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Third Last Sunday of the Church + Matthew 24:15-28 + November 12, 2017

Grace and Peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1)         At the beginning of Matthew 24, Jesus and His disciples are at the Jerusalem Temple. The disciples admire the beauty of the Temple and enjoy all the visible trappings of that blessed place. Jesus does not sit in awe of the external appearance of the Temple. He foretells its destruction. “Assuredly I say to you, that not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2). Later that day, while they are on the Mount of Olives, outside the city limits, the disciples approach Jesus privately and ask, “When will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). The disciples think they are asking one question when they’re really asking two. They assumed that the temple would endure until the Last Day of the world, when in reality, it wouldn’t. Jesus takes the opportunity to teach them about both the end of the…

The Festival of All Saints + Matthew 5:1-12 + November 5, 2017

Grace and Peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1)         In the appointed Gospel text for All Saints Day, our Lord Jesus explains to us that true blessedness is not what the world thinks it is. In fact, true blessedness is the opposite of the things the world glories and rejoices in. The world fosters an attitude of spiritual pride people so that they imagine they are righteous and holy because of their good deeds and the occasional good disposition of the heart. The world teaches everyone that God should accept them because of their works and their goodness. To be spiritually proud, so that a person thinks he needs nothing from God, the world calls blessed. Not so Christ. He says, “Blessed on the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Presumption and relying upon one’s own goodness and righteousness is not blessed but damnable. Christ tells us that the saints are spiritually poor. This means that they are humble and contrite. Being …

The Festival of the Reformation + Matthew 11:12-15 + October 29, 2017

Grace and Peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1)         From the day s of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” These are difficult words. What does it mean that the kingdom suffers violence and the violent take it by force? Was there violence and persecution against the kingdom of heaven at the time when Jesus said this? There had been none up to that point. John was still alive, although imprisoned. Jesus had not yet been crucified, nor His apostles martyred because of their preaching. That would all come in due time. But at this point in the ministry of John and Jesus, violent men had not yet tried to lay hold of the kingdom of heaven. They would try. They would execute John, crucify Christ, and martyr the apostles. They would persecute the church, burn her books, and give Christians over to lions and other creative fates. But none of the violence of the world could ever take hold o…

Trinity 19 + Matthew 9:1-8 + October 22, 2017

Grace and Peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1)         Jesus enters Capernaum, His own city, and is confronted by several men carrying a paralytic on his bed. St. Mark gives us more details. Mark records that Jesus was in a house, and “Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door” (Mark 2:2). Jesus preaches repentance and God’s mercy to the packed house. But the crowd poses a problem for the friends of the paralytic. They can’t get their friend’s bed to Jesus. Undeterred, they climb onto roof, hauling their friend in the bed up their too. The Israelites build their houses to have flat roofs, which is why these friends can then dig a bed-sized hole in the roof. Once “they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying” (Mark 2:4). It must’ve been quite a sight. Their tenacity demonstrates their faith. These men be…

Trinity 18 + Matthew 22:34-46 + October 15, 2017

Grace and Peace be unto you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1)         A lawyer of the Pharisees proposes a question about the Law in order test Jesus. The Pharisees were always malicious toward Chris and always wanting to disprove and discredit Him. And though Christ knows what is in men’s hearts and perceives their malicious motivation, He is gentle and compassionate with them. He ever desires to teach sinners the way of repentance and faith, so Christ answers the Pharisee’s question. “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Christ distills the entire Law of Moses down to two commandments. He says, “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Everything that has been written from Moses to Malachi fits under these two headi…

Trinity 17 + Luke 14:1-11 + October 8, 2017

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1)         Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” These words are the summary of what Jesus has just taught the Pharisees. Christ “went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath.” On this occasion, as they gather to dine together, they watch Him closely, for the Pharisees are always looking for an opportunity to entrap Jesus and discredit Him. They want to catch Him in His words and deeds to prove that He is not the Christ. To that end, they bring in a man who is terribly afflicted with dropsy, what we call edema today. The man is in a painful condition, retaining fluid in his body. The Pharisee had placed the man at his table, not to honor him, but to see what Jesus would do. They don’t bring this man to Jesus because they love him and want Jesus to heal him. The Pharisees use this poor afflicted man as a prop. To them …

Trinity 16 + Luke 7:11-17 + October 1, 2017

Grace and Peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1)         Jesus approaches the city of Nain, surrounded by His disciples and a large crowd who wanted His teaching and His miracles. As that crowd approaches the city, it meets another large crowd from the city, which is on its way to the cemetery. That crowd is led by pallbearers carrying the casket of a young man, the only son of his mother. The young man’s mother follows close by, mourning for her only son. This isn’t her first funeral procession. St. Luke tells us that she was a widow. She buried her husband some time before this. Now she buries her only son. The depth of her loss is unfathomable. Everyone looks at he with eyes of sympathy. Everyone, except Jesus. The Lord sees her and is moved with compassion for her. The heart of the Messiah goes out to this woman who has lost everything. He offers no condolences or well-wishes. He doesn’t fill her ears with pious-sounding pleasantries like “He’s i…