food should serve your life and not your life the food. The same is true in respect to raiment; the clothing should serve the body, thus the body serves the clothing. The world is so blind that it cannot see this.

21. Now we must here have a high esteem for the words of the Lord. He says, "Be not anxious;" he does not say, Labor not. Anxiety is forbidden, but not labor; yea, it is commanded and made obligatory upon us to labor until the sweat rolls down our faces. It is not God's pleasure for man to tramp around idly; therefore he says to Adam in Gen. 3, 19:

"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken." And as Ps. 104, 22-23 says: "The sun ariseth, man goeth forth unto his work and to his labor until the evening."

We are not to be anxious, this is forbidden; for we have a rich God who promises us food and clothing; for he knows what we lack, before we are concerned and begin to pray. 22. Why then does he not give us what we need without our labor? Because it is thus pleasing to him; he tells us to labor and then he gives it; not because of our work, but out of kindness and grace. This we see before our eyes; for although we labor every year in the field, yet God gives one year more than another. Therefore, we are fools, yea, we act contrary to God's will, when we are worried as to how to scrape together gold and riches, since God gratuitously and richly promises that he will give us all and will abundantly provide for our every want.

23. However, one may say: Does not St. Paul tell us to be diligent, as in Rom. 12, 8: "He that ruleth, with diligence," and there immediately follows verse 11, "In diligence, not slothful?" In like manner to the Philippians 2, 20, he says of Timothy: "For I have no man likeminded, who will care truly for your state." And Paul himself in 2 Cor. 11, 28 boasts that anxiety for all the churches presses upon him. Here you see how we are nevertheless to be anxious. Answer: Our life and a Christian character consist of two parts, of faith and of love. The first points us to God, the other to our neighbor. The first, namely faith, is not visible, God alone sees that; the other is visible, and is love, that we are to manifest to our neighbor. Now the anxiety that springs from love is commanded, but that which accompanies faith is forbidden. If I believe that I have a God, then I cannot be anxious about my welfare; for if I know that God cares for me as a father for his child, why should I fear? Why need I to be anxious, I simply say: Art thou my Father, then I know that no evil will befall me, as Ps.16,8 says: "I have set Jehovah always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved." Thus he has all things in his hand; therefore I shall want nothing, he will care for me. If I rush ahead and try to care for myself, that is always contrary to faith; therefore God forbids this kind of anxiety. But it is his pleasure to maintain the anxious care of love, that we may help others, and share our possessions and gifts with them. Am I a ruler, I am to care for my subjects; am I a housefather, I must take care of the members of my family, and so forth, according as each one has received his gifts from God. God cares for all, and his is the care that pertains to faith. We are also to be interested in one another and this is the care of love, namely, when something is given to me, that I be diligent so that others may also receive it.

24. Here we must be guarded, lest we make a gloss, instead of understanding simply the words as they read: Be not anxious for your life. God says: Labor and if you accomplish nothing, I will give what is needed; does he give then see that you rightly distribute it. Do not be anxious to get, but see to it that your domestics and others also receive of that which God has given to you, and that your domestics labor and receive a Christian training.

25. Am I a preacher, my anxiety should not be where to receive what I am to preach; for if I have nothing, I can give nothing. Christ says in Luke 21,15: "I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to withstand or to gainsay." But if I have that I ought to be anxious for others to receive it from me, and that I endeavor to impart it to them in the best form possible, to teach the ignorant, to admonish and restrain those who know it, rightly to comfort the oppressed consciences, to awaken the negligent and sleepy, and put them on their guard, and the like, as St. Paul did (1 Tim. 4; 2 Tim. 3, Tit. 3) and commanded his disciples Timothy and Titus to do. My anxiety should be how others are to receive something from me; but I am to study and pray to God. Studying is my labor, this is the work he desires me to do, and when it is his pleasure he will give. It can indeed happen that I may study a long time and he gives nothing, a year or more, and when it is his pleasure, he gives as long as it is pleasing to him. Then he gives copiously and to overflowing, suddenly in an hour.

26. Thus a housefather also does, he attends only to that which is commanded him, and lets our Lord God arrange as to how he will give. When he gives, then man is concerned how to impart it to his family, and he sees that they have no need as to the body and the soul. This is what the Lord means, when he says we are not to be anxious for our food and raiment; but he certainly requires us to labor. For thou must be a long time behind the oven until something is given to thee if thou dost not till the soil and work. True it is, God can easily nourish thee without thy work, he could easily have roasted and boiled corn and wine grow on thy table; but he does not do it, it is his will that thou shouldst labor and in doing so to use thy reason. 27. In like manner it is with preaching and all our affairs. God gives us the wool, that he grows on the sheep; but it is not at once cloth, we must labor and make it into cloth; when it is cloth, it does not at once become a coat, the tailor must first work with the cloth before it is a coat; and so God does with all things, he cares for us, but we must toil and work. We have plenty of examples of this before our eyes, and God relates especially two here that should really make us blush with shame, namely, those of the birds and the lilies in the field. Pointing to the birds he says:

"Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them."

28. As if the Lord would say: You have never yet seen a bird with a sickle, with which it harvested and gathered into barns; yea, the birds do not labor like we; and still they are nourished. By this the Lord does not however teach that we are to be idle; but he tries by this example to take all anxiety from us. For a bird cannot do the work of a farmer as we do; yet, it is not free from labor, but it does the work for which it was created, namely, it bears its young, feeds them and sings to our Lord God a little song for the privilege of doing this. Had God imposed more labor upon it, then it would have done more. Early in the morning it rises, sits upon a twig and sings a song it has learned, while it knows not where to obtain its food, and yet it is not worried as to where to get its breakfast. Later, when it is hungry, it flies away and seeks a grain of corn, where God stored one away for it, of which it never thought while singing, when it had cause enough to be anxious about its food. Ay, shame on you now, that the little birds are more pious and believing than you; they are happy and sing with joy and know not whether they have anything to eat.

29. This parable is constantly taught to our great and burning shame, that we cannot do as much as the birds. A Christian should be ashamed before a little bird that knows an art it never acquired from a teacher. When in the spring of the year, while the birds sing the most beautifully, you say to one: How canst thou sing so joyfully, thou hast not yet any grain in thy barn I It would thus mock you. It is a powerful example and should truly give offense to us and stir us to trust God more than we do. Therefore he concludes with a penetrating passage, and asks:

"Are not ye of much more value than they?''

30. Is it not a great shame that the Lord makes and presents to us the birds as our teachers, that we should first learn from them? Shame on thee, thou loathsome, infamous unbelief! The birds do what they are required to do; but we not. In Genesis 1, 28 we have a command that we are to be lords over all God's creatures; and the birds are here our lords in teaching us wisdom. Away with godless unbelief! God makes us to be fools and places the birds before us, to be our teachers and rule us, in that they only point out how we serve mammon and forsake the true and faithful God. Now follows the other example of the flowers in the field, by which the Lord encourages us not to worry about our raiment; and it reads thus:

"And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, 0 ye of little faith!"

31. As if to say, your life is not yours, nor is your body, you cannot make it one cubit longer or shorter; neither be anxious as to how you are to clothe yourself. Behold the flowers of the field how they are adorned and clothed, neither do they anything to that end; they neither spin nor work, yet they are beautifully clothed.

32. By this illustration the Lord again does not wish to have us cease to sew and work, but we should labor, spin and sew, and not be overanxious and worry. The evil we have is our toil; will we in addition worry, then we do like the fools; for it is enough that each day has its own evil. It seems to me, this is disdain that is commanded, that the flowers stand there and make us blush and become our teachers. Thank you, flowers, you, who are to be devoured by the cows! God has exalted you very highly, that you become our masters and teachers. Shame, that this earth bears us! Is it an honor for us? I do not know. We must here confess that the most insignificant flower, that the cattle tread under foot, should become our teacher, are we not fine people? I think so. Now Christ places alongside of this the richest and most powerful king, Solomon, who was clothed in the most costly manner in purple and gold, whose glory was not to be compared with that of the flowers, 1 Kings 10. Is it not remarkable that the adornment of the flowers in the field should be esteemed higher than all the precious stones, gold and silver?

33. However, we are so blind that we do not see what God designs thereby and what he means. The flower stands there that we should see it, it strikes us and says: If thou hadst the adornment of the whole world even then thou wouldst not be equal to me, who stand here, and am not the least worried whence this adornment comes to me. I do not however concern myself about that, here I stand alone and do nothing and although thou art beautifully adorned, thou art still sickly and servest impotent mammon; I however am fresh and beautiful and serve the true and righteous God. Behold, what a loathsome, vicious thing is unbelief!

34. These are two fine and powerful examples of the birds and the lilies. The birds teach us a lesson as to our daily food; the flowers as to our raiment. And in the whole New Testament our shame is no where so disclosed and held to view, as just in this Gospel. But they are few who understand it. From these examples and parables the Lord now concludes and says:

"Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, 'What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed.? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow; for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

35. Now the sum of this Gospel is: Christians should not worry about what they are to eat; God provides for them before they think of their need; but they are to labor, that is commanded them. But what the kingdom of God and his righteousness are, would require too much time to discuss, you have often heard about them, if you have been attentive. This is now enough on today's Gospel. May God grant us grace that some day we may also even put it into practice! May the Gospel remain not only in our ears and on our tongues, but come into our hearts and break forth fresh into loving deeds!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2011


The Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2011


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 292                 Lord Jesus Christ               1:2
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
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       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 192               Awake My Heart            1:22 

Faith to God, Love to Neighbor

The Communion Hymn #  480            Lord of the Worlds            1:62
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 #  511     Jesus Shall Reign                1:80

KJV Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

KJV Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Fourteenth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, who by Thy blessed word and Thy holy baptism hast mercifully cleansed all who believe from the fearful leprosy of sin, and daily dost grant us Thy gracious help in all our need: We beseech Thee so to enlighten our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may never forget these Thy blessings, but ever live in Thy fear, and, trusting fully in Thy grace, with thankful hearts continually praise and glorify Thee; through Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Faith to God, Love to Neighbor

Many times the Epistle is on a different theme than the Gospel, but this one ends with a perfect summation of the miracle.

Galatians 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Because the Holy Spirit works only through the Word of God, and never apart from the Word, the opening phrase can just as well be –

But the fruit of the Word is…

The Gospel bears fruit, so this means…

Galatians 5: 22 But the fruit of the Gospel is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The first fruit of the Gospel of forgiveness is love. This is a miracle about Jesus’ gracious love and its results.

Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

Luther:
Now this was not the direct road from Capernaum to Jerusalem. For Galilee is north of Jerusalem, and Samaria is south of Galilee, and Capernaum is in Galilee. The Evangelist with special pains desires to show that he did not journey on the usual road, as he mentions Samaria and Galilee, and adds that he went through between them, and not across their borders the nearest way. Christ journeyed from Capernaum eastward to the Jordan and southward from Galilee to Jerusalem, which was a tiresome, far and circuitous route, in doing which he took his own leisure and time. For he did not journey thus for his own sake, but in order to preach as much as possible and be of service to many. Therefore he journeyed on the borders of these lands to appear publicly, that people might come to him from all sides to hear him and obtain his help. For he was sent to offer his services to every one, that all might freely enjoy his favor and grace.

We see this graciousness throughout the Scriptures. God seeks out the lost through His Word. He allows all of us to share in that work, although the efficacy belongs to Him alone.

When people ask why only some are saved, they should really marvel instead at all the ways Jesus placed Himself in the face of opposition and violence, indifference and scorn, just so He might bring to Gospel to more people.

Lepers were unclean so Jesus had every right as a rabbi to avoid them. Now we know how to cure this dread disease. (On Riordan Road, our main artery in Bella Vista, an armadillo is slowly rotting. They can carry leprosy, or Hanson’s Disease. The carrion birds will soon consume the hapless wanderer.)

Today leper is still used as description of a person to be avoided. Many people know the feeling. Someone is a leper for insisting on sound doctrine, for refusing to sit in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1). Or a religious fanatic. If someone takes the revealed Word of God seriously, he is a fanatic. But if he repeats the worldly wisdom of a marketing expert, he is head of evangelism.

12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

The group of lepers evidently decided on making a display of their need. They could not mingle with the crowd or be near the others as Jesus passed through. The disorder made them weak. They stood far off, but not a mile away, as Luther impishly noted.

The lepers are examples of faith. They heard the reputation of Jesus, which spread throughout the country. He healed people wherever He went. No one who asked was ever turned down.

Faith is blind to experience and human wisdom, because it is faith in God’s power and mercy. That is the reason why faith is constantly extolled in the Scriptures. When we first have a pet, we use a leash more often. A young puppy will run off at the sight of a squirrel or any other distraction. Our tripod raced after deer in the woods, with no chance of catching them. When a relationship of love and trust is established, the leash is used less often. The owner’s voice is comforting and attractive. A slight word and the ears perk up. Why not come back immediately when the response will be, “Good dog, you are so eager to please”?

Unbelief means a rejection of this relationship to God. Whenever I read the words of scoffers, I hear a false description of God. They say, “I cannot believe in a god who…” Sometimes they fault the crucifixion, so they reject the Gospel directly. At other times they openly disparage the love and mercy of God. Where there is no trust in divine compassion, none is experienced, even when it is present in abundance.

I have heard pastors turn up their noses at their modest calls, as if they were called to a building rather than the preaching of the Word. We all go through those times of self-centeredness. I tell them, “Look at building again. Many ministers have little cardboard mission shacks. Besides, you can only improve that with some modifications.” When I was moaning about building debt, long ago, an older pastor said, “I used to wake up in the middle of the night worrying about the debt. Twenty years later, the building is still there.” I stopped worrying.

Anxiety, doubt, and unbelief take us away from the message of God’s Word. Those emotions plunge us into the foolishness of man’s wisdom and experience. Every conclusion may be perfectly correct except for one thing – God’s Word can change everything in a blink, beyond all expectation.

The lepers could have said, “We are unclean. We are hated. This man will never help us or get near to us.” Instead, in faith they said, “We will form a cluster and beg for His mercy from a distance. Together we can be heard.”

Faith is blind to the facts and dead to human wisdom. What can we imagine that God cannot do? In fact, we cannot even imagine what God continues to do, day after day.
Faith is humble. When good fortune falls upon someone, he says, “Look at how smart, talented, and hard-working I am!” The same person will say, “How can God let me have this disease?” That is the Old Adam in us. We take credit for God’s blessings while blaming him for the results of our sinful nature. The lepers prayed in humility, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

The occult has entered Christianity, providing a clever twist on prayer. The occultists have people demanded specific material blessings from God and insist God cannot deliver any other way. That thought is directly from Asian paganism.
It is true that we should name our troubles and trust in God to provide. However, bossing God around and making demands are both signs of unbelief rather than trust.

When I take Sassy Sue to the dog park, she is off her leash for the walk to the fenced area. She races ahead, comes back part way, and barks loudly at me to hurry up. Children see this display and say, “That is a bossy dog! What is her name?” When I tell them “Sassy,” they think that is pretty funny. We live in a world where the children boss their parents around and the parents tell God what to do.

Prayer is asking rather than issuing orders.

Luther:
In the first place it is a characteristic of faith to presume to trust God's grace, and it forms a bright vision and refuge in God, doubting nothing it thinks God will have regard for his faith, and not forsake it. For where there is no such vision and confidence, there is no true faith, and there is also no true prayer nor any seeking after God. But where it exists it makes man bold and anxious freely to bring his troubles unto God, and earnestly to pray for help.

The second characteristic of faith is that it does not desire to know, nor first to be assured whether it is worthy of grace and will be heard, like the doubters, who grasp after God and tempt him. Just as a blind man runs against a wall, so they also plunge against God, and would first gladly feel and be assured that he can not escape out of their hands. The Epistle to the Hebrews says, 11, 1: "Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen."

The third characteristic of faith is, that it allows of no merit, will not purchase the grace of God with works, like the doubters and hypocrites do, but brings with it pure unworthiness, clings to and depends wholly on the mere unmerited favor of God, for faith will not tolerate works and merit in its company, so entirely does it surrender, venture and raise itself into the goodness for which it hopes, that for its sake it cannot consider either good works or merit.

14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

This is another example of a miracle showing the efficacy of the Word. As soon as Jesus commanded them to show themselves to the priest, their healing began. This is important for several reasons. Sending known lepers to the priest meant that their testimony would spread throughout the religious community, with a combination of absolute proof and God’s Word. In this way the Christian faith was being established before the death and resurrection of Christ. Everyone had the opportunity to see, hear, and believe. Although many remained scoffers, large numbers followed Christ and formed the basis for the Church at Pentecost.

Lepers were supposed to be purified by rituals, because they were unclean as lepers. The cleansing baths are found wherever Judaism was practiced.
These rituals prepared Jews for the cleansing of Holy Baptism, absolution, and Holy Communion.

15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

The nature of faith and God’s mercy is this – the miracle begins during the asking and even before the asking. God allows us those periods of discouragement and deflation so that we look back on them and say, “The answer was coming before I even thought to ask.” This is Biblical.

KJV Isaiah 65:24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

KJV 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.

The Samaritan was a leper’s leper, because he was rejected for disease and for his ethnic origin. But he was the thankful one, giving God the glory for his healing.

17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

The text indicates that the nine received their healing and also went to the priests, but did not give credit to Jesus for the healing. Thus nine of them experienced the great miracle, saw it with their own eyes, saw it among their brothers, yet dismissed the direct cause.

People with vast musical talent will go around with their noses in the air, as if they are royalty for having this God-given talent, which no one can choose, buy, or even rent. They do not think that they might use this talent to glorify God, because they imagine they deserve it.

This can be applied in many different ways. But Luther calls this a faith and love miracle. Jesus went out to where the lepers lived and healed them in love, without regard to merit or race.

Faith means we ascribe all glory to God, who has done everything for us. Therefore we have nothing left to do except show this same love toward our neighbor.

People build cathedrals and say, “I did this for God,” as if God is homeless, when earth is His footstool, heaven His throne.

KJV Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

They buy bronze plaques to glorify their own names and let their neighbors suffer. Unfortunately we have too many government programs that suggest everyone is taken care of, a maze of deceptions. Each person has multiple chances to help others, as the needs arise.

Trust in God’s love and mercy naturally channels itself to showing love and mercy toward others.

This miracle teaches us to be thankful for all the blessings we have received, especially for the Gospel which continually keeps us in God’s grace, providing us healing and forgiveness, salvation and peace.

Love

Trinity 14 Quotations for the Epistle,

Fruits of the Spirit


 "But the fact is, all Christian doctrines and works, all Christian living, is briefly, clearly and completely comprehended in these two principles, faith and love. They place man as a medium between God and his neighbor, to receive from above and distribute below."
            Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 145.          

"For if I love God I love also His will. Now, when God sends us sickness, poverty, shame and disgrace, that is His will. But what do we do under such circumstances? We thunder, scold and growl, and bear it with great impatience...But God does not want this. He wants us to accept His will with joy and love, and this we are too tardy in doing."
             Sermons of Martin Luther, V, p. 26.         

"The Word and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are materials with which He builds. Though the dwelling is not altogether completed, yet through His grace and love it is accepted of God."
             Sermons of Martin Luther,   III, p. 322. 

"To this end Christ is presented to us as an inexhaustible fountain, Who at all times overflows with pure goodness and grace. And for such goodness and kindness He accepts nothing, except that the good people, who acknowledge such kindness and grace, thank Him for it, praise and love Him, although others despise Him for it."
            Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther,   V, p. 329. 

"See, this is what James means when he says, 2:26: 'Faith apart from works is dead.' For as the body without the soul is dead, so is faith without works. Not that faith is in man and does not work, which is impossible. For faith is a living, active thing. But in order that men may not deceive themselves and think they have faith when they have not, they are to examine their works, whether they also love their neighbors and do good to them."
            Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther,  V, p. 71.        

"Thirdly, Christ shows love is still greater, in that He exercises it where it is lost and receives ingratitude from the majority; ten lepers were cleansed and only one thanks Him, on the nine His love is lost. If He would have made use of justice here instead of love, as men are accustomed to do and nature teaches, He would have made them all lepers again."
            Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther,  V, p. 75        

"This is a true definition of marriage: Marriage is the God-appointed and legitimate union of man and woman in the hope of having children or at least for the purpose of avoiding fornication and sin and living to the glory of God. The ultimate purpose is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one's wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross; but if there are no children, nevertheless to live with one's wife in contentment; and to avoid all lewdness with others."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols. ed. Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 884. Genesis 24:1-4     

"Love toward their mother is not so great in children as the love of their mother toward them, as the proverb has it: Amor descendit, non ascendit, Love is a plant that grows downward rather than upward."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 138. 

"The first destroyers of their own children are those who neglect them and knowingly permit them to grow up without the training and admonition of the Lord. Even if they do not harm them by a bad example, they still destroy them by yielding to them. They love them too much according to the flesh and pamper them, saying: They are children, they do not understand what they are doing. And they are speaking the truth. But neither does a dog or a horse understand what it is doing. However, see how they learn to go, to come, to obey, to do and leave undone what they do not understand...These parents will, therefore, bear the sins of their children because they make these sins their own."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says,   I, p. 139. 

"Therefore, do not speak to me of love or friendship when anything is to be detracted from the Word or the faith; for we are told that not love but the Word brings eternal life, God's grace, and all heavenly treasures."
             Martin Luther, What Luther Says,   III, p. 1411f.  

"You must always have the Word of God in your heart, on your lips, and in your ears. Where the heart is idle and the Word does not ring out, the devil breaks in and has done damage before we are aware of it. On the other hand, such is the power of the Word if it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used that it is never without fruit. It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devotion and purifies the heart and thoughts. For these are not inert or dead but active and living words.  Martin Luther, What Luther Says,  III, p. 1467. 

"Consequently, I say to my worst enemies: Where it is only my own person that is involved, there I am very willing to help you and to do everything good for you in spite of the fact that you are my enemy and that all you ever do for me is to harm me. But where it is the Word of God that is involved, there you must not expect any friendship or love that I may have for you to persuade me to do something against that, even if you were my nearest and dearest friend. But since you cannot endure the Word, I will speak this prayer over you: May God dash you to the ground! I shall willingly serve you, but not in order to help you overthrow the Word of God. For this purpose you will never be able to persuade me even to give you a drink of water."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says,  St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1480.    

"The apostle does not mean to say that children are not to be rebuked or beaten, but that they are to be chastized in love; but parents are not to vent their furious temper on them, unconcerned about the way to correct the error of their children. For when the spirit has been cowed, one is of no use for anything and despairs of everything, is timid is doing and undertaking everything. And, what is worse, this timidity, implanted during the tender years, can almost never thereafter be eradicated. For since they have learned to be frightened at every word of their parents, they are subsequently afraid of even a rustling leaf or a tree."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 412.     

"In matters concerning faith we must be invincible, unbending, and very stubborn; indeed, if possible, harder than adamant. But in matters concerning love we should be softer and more pliant than any reed and leaf and should gladly accommodate ourselves to everything."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 412f. Galatians 2:8.         

"Doctrine is our only light. It alone enlightens and directs us and shows us the way to heaven. If it is shaken in one quarter (in une parte), it will necessarily be shaken in its entirety (in totum). Where that happens, love cannot help us at all."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 414. Galatians 5:10.         

"But this tender mercy is to be exercised only toward Christians and among Christians, for toward those who reject and persecute the Gospel we must act differently; here I am not permitted to let my love be merciful so as to tolerate and endure false doctrine. When faith and doctrine are concerned and endangered, neither love nor patience are in order. Then it is my duty to contend in earnest and not to yield a hairbreadth."
            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 637f.        

"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. Tappert, p. 125. Romans 3:31; John 16:15.      

"Moreover, neither contrition nor love or any other virtue, but faith alone is the sole means and instrument by which and through which we can receive and accept the grace of God, the merit of Christ, and the forgiveness of sins, which are offered to us in the promise of the Gospel."
            Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III 31 Righteousness Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 925.