THE FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT
(27 November 2016)
Isaiah 2:1–5; Ps. 122:1-9; Romans 13:8–14; Matthew 21:1–11 or Matthew 24:36–44
The Lord Comes in Meekness and Humility to Save Us Now
The Lord Jesus enters Jerusalem “humble, and mounted on a donkey,” riding on “a beast of burden” (Matt. 21:5), as He Himself bears the sins of the world in His body. Now He comes by the Ministry of the Gospel to save us from sin, death, the devil, and hell. Therefore, we sing, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 21:9). For we are called “to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob,” His holy Church, “that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths” (Is. 2:3). By His Word, we “walk in the light of the Lord” (Is. 2:5). That is to live in love, which “does no wrong to a neighbor” (Rom. 13:10). We “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light,” for “salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11, 12). Hence, the entire Christian life is a time to wake and watch, “for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24:42).
THE SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT
(04 December 2016)
Isaiah 11:1–10; Ps. 72:1-7; Romans 15:4–13; Matthew 3:1–12
By the Preaching of Repentance, We Are Prepared for the Coming of the Lord
“John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent’” (Matt. 3:1–2). His preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins prepared people for the coming of Christ into the world. St. John’s work was historically complete with the incarnate Advent of Jesus; but his vital ministry continues in preaching Law and Gospel. The Son of God has come in the flesh, “a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots” (Is. 11:1), and continues to bear the fruits of righteousness. His good tree of the cross is “a signal for the peoples” (Is. 11:10), by which He calls the nations to repentance. “With the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips” (Is. 11:4), He slays the wicked and brings the dead to life, making sons of Abraham out of lifeless stones. So also the “root of Jesse” comes to us, “even he who arises to rule the Gentiles” (Rom. 15:12), that “we might have hope” and be filled “with all joy and peace in believing” (Rom. 15:4, 13).
THE THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT
(11 December 2016)
Isaiah 35:1–10; Ps. 146:1-10; James 5:7–11; Matthew 11:2–15
The Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ Brings True Rejoicing, Even under the Cross
Sometimes life requires the astonishing patience of Job. Like him, we are to rejoice in the midst of affliction, be grounded in repentance under the cross of Christ, hope relentlessly in His resurrection, that we might see “the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). In the promise of the Gospel, therefore, “be patient” and “establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:7, 8). Like St. John, the Baptist, whatever your own kind of prison or suffering may be, call upon Jesus and receive the strength of His Word from those He sends to you. For as “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up,” so is the good news of Jesus preached to you, also (Matt. 11:5). He comes and restores the fortunes of Zion, His holy Church, so that “sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Is. 35:10).
FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT
(18 December 2016)
Isaiah 7:10–17; Ps. 24:1-10; Romans 1:1–7; Matthew 1:18–25
God’s Word Is Fulfilled for Us in the Flesh and Blood of Christ Jesus, the Son of Mary
The Fourth Sunday in Advent turns our attention toward the Nativity of Our Lord. With the Blessed Virgin Mary we await the coming of the Christ, her Son, conceived in her womb by the Word and Spirit of God. This fulfillment of the sign once given to the House of David, that “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son” (Is. 7:14), is now given to us in the Gospel. It declares that salvation is by His grace alone, entirely His work and a free gift. It is also the way and means by which the Lord our God is “Immanuel,” God-with-us. The almighty and eternal Son of God is conceived and born of St. Mary, and is thus “descended from David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3–4). He comes in this way to save us with His own flesh and blood; wherefore He is called “Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). As St. Joseph received this sign in faith and immediately “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (Matt. 1:24), we also live by faith in this Holy Gospel.
(24 December 2016)
Isaiah 7:10–14; Ps. 110:1-4; 1 John 4:7–16; Matthew 1:18–25
The Word of the Lord Is Fulfilled in the Flesh of Jesus
Though Ahaz would not ask, the Lord gives a sign to the House of David, that “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Is. 7:14). With this promise He signifies that salvation is by His grace alone; it is no work or achievement of man, but the Lord’s own work and His free gift. The promise is fulfilled as the Son of God is conceived and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the sign is received in faith by the House of David in the person of Joseph (Matt. 1:20–24). “Incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary” (Nicene Creed), God is with us (Immanuel) in the flesh of Jesus, Mary’s Son. Joseph believes that Word of God and so demonstrates a marvelous example in his immediate and quiet obedience, taking Mary to be his wife and caring for her in faith and love. He loves her because the love of God is manifest in this, that “the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world,” “to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9–12).
(25 December 2016)
Isaiah 9:2–7; Ps. 96:1-13; Titus 2:11–14; Luke 2:1–14, 15–20
The Light of Christ Shines Forth in the Darkness
Heaven and earth rejoice on this night, because the glory of the Holy Trinity is manifested in the human birth of “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13), through whom the Father’s grace and mercy permeate the world. Death’s silence is nullified by this “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). And all we who have gone astray like lost and wandering sheep, who have “walked in the darkness” of doubt, fear, and sinful unbelief, behold “a great light” in the nativity of Jesus Christ (Is. 9:2). In Him “the grace of God has appeared” (Titus 2:11). For this child of Mary who is born for us, this dear Son of God who is given to us, bears the burden of our sin and death in His own body on the cross. By initiating and fulfilling His earthly journey from nativity to crucifixion, Christ establishes a government of peace, “with justice and with righteousness,” which shall have no end; not by any work of man, but “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Is. 9:7).
(25 December 2016)
Isaiah 62:10–12; Ps. 98:1-9; Titus 3:4–7; Luke 2:1–14, 15–20
Christ Jesus Reveals Himself in the Signs He Has Given to His Church
The Lord has not forsaken us. He has come to us and sought us out to save us (Is. 62:11–12), so that, “being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). In Christ Jesus, conceived and born of Mary, “the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared” (Titus 3:4). Now He is lifted up in the Gospel, “a signal over the peoples” (Is. 62:10), that He might call us to rejoice in His salvation. St. Luke emphasizes the signs by which the shepherds once found Him: in Bethlehem, the City of David, “wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12). The same Lord Jesus reveals Himself to us in the sure and certain signs of His Gospel. His Church is a true Bethlehem (House of Bread); for the Son of David, “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11), feeds us with His Body and His Blood from the manger of His altar, wrapped in under and with bread and wine. We ponder these mysteries as we receive the Word of God and live out our vocations, “glorifying and praising God” (Luke 2:19–20).
(25 December 2016)
Isaiah 52:7–10; Ps. 2:1-10; Hebrews 1:1–6, 7–12; John 1:1–14, 15–18
The Living and Life-Giving Word of God Dwells Among Us in the Flesh
The Lord sends out His ministers of the Gospel to make disciples “of all the nations,” so that “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” The Lord has “bared His holy arm” in the incarnate Christ (Is. 52:7, 10). The child in the manger, born of the Mary, is the very Word of God, the only-begotten Son of the Father, “whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom He also created the world” (Heb. 1:2). As “all things were made through Him” (John 1:3), so are all things redeemed and made new in Him. In His body of flesh and blood, we behold “the radiance of the glory of God” (Heb. 1:3), “glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He dwells among us in peace, that we might have life and light and salvation in Him. For by His Word of the Gospel, we are born again as the children of God, bearing His name and sharing His eternal life.
THE FEAST OF ST. STEPHEN, THE FIRST MARTYR
(26 December 2016)
2 Chronicles 24:17–22; Ps. 119:137-144; Acts 6:8—7:2a, 51–60; Matthew 23:34–39
The Lord Preaches Repentance and Bears the Cross for the Forgiveness of Our Sins
The Lord longed to gather His children to Himself, but they reject and pervert the invitation. (Matt. 23:37). Instead, they persisted in their murder of the prophets, “from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah” (Matt. 23:35). The Lord sent the prophets to preach repentance, but the people “would not pay attention” (2 Chron. 24:19). “The Spirit of God clothed Zechariah,” but the men of Jerusalem “stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord” (2 Chron. 24:20, 21). Yet, when they also “betrayed and murdered” the Righteous One, Christ Jesus (Acts 7:53), He shed His blood for the forgiveness of their sins. By faith in Him, “Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8), and in his martyr’s death he confessed the Gospel of Christ. Falsely accused, as the Lord Jesus had been, Stephen saw “the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). Therefore, even “as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’” (Acts 7:59), and for his murderers he prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60).
THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
(01 January 2017)
Isaiah 63:7–14; Ps. 111:1-10; Galatians 4:4–7; Matthew 2:13–23
The Lord Jesus Undergoes a New Exodus in order to Save His People from Their Sins
Herod’s efforts to destroy the little Lord Jesus anticipate the cross for which He was born. In response to Herod’s edict, Joseph must “take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt” (Matt. 2:13). But the Lord does not abandon the holy family there. He brings about salvation for all people, just as He “had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son’” (Matt. 2:15). With might and strength, God accompanies His people causing “His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses” (Is. 63:12). Now through Jesus, even our afflictions are borne by Christ on the cross, “He redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them” (Is. 63:9). All of this is accomplished by God’s might so that we too are claimed as members of His family. For we “receive adoption as sons” in the only-begotten Son, Christ Jesus, even as He became like us by His conception and birth of the woman. Thus redeemed by Christ, no longer slaves of sin and death but beloved children and heirs of God, we pray in Jesus’ name: “Abba! Father!” (Gal. 4:4–6).
THE FEAST OF THE CIRCUMCISION AND NAME OF JESUS (New Year’s Day)
(01 January 2017)
Numbers 6:22–27; Ps. 8:1-9; Galatians 3:23–29; Luke 2:21
The Lord Jesus Comes in the Flesh to Fulfill the Law for Us and Save Us from Our Sins
Circumcision is the covenant God made with Abraham and his seed. It sealed God’s promises and blessings in the flesh, but also signified the burden of the Law. When the Lord Jesus came in the flesh to redeem His people, He subjected Himself to the Law, in order to fulfill the Law and release all men from its captivity. “He was called Jesus” (Luke 2:21), because He came to save His people from their sins. He would shed His blood on their behalf, as He did already when “He was circumcised” (Luke 2:21). As He also sacrificed Himself upon the cross, you are “justified by faith” in His blood (Gal. 3:24). Therefore, “you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29), not by the circumcision of your flesh, but in the flesh and blood of Christ Jesus, the true seed of Abraham. “Baptized into Christ,” you belong to Him, and are clothed and covered by His righteousness (Gal. 3:27). Holy Baptism is the true circumcision made without hands, by which the Lord Jesus puts His name on you and blesses you (Num. 6:22, 27).
THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
(08 January 2017)
1 Kings 3:4–15; Ps. 119:97-104; Ephesians 1:3–14; Luke 2:40–52
The Lord Jesus Is Found in the Temple of His Church
The Lord Jesus “grew and became strong” (Luke 2:40); He “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). As His body grew and developed, His mind also increased in knowledge and understanding. For as our brother in the flesh, that we might “have redemption through His blood” (Eph. 1:7), He lived by faith in the Word of His Father. Thus, He was catechized by His parents, who took Him up “to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover” (Luke 2:41); and when He was of age, He gave attention to the Holy Scriptures in His Father’s house (Luke 2:46, 49). Christ Jesus is still found in His Church, in “the Word of truth, the Gospel,” by which we are adopted by His Father and sealed with His Spirit (Eph. 1:5, 13). Thus do we gain “an understanding mind” to go about our vocations, discerning “between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:9). And so do we also go up to Jerusalem, to stand “before the ark of the covenant of the Lord” (1 Kings 3:15), that is, in the Holy Communion of His body and blood.
THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD
(06 January 2017)
Isaiah 60:1–6; Ps. 72:1-11, 12-15; Ephesians 3:1–12; Matthew 2:1–12
The Lord God Is Manifested in the Incarnate Son
The Feast of the Epiphany centers in the visit of the Magi from the East. In that respect, it is a “Thirteenth Day” of Christmas, and yet, it also marks the beginning of a new liturgical season. Where Christmas has focused on the Incarnation of our Lord, that is, on God becoming flesh, the Season of Epiphany emphasizes the manifestation or self-revelation of God in that same flesh of Christ. For the Lord Himself has entered our darkness and rises upon us with the brightness of His true Light (Is. 60:1–2). He does so chiefly by His Word of the Gospel, which He causes to be preached within His Church on earth, not only to the Jews but also to Gentiles (Eph. 3:8–10). As the Magi were guided by the promises of Holy Scripture to find and worship the Christ-Child with His Mother in the house (Matt. 2:5–11), so does He call disciples from all nations by the preaching of His Word, to find and worship Him within His Church (Is. 60:3–6).
THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD (The First Sunday after the Epiphany)
(08 January 2017)
Isaiah 42:1–9; Ps. 29:1-11; Romans 6:1–11; Matthew 3:13–17
The Holy Triune God Is Manifested and Reveals Himself to Us in Holy Baptism
The Baptism of our Lord is an “Epiphany” of the one true God in the flesh and blood of Jesus. He is the chosen Servant of the Lord, anointed with the Spirit for the rescue of God’s people and “to bring forth justice to the nations” (Is. 42:1). Thus, He makes all things new, and He is given “as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations” (Is. 42:6). In the waters of the Jordan, He takes His place with sinners and takes all the sins of the world upon Himself. He undergoes the baptism of repentance in order to “fulfill all righteousness” for us (Matt. 3:15). He submits Himself to the curse of sin and death, in order to redeem us. We are baptized with a baptism like His, thereby dying and rising with Him, so that “we will also live with Him” (Rom. 6:8). Indeed, all of us who are baptized into Christ Jesus are anointed with His Spirit and named by His Father as beloved and well-pleasing sons and daughters.
THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
(15 January 2017)
Isaiah 49:1–7; Ps. 40:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:1–9; John 1:29–42a
God Reveals His Glory in Christ and His Cross
“The Lord, the Redeemer of Israel” calls forth “His Holy One” (Is. 49:7), Jesus, the Christ, “from the womb” of His Mother (Is. 49:1). The Incarnate Son of God is revealed as the Savior, not only for Israel, but also “as a light for the nations” whose salvation reaches “to the ends of the earth” (Is. 49:6). John came “baptizing with water” (John 1:31) to reveal Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) and who glorifies His God and Father by His atoning sacrifice upon the Cross. When Jesus was baptized in the waters of the Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended “from heaven like a dove” and “remained on Him” (John 1:32). By our Baptism, we are anointed by the same Spirit, adopted by God the Father, and “called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:9). Therefore, we “are not lacking in any spiritual gift,” but we can trust Him who promises to sustain us to the end, “guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7–8).
THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
(22 January 2017)
Isaiah 9:1–4; Ps. 27:1-9, 10-14; 1 Corinthians 1:10–18; Matthew 4:12–25
The Lord Manifests His Glory through His Office of the Holy Ministry
By His coming in the flesh and by His preaching and miracles, the Lord Jesus shines the light of His Gospel upon “the people who walked in darkness” and “who dwelt in a land of deep darkness” (Is. 9:2). He has also “multiplied the nation” and “increased its joy” (Is. 9:3) by calling disciples to Himself from the ends of the earth. For this purpose, He calls Peter and Andrew, with James and John, to follow Him and be “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). As Jesus did, they also go forth “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matt. 4:23). They preach the foolishness of the Cross of Christ as the very power and wisdom of God. This word and preaching of the Cross divides “those who are perishing” from “us who are being saved” (1 Cor. 1:18), but it unites the Church, the one Body of Christ, “in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).
THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
(29 January 2017)
Micah 6:1–8; Ps. 15:1-5; 1 Corinthians 1:18–31; Matthew 5:1–12
God Manifests His Glory in the Humility and Weakness of Christ Crucified
The Lord tells His people, “I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery” (Micah 6:4). By the sacrifice of His beloved Son He has redeemed us from our slavery of sin and death; He has forgiven our transgressions by the shedding of His blood. His great mercy and salvation lead us “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly” with our God (Micah 6:8). We boast only in the Incarnate and Crucified Lord Jesus. He is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24). He is our life and salvation, “our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). Now He opens His mouth and teaches us His wisdom. By His Cross and Passion the kingdom of heaven is ours, we receive mercy and are satisfied, we see God, and we are called sons of God in Christ. “Blessed are you,” therefore, “when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely” on account of Christ (Matt. 5:11).
THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
(05 February 2017)
Isaiah 58:3–9a; Ps. 112:1-9; 1 Corinthians 2:1–12, 13–16; Matthew 5:13–20
The Righteousness of Christ
Jesus warns that “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20), but He also calls His imperfect people “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13, 14). That’s because the Lord Jesus came not to abolish the Law or the Prophets, “but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17) in perfect faith and love. Since He does and teaches all of God’s commandments, He is “called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19). God manifests His “demonstration of the Spirit and of power” in “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2-4) and through the preaching of the Gospel gives His “secret and hidden wisdom” (1 Cor. 2:7). Christ gives this perfect righteousness to His people and it leads them to true fasting, which is “to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free” (Is. 58:6) and “to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house” (Is. 58:7).
THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
(12 February 2017)
Deuteronomy 30:15–20; Ps. 119:1-8; 1 Corinthians 3:1–9; Matthew 5:21–37
Christ Sets Life before Us so that We Can Walk in His Ways
The God who reveals Himself in His incarnate Son promises life and blessing to all who obey His commandments “by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules” (Deut. 30:16). However, we are “people of the flesh” and “infants in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1) among whom “there is jealousy and strife” (1 Cor. 3:3). Jesus must instruct us against the human ways of anger, adultery, divorce, and false witness (Matt. 5:21-37), because all who live in these ways “shall surely perish” (Deut. 30:18). On the cross He died to forgive our sins and free us from the ways of curse and death. Since Jesus Christ is our “life and length of days” (Deut. 30:20), we can be reconciled to our brother, live in chastity and marital faithfulness, and speak with honesty. He who serves from His cross also offers His gift of reconciliation at His altar, and we can be at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are “God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9).
THE SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
(19 February 2017)
Leviticus 19:1–2, 9–18; Ps. 119:33-40; 1 Corinthians 3:10–23; Matthew 5:38–48
God Manifests His Perfect Holiness in Christ through Compassion and Forgiveness
God reveals His perfect holiness in compassion as “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). By His grace in Jesus Christ we are holy just as He is holy (Lev. 19:2) and we are “God’s temple” in whom “God’s Spirit dwells” (1 Cor. 3:16). This gift of holiness begins with fearing, loving, and trusting God above all things and leads us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Lev. 19:18). No longer should we practice “injustice in court”; no longer should we “be partial to the poor or defer to the great”; no longer should we “go around as a slanderer” among God’s people; no longer should we “take vengeance or bear a grudge” (Lev. 19:15-18). Though we were His enemies, our Lord Jesus Christ has loved us and forgiven us. Nourished and sustained by His holy body and blood under the bread and wine of His holy Supper, we “shall be holy” (Lev. 19:2) even as the Lord our God is holy.
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD
(26 February 2017)
Exodus 24:8–18; Ps. 2:6-12; 2 Peter 1:16–21; Matthew 17:1–9
God Manifests His Glory in the Body of Christ Jesus, Transfigured for Us by His Cross
The Transfiguration confirms “the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Pet. 1:19). The divine glory of Jesus is manifested in the word of His apostles, who were “eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Pet. 1:16). “He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun” (Matt. 17:2). Moses and Elijah witnessed the fulfillment of the Old Testament in this Lord Jesus, and the Father testified concerning Him: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 17:5). By His own blood, shed on the cross, Jesus makes and seals the new covenant with us. Hence, “the appearance of the glory of the Lord” is no longer “like a devouring fire” (Ex. 24:17), but is graciously revealed in His own body. As “Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel” went up the mountain with Moses and “beheld God, and ate and drank” (Ex. 24:9, 11), we also behold the Lord our God in Christ Jesus, and we abide with Him as we eat and drink His body and blood at the altar.
(01 Mar 2017)
Joel 2:12–19; Ps. 51:1-13, 14-19; 2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10; Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21
Return to the Lord Your God with All Your Heart, for He Has Reconciled You to Himself
On Ash Wednesday, we come down from the mountain with Jesus and set our face toward His Cross and Passion in Jerusalem. We make our pilgrimage with Him by way of repentance, and thus we return to our dying and rising in Holy Baptism. Christ Jesus, “who knew no sin,” became our sin, so that by His death we are released from sin and in His resurrection we “become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). As God has thereby reconciled the world to Himself in Christ, “now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). He has provided the sacrificial Lamb, and He has left “a blessing behind Him, a grain offering and a drink offering” (Joel 2:14, 19) in the Eucharist. He summons us to return to Him with all our heart, because He is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13). We do so with faith and confidence in Him, and so we pray to Him as our Father, give to the needy from a heart of love, and fast for the sake of repentance (Matt. 6:3–4, 6, 17–18).
FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT
(05 Mar 2017)
Genesis 3:1–21; Ps. 32:1-7; Romans 5:12–19; Matthew 4:1–11
The Lord Jesus Christ Is Our Champion against Satan
Following His Baptism, Jesus is “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt. 4:1). As He takes upon Himself the curse of our sin and sets Himself against our enemy, He trusts His Father’s voice and waits upon His Father’s hand for all things. The devil questions His sonship, but the beloved and well-pleasing Son remains faithful and lives “by every Word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Jesus patiently suffers hunger in His mortal flesh and returns to the dust whence man was taken, and by His pain He brings forth food for all the children of men (Gen. 3:18–19). By the sweat of His brow we eat the fruit of His Cross, even as our nakedness is covered by His righteousness. Although all people live in bondage to death through the trespass of the first man, Adam, all the more “have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one Man Jesus Christ abounded for many” (Rom. 5:15). His righteous obedience “leads to justification and life for all men” (Rom. 5:18).
SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
(12 Mar 2017)
Genesis 12:1–9; Ps. 121:1-8; Romans 4:1–8, 13–17; John 3:1–17
The Word of the Gospel Opens the Eyes of Faith and Fixes Them on Christ Jesus
The Lord called Abram (Abraham) to leave his home and go to a land that God would show him. He also promised to make of Abram “a great nation,” to bless him and make his name great, as a blessing to “all the families of the earth” (Gen. 12:2–3). “Abram went, as the Lord had told him” (Gen. 12:4), and in Canaan “he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord” (Gen. 12:8). He “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Rom. 4:3). Here the grace of God is manifested, that He “justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5), not by works of the Law, but through faith in His promises. He removes all our sins and lawless deeds through Jesus Christ, the Offspring of Abraham in whom all the Lord’s promises are realized. This forgiveness of sins is the Word of the Gospel, the voice of the Holy Spirit, which “gives life to the dead” (Rom. 4:17). It opens the eyes of faith to behold Christ Jesus, the Son of Man lifted up on the Cross, “that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:14–15).
THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT
(19 Mar 2017)
Exodus 17:1–7; Ps. 95:1-9; Romans 5:1–8; John 4:5–26, 27–30, 39–42 or John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39
We Worship the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Spirit and Truth of His Gospel
Though the Lord had brought them out of Egypt, “all the congregation of the people of Israel” grumbled against Him, because “there was no water for the people to drink” (Ex. 17:1). Despite their quarreling, the Lord graciously provided for them. He did not strike the people for their sins, but by the hand of Moses He struck the Rock instead and brought forth water for the people. In the same way living water flows from the pierced side of Christ “about the sixth hour” (John 4:6, 19:14), when He is lifted up on the Cross for the sins of the world. He is “the gift of God” (John 4:10), the Well from which the Holy Spirit is poured out and becomes in His people “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). By this grace in which we stand, being at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, we “worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:2, 5).
FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
(26 Mar 2017)
Isaiah 42:14–21; Ps. 142:1-7; Ephesians 5:8–14; John 9:1–41 or John 9:1–7, 13–17, 34–39
By His Word of the Gospel, Jesus Calls Us Out of the Darkness into His Marvelous Light
The Lord is grieved by the spiritual blindness of His people, yet in mercy He does not forsake them. He restrains His anger and keeps His peace, until He opens their ears and eyes to hear and see Him. “For His righteousness’ sake” He magnifies His Word and makes it glorious in the coming of Christ Jesus (Is. 42:21). Jesus turns “the darkness before them into light” (Is. 42:16), because He is “the Light of the world” (John 9:5). The incarnate Son of God works the works of His Father and displays the divine glory in His own flesh “while it is day” until that night “when no one can work” (John 9:4). By the washing of water with His Word He opens the eyes of the blind and grants rest to the weary. Therefore, though “at one time you were darkness,” now “you are light in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8). By our Baptism into Christ we live in the eternal day of His Resurrection, wherein He shines upon us. As often as we fall back into the darkness of sin, He calls us by the Gospel to “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead” (Eph. 5:14).
FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT
(02 Apr 2017)
Ezekiel 37:1–14; Ps. 130:1-8; Romans 8:1–11; John 11:1–45, 46–53 or John 11:17–27, 38–53
Jesus Christ Is the Resurrection & the Life
The illness and death of Lazarus happened “that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). Jesus’ miracle of raising Lazarus prompted His arrest and crucifixion, whereby He would die “for the nation” and gather “into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:51–52). As He called Lazarus from the tomb and commanded others to “unbind him, and let him go” (John 11:44), Jesus also calls us and releases us from the bondage of sin and death. We would not “submit to God’s law,” nor could we “please God” (Rom. 8:7–8), but “He condemned sin” in His own flesh, so “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us” (Rom. 8:3–4). Now, through the Gospel, “the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells” in us (Rom. 8:11). His Word breathes His Spirit into our mortal flesh, animating us with His own life. As His ministers preach according to His divine command, the Lord Jesus calls us from the grave into the good land that He gives us (Ezek. 37:12, 14).
PALM SUNDAY / SUNDAY OF THE PASSION
(09 Apr 2017)
Procession: John 12:12–19
Isaiah 50:4–9a; Ps. 118:19-29 or Ps. 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5–11; Matthew 26:1—27:66 or Matthew 27:11–66 or John 12:20–43
Now Is the Hour When the Son of Man Is Glorified
“Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming.” He comes in gentle humility, “sitting on a donkey's colt,” yet also as the King of Israel “in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13, 15). His royal glory is faithful obedience and self-sacrificing service “to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). The Love of God is manifested in the Cross and Passion of His Son for the salvation of sinners. Since He has borne our sins and suffered our death, “God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9), and He exalts us in His Resurrection. Our Lord did not hide His face “from disgrace and spitting” (Is. 50:6), but He trusted His God and Father, who raised Him from death and the grave and exalted Him to His right hand. This same King Jesus now comes to us in gentle humility in His Supper, feeds us with His Body, and cleanses and covers us with His Blood, so that “after His Resurrection” we also shall rise and enter the holy city (Matt. 27:52–53).
(13 Apr 2017)
Exodus 24:3–11 or Exodus 12:1–14; Ps. 116:12-19; Hebrews 9:11–22 or 1 Corinthians 11:23–32; Matthew 26:17–30 or John 13:1–17, 31b–35
Let Us Love One Another, as Christ Jesus Has Loved Us and Loves Us to the End
“The Lord’s Passover” (Ex. 12:11) and “the blood of the covenant” at Mt. Sinai (Ex. 24:8) foreshow the Lord’s Supper. The blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, now covers us, and we keep His Supper “as a feast to the Lord” (Ex. 12:13–14). In Him we see “the God of Israel” (Ex. 24:9), and yet He does not lay His hand on us to punish us, but from His hand we eat and drink in peace. As our High Priest, He “entered once for all into the holy places…by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:11–12). He shed His own blood in order to “purify our conscience” and bring us before His God and Father “without blemish” (Heb. 9:14). The holy Apostles received this New Testament in His Blood from the Lord Jesus “on the night when He was betrayed,” and they delivered the same to His Church, which we also now receive in the name and remembrance of Christ (1 Cor. 11:23–26; Matt. 26:26–28). Since He has “loved His own who were in the world” and He loves us “to the end” (John 13:1), therefore, let us also “love one another” (John 13:34).
(14 Apr 2017)
Isaiah 52:13—53:12; Ps. 22:1-31 or Ps. 31:1-24; Hebrews 4:14–16; 5:7–9; John 18:1—19:42 or John 19:17–30
Behold the Lamb of God, Who Takes Away the Sin of the World
Jesus, the Lamb of God, is led to the slaughter of His Cross as the Sacrifice of Atonement for the sin of the world. “Despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53:3), He is the righteous Servant who justifies many by His innocent suffering and death. He bears our griefs and sorrows; He is wounded for our transgressions; He is crushed for our iniquities; He suffers our chastisement; “and with His stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:4–5). As the Son of God, He fulfills the Law for us in human flesh, and so fulfills the Scriptures (John 19:7, 24). In perfect faith and faithfulness, He shares all our weaknesses and temptations, “yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). As our merciful High Priest He brings us to the Father in peace, “makes intercession for the transgressors” (Is. 53:12), and joins our prayers to His own, so that we are heard “because of His reverence” (Heb. 5:7). From His Cross He gives us His Spirit (John 19:30), washes us with water from His side, and covers us with His blood (John 19:34).
(15 Apr 2017)
Daniel 6:1-24; Ps. 16:1-11; 1 Peter 4:1-8; Matthew 27:57-66
(16 Apr 2017)
Exodus 14:10—15:1; Ps. 118:15-29 or The Song of Moses and Israel; 1 Corinthians 15:1–11; John 20:1–18
The Lord Jesus Brings Us Out of Death into Life with His God and Father in Heaven
In Adam all people die, because all people sin. The children of that first gardener have been driven out of Paradise and return to the dust whence they were taken. But now another Gardener has come, who has made His bed in the dust of the earth and who by His rising restores Paradise to all the children of men. With His voice of the Gospel He calls us by name, and He opens our eyes to behold Him by faith. At His Word, we enter His tomb through Baptism into His death, so that, just as He is risen, we also “rise from the dead” (John 20:9). Come, then, “sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously” (Ex. 15:1). He has fought for us against our enemies, and in His Resurrection not one enemy remains. “Fear not,” therefore, but “see the salvation of the Lord” (Ex. 14:13), which He delivers “as of first importance” by the preaching of His Gospel (1 Cor. 15:3). Thus we are raised with Christ “in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4), and we stand firm because we “are being saved” (1 Cor. 15:1–2).
(16 Apr 2017)
Acts 10:34–43 or Jeremiah 31:1–6; Ps. 16:1-11; Colossians 3:1–4; Matthew 28:1–10
The Victory of the Christ Crucified Is Given to You in the Preaching of His Resurrection
Every Sunday is the Lord’s Day, the day of His Resurrection, “after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week” (Matt. 28:1). In the Divine Service the Church enters upon the eternal “Eighth Day.” The Lord Jesus, “who was crucified,” who “has risen, as He said” (Matt. 28:6), is the firstborn from the dead and the first-fruits of the New Creation. Because “you have died” with Him in Holy Baptism, “you have been raised with Christ” and “your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1, 3). The Lord Jesus has become our God, as surely as He is “the God of all the clans of Israel,” and we now belong to His people (Jer. 31:1). In this He “shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34), but “everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name” (Acts 10:43). As “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” and “raised Him on the third day,” He also raises us up and pours out His Spirit upon us through the Gospel (Acts 10:38, 40).
EASTER EVENING / MONDAY
(16 Apr / 17 Apr 2017)
Exodus 15:1–18 or Daniel 12:1c–3; Ps. 100:1-5; Acts 10:34–43 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b–8; Luke 24:13–35, 36–49
The Passover Lamb of God Is Known in the Breaking of the Bread
The celebration of Easter is a never-ending feast, because “Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7). “Let us celebrate the festival” (1 Cor. 5:8), and let us “sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously” (Ex. 15:1). He is our strength and our song because He has become our salvation. “They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him on the third day” (Acts 10:39). His chosen witnesses, “who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead” (Acts 10:41), now preach “forgiveness of sins through His name” (Acts 10:43). By this preaching Jesus draws near and leads us to His holy abode. He opens the Scriptures to us, and He opens our minds to understand “the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). He opens our eyes to recognize His wounds and to know Him “in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35). At His Table, He pours out the Spirit of His Father upon us, so that we shall be delivered; we shall be awakened from the dust of the earth, not to shame and everlasting contempt, but “to everlasting life” (Dan. 12:2).
SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER
(23 Apr 2017)
Acts 5:29–42; Ps. 148:1-14; 1 Peter 1:3–9; John 20:19–31
Christ Jesus Breathes His Spirit and His Life into Us by the Ministry of the Gospel
The crucified and risen Lord Jesus establishes the Ministry of the Gospel, in order to bestow His life-giving Holy Spirit and His peace upon the Church. To those who are called and ordained to this Office, and to those whom they serve in His name, He grants the Holy Absolution of all sins. By the fruits of His Cross He replaces fear and doubt with peace and joy, and thus gives “repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). Through the preaching of His sent ones He calls us to believe that He “is the Christ, the Son of God,” so that by such faith we “may have life in His name” (John 20:31). In His resurrection we have the “living hope” to which we have been “born again” and by which we are guarded “for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3, 5). Until then, “though you have not seen Him, you love Him,” and by the mercies of God “you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
(30 Apr 2017)
Acts 2:14a, 36–41; Ps. 116:1-14; 1 Peter 1:17–25; Luke 24:13–35
The Risen Lord Jesus Is with Us in Holy Baptism and in “the Breaking of the Bread”
From “before the foundation of the world” until heaven and earth pass away “the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:20, 25). This “living and abiding word of God” is the preaching of Christ Jesus, namely that God “raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory” (1 Peter 1:21). By this living word we “have been born again” to eternal life (1 Peter 1:23) and ransomed from our sinful and mortal life “with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18–19). This living word also calls us to repentance, to dying and rising in Holy Baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). In this, we receive the Holy Spirit “for you and for your children and for all who are far off” (Acts 2:39). Through the preaching of His Cross and Resurrection, Jesus draws near to bring us “into His glory” (Luke 24:26). As He opens the Scriptures, He opens our minds to comprehend “the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27) and He brings us to know Him “in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35).
FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
(07 May 2017)
Acts 2:42–47; Ps. 23:1-6; 1 Peter 2:19–25; John 10:1–10
The Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ Is Our Good Shepherd
Although we “were straying like sheep,” the Lord Jesus Christ has willingly suffered and died for us, bearing our sins “in His body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24–25). We are healed by His wounds (1 Peter 2:24), and in His Resurrection He gathers us to Himself as our Good Shepherd, by whose righteousness we “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Now, through other shepherds whom He calls and sends in His Name, He guards and keeps us in the green pastures of His Church, leading us beside the quiet waters of our Baptism and spreading the Feast of His Table before us. Since He has called us by the Gospel to be His own dear sheep, we also “hear His voice” and “know His voice” (John 10:3, 4) in the faithful preaching of His Gospel, and we follow Him by faith. When we receive His Gospel, we have the abundant life and common unity of the entire flock under one Good Shepherd, in “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship” and in “the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).
FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
(14 May 2017)
Acts 6:1–9; 7:2a, 51–60; Ps. 146:1-10; 1 Peter 2:2–10; John 14:1–14
The Lord Jesus Christ Is the Way, the Truth, and the Life
The risen Lord Jesus alone is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and we “come to the Father” only through Him (John 14:6). God is thus “glorified in the Son,” and those who believe in Him will do the works of Christ, because He goes to the Father for us (John 14:12–14). Stephen, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5) and “doing great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8), did the works of Christ. When he was falsely accused and put to death, he “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). Fixing his hope there, he commended his spirit to the Lord Jesus and prayed for his murderers. In the same way, all the baptized are called to follow the example of Christ Jesus by faith. Though He was “rejected by men,” in the sight of God He is “chosen and precious” (1 Peter 2:4). He is the Chief Cornerstone of the Father’s “spiritual house,” and we are built upon Him as “living stones” (1 Peter 2:4–5).
SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
(21 May 2017)
Acts 17:16–31; Ps. 66:8-20; 1 Peter 3:13–22; John 14:15–21
The Lord Jesus Comforts Us with the Preaching of His Resurrection
“The God who . . . gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24–25) wants all people to seek Him “that they might feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:27). But in our sinful ignorance we humans turn instead to idols “formed by the art and imagination of man” (Acts 17:29). Therefore God appointed the Man of Righteousness, Jesus Christ, and “has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). Because He lives, we also live (John 14:19) in His forgiveness, and thus we love Him and keep His commandments (John 14:15). While the risen Lord prepares us for His Ascension, He will not leave us “as orphans” (John 14:18), but gives “another Helper,” the Holy Spirit, to be with us forever (John 14:16) through the preaching of “Jesus and the resurrection” (Acts 17:18). Because He “suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18), we “regard Christ the Lord as holy” and are always “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks” for the reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15). Our Baptism “now saves” us “as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).
THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD
(25 May 2017)
Acts 1:1–11; Ps. 47:1-9; Ephesians 1:15–23; Luke 24:44–53
The Ascended Lord Jesus Is with Us Always in His Church on Earth
After He rose from the dead, the Lord Jesus presented Himself alive to the Apostles, “appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). When He ascended to the right hand of the Father, He did not orphan His Church, but fills all things in heaven and on earth, and gives gifts to His disciples. Even now, through His Church, He continues “to do and teach” (Acts 1:1), preaching “repentance and forgiveness of sins” (Luke 24:47), even “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Though the cloud hid Jesus from the sight of His disciples then, and He remains hidden from sight even now, He remains with His people through His Gospel and Sacraments. He comes to us by the Word of His Apostles, by the promise of His Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, whom He pours out upon “the church, which is His body” (Eph. 1:23). In this holy, Christian Church, we bless God and worship Christ with joy, for in His Church He blesses us with forgiveness, lifts us up in His hands, and seats us with Himself “in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:20).
THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
(28 May 2017)
Acts 1:12–26; Ps. 68:1-10; 1 Peter 4:12–19; 5:6–11; John 17:1–11
Our Lord Jesus Is with Us in the Upper Room of His Church on Earth
On the night when He was betrayed, our Lord Jesus prayed for His Apostles and His Church on earth. “The hour” had come when the Father would glorify His Son by the Cross (John 17:1). Through the shedding of His blood, He would bring forgiveness for the sins of the world, and in His Resurrection and Ascension He would unite all Christians with the Father “that they may be one” with God (John 17:11). He manifested His Name to the Apostles and gave them the words of the Father to speak in His Name. The apostolic witness of His Cross and Resurrection (Acts 1:21–22) gathers disciples together “with one accord” into the one Body of Christ (Acts 1:14). “Devoting themselves to prayer,” they wait upon the Lord in “the upper room” (Acts 1:13–14), the place of His Holy Supper. Strengthened by the Gospel, Christians bear the Cross of Christ in patience and peace, rejoicing to share in His suffering, in order that they “may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).
(03 June 2017)
Exodus 19:1–9; Ps. 113:1-9; Romans 8:12–17 22–27; John 14:8–21
Our Lord Makes Us His Holy People and Seals Us with His Spirit
At Mt. Sinai “Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God” (Ex. 19:2–3). Through Moses God gave the Law and sealed His covenant through sacrifice. The Lord made Israel His “treasured possession among all peoples” as well as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:5–6), if they would listen to His voice and do what He had spoken. In these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, who has come down to us and gone up to God by the way of His death and resurrection. He has fulfilled the Law and poured out His own blood as the New Covenant. Therefore, “that the Father may be glorified in the Son,” He will do whatever we ask in His Name (John 14:13–14). He gives “another Helper… even the Spirit of truth” to be with us forever (John 14:16). The Spirit helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us “with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). Now we pray with confidence as we eagerly await “the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19).
(04 June 2017)
Numbers 11:24–30; Ps. 25:1-15; Acts 2:1–21; John 7:37–39
The Risen Lord Jesus Pours Out the Holy Spirit
The Lord took “some of the Spirit” that was on Moses “and put it on the seventy elders” of Israel (Num. 11:25), and they “prophesied in the camp” (Num. 11:26). In the same way, our risen Lord Jesus poured out His Holy Spirit at the Feast of Pentecost—the fiftieth day and the “Eighth Sunday” of Easter. When “a sound like a mighty rushing wind” and “tongues as of fire appeared” and rested on each of the twelve Apostles, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” and proclaimed “the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:2–4, 11). The Lord Jesus grants this same Spirit to His Church on earth to proclaim Him glorified on the cross and risen victorious from the grave for us sinners. From His open heart, our crucified and risen Lord pours out His Holy Spirit in “rivers of living water” (John 7:38) and invites everyone who thirsts to come to Him and drink freely (John 7:37). Through this life-giving work of the Holy Spirit, we hear our pastors “telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11) and “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
The Holy Trinity
11 June 2017
Genesis 1:1–2:4a; Ps. 8:1-9; Acts 2:14a, 22–36; Matthew 28:16–20
Entrance: 507 Holy, Holy, Holy
Of the Day: 498 Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest
Offertory: 815 All Praise to Thee, for Thou, O King Divine
Distribution: 835 On Galilee’s High Mountain; 950 Splendor and Honor
Closing: 822 Alleluia! Let Praises Ring
The Holy Triune God Recreates Us in the Image and Likeness of Christ Jesus
The Holy Triune God “created the heavens and the earth,” and “behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:1, 31). However, after Adam and Eve fell into sin and plunged God’s good creation into decay and death, the Son of God would be “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” to be “crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). As Jesus “received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:33), He also raises up all the baptized and pours out the Spirit upon them through the preaching of His Gospel. He sends out His Apostles to “make disciples of all nations” by “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and “teaching them to observe all that [He has] commanded” (Matt. 28:19–20). Through such baptizing and teaching–Gospel and Sacraments–the Holy Triune God recreates us in the Image and Likeness of His incarnate Son, Jesus the Christ, and behold, it is “very good” (Gen. 1:31).
Dr Martin Luther:
Hence by faith in the Word and in his baptism he remains a free man, superior to all laws, because he has through Christ forgiveness of sin, the grace of God, and the Holy Spirit, and governs his entire life accordingly. Through the Holy Spirit, who operates in his heart, he has been quickened into life, and, except as the Spirit by the Word guides and directs him, he does not look for other teaching regarding works and holiness. (Church Postils, Trinity Sunday)
Second Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 6 (June 12–18)
Exodus 19:2–8; Ps. 100:1-5; Romans 5:6–15; Matthew 9:35–10:8 (9–20)
Entrance: 901 Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty
Of the Day: 551 When to Our World the Savior Came
Offertory: 545 Word of God, Come Down on Earth
Distribution: 846 Your Hand, O Lord, in Days of Old; 651 I Love Your Kingdom, Lord
Closing: 587 I Know My Faith Is Founded
The Lord Our God Saves Us in Love and Cares for Us by the Ministry of His Gospel
The holy Triune God “shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,” ungodly and at enmity with Him, “Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). The incarnate Son has justified us by His blood and reconciled us to His God and Father (Rom. 5:9–10). Whereas sin and death originated with Adam, forgiveness and life abound for all his children “through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:12–17). As the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, so does He bring us to Himself by the Gospel and make of us “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6) by our Baptism into Christ. For “all that the LORD has spoken” (Ex. 19:8), Christ has done for us. As He has gone up to God by His cross and resurrection, so does He bring us to the Father in Himself (Ex. 19:3–4). Nor does He leave us “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36), but He sends men with authority “to heal every disease and every affliction” by His forgiveness of sins (Matt. 10:1). In their proclamation, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 10:7).
Dr Martin Luther:
First, what is the bosom of Abraham, since it cannot be a natural bosom that is meant? To answer this, it is necessary to know that the soul or Spirit of man has no rest or place where it may abide, except the Word of God, until he comes at the last day to the clear vision of God. Therefore we conclude that the bosom of Abraham signifies nothing else than the Word of God, where Christ was promised, Gen. 22:18, to Abraham, namely: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Church Postils, Trinity 1)
Third Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 7A (June 19–25)
Jeremiah 20:7–13; Ps. 91:1-10, 11-16; Romans 6:12–23; Matthew 10:5a, 21–33
Entrance: 836 O God of Light
Of the Day: 659 Lord of Our Life
Offertory: 615 When in the Hour of Deepest Need
Distribution: 562 All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall; 725 Children of the Heavenly Father
Closing: 696 O God, My Faithful God
Delivered from Sin and Death, You Now Live before God in the Righteousness of Christ
The outcome of sin is death, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). He has set you free from the slavery of sin and has brought you “from death to life” (Rom. 6:13). No longer are you under the condemnation of the Law, but you live “under grace” (Rom. 6:14). Such is your courage in the face of “those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matt. 10:28). For though “you will be hated by all,” and maligned by the world for the name of Christ (Matt. 10:22, 25), you abide in the care of your Father in heaven, who numbers “even the hairs of your head” and values you more “than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:30–31). By the Word of Christ, you have become like Him, your Teacher and Master in whom you endure to the end, and “will be saved” (Matt. 10:22, 25). For He is with you “as a dread warrior,” who has overcome your enemies (Jer. 20:11). By the righteousness of faith, He delivers your heart, mind, body and life “from the hand of evildoers,” and He brings you into the land of the living (Jer. 20:12–13).
Dr Martin Luther:
For Christ had been crucified, had destroyed sin and death by his death, had risen from the dead, the Holy Spirit had been given, and in short, all things pertaining to this supper were now ready. It all was so prepared that it did not cost us anything; for the Father through Christ bore all its expenses, in order that we without our merit and assistance might enjoy his treasures, and become rich and prosperous. (Church Postils, Trinity 2)
Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 8A (June 26–July 2)
Jeremiah 28:5–9; Ps. 119:153-160; Romans 7:1–13; Matthew 10:34–42
Entrance: 511 Herald, Sound the Note of Judgment
Of the Day: 685 Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus
Offertory: 623 Lord Jesus Christ, We Humbly Pray
Distribution: 659 Lord of Our Life; 851 Lord of Glory, You Have Bought us
Closing: 661 The Son of God Goes Fort to War
The Lord Jesus Brings Division on Earth for the Sake of Peace with God in Heaven
False prophets preach what their hearers want to hear, promising peace even when the Lord has spoken “war, famine, and pestilence” (Jer. 28:8). But if “the Lord has truly sent the prophet,” he speaks what the Lord has spoken, and “the word of that prophet comes to pass” (Jer. 28:9). The preaching of God’s Law is hard, because it confronts sin, brings it to light and makes it worse, “sinful beyond measure,” thereby “producing death” in the sinner (Rom. 7:13). But through our Baptism into Christ, “we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive” (Rom. 7:6). Now we belong “to Him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God” (Rom. 7:4). Belonging to Him puts us at odds with the world and divides us from all earthly ties, not only from our human family, but each person from his own life. For Christ does not come “to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). Yet, whoever takes up his cross to follow Christ, and “loses his life” for Christ’s sake, finds new life in Him (Matt. 10:38–39).
Dr Martin Luther:
But it would be a truly Christian work, if you received sinners, if you entered into your closet and there said, in earnest prayer to the Lord: “Oh, my God! of such a person I hear so and so, he lieth in his sins, he hath fallen. Oh, Lord, help him to rise again,” etc. This is just the way in which to receive and serve the sinner. (Church Postils, Trinity 3)
Fifth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 9A (July 3–9)
Zechariah 9:9–12; Ps. 145:1-14; Romans 7:14–25a; Matthew 11:25–30
Entrance: 504 Father Most Holy
Of the Day: 699 I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
Offertory: 353 Jesus Came, the Heavens Adoring
Distribution: 570 Just as I Am, without One Plea; 618 I Come, O Savior, to Thy Table
Closing: 707 Oh, That the Lord Would Guide My Ways
Jesus Christ, Our Savior, Is Our True Peace and Sabbath Rest
Though we have died with Christ in Holy Baptism, and we are raised to new life in Him, we find “another law waging war” in our body and life, that is, between our old Adam and the New Man (Rom. 7:23). By the Spirit of Christ, we “desire to do what is right,” but we are not able to do so, because “nothing good” dwells in our sinful flesh (Rom. 7:18). “Thanks be to God,” therefore, “through Jesus Christ our Lord,” who delivers us from “this body of death” (Rom. 7:24–25). We rejoice in Him, our gentle King, who comes “righteous and having salvation” (Zech. 9:9). He speaks peace to our embattled hearts, and by His Blood of the New Testament He sets us “free from the waterless pit,” and He returns us to the stronghold of our Baptism (Zech. 9:10–12). Though we “labor and are heavy laden,” He calls us to Himself and gives rest to our souls through His free and full forgiveness (Matt. 11:28), not because we are “wise and understanding,” but by the “gracious will” of God the Father, whom “the Son chooses to reveal” in love (Matt. 11:25–27).
Dr Martin Luther:
He sees that we are captives of death; but he is merciful and gives us life. He sees that we are the children of hell; but he is merciful and gives us heaven. He sees that we are poor, naked and exposed, hungry and thirsty; but he is merciful, and clothes, feeds and gives us to drink, and satisfies us with all good things. Thus, whatever we have for the body or spirit, he gives us out of mercy, and pours his blessings over us and into us. Therefore Christ says here: Imitate your Father and be also merciful, as be is merciful. (Church Postils, Trinity 4)
Sixth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 10A (July 10–16)
Isaiah 55:10–13; Ps. 65:1-8, 9-13; Romans 8:12–17; Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23
Entrance: 686 Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Of the Day: 655 Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word
Offertory: 545 Word of God, Come Down on Earth
Distribution: 584 Faith and Truth and Life Bestowing; 594 God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It
Closing: 577 Almighty God, Your Word Is Cast
The Preaching of the Word of Christ Bears the Good Fruits of Faith and Love
As “the rain and the snow come down from heaven” and “water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout” (Is. 55:10), so the Word of God accomplishes the purpose for which He speaks it, granting joy and peace through the forgiveness of sins and producing the fruits of faith and love in those who are called by His Name. Christ Jesus, the incarnate Word, has established the Name of the Lord as “an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Is. 55:13). He opens our ears to hear, our minds to understand, and our hearts to believe His Word, lest the evil one come and snatch it away. He thus transforms our rocky hearts into good soil, which clings to the Gospel and “indeed bears fruit” (Matt. 13:23). He is Himself the firstfruits of all who “have received the Spirit of adoption as sons” (Rom. 8:15). Thus being “led by the Spirit of God,” we are not afraid, but we cry out in faith to our Father in heaven (Rom. 8:14–15). For as we suffer with Christ, the beloved Son, so shall we “also be glorified with Him” (Rom. 8:17).
Dr Martin Luther:
If we speak of faith and are to lean upon God and let him care for us, then they say: Yes, I must believe a long time before a roasted dove flies into my mouth, if I do not labor. Yes it is true, you must toil, for you are commanded to do so: but let thy God provide for you. Believe and labor, then will not only a dove but a roasted goose fly into your mouth. (Church Postils, Trinity 5)
Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 11A (July 17–23)
Isaiah 44:6–8; Ps. 119:57-64; Romans 8:18–27; Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43
Entrance: 901 Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty
Of the Day: 585 Lord Jesus Christ, with Us Abide
Offertory: 761 Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me
Distribution: 827 Hark, the Voice of Jesus Calling; 794 The Lord, My God, Be Praised
Closing: 584 Faith and Truth and Life Bestowing
The Word of the Gospel Bestows the Righteousness of Christ and Brings Forth Faith
The good Seed, which is “the Son of Man,” Jesus Himself (Matt. 13:37), brings forth a harvest of faith and bears good fruits in “the children of the kingdom” (Matt. 13:38). Whatever is sown apart from His Word is of the devil, who plants the weeds of unbelief and sin, even among the people of God. Thankfully, the Lord is patient and He does not uproot the weeds, lest the plants also be destroyed. He lets “both grow together until the harvest” (Matt. 13:30) while He continues to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins. Thus He preserves His Church in righteousness, because He alone is “the King of Israel and his Redeemer” (Is. 44:6). Since all things are in His gracious care and keeping, “fear not, nor be afraid” (Is. 44:8). For “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19), and in this hope we also wait with patience. Though we do not yet see it, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Rom. 8:26) and, in truth, “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).
Dr Martin Luther:
Pray thus: Oh my God, thou hast placed Christ, thine only beloved Son, before me as an example, so that I might lead a like life; but I am not able to do this. O my God, change me, grant me thy grace! God then comes and says: Behold, since you know yourself and seek grace from me, I will change you and do as you desire. And though you are not so perfect as Christ, as indeed thou should be, I shall nevertheless have my Son’s life and perfection cover your imperfections. So you see we must always have something to keep us in the right humility and fear. (Church Postils, Trinity 6)
Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 12A (July 24–30)
Deuteronomy 7:6–9; Ps. 125:1-5; Romans 8:28–39; Matthew 13:44–52
Entrance: 554 O Jesus, King Most Wonderful
Of the Day: 713 From God Can Nothing Move Me
Offertory: 654 Your Kingdom, O God, Is My Glorious Treasure
Distribution: 574 Before the Throne of God Above; 724 If God Himself Be for Me
Closing: 646 Church of God, Elect and Glorious
The Son of God Has Redeemed Us for Himself with His Holy and Precious Blood
The Lord our God has chosen us to be “His treasured possession,” not because of any strength in us, but solely “because the Lord loves” us (Deut. 7:6–8). He is faithful, and He “keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deut. 7:9). He has searched for us and found us in love, and He has bestowed on us “great value” by the great price that He has paid on the cross (Matt. 13:45–46). In His joy, He has redeemed us by His cross and gathered us into His Kingdom by the Gospel. Now we are “hidden in a field,” covered by the cross and subject to the persecution of the world (Matt. 13:44), not for destruction, but “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). Since we “are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28), and because Christ Jesus died, rose again, and lives to intercede for us “at the right hand of God” (Rom. 8:34), there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from “the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).
Dr Martin Luther:
Thus, faith is a sure foundation, through which I expect that which l see not. Therefore, faith must always have sufficient, for before it should fail the angels would have to come from heaven and dig bread out of the earth in order that believing persons should be fed. Yes, the heavens and the earth would have to pass away before God would let his believers lack clothing and the other necessaries of life. The comforting and powerful Word of the divine promise requires and demands this. (Church Postils, Trinity 7)
Ninth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 13A (July 31–August 6)
Isaiah 55:1–5; Ps. 136:1-9, 23-26; Romans 9:1–5 (6–13); Matthew 14:13–21
Entrance: 697 Awake, O Sleeper, Rise from Death
Of the Day: 642 O Living Bread from Heaven
Offertory: 699 I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
Distribution: 618 I Come, O Savior, to Thy Table; 633 At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing
Closing: 652 Father, We Thank Thee
Christ Jesus, the Living Bread from Heaven, Feeds the Children of God.
By the Gospel of “the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever” (Rom. 9:5), we are “the children of God” (Rom. 9:8), “not because of works but because of His call” (Rom. 9:11). Therefore, “listen diligently,” and “hear, that your soul may live.” By His sacrificial death in His flesh and blood He has made “an everlasting covenant” for us. Since He now calls us to Himself, we come to Him “and eat what is good, and delight … in rich food” (Is. 55:2–3). He has come with divine compassion to save us from sin and death and to feed us with Himself. As our Lord Jesus once took bread, “said a blessing,” broke the loaves, “and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds” (Matt. 14:18–19), He also now takes bread, blesses it by His Word to be His very Body, and distributes it to His Church by the hand of His called and ordained servants. Just as “they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces,” there is more than enough for His whole Church to eat and to be satisfied (Matt. 14:20).
Dr Martin Luther:
Now this Gospel here overthrows the very foundation of popery and of all councils, for we are not bound to keep what the Pope commands and men decree. Therefore I say again, firmly grasp what this Gospel teaches, for the authority has never been given either to the Pope or councils, or anyone else, to sit and determine what is faith. For Christ says: “Beware of false prophets.” (Church Postils, Trinity 8)
Tenth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 14A (August 7–13)
Job 38:4–18; Ps. 18:1-9, 7-16; Romans 10:5–17; Matthew 14:22–33
Entrance: 792 New Songs of Celebration Render
Of the Day: 726 Evening and Morning
Offertory: 831 “How Shall They Hear,” Who Have Not Heard
Distribution: 618 I Come, O Savior, to Thy Table; 849 Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness
Closing: 717 Eternal Father, Strong to Save
Christ the Crucified Comes to Save Us by the Word of Faith.
The Lord who “laid the foundation of the earth” (Job 38:4) is the Author and Giver of life who governs all things by His Word. His wisdom and power are beyond our understanding, except as He reveals Himself in the incarnate Word, Christ Jesus. He has “entered into the springs of the sea” and “walked in the recesses of the deep” (Job 38:16), and He draws near to us in mercy. We have been “a long way from the land, beaten by the waves,” and tossed about by hostile winds (Matt. 14:24). In our mortality and sinful unbelief, we do not always recognize the Lord Jesus. But as we cry out in fear, He speaks tenderly to us: “Do not be afraid,” and He reaches out His hand to save us (Matt. 14:27, 31). “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13), and now we call upon Him in faith, because we have heard “through the Word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (Rom. 10:8).
Dr Martin Luther:
This I say, that men should not cram works into the heart, but let the heart first be good through faith, that the works may flow forth, otherwise you do no one any good; for if you have before given a person anything, it did not come from the heart. Hence the conclusion is, that I must first be good before I can do good. You cannot build from without inward, you do not commence at the roof, but at the foundation. Therefore faith must first be present. (Church Postils, Trinity 9)
Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 15A (August 14–20)
Isaiah 56:1, 6–8; Ps. 67:1-7; Romans 11:1–2a, 13–15, 28–32; Matthew 15:21–28
Entrance: 823 May God Bestow on Us His Grace
Of the Day: 653 In Christ There Is No East or West
Offertory: 831 “How Shall They Hear,” Who Have Not Heard
Distribution: 615 When in the Hour of Deepest Need; 571 God Loved the World So That He Gave
Closing: 832 Jesus Shall Reign
The Church Lives Under the Cross of Christ and Prays in the Hope of His Mercy
By her persistent prayer that Jesus would have mercy and help her (Matt. 15:22, 24), and even in the face of His initial silence and apparent rejection (Matt. 15:23–26), the Canaanite woman boldly confessed her faith in Him (Matt 15:28). Her beautiful example encourages us to cling to the words and promises of the Gospel, even in the face of the Law that accuses and condemns us. “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 10:29), and His Law “has consigned all to disobedience” for the very purpose “that He may have mercy on all” (Rom. 10:32). Hence, the woman’s faith and hope were not disappointed, but her prayers were answered in the mercy of Christ. Not only does He grant us the crumbs from His Table, but He also feeds us with “the children’s bread” in the house of His Father (Matt. 15:26–27). He has brought us to His “holy mountain,” and He makes us joyful in His house, where He hears our prayers and accepts our sacrifice of praise upon the altar of His cross (Is. 56:7).
Dr Martin Luther:
But believers in God risk all in him and transfer all things into his care, for him to do according to his pleasure, and think thus: God has given you your home and wife, you have not produced them Yourself; now because they are God’s, I will entrust them all to his care, he will keep them from all harm. I must otherwise leave all at any rate, therefore I will bravely trust him with them, and for his sake give up all I have. If God wants me here, he will give me other treasures, for he has promised to give enough for this life and for the life to come. If he does not want me here, I owe him a death, which will bring me into eternal life; when he calls me, I will go trusting in his Word. (Church Postils, Trinity 10)
Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 16A (August 21–27)
Isaiah 51:1–6; Ps. 138:1-8; Romans 11:33–12:8; Matthew 16:13–20
Entrance: 818 In Thee Is Gladness
Of the Day: 645 Built on the Rock
Offertory: 783 Take My Life and Let It Be
Distribution: 535 How Wide the Love of Christ; 575 My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less
Closing: 662 Onward, Christian Soldiers
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God
Jesus asked His disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” The question is also put to us: “Who do you say that He is?” Flesh and blood do not reveal this to us, but by the Ministry of the Gospel the Father in heaven reveals His Son to us on earth, who has become flesh and suffered death for our salvation. Thus we believe and confess that He is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). As He died for our transgressions and was raised for our justification, He looses us from all our sins and preserves our life within His Church, against which even “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matt. 16:18–19). His salvation is forever, and His righteousness “will never be dismayed” (Is. 51:6). He comforts us with the Gospel in His Church, so that “joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song” (Is. 51:3). Therefore, “according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Rom. 12:3), we also offer ourselves “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom. 12:1) through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Dr Martin Luther:
For he says: “God be merciful to me a sinner.” This knowledge is above the powers of reason. And yet it must previously have been known to him that God is merciful, gracious and friendly to all those who confess their sins, who call upon him and long for grace. As he heard that God is gracious by virtue of his very nature, to all those who humble themselves and seek comfort in him. But to preach thus is always the pure Gospel. (Church Postils, Trinity 11)
Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 17 (August 28–September 3)
Jeremiah 15:15–21; Ps. 26:1-12; Romans 12:9–21; Matthew 16:21–28
Entrance: 531 Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus
Of the Day: 861 Christ Be My Leader
Offertory: 621 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Distribution: 753 All for Christ I Have Forsaken; 685 Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus
Closing: 718 Jesus, Lead Thou On
The Glory of God is the Passion and Cross of Christ Jesus.
After St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, our Lord “began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matt 16:21). Upon hearing this “theology of the Cross,” Simon Peter stumbled into a satanic “theology of glory.” But the glory of God is revealed in the Passion and Cross of His incarnate Son. The faithful prophets, such as Jeremiah, suffered persecution and rejection in anticipation of Jesus’ Cross. Yet the Lord did not abandon them; He remembered them, and He was with them to deliver them (Jer. 15:15–20). By His Cross Jesus has redeemed the world, and in His Resurrection He has vindicated all who trust in Him. Thus the Christian life is a discipleship of self-sacrificing love. Since Christ Jesus has reconciled us to God, we “live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18). By the certainty of His Cross and Resurrection, we “rejoice in hope,” and we are “patient in tribulation” and “constant in prayer” (Rom. 12:12).
Dr Martin Luther:
Now you here observe the nature of faith which grows out of the Word. For the Word first sets forth to us the mercy and goodness of God; then faith causes us to cleave unto it with a firm confidence, and to obey the Word. For we are now conscious of this in our hearts, and are satisfied; for as soon as we believe, we are already with Christ in this inheritance, and are justified. (Church Postils, Trinity 12)
Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 18 (September 4–10)
Ezekiel 33:7–9; Ps. 32:1-7; Romans 13:1–10; Matthew 18:1–20
Entrance: 820 My Soul, Now Praise Your Maker
Of the Day: 579 The Law of God Is Good and Wise
Offertory: 612 As Rebels, Lord, Who Foolishly Have Wandered
Distribution: 605 Father Welcomes; 686 Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Closing: 707 Oh, That the Lord Would Guide My Ways
Living as Humble Little Children of the Father
True greatness is not self-sufficient strength, but humility like that of a little child. The greatness of child-like faith receives all good things as gracious gifts from our Father in heaven. Apart from such faith, “you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” but whoever is humbled like a little child will be “the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3–4). Though in our sin we deserve to be “drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6), we have instead been drowned (“buried”) with Christ in Baptism and then raised to the new, humble life of a child of God. The Lord sends His watchman to warn us with a word from His mouth, in order that we may not die in our iniquity, but be turned from our pride and selfishness to live (Ezek. 33:7–9). Thus we live in humility and faith before God as well as in love for our neighbor, which “is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10). In the reverent fear of God, we do no harm to our neighbor, but we “pay to all what is owed to them” (Rom. 13:7) and we “owe no one anything, except to love each other” (Rom. 13:8).
Dr Martin Luther:
But Christ, the true Samaritan, takes the poor man to himself as his own, goes to him and does not require the helpless one to come to him; for here is no merit, but pure grace and mercy; and he binds up his wounds, cares for him and pours in oil and wine, this is the whole Gospel from beginning to end. (Church Postils, Trinity 13)
15th Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 19 (September 11–17)
Genesis 50:15–21; Ps. 103:1-12; Romans 14:1–12; Matthew 18:21–35
Entrance: 816 From All That Dwell Below the Skies
Of the Day: 501 Come Down, O Love Divine
Offertory: 843 “Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive”
Distribution: 606 I Lay My Sins on Jesus; 496 Holy Spirit, Light Divine
Closing: 685 Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus
Forgiving as the Lord Forgives Us
In settling His accounts with us, our Lord acts not with anger, but with compassion. He does not imprison us as we deserve, but He forgives all our debts and releases us (Matt. 18:23–27). Therefore, our Lord bids each of us to have “mercy on your fellow servant,” and “forgive your brother from your heart” (Matt 18:33, 35). By the Lord’s forgiveness of our sins, we are free to forgive those who sin against us, because He has been handed over to the jailers in our stead, and He has paid our entire debt with His lifeblood. Whether we live or die, we “are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8). Since we all will “stand before the judgment seat of God,” we are not to despise our brother (Rom. 14:10), but gladly forgive him. By the grace of God, our brother also “will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Rom. 14:4). Though we daily sin against each other, the Lord intends “to bring it about that many people should be kept alive” (Gen. 50:20). Jesus speaks kindly by His Gospel and promises: “I will provide for you and your little ones” (Gen 50:21).
Dr Martin 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. (Church Postils, Trinity 14)
16th Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 20 (September 18–24)
Isaiah 55:6–9; Ps. 27:1-9; Philippians 1:12–14, 19–30; Matthew 20:1–16
Entrance: 838 The Saints in Christ Are One in Every Place
Of the Day: 853 How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord
Offertory: 757 Lord, It Belongs Not to My Care
Distribution: 555 Salvation unto Us Has Come; 742 For Me to Live Is Jesus
Closing: 738 Lord of All Hopefulness
Disciples Live in Their Vocations by Grace through Faith in Christ
Those who are sent as “laborers for His vineyard” (Matt. 20:1) depict the wide diversity of vocations to which the disciples of Christ Jesus are called. Whatever our particular stations in life may be, we are called to live and serve by faith in His promises. Our labors do not merit anything before Him, for He is already generous to one and all without partiality. In mercy He has chosen to bear “the burden of the day and the scorching heat” on our behalf, to make us equal to Himself, and to give us what belongs to Him, that is, the Kingdom of heaven (Matt. 20:12–15). This way of the Lord is foolishness to the world and foreign to our thoughts, but He draws near, so that “He may be found” (Is. 55:6), that “He may have compassion” and “abundantly pardon” (Is. 55:7). So it is that we are found in Christ Jesus, and He is honored in our bodies, “whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20), by “fruitful labor” (Phil. 1:22), or by suffering. It is by faith in His forgiveness that our works are “worthy of the Gospel” (Phil. 1:27).
Dr Martin Luther:
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?” (Church Postils, Trinity 15)
17th Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 21 (September 25–October 1)
Ezekiel 18:1–4, 25–32; Ps. 25:1-10; Philippians 2:1–4 (5–13) 14–18; Matthew 21:23–27 (28–32)
Entrance: 812 Come, Let Us Join Our Cheerful Songs
Of the Day: 539 Christ Is the World’s Redeemer
Offertory: 554 O Jesus, King Most Wonderful
Distribution: 543 What Wondrous Love Is This; 900 Jesus! Name of Wondrous Love
Closing: 807 When Morning Gilds the Skies
The Cross of Christ Opens to Us the Way of Repentance to Life with God
The way of the Lord is righteous and just: “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). However, because the Lord has “no pleasure in the death of anyone” (Ezek. 18:32), He calls sinners to repentance and faith in His gracious forgiveness of sins. The man who is thus turned away from his wickedness, who henceforth lives by the grace of God, “shall surely live; he shall not die” (Ezek. 18:28). This way of repentance has been opened for us by the Cross of Christ. In the righteousness of faith and love, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Phil. 2:8), and He was vindicated in His Resurrection from the dead. Indeed, “God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9). He has given us this name in our Baptism into Christ, in whom we now “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). He uses the authority that He has received from His Father (Matt. 21:23–27) to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, by which even “the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God” (Matt. 21:31–32).
Dr Martin Luther:
If you are so deep in sin that your heart denies you all grace and the mercy of God and makes you think there is no hope for you, as many consciences are ensnared by such anxiety and distress; then turn about and look here how friendly and graciously God allows himself to be pictured by Christ in this Gospel; that you may observe that he means it well with you from his heart; and that he is not here either to condemn or excommunicate you, but to preserve your soul forever. (Church Postils, Trinity 16)
18th Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 22 (October 2–October 8)
Isaiah 5:1–7; Ps. 80:7-19; Philippians 3:4b–14; Matthew 21:33–46
Entrance: 909 Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation
Of the Day: 544 O Love, How Deep
Offertory: 691 Fruitful Trees, the Spirit’s Sowing
Distribution: 827 Hark the Voice of Jesus Calling; 540 Christ, the Word of God Incarnate
Closing: 644 The Church’s One Foundation
The True Vine Redeems the Vineyard of the Lord of Hosts
“The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel” (Is. 5:7), which He planted “on a very fertile hill” (Is. 5:1). He did everything for His vineyard, not only clearing it of stones and planting it with “choice vines,” but also building the “watchtower” of His prophets and hewing out the “wine vat” of His priesthood in its midst (Is. 5:2). But when “He looked for it to yield grapes,” there were only “wild grapes” of bloodshed and unrighteousness (Is. 5:2, 7). The Lord Jesus likewise described the unfaithfulness of those who were called to care for His vineyard (Matt. 21:33–35). But in this He also describes His Cross and Passion (Matt. 21:38–39), by which He has redeemed the vineyard for Himself. He is the true Vine, planted by death into the ground, and in His Resurrection He brings forth “the fruits in their seasons” (Matt. 21:41). Among those good grapes of the true Vine is the Apostle Paul. Once a zealous persecutor of the Church, he “suffered the loss of all things,” in order to “gain Christ and be found in Him,” to “know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:8–10).
Dr Martin Luther:
The sum of this Gospel then is: Love and necessity control all law; and there should be no law that cannot be enforced and applied in love. If it cannot, then let it be done away with, even though an angel from heaven had promulgated it. All this is intended to help and strengthen our hearts and consciences. In this way our Lord himself teaches us how we should humble ourselves and be subject one to another. (Church Postils, Trinity 17)
19th Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 23 (October 9–October 15)
Isaiah 25:6–9; Ps. 23:1-6; Philippians 4:4–13; Matthew 22:1–14
Entrance: 813 Rejoice, O Pilgrim Throng
Of the Day: 510 A Multitude Comes from the East and the West
Offertory: 516 Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying
Distribution: 676 Behold a Host, Arrayed in White; 631 Here, O My Lord, I See Thee Face to Face
Closing: 818 In Thee Is Gladness
Clothed in the Righteousness of Christ, We Partake of His Wedding Feast
By His Cross and Resurrection, the Lord has swallowed up death forever, and by His Gospel He “will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth” (Is. 25:8). Therefore, “let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Is. 25:9). On the Mountain of the Lord of hosts–in His Church on earth, as in the kingdom of heaven–He has made “for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine” (Is. 25:6). It is the royal “wedding feast” of the Son of God, “and everything is ready” (Matt. 22:1, 4). Thus, His servants are sent into the highways and bi-ways to invite and gather as many as they find, “both good and bad,” to fill the wedding hall with guests (Matt. 22:8–10). In Holy Baptism, He clothes them all in the “wedding garment” of His own perfect righteousness (Matt. 22:11). Therefore, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God,” and “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4–6).
Dr Martin Luther:
True love to God does not act in this way, but in the heart it thinks and with the lips says: Lord God, I am thy creature; do with me as thou wilt; it matters not to me. I am ever thine, that I know; and if thou desirest, I will die this very hour or suffer any great misfortune; I will cheerfully do so from my heart. (Church Postils, Trinity 18)
20th Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 24 (October 16–22)
Isaiah 45:1–7; Ps. 96:1-13; 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10; Matthew 22:15–22
Entrance: 940 Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
Of the Day: 734 I Trust, O Lord, Your Holy Name
Offertory: 781 We Give Thee But Thine Own
Distribution: 732 All Depends on Our Possessing; 850 God of Grace and God of Glory
Closing: 854 Forth in Thy Name, O Lord, I Go
We Are Recreated in the Image of God by the Cross of Christ
Plotting against Jesus, the Pharisees attempted “to entangle Him in His talk” by asking about the payment of taxes to Caesar (Matt. 22:15). The Lord pointed to coins required for the tax, and He answered that we should “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). But if coins bearing the image of Caesar should be rendered to him, then man–who is made in the image of God–must be rendered to the Lord. That tax is paid for us by the Lord Jesus, the Image of God in the flesh, by His self-offering on the Cross. And from His Cross, as the Lord’s anointed, He reigns as the true Caesar over all nations “from the rising of the sun and from the west” (Is. 45:6). The Lord once called and anointed Cyrus “to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings” (Is. 45:1). Now by the preaching of the Gospel, “in power and in the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:4), foreigners from all over the world are “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9–10).
Dr Martin Luther:
There is no greater theme for a preacher than the grace of God and the forgiveness of sin, yet we are such wicked people, that, when we have once heard or read it, we think we know it, are immediately masters and doctors, keep looking for something greater, as though we had done everything, and thus we made new factions and division. (Church Postils, Trinity 19)
21st Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 25 (October 23–29)
Leviticus 19:1–2, 15–18; 1 Thessalonians 2:1–13; Matthew 22:34–46
In Divine and Holy Love, the Lord Jesus Sanctifies Us by the Gospel of His Cross
The people of God are to be holy as He is holy. Therefore, we should fear, love and trust in Him above all things, and in such faith “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). Such faith toward God and love for the neighbor are the two great commandments upon which “depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:40). The Lord our God Himself has fulfilled His Law on our behalf–in His great love for us, with all His heart and soul and mind, and in a body of flesh and blood like ours. David’s Lord has become David’s Son, so that all our enemies might be put under His feet and that we might be exalted to the right hand of God in Him (Matt. 22:43–45). So His servants bear His Cross in faith and love. For the sake of the Gospel they suffer persecution for their work, bearing their burdens in gentleness, “like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (1 Thess. 2:7). In like manner and with tender affection, they exhort and encourage “like a father with his children” (1 Thess. 2:11–12).
22nd Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 26 (October 30–November 5)
Micah 3:5–12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1–12; Matthew 23:1–12
In Faith and Love, the Christ Has Fulfilled the Law and Removed Our Heavy Burdens
The prophets lead the people astray when they do not speak “with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin” (Micah 3:8), but rather according to their own whims, to please the people and to satisfy their own desires. By such abuse of their office, they bring disaster upon the people, so that “Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins” (Micah 3:12), and there shall be “no answer from God” (Micah 3:7). God does not call His people to follow the lusts of their fallen flesh, “like the Gentiles who do not know God,” but to live “in holiness” and “to love one another” (1 Thess. 4:5, 7, 9). In the humility of faith before God, the teachers of the Law should be heeded and obeyed, because they “sit on Moses’ seat” (Matt. 23:2). Yet, “you have one instructor, Christ” (Matt. 23:10), who has humbled Himself to “be your servant” (Matt. 23:11), even unto death, and who has been exalted in His Resurrection. He has fulfilled the Law, removed your heavy burdens, and raised you up as a child of God. OR
Revelation 14:6–7; Ps. 46:1-11; Romans 3:19–28; John 8:31–36 (or Matthew 11:12–19)
Entrance: 656 A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Of the Day: 555 Salvation unto Us Has Come
Offertory: 580 The Gospel Shows the Father’s Grace
Distribution: 574 Before the Throne of God Above; 558 Not unto Us
Closing: 655 Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word
The Son of God Has Set Us Free from Sin and Death by His Grace
“Wisdom is justified by her deeds” (Matt. 11:19), and the true Wisdom of God, Christ Jesus the incarnate Son, justifies us by His deeds. He prepares His way by the preaching of repentance, but He has suffered the violence of the Law and voluntarily handed Himself over to violent men, in order that we may eat and drink with Him in His Kingdom and “remain in the house forever” (John 8:35). He is “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:18–19), and He has rescued us by His grace from the slavery of sin and death. By the proclamation of His eternal Gospel “to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev. 14:6), “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law” (Rom. 3:21), “that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). And by the hearing of that Gospel of Christ Jesus, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:25), “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).
Dr Martin Luther:
Therefore let grace or forgiveness be pitted not only against sin, but also against good works, and let all human righteousness and holiness be excluded. Thus there are in man two conflicting powers: Externally in this life he is to be pious, do good works, and the like, But if he aims beyond this life and wishes to deal with God, he must know that here neither his sin nor his piety avails anything. And though he may feel his sins which disturb his conscience, and although the law demands good works, he will not listen nor give heed to them, but will boldly reply; If I have sin, Christ has forgiveness; yea, I am seated on a throne to which sin cannot attain. (Church Postils, Trinity 19)
All Saints’ Day (Observed)
Revelation 7:(2–8) 9–17; Ps. 149:1-9; 1 John 3:1–3; Matthew 5:1–12
Entrance: 950 Splendor and Honor
Of the Day: 677 For All the Saints
Offertory: 949 Heavenly Hosts in Ceaseless Worship
Distribution: 932 Jesus Sat with His Disciples; 676 Behold a Host, Arrayed in White
Closing: 671 Sing with All the Saints in Glory
Saints Are Blessed in the Eternal Presence of Christ
“A great multitude from all tribes and peoples and languages,” cry out “salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne” (Rev. 7:9–17). Faith-filled saints from every place and time with unified voices eternally magnify the Lamb of God. As His beloved children, we too, “shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:1–3). Joined with the throng of angels and a myriad of saints, we shall “serve him day and night in his temple” (Rev. 7:9–17). In our earthly tension vacillating between saint and sinner, faith and doubt, sacred and profane, we earnestly seek Jesus to calm our fears, comfort our spirits, and forgive our sins. The Holy Spirit, through faith in Christ propels us forward, fortifying us in Word and Sacrament, to our eternal home. In the midst of our constant struggle as believers, we need to be blessed. And so we are. The poor in spirit, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty, the merciful, the pure, and the persecuted are all blessed and we will most certainly inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:1–12).
Dr Martin Luther: (MISSING HERE AND AFTER)
23rd Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 27 (November 6–November 12)
Amos 5:18–24; Ps. 70:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; Matthew 25:1–13
Entrance: 515 Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers
Of the Day: 516 Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying
Offertory: 595 O Blessed Spring
Distribution: 636 Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness; 848 Lord, Whose Love through Humble Service
Closing: 336 Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending
The Gospel Prepares Us for Our Heavenly Bridegroom’s Coming
The Day of the Lord is “darkness, and not light” (Amos 5:18, 20) for all who trust in their own righteousness and piety. The Lord will not accept their “burnt offerings and grain offerings,” nor will He look upon their “peace offerings” (Amos 5:22). Instead He desires a heart of faith that trusts in Him, which lets “justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24) in love for the neighbor. In order for the “lamps” of our lives to burn brightly with such love, we must be filled with the “oil” of forgiveness through faith in our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ (Matt 25:1–4). Therefore, as we await His coming, wisdom directs us “to the dealers” (Matt 25:9), that is, to the ministers of His Gospel. Thus we wait upon the Lord, and we “encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18). Waking or sleeping, we are prepared to meet Him when He comes “with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God,” and “we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:16, 17).
24th Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 28 (November 13–19)
Zephaniah 1:7–16; Ps. 90:1-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11; Matthew 25:14–30
Entrance: 836 O God of Light
Of the Day: 508 The Day Is Surely Drawing Near
Offertory: 781 We Give Thee But Thine Own
Distribution: 411 I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light; 853 How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord
Closing: 660 Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus
God’s Gift of Forgiveness Engenders Our Forgiveness of Others
The Day of the Lord is “near and hastening fast,” and it will be “a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation” (Zeph. 1:14, 15). The Lord will search out and punish “the men who are complacent” concerning His Word, “who fill their master’s house with violence and fraud” (Zeph. 1:9, 12). Then all their works and efforts will be for nothing: “Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them” (Zeph. 1:13). But those who fear, love and trust in the Lord are “good and faithful” stewards of His property (Matt. 25:21). They live by faith in His free gift of forgiveness, and they multiply His goods in the loving forgiveness of their neighbor, and “the Master of those servants” settles His accounts with them by the gracious reckoning of His Gospel (Matt. 25:19). Likewise, “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9). Therefore, let us also “put on the breastplate of faith and love” in our dealings with one another (1 Thess. 5:8).
Day of National Thanksgiving
Deuteronomy 8:1–10; Ps. 67:1-7; Philippians 4:6–20 or 1 Timothy 2:1–4; Luke 17:11–19
Entrance: 892 Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Of the Day: 785 We Praise You, O God
Distribution: 893 Sing to the Lord of Harvest; 894 For the Fruits of His Creation
Closing: 895 Now Thank We All Our God
We Praise God for Sustaining Life in and through His Word
The nation resounds with thanksgiving for the earth’s bountiful harvest, crops of wheat and grains, all beneath the canopy of God’s almighty care. But “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut. 8:1–10). The Church is the vessel through which the Word of God penetrates the world with its Law and Gospel. It is this divine Word which proclaims Jesus as the sole source of life, health, and wholeness. It is Jesus who heals lepers with His Word, “Go show yourselves to the priests” (Luke 17:11–19). Of the ten cleansed, only one expresses thanksgiving back to Jesus. But true gratitude proceeds from a heart sustained by faith. Jesus bids this one Samaritan to “rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” So also, we are sent from the Divine Service, bolstered in our faith by Baptismal and Eucharist blessing to be thankful in our circumstances of plenty and hunger, abundance and need (Phil. 4:6–20).
The Last Sunday Of the Church Year
Proper 29 (November 20–26)
Ezekiel 34:11–16, 20–24; Ps. 95:1-7; 1 Corinthians 15:20–28; Matthew 25:31–46
Entrance: 532 The Head That Once Was Crowned with Thorns
Of the Day: 756 Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me
Offertory: 852 O God of Mercy, God of Might
Distribution: 353 Jesus Came, the Heavens Adoring; 348 The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns
Closing: 680 Thine the Amen, Thine the Praise
By the Cross of Christ We Enter the Kingdom of Our God and Father
When the crucified and risen Lord Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead, “He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matt. 25:32). “To those on His right,” who have been crucified and raised with Him through repentance and faith in His Gospel, He will grant the blessed Kingdom of His Father (Matt. 25:34). Having been justified by His grace, they live unto righteousness in Him (Matt. 25:35–40). But “those on His left,” who trust in themselves and despise their neighbor, will depart “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Until that day, the Lord searches for His sheep “as a shepherd seeks out his flock” (Ezek. 34:11–12). Through His preaching of repentance He disciplines the proud sheep and goats, “the fat and the strong,” but through the preaching of forgiveness He rescues the lost, binds up the injured, strengthens the weak, and feeds “the lean sheep” (Ezek. 34:16, 20). In this way, He destroys the power of death in the children of Adam by His Cross, so that “in Christ shall all be made alive” by His Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20–26).