Lutheran Worship and Resources



Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM CDT.


Midweek Lenten - 7 PM Central Daylight.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Transfiguration Sunday, 2012.
Matthew 17:1ff

By Norma Boeckler



Transfiguration Sunday, 2012

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn #495               From Greenland’s Icy Mountains            3:23
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             2 Peter 1:16-21
The Gospel           Matthew 17:1-9
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #135            Tis Good              3:81

Transfigured – God Incarnate

The Hymn #307   Draw Nigh                3:72
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 #283   God’s Word                           3:90


KJV 2 Peter 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

KJV Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.

Sixth Sunday After Epiphany

O merciful and everlasting God, heavenly Father: We thank Thee that Thou hast revealed unto us the glory of Thy Son, and let the light of Thy gospel shine upon us: We pray Thee, guide us by this light that we may walk diligently as Christians in all good works, ever be strengthened by Thy grace, and conduct our lives in all godliness; through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Transfigured – God Incarnate

The Transfiguration is universally known among Christians. More than any other event, this one showed the chosen disciples that Jesus was God in the flesh, God Incarnate, far beyond a teacher, or rabbi, a miracle-worker, or a prophet.

Peter already confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This event portrayed what that confession meant. And it happened soon after.

Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

Three disciples witnessed the Transfiguration. That became important later when they told the others about the Transfiguration. It was not just one or two who saw it, but three.

The resurrection was witnessed by all the apostles, and this was a fore-runner to that victory over sin, death, and the devil. The ministry of Jesus consisted of teaching and building up their faith.
It is sad to see faith disparaged by the “Lutheran” ministers who cling to the recent past, ignoring the Word of God and the Confessions.

The purpose of the Bible is to create faith. The Word alone creates that faith in God, specifically trust in the love and mercy shown to us in Jesus. Trust is slowly built and deepened, but easily dampened by our emotions, our fears.

 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

Jesus changed completely before His three disciples. His face was as brilliant as the sun, and His robes were shining brightly. That was one indication of His divinity.

This was not a slight change in appearance, but a complete change in form. With ultra-violet we can make something white glow in a supernatural way. Some rocks will glow in various colors when bathed in black light. But that is superficial compared to what the text says. This was letting the divinity of Christ shine through, to give the disciples a way to comprehend what was before them.

This glory came from the Father, for the Son always did what the Father commanded. It was not needed by Jesus but desired for the disciples. It is another instance of showing us how the divine nature of Christ was revealed at times but often not known and not fully appreciated.

We are tempted to say, “How could they not know from one example alone?” And yet we have all the examples, the complete story, from the beginning of time until the resurrection and ascension. And still we doubt and fret.

Either we doubt the divine power to help us or we doubt the personal interest of God in us. We have souls created by Him. We are baptized, owned, and redeemed by Him. Each believer has a name, and He knows us by name.

We should consider the irony of God the Father taking the time to show three disciples, citizens of a minor colony in the Roman Empire, the true nature of His Son. And yet He did and this is the Gospel. The Transfiguration goes together with the Confession of Peter, the cross, and the resurrection.

It was the power behind the apostolic preaching and teaching, as Peter wrote.

2 Peter 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
What is more important than eye-witnesses and ear-witnesses?

The Apostle John expressed much of the same in his first letter.

KJV 1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

Just as God revealed His Son’s divine glory, so He revealed Moses and Elijah speaking with Jesus.

This reminds us of – “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Jesus is the eternal Son of God, now in flesh, active in the Old Testament – God speaking in the burning bush, the miraculous plant with two natures, burning and yet not consumed. As you recall the Angel of the Lord called Himself God.

Moses and Elijah were the most prominent in Old Testament – Moses as the giver of the Law of God, Elijah as the prophet taken into heaven. For Jesus to speak with them meant that the disciples were witnessing something impossible without God’s intervention. It gave them a view of eternity itself and God’s unlimited power.

4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

Lenski:
Peter felt as though he and his fellow-disciples were very near to heaven. Though they were filled with deep awe they felt themselves in the presence of heavenly glory, with Jesus being glorified so unspeakably in divine majesty (2 Pet. 1:16), and two dwellers of heaven also appearing in glory (Luke 9:31). Peter’s one desire is to prolong this experience; hence his foolish suggestion that, if it please Jesus, he will erect three booths, one for each of the three glorious persons. The foolishness lies in the idea that beings who are in such an exalted state would need shelter for the night like men in the ordinary state of human existence. He says nothing of a shelter for the disciples; perhaps he felt so humble that he and the other two disciples would lie out in the open.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 657.

I have always connected the tabernacles or shelters with Jewish religious observance. In one of the festivals, outdoor shelters are set up. While impulsive Peter is offering a suggestion that shows his piety, it is strangely out of place for such an event. Mark, associated with Peter, wrote that the apostle did not know what to say. And who would?

5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

God the Father spoke to the disciples, and the message is especially significant. When Jesus was baptized, the Father said – “In whom I am well pleased.”

But hear He said, “Listen to Him.” Peter referred to both occasions in his letter. One is indicated by the words spoken, the other by the expression – the holy mount.

How do we know the Father sent the Son? – the initial believers asked as they were being taught. Peter, James, and John answered, “Because we heard the Father’s voice from heaven saying “This is My beloved Son.”

And so we are constantly reminded of the Trinity: the Father/Son relationship revealed by the Holy Spirit.

6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

I recall a church member who was angered by the concept of fearing God. I suggested thinking of it as respecting the unlimited power of God. There are consequences to going against God.

That is where I conclude that most church leaders today are unbelievers. They imagine they can do and say anything they want, without consequences. They are not God-fearing. They have forgotten the Small Catechism in rejecting the Word of God itself.

Children are like that. They will play around farm animals as if horses do not kick and cows do not trample. Their lack of fear is foolishness. People, in their greed, attack large power lines, to steal the copper, because they have no respect for the amps of electrical power about to surge through their fragile bodies.

The moment I toy with the Word of God, to distort it or prove it wrong, I am doing the same thing as the men tearing out live power lines. There will be consequences.

On the positive side, the power of God’s Word is so great that it can and does achieve His will constantly. The Word of the Gospel will settle in wherever it lands, and work faith or blindness, love of Christ or anger against the Christian faith.

I really try to avoid controversy about religion on Facebook, in my normal conversations with people. I link Ichabod but seldom go beyond that. However, atheists always have their fists up for a fight against religion. I had two atheists in class once and they went silent when I said “Merry Christmas” to them.  As I mentioned recently, “Merry Christmas” made one of my classmates furious.  

The power of the Gospel means that pronouncing us forgiven in Christ through faith gives us absolute certainty. To a believer, that is comfort and peace. To an unbeliever, it is an irritation and a source for bickering about the Word. How can that be?

All the miraculous events of the Bible coalesce in showing us how such things can be true. The Holy Spirit teaches us to realize that God’s love and power make forgiveness a reality.

We have only one book in the world where God speaks directly to us. It is His Word and He guides us as we read and study it. Augustine looked down upon the Bible as too plain, compared to the classical literature he knew so well. One day he heard a child's voice say "Take and read," because of a game. He picked up the Scriptures and was converted by the Holy Spirit at work in the Word. He did not debate inspiration, inerrancy, efficacy, because he knew and experienced it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Third Sunday after the Epiphany.
Matthew 8 - The Leper and Centurion


The Thankful Leper,
by Norma Boeckler



The Third Sunday after the Epiphany, 2012

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #44     Ye Lands 2.41
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 # 264            Preserve Thy Word               2.55

The Word of God Declares Forgiveness

The Hymn # 249                 Isaiah Mighty Seer               2.75
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 #45     Now the Hour of Worship                      2.95

KJV Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

KJV Matthew 8:1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Third Sunday After Epiphany

O almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all dangers and necessities stretch forth Thy mighty hand, to defend us against our enemies; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Word of God Declares Forgiveness

Matthew 8. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

Luther’s sermons remind me that the entire text should be covered. He once wrote, “If you cannot preach an hour on the text, at least preach for 30 minutes.” The number now is 10 minutes, because it is the time between commercials on TV.

Sidebar on Lectionaries
Many times the selection seems arbitrary and odd in the historic lectionary, but that is all the more reason to honor it rather than pining for something with more variety.

All the Lutheran groups followed the Vatican in using the A-B-C three-year lectionary series. I remember all the reasons given for it, because I was in the LCA when the change came. There is no absolute rule about the readings, but the historic readings are among the oldest. Luther used them. There are other good series, such as the Eisenach.

But back to the Vatican series. The LCA produced little books on preaching from the ABC lectionary because there was so much to cover in three years. Two results developed. One was the “conservative” Lutherans jumping on the bandwagon and using the three-year (not a sin by itself). The other was all the “conservative” Lutheran pastors using the LCA books on the sermon texts. Thus the outcome was having large numbers of “conservative” pastors repeating the Left-wing anti-Biblical perspective of the LCA, even if it was muted and subtle in those books.

A third result was the cross-over effect, since a bridge was built between the Lutherans and the Catholics. “Conservative” Lutheran pastors began reading Catholic liturgical books and praising Catholic authors. The fourth effect was jumping ship, because these pastors discovered that the One True Indefectible and Infallible Church was not theirs, as they imagined, but the Church of Rome (or sometimes Eastern Orthodoxy).

The adoption of Roman Catholic liturgical colors is similar in effect, having the added advantage of generating new sales for church supply houses. “Those old liturgical hangings are just hideous,” says Pastor Bruce. “We have to have a new set for the conference meeting. I hear the ladies’ guild has five grand in the treasury.” One “confessional” Lutheran pastor wrote, “They elected my favorite liturgical author as the pope.” Ahem.

The Leper’s Healing – Two Lessons
The healing of the leper has two lessons within it. As noted often before, leprosy was a hideous disease at that time and made the person a complete outcast, ill, in poverty, shunned, and vulnerable. Unlike some disorders, leprosy gave itself away in the clearest possible way. It is odd that people are not repelled by inward corruption, when it is displayed. They seem charmed by greed, lust, and destructive power. But missing or distorted features alarm and dismay them. So leprosy was one of the worst disorders to have at the time of Jesus.

2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

This leper believed in Christ before he met Him. Many astonishing miracles were already witnessed by many people. Knowing Jesus to be God, he said, “If it is Your will, you can make me clean again.” Jesus said, “It is my will. Be cleansed.”

At soon as Jesus said the Word, the leprosy was gone. That is the first main lesson. God’s will and God’s Word are the same. When God commands, there is no question about His will being carried out.

This is called the efficacy of the Word, and that term “efficacy” is used throughout the New Testament, besides being taught as a concept throughout the Bible. Those who doubt the efficacy of the Word also doubt the Creation, because there is no rational explanation for the Creation of the universe. It is a mystery revealed by the Scriptures – that God created through the Word. That Word was and is the Son of God.

At the recent conference in Ft. Wayne, UOJ was being promoted by David Scaer, as usual. Although I was not there, someone asked how people are forgiven their sin. The answer was “By the Holy Spirit through the Means of Grace.”

One could also say “By the Word, through the Means of Grace,” since the Holy Spirit only works through the Word.

As can be seen, this Gospel selection shows two clear examples where the Word accomplishes God’s will. Of course they are miracles. God performs miracles. The important part of the lesson is how He does this.

4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

The second part of the leper’s healing is the direction to go to the priest for the cleansing ritual. (Note the stone war jars from the water being changed into wine. Ritual cleansing was and is an important part of Judaism.)

This is a second part of the Word – the testimony. The leper needed to be cleansed, so by going to the priest he was taking the miracle to the temple, to the priest, to the teachers of the Torah. The Word grows among believers. The Word gives unbelievers a chance to see this miracle with their own eyes and to hear what has happened.

We can assume that people knew he was healed miraculously, that perhaps friends or relatives went with him to the temple to vouch for his story. A miracle so relieving could not be kept secret.

Lenski:
The procedure as described in Lev. 14:1, etc., required that the examining priest receive the man’s offerings, which consumed an entire week. What a priest in Nazareth might determine as to the man’s physical condition would not be recognized by the priest officiating in the Temple at Jerusalem. “Show thyself to the priest!” means in Jerusalem.
The first act of the priest on the day the man presents himself consists of the physical examination plus the offering of two live birds, etc., and the ceremonies connected with them, Lev. 14:2–8. The second act follows on the seventh and the eighth days when two lambs, etc., or in case of poverty one was offered, plus the ceremonies stated in v. 9–32. The first act restored the healed leper to the people, the second to his religious prerogatives in the Temple worship. The word δῶρον, “and offer the gift,” etc., does not refer to a thank offering, for the offerings prescribed in Lev. 14 are first symbolic of physical cleansing (the birds, etc.), and secondly sacrificial for the purpose of spiritual cleansing (the lambs, etc.) as a trespass and sin offering.
Jesus thus orders this man in all due form to carry out the ceremonial requirements “which Moses ordered” and thus to have himself officially reinstated as being clean of leprosy. Jesus has not come to destroy but to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (5:17), and by his order to the leper he had healed fulfills what the Law of Moses required in the present case. This helps to explain that final phrase, “for a testimony unto them.”
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN. : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 321.

[GJ – Note – I gave two rare Lenski books to a medical missionary, a Baptist, who just loves Lenski as a Biblical scholar. He is also our doctor, one of the best in the area. The doctor was overjoyed at getting them, and I was glad to promote Lutheran doctrine in the Baptist circle. The opportunities are endless.]

I understand “tell no man” to be a command to do this immediately, because one could be delayed, stopped, and waylaid along the journey by telling and re-telling the story. Taking it directly to the priest means that the keepers of Judaism will know the Messiah is at work, an action that would give hope and arouse fears. Although we often think about Jewish opposition to Jesus, He also attracted many who believed in Him and followed Him with sincere devotion, up to and including His death. Examples are Nicodemus and Joseph of Aramathaea.

KJV John 19:38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.

KJV John 19:39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

The second healing is another emphasis upon the efficacy of the Word. Jesus’ answers were intended to provoke a response which would be a lesson for all of us. Although Jesus often came to people, or let them come to Him, this miracle was different. In offering to go, Jesus received a confession of faith in the efficacy of the Word, based on the Roman army’s concept of command.

This is especially interesting, because so-called Lutherans fail to grasp this, even though we have ample testimony from the Old and New Testaments. If that is not enough for the curious and faint-hearted, here is a Roman military officer telling us what we need to know and believe.

This officer also believed in Christ as God. He knew Jesus could command the miracle healing of his servant.

8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

Therefore, the explanation is strictly from a military point of view. If it is true of a Roman officer, it is even more true of God.

A Roman officer had absolute control over his men. There was no “Please” and “If you are in the mood to do this.” If his men refused, he had the power of life and death over them. The decimation order is the most vivid reminder of this. Decimation meant that one man out of ten would be beaten to death by the other soldiers. That was done to restore a fighting attitude with a unit that performed poorly. That was all the more reason to fight well. The Roman army never lost a war, except when it was ambushed by Herman the German. That is why Herman became a symbol for the Germans, earning him a statue in Germany and a clone of that statue in New Ulm, Minnesota.

10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

This lesson applies to Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, and to justification by faith. The problems people have with each are centered in the efficacy of the Word. What they doubt about God’s actions are answered in these miracles. How can sins be forgiven and how do we know it?
The false teachers direct anxious sinners to works and to feelings. Works are effective because there is an easy path to motivate people. Make them work for it. The answer is easy and it is quickly applied. The list of works is endless.

Feelings are harder to define, but also deceptive. Are people forgiven because they feel forgiven? What if the feelings go away? How can those first feelings be restored?

The forgiveness is complete and free because God has declared it to believers. Regret may remain, but that does not mean the forgiveness is incomplete. We should not base our forgiveness on feelings, but our feelings on the Means of Grace. We should be as sure of the absolution as the centurion was of Jesus’ Word, as sure as the leper – If you will…

Jesus said, “It is my will. Be cleansed.” And it was so.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

PayPal Added




I added PayPal because it makes donations convenient, especially in these days of questionable mail service. Click on the icon in the left column to use the service.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

'I'll sue Church of England if it bars me from being bishop,' says The Very Rev Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans | Mail Online

Dr Jeffrey John at St Albans Abbey
Dr Jeffrey John at St Albans Abbey


'I'll sue Church of England if it bars me from being bishop,' says The Very Rev Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans | Mail Online: "A controversial gay dean has threatened to take the Church of  England to court after he was blocked from becoming a bishop.

The Very Rev Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans, has instructed an eminent employment lawyer to complain to Church officials after being rejected for the role of Bishop of Southwark.

Sources say the dean, one of the most contentious figures in the Church, believes he could sue officials under the Equality Act 2010, which bans discrimination on the grounds of sexuality. Such a case could create a damaging new rift within the CoE."

'via Blog this'

Second Sunday after the Epiphany.
John 2:1ff - Water into Wine




The Second Sunday after the Epiphany, 2012

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #39     Praise to the Lord                  3.1
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 # 370            My Hope Is Built            3.11

God’s Word Transforms

The Hymn #294   O Word of God Incarnate            3.31
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 #309   O Jesus, Blessed Lord            3.70

KJV Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

KJV John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

Second Sunday After Epiphany

Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, that of Thy grace Thou hast instituted holy matrimony, in which Thou keepest us from unchastity, and other offenses: We beseech Thee to send Thy blessing upon every husband and wife, that they may not provoke each other to anger and strife, but live peaceably together in love and godliness, receive Thy gracious help in all temptations, and rear their children in accordance with Thy will; grant unto us all to walk before Thee, in purity and holiness, to put all our trust in Thee, and lead such lives on earth, that in the world to come we may have everlasting life, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

God’s Word Transforms

This is the first of miracles performed by Jesus in His public ministry. Every detail is instructive, not only for the basic lesson but also for the way this connects to everything else in the Word of God.

KJV John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

The presence of Jesus’ mother suggests that she was in charge of the wedding, the parents no longer living. In all societies, the parents host the wedding, yet Mary is the one in charge, the one worried about the lack of wine.

2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

The presence of Jesus and His disciples at the wedding is instructive. Jesus blessed marriage by being there, a significant lesson by itself for this marriage-hating era.

People think that living together is bliss, but marriage is a burden. They can buy a home and furniture together, have children out of wedlock, and still dither about marriage, because it is troublesome.

This shows a complete lack of understanding of the Word, because God instituted marriage, and God commands what is good for us. An unbeliever says marriage is a burden and full of woe. A believer says, “God blesses marriage, even in the midst of trouble.”

This verse means literally that Jesus was invited (called) so His presence means He chose to be there rather than not. The presence of His disciples also means that He had many witnesses who could later put together their eye-witness experiences with the revelation of the Holy Spirit in their preaching and in the Gospels.

This lesson is a corrective because an anti-marriage, anti-woman attitude was already present and came into the Christian Church as monasticism. Within a few centuries the visible church made it a sin for the clergy to marry, even though Peter and the disciples were married. Paul was probably a widower. The classic Jewish attitude was that every person should be married because marriage was blessed by God through the Word.

3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

The lack of parents suggests that the bride and groom had little money. They ran out of wine, which was a crisis. The normal beverage was wine, so this was more than a bother. Mary’s substitute role comes into play because she took it upon herself to fix the problem. She knew Jesus could change the situation.

This is also a good prayer in that Mary did not tell Jesus what to do, unlike the modern church entertainers of today. She told Him what the problem was. Mostly we think we will be happy if we have our plans fulfilled, so it is tempting to tell God exactly what we need and when we need it.

The result of faithful prayer is that we see how God answers problems in His own way, since He is a good manager with many years of experience. We often see that He was already answering our plea before we thought to ask, as the prophets promised and Paul affirmed.

4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

This verse teaches us that Jesus addressed His mother twice in the Gospel of John. Both times He called her “woman” rather than “mother.” Some translators soften this with “dear woman” and so forth. His address is rather abrupt, and shows us, just as it does at the cross, that Jesus is her Lord. The Roman Catholics turn this around and have Mary bossing Jesus as His mother – she commands as a mother! That is very sad and sick, because it diminishes Jesus and creates a caricature of Mary as lord over the Savior. The erroneous attempt to honor Mary dishonors the Word, which teaches otherwise.

This is worth noting because John’s Gospel may have been written down last. He was associated with Ephesus and became the surrogate son of Mary, taking care of her needs. There could have been a Mary cult developing, because it certainly broke out later. This addresses the problem early on, because the Holy Spirit teaches us before we even need to know the lesson taught.

Jesus abrupt address is a paradox, a seeming contradiction. He seems to resist doing anything but immediately addresses the problem. Lenski interprets the verse as “This is my role and not yours,” which is as good as anything else proposed. His hour is the crucifixion and resurrection, so His statement can be seen as declaring His readiness. The steps He must take are laid out in the Old Testament and ordered by God the Father. And yet his is not the pagan concept of Fate. Someone asks and God responds.

This is true today. Total passivity makes people accept slavery. The Protestant Reformation freed people from the slavery of the mind, as if each person had a fated role – very nice for the people on top. God set people free through a Medieval monk who pledged himself to live in a stone cell and obey his lord and master, the pope. But the Word taught him to teach the truth, and that set Europe free from the tyranny of the pope and his brutal reign.

We cannot tell God how and when to act, but we can trust in Him as our loving and gracious Father, who will listen to our needs because of His only-begotten Son.

5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

Mary did not know how Jesus could fix the problem, but she trusted Him to do it. In an era when there is so little faith, and people brag about forgiveness without faith, Mary’s response is an example for everyone.

This also shows very clearly that Mary was in charge of the wedding. As the substitute mother, she wanted the ceremony to go well. It reminds me of a traditional Indian Christian wedding we attended. The bride’s mother was and is the nicest person on earth, full of smiles and humor. During the wedding I watched her supervising the details, and her look reminded me of an eagle ready to swoop down on any missed detail.

Mary entered the picture this way. God promised her the Savior’s birth, without normal conception. This was accomplished by the Holy Spirit through the Word – the Virgin Birth. God became man, and she knew that better than most. Therefore, how could there be a problem with the Messiah present?

It is a long-standing tradition in secular politics that a request to a ruler, even a president, must be answered. That was featured in the fictional Winds of War TV series when the young hero spoke up and asked the president, FDR, to address a problem. The president had no choice but to get involved. But that was more of an example of opportunism while Mary is showing trust in Jesus.

6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water.

The miracle is well known to everyone even though it is only found in John’s Gospel. The details teach us about how Jesus revealed Himself as the Messiah and began to build the disciples’ faith in the Word of God. The huge pots held 60 to 100 gallons of liquid. They were empty, so the servants knew that they were drawing water from the well and pouring the water into the jars. At that point only Jesus and the servants knew what was happening.

8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

The servants knew they put pure water into the jars, but the steward of the feast did not. He was in charge of the food and wine, so he needed to check on the new supply. Wine was often spoiled by age, turning into vinegar, so some merchants added lead to hide the change. (Antifreeze has been used in recent times – both are a bad, bad idea.)

The response of the steward is funny in an ironic way. He complains that the best wine should have been served first, when it would have been appreciated more. But he was a bit angry that the best was saved for last. Thus the water turned into wine is not only a unique miracle but one with special marks – abundance (up to 600 gallons) and quality.

11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

This was a miracle that could not have been ignored. Many guests were present. The steward of the feast and the servants experienced it. The guests and disciples were eye-witnesses. One does not run out of wine and have 600 gallons without people asking, discussing, and marveling about it. And who could keep such a thing silent?

This miracle alone explains why Jesus attracted such crowds, some out of perverse desire for another spectable, but others because they sensed and believed He was the Messiah long promised.

Religious literature not included in the Old Testament promised that the Messiah would bring an era with vines having a thousand clusters, each cluster having a thousand grapes, and each grape having a thousand measures of wine. In other words, there was an expectation of abundance. God does provide an abundance, especially of grace, but also enough for us to live and prosper and share.

This was the beginning of Jesus’ miracles, and the disciples believed on Him.

KJV John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

What is sin? The Holy Spirit convicts us of not trusting in Him. That is the foundational sin.

The answer to that sin is created by the Gospel. The Spirit works faith in our hearts and strengthens that faith.

We see in the example of the disciples that they believed in Him yet faltered. We are fallible and weak, too. So the Word of God directs us to trust in Him. Abiding in Word means we will bear fruit (John 15). He will prune us to make us more fruitful.

The Word of God transforms.

How can bread and wine be the Body and Blood of Christ?

If the Word can turn water into wine, then the Real Presence is simply another example of the Word transforming. Strangely, people create some kind of barrier between on miracle and the other.

And they look for miracles on Sunday (getting up from a wheelchair) while denying the miracle clearly taught – This is My Body, give for you for the forgiveness of sin.

The Word of God creates faith in Christ, which transforms everything in this life. Those who do not believe only see difficulties and answer them with money. They scoff at those who lack their answers. As one man said, “I am already living in paradise. I don’t need faith.”

One woman told me, “I don’t want children. They are work and cost money. I want to take care of me.” I thought, “They are lucky not to have you as a mother.”

Mothers know that they look fondly at the times they did the most menial tasks for their children. Fathers remember buttoning buttons and wondering, “When will he do this for himself?” Only later the same individual is running vast networks and helping poor dad with the home computer.

Faith is a gift from God, created by the Gospel, the work of the Holy Spirit. As Luther said, “No man is so good that he can deserve forgiveness, but no sin is so evil that it cannot be forgiven by God.”

An abundance of the Gospel will always mean an abundance of forgiveness and the fruits of the Spirit. That is how the Word of God transforms, turning ordinary water into extraordinary wine.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The First Sunday after the Epiphany


The First Sunday after the Epiphany

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Hymn # 277     I heard the voice            4:57
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             Romans 12:1-5
The Gospel           Luke 2:41-52          
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 657            Beautiful Savior             4:24

Days of Faith

The Hymn #130   O Jesus King of Glory   4:49
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 #40     The God of Abram Praise 4:94

KJV Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

KJV Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Days of Faith


No detail in the Word of God is too minor, for two reasons. One is that this is the Holy Spirit teaching us, so we are going to pay attention to it. The other reason is the concise nature of the Scriptures. Every detail matters, even if we overlook that detail one time or another. That should motivate us to know some passages especially well, as anchors to everything else we learn from the Word of God.

If I know 10 passages quite well and keep learning from them, due to repetition and additional study, the rest of the Word opens up, since everything is in mutual harmony.

I am dealing with some historical issues right now, in the history of American Lutherans. That means finding the contradictions and lining them up in some kind of understandable order. Man’s recording of history is full of contradictions, because “all men are liars.” The ancients often destroyed the statues of previous leaders and removed inscriptions that would have told us more about those times. The Italians tore about the ruins of Rome in their various civil wars. In recent times, Yale professor Marsh tossed aside a brontosaurus skull he did not like and put another skull on it. The one he disliked went with the fossil skeleton but not with his assumptions, so every brontosaurus model after that was completely wrong. In fact, now they say there was no such thing as a brontosaurus. We were touring New England when all the full-scale models were being revised to account for the fraud.

God’s Word is different. Instead of accumulating a list of contradictions, we find the criticisms or alleged problems answered and the harmony growing rather than receding.

KJV Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.

Here is one example. Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem every year for 12 years, and Jesus went along. It does not say precisely that He always went along, but that is a safe assumption.

Lenski:
During the childhood of Jesus Joseph and Mary regularly attended the Passover festival at Jerusalem. Every male was originally expected to appear in Jerusalem at the Passover, at Pentecost, and at Tabernacles, Exod. 23:14–17; 34:23; Deut. 16:16; but the dispersion rendered this impossible. Godly Jews, however, made it a point to attend at least the Passover. Women were not required to attend, yet many did, nevertheless, and Mary belonged to this class. We see the devoutness of the parents of Jesus, the kind of a home in which he grew up.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 161.

This was God sending His Son to Jerusalem year after year. Each time was an opportunity for someone to know more about Him, to believe in Him. The Gospels tell us only what we need to know, but we can gather a lot from those telling details.

The first stage of God’s evangelism was proclaiming the Promise, starting with Genesis 3:15. Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms are full of Gospel.

The second stage included the early revelations, which are the focus of Epiphany, from the Star of Bethlehem to the Transfiguration – all pointing to the glory of the only-begotten Son Jesus.

The birth stories include the cousin Elizabeth and the unborn John the Baptist, the shepherds, the Wise Men, and the temple figures Simeon and Anna. Before Jesus appeared in the Temple as a young boy He was already proclaimed in various ways.

Someone posed this question, about Jesus or another figure, in two different ways. The issue was, “What would He preach?”

The answer in both cases was, “Repentance.” I thought that was a telling commentary on American preaching, because the New Testament answer is “Faith.”

To paraphrase Luther, these people want to teach cows how to give milk, goats how to skip, and God how to preach. No one preaches the Word better than God, so we should rely on what He has revealed.

The repentance answer makes me cringe because the solution sounds like something we should do, and we are far too prone to convert grace into works. In contrast, faith in Christ is forgiveness, which does not negate the Ten Commandments in the least. The best fulfillment of the Torah comes from following the Word through love of the Savior rather than fear of Moses.

Jesus did preach repentance, repenting of unbelief in Him, the foundational sin.

Since that was a sin, God provided a solution – to present Jesus many times in the Temple, to give many people a chance to have faith in Him, even before His public ministry started.

42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.

This shows how succinct the Word is. The entire trip to Jerusalem and the ceremonies in the feast are summarized in one verse. At the age of 12, when Jewish boys often have their bar mitzvah today, Jesus would have been considered a young man, but still junior to anyone teaching at the Temple.

First of all, he was there a week for the festivities. That itself is significant. The Word of God incarnate was worshiping with them. I borrowed a line from a Lutheran woman I visited in Canada. When someone more or less bragged about not going to church, she said, “Are you better than Jesus?” No one ever said, “Yes.” They always said, “No, not at all.” She always added to the denial, “Well you must be better than Jesus, because He was always in the synagogue and you never are. I guess you are better.”

43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.

Losing track of a child is easy with a large company of people. Children often spend time with their cousins of the same age, or relatives without children who enjoy having someone to watch. But this was God’s plan.

44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.

At least one day passed before Joseph and Mary despaired of finding Him. One way of viewing this is that they assumed He would come to be with them at night, or check in at night. That did not happen and Jesus did not turn up anywhere with anyone. The familiar question, “When did you last see him?” would have sent them back to Jerusalem, so Jesus had two days before Joseph and Mary got back to Jerusalem. That was just the start, because they spent three days trying to find Him. God gave the Jewish leaders five days with Jesus in the Temple.

46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

Lenski:
These were ordinary rabbis who were ready to teach at any time; they sat cross-legged on the floor like their pupils (4:20; 5:3; said of rabbi Jochanan, “sitting and teaching in the shadow of a temple house”); there was no terrace, the teaching took place in one of the many Temple halls that were open to all and were used for this purpose.
The teaching perhaps began with one rabbi, and then other rabbis and also auditors gathered to make the scene described by Luke. But it is unwarranted to entitle this scene, “Jesus teaching in the Temple”—Luke says not one word about his teaching. He listened and he asked respectful questions (this is the force of the participle). The next verse implies that he also answered questions. The teaching was not mere lecturing but was interspersed with questions both to and from the teacher. We have no unnatural picture of the lad Jesus like that found in the apocryphal gospels. He is a well-trained boy who knows his place and acts with respect toward these rabbis. But he is indeed intensely interested in all they have to say and eager to elicit more information, for these were more important men than the rabbis he could occasionally hear in Nazareth.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 163.

Lenski was probably more of a lecturer. Teaching can also be done by asking questions, leading people to discover truth. My ethics teacher used to say, “What was wrong with the Nazis? They were brave, intelligent, well trained.” The class would sit and stare. Simply asking the question started them on a new way to discuss ethics. I used to get students to beat up the British Empire for bringing their culture and Christianity to India and the other exotic ports. Once the class got into full battle mode, I asked them, “Then was it wrong when the Muslims invaded India and did the same thing?”

I would call this picture of Jesus in the Temple one where He was showing great respect but also receiving it. He was allowed to sit with the teachers and share in discussing the Word.

47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

Jewish learning is full of back and forth, by design, and this allowed Jesus to answer questions and to ask them as well. A penetrating question shows as much understanding as a good answer.

Jesus was there to provide a visible answer to the Messianic promises. It is good that we do not have a transcript, or there would be 200 books on that subject alone. Faith began to grow because God gave the Jewish leaders at the Temple a chance to believe in His Son, long before His public ministry began. That answers two questions –
  1. Why was opposition to Jesus so intense?
  2. Why were so many converted to Christ?

The effort to silence is the surest sign that falsehood is being threatened. Faith grew slowly after His Temple appearance, but the opposition solidified when His preaching and miracles attracted large crowds.

So many want to grab Jesus by the shoulders and tell Him how He should teach. I hear different versions all the time on TV, very little Gospel. I have to assume they think Jesus came to serve as a motivational speaker, to make everyone successful and happy, with all their dreams coming true.

Jesus’ parents were not happy with Him at all. There is no disguising this.

48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

Anger and grief go together. When a child is lost, the first feelings are sorrow. When the answer to the mystery is found, sorrow turns to anger, because “You filled us with grief and terror for days on end, and You were fine.”

49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

Here Jesus reminded them of His divine nature and mission. If He did something, it was God’s will and not something to worry them. He was obligated to do His Father’s will and to be concerned with His mission. This Father/Son relationship is fully explained in the Gospel of John.

This must be. Complete faith in Him means always assuming the goodness of God and never questioning it. Although we are prone to work out our own solutions and to imagine we can make those plans on our own, God shows us otherwise, as He did with Jonah.

Jonah was ordered to Ninevah so he headed in the opposite direction and paid an enormous price for a ticket on a fast ship in the opposite direction. God sent a storm to stop the ship and a great sea monster to vomit him on the shores of Ninevah.

So many ministers spend their lives dithering, waiting for the “right time” to be honest about fidelity to the Word. If God wants to move them, He will. If God wants them in the same place, God can manage that too.

God gave Paul Gerhardt all the ingredients to become one of the greatest hymn-writers of all time, starting with his years as a children’s tutor. What looked like a very difficult life, full of loss and tragedy, was the forge of the Gospel in song.

We are like Jesus in the Temple. Each day presents some way in which the Gospel is communicated. We do not have to look for the opportunities, because they come to us. Sometimes it is communicated in Word, sometimes in deed. Faith in Christ means an abundance of both, for His abundance of grace turns into our abundance.

Quotations


"Later on we read that even the most prominent leaders, both Peter and Barnabas, fell into error and all the other Jews with them.  Then Paul alone rose up and rebuked Peter publicly, as he himself writes in Galatians 2:11."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1983, II,  p. 28.           

"For if they [great saints] should at all times be strong in spirit, and experience only joy and sweetness, they might finally fall into the fatal pride of the devil, which despises God and trusts in self."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II,  p. 40.

"But, they say, the Christian church is always led by the Holy Spirit, who will not permit the church to err or go wrong.  To this we answer with what we said before: However good the church may be, it has never possessed the Spirit in as large a measure as Mary, who although she was led by the Spirit, erred nevertheless, so that we might learn from her experience."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II,  p. 27.

"In a word; He will not permit himself to be found either among friends and acquaintances, nor in anything outside of His Word."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II,  p. 43.

"Thus you see, that God can deal with His saints in a way to deprive them of happiness and comfort whenever He pleases, and cast them into the greatest fear concerning that in which they have their greatest joy.  So, likewise, He can again confer the greatest joy."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II,  p. 36.

"Secondly, God permits His saints to suffer these trials as an example for others, both to alarm the carnally secure and to comfort the timid and alarmed...But when we see and hear that God has in like manner dealt with His saints and did not spare even His own mother, we have the knowledge and comfort that we need not despair in our trials, but remain quiet and wait until He helps us, even as He has helped all His saints."
Sermons of Martin Luther, II,  p. 40f.