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
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Thanksgiving Eve - 7 PM Central Time.

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
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Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

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.

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