Jeremiah 30:10-17

 

Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the LORD, nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from far away, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with you to save you, declares the LORD; I will make a full end of all the nations among whom I scattered you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will discipline you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished. "For thus says the LORD: Your hurt is incurable, and your wound is grievous. There is none to uphold your cause, no medicine for your wound, no healing for you. All your lovers have forgotten you; they care nothing for you; for I have dealt you the blow of an enemy, the punishment of a merciless foe, because your guilt is great, because your sins are flagrant. Why do you cry out over your hurt? Your pain is incurable. Because your guilt is great, because your sins are flagrant, I have done these things to you. Therefore all who devour you shall be devoured, and all your foes, every one of them, shall go into captivity; those who plunder you shall be plundered, and all who prey on you I will make a prey. For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the LORD, because they have called you an outcast: 'It is Zion, for whom no one cares!'  (ESV)

 

 

Persistent Preachers

Monday of Advent 3

15 December 2014

While I was an undergraduate in college, daily chapel was a learning experience. Unfortunately, the school faculty used it as an opportunity to lay the law upon the students, often preaching about our laziness or lack of academic rigor. There is a time and place for such sermons, but that time and place remains in the classroom. Christ needed to be the speaker and the content of the sermons preached in the chapel named for the Holy Trinity. One of my classmates, who did not have a reputation for the sharpest mind, but did have a reputation for a sharp tongue, said acidly of our experience: "I go into chapel on my knees and come out on my belly." Maybe his mind was sharper than we gave him credit for, because he was absolutely right. It was a clear indication that what was being preached was not the gospel; because it tore down, deflated, destroyed, and killed. It was the law and that is what the law is supposed to do.

 

However, the law is not the unique content of the Christian teaching. Instruction for life does not define or shape the center of the Christian proclamation. Christ does; His cross and death, and with that cross and death: His substitution for poor sinners under the wrath of God. If He has become our substitute under that wrath, then it no longer abides over us. He has suffered it in our place that we might be cheerful and raised up to freedom and life by His sorrow, degradation, submission, and death.

 

It is not easy to fathom such a message; that God has offered His Son into such a degrading experience so that those who are themselves degraded by their sin and wickedness might experience nothing but joy, peace, and a harmonious relationship with their heavenly Father. This is why the gospel must be the predominant component in all Christian preaching and teaching. Our consciences are so tender and doubting that we could scarcely believe the boon that our God has conferred on us. How could we be those whom God has given the righteousness of His Son? Perhaps there are some truly good persons somewhere in the world for whom God has done this, but not me! It is impossible. Yet, that is what He wants us to hear over and over again from the lips of our preachers. And they had better preach it continually, persistently, and sweetly or we shall never believe it.

 

Martin Luther

 

"This (Gn 45) has been a discourse and sermon on the promise about grace, mercy, the forgiveness of sins, and the giving of all the blessings of God, in order that [Joseph's brothers] may be certain about their liberation from the danger of famine and about the accumulation of the gifts of God. This we call the gospel. But after completing this discourse he adds instructions dealing with what he wants them to do.

 

"Thus in the doctrine of the gospel, most importantly, we hear the announcement of the remission of sins. For we are justified by faith on account of the mercy of God which has been shown us in the Son, after sin has been acknowledged and the conscience has been terrified. So here these brothers, terrified by the knowledge of their crime, are fearful and tremble. Therefore the gospel follows, lest they despair, as Saul and Judas did, but may believe and be cheered up, justified, and consoled after they receive the remission of sins and the Holy Spirit. This is an outstanding example of an excellent teacher in the preaching repentance or the knowledge of sin and a merciful God."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 45.8
 
Prayer

Lord Jesus, send Your church courageous preachers that they might preach the foolishness of the cross to sinners, and scorning the shame bring to those who hear them the righteousness that avails before Your Father in heaven. Amen.

 

For the Council of Presidents of the LCMS, that the Spirit of Christ would lead them in their discussions by the power of His Word

 

For all college students, that they might find joy in learning so that they could become complete and rightly educated members of our society through a truly liberal education

 

For the aging and infirm, that they would not be forgotten during this season of new life in the incarnation of Christ
Art: Annunciation Schnorr Von Carolsfeld, Julius (1818)

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