Archive for September, 2018

“To be a Christian is a great thing, not merely to seem one. And somehow or other those please the world most…please Christ least…. Christians are made, not born.”-St. Jerome

St. Jerome’s Vulgate Translation:

 St. John 1: 1 In principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum:   In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God.In ipso vita erat et vita erat lux hominum:   In him was life: and the life was the light of men. 

Prayer of the Day

O Lord, God of truth, Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path. You gave Your servant Jerome delight in his study of Holy Scripture. May those who continue to read, mark, and inwardly digest Your Word find in it the food of salvation and the fountain of life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 Jerome was born in a little village on the Adriatic Sea around AD 345. At a young age, he went to study in Rome, where he was baptized. After extensive travels, he chose the life of a monk and spent five years in the Syrian Desert. There he learned Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament. After ordination at Antioch and visits to Rome and Constantinople, Jerome settled in Bethlehem. from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, he used his ability with languages to translate the Bible into Latin, the common language of his time. This translation, called the Vulgate, was the authoritative version of the Bible in the Western Church for more than 1,000 years. Considered one of the great scholars of the Early Church, Jerome died on September 30, 420. He was originally interred at Bethlehem, but his remains were eventually taken to Rome.(From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection:  We make much ado about miracles in the Bible as well we should as they point to the very nature of Jesus Christ; but there are some miracles that go totally unnoticed, as in: 

For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2 


Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. Revelation 14: 6

From the least of the tribes and nations of earth comes forth the Word of God and specifically, the Word made flesh, “…to every nation and tribe and language and people.”  This is the powerful deed of the Word of God to save souls and bodies in His forgiveness and mercy.   He has made known to all His Law and Gospel.  There was a priest of Jesus Christ, one Jerome,  translating the Bible into a language by which all of Europe for 1,000 years could listen to the Word of God. Vulgate Latin become the lingua franca, the common language of the Church.  It was not God’s language for God’s language, His Word, His tongue are the mighty deeds in Jesus Christ, as it clear in Acts 2:7-9, but they heard it  in  their own“native language”.  This is the Pentecost of translation begun in Jerusalem.  It has not stopped. The Bible is the perennial best seller in the world.  The Pentecost of His published Word was continued by Jerome and many others.The Bible or portions thereof have been translated into some 2, 287 languages.  This day and everyday is to have at the ready copies of the New Testament to give someone as the greatest gift and deed of all. As St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”.  For all of our information and knowledge, we are living in ignorant times. Jerome  loved and translated God’s Word, he did not attack it as so many ‘Christian’ theologians have done in our day. His translation has lasted for centuries, the writings of so many ‘theologians’ will only be fodder for the fires of hell.The Lord brought forth His Word out from Zion. We think we are civilized but when we look at war, greed and the murder of children in the womb by the millions, we are still pagans and barbarians.   The Lord sending is Word forth from Zion is the Lord’s great deed by which He civilizes a world in, through and by  His Word as we await for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in glory.  

Jerome facilitated the greatest publishing event in the history of the world that had already begun: The Holy Bible.  It is the Word alone which testifies to God’s will for us.  If it was not, then Jerome would have translated human traditions for the world to read, but he did not. It is a high vocation to be a Translator of Scripture.  This is a good day to pray for all translators, missionaries, seminarians and Biblical professors.  The King James Version renders Mark 13: 10: “And the gospel must first be published among all nations”, and Isaiah 52:7 that blessed are the feet which, “publisheth salvation”. The word “publish” is from same Latin root as our word “public”. “Vulgate” from “vulgur” meant in Latin “public” as well.  The Lord makes public His Word.  It is not merely a private thing but for the whole world and our nation.  He calls His Church to continue this work till the consummation of all things so that many may call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved.

Pray the Lord to give us opportunities to make public His Scriptures by placing into the hands of the spiritually destitute the life-giving Word of God!  Pray the Lord that all of the Baptized be fed the bread of Life from the Holy Scriptures!

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Quote of the Day

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Prayer of the Day

Everlasting God, You have ordained and constituted the service of angels and men in a wonderful order. Mercifully grant that, as Your holy angels always serve and worship You in heaven, so by Your appointment they may also help and defend us here on earth; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

About St. Michael and All Angels:    The name of the archangel St. Michael means “Who is like God?” Michael is mentioned in the Book of Daniel (12:1), as well as in Jude (v. 9) and Revelation (12:7). Daniel portrays Michael as the angelic helper of Israel who leads the battle against the forces of evil. In Revelation, Michael and his angels fight against and defeat Satan and the evil angels, driving them from heaven. Their victory is made possible by Christ’s own victory over Satan in His death and resurrection, a victory announced by the voice in heaven: “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come” (Revelation 12:10). Michael is often associated with Gabriel and Raphael, the other chief angels or archangels who surround the throne of God. Tradition names Michael as the patron and protector of the Church, especially as the protector of Christians at the hour of death. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Lessons: Daniel 10: 10-14  Psalm 91   Revelation 12: 7-12  St. Matthew 18: 1-11 or St. Luke 10: 17-20

Reflection on Revelation 19:   

The angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.


Hebrews 1: 14: Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

God’s Word is clear: angels are messengers of the Most High.   The Greek word for “angel”, literally means “messenger”.  In many icons, John the Baptist is portrayed with wings to remind us that John as the angels brought God’s Word to people on earth. Yet when angels bring God’s Word to mortals, there is knee-knocking fear because they reflect the glory of God.  This is why Gabriel first had to say to Mary, Fear not.  

The Scripture is equally clear:  angels are humble.  As it is written in Revelation 19, when John wants to worship the angel, the angel bluntly states, “You must not do that!”  Angels and saints in heaven are not to be worshiped, that is, prayed to and invoked, as too many churches do to this day.  I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God. Prayer is organically part of worship.  Since an angel did not want worship and prayer from John, since only the Lord is to be so worshiped and invoked in prayer,  then it would follow that the saints in heaven do not and should not be named in prayer.  Yet, the saints  as the angels are in the communion  around the throne of the Lamb  and as a whole, do pray for us, His Church, and those prayers are compared with incense ascending to the Lord, cf.  Revelation 5:8,Revelation 8:3,Revelation 8:4.   

It is also clear from the Bible:  Angels hold to the testimony of Jesus.  Further, we read in Hebrews angels serve us mortals.  Mortals, who by God’s grace in Jesus Christ, received through faith in the work of the Holy Spirit, are inheritors of salvation. Angels  are luminous servants and messengers of the Most High, are our fellow servants holding to the  witness of Christ!  In Greek, “Gospel” literally means  good message, the Gospel of Christ Jesus:

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. Revelation 14: 6

It is clear: We are not alone: I think when popular articles about UFOs and ETs, begin with, “we are not alone”, it is strange and sad science fiction comfort that is sought:  we are not alone in the vast universe. But the Lord has told us this for  centuries, the millenia:  we are not alone. This is God’s own truth.  His angels keep us safe and watch over us, serving us frail mortals.  The angels know they did not die for sinners.  The angels saw what happened when one of their own wanted to be worshiped as God, that is, Lucifer (literally, light bearer).  The angels know that God’s own Son did not die and rise for them, but for the Sons of Adam and the Daughters of Eve, who fancy themselves as ‘stars’, wanting to be “like God”, following the angel hosts’ fallen brother’s lie Image result for St. Michael and all angels(see Genesis 3). Again, the name  Michael means,  “Who is like God?”  Answer: not Michael, but the Son of Joseph, the Son of God: Jesus.  He is the perfect icon of the living God. The angels know they can not bring another Gospel (see Galatians 1:8), but they give witness to the Gospel of the Son’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, the “eternal Gospel”,  for us all to see and come to faith, see Revelation 14:6.

The LORD is not alone. This is comfort to the Lord’s redeemed people that God is One, yet the Lord Himself is not alone.  “Glorious is God with His angels and saints, O Come, let us worship Him”(invitatory for daily prayer).  The Lord, the blessed and holy Trinity, wants His kingdom filled with the redeemed.  Every Holy Communion the pastor prays with the Congregation from the liturgy the Sanctus, the thrice-holy:   The Biblical insight is that when we tally how many were at worship on a given Sunday, we can not count, as the Congregation sings in the Sanctus (holy):

Pastor:   ” with angels and archangels and all the company heaven, lauding and magnifying Thy Holy Name, ever more praising Thee and saying,

Congregation: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, LORD GOD OF SABOATH , HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE FULL OF THY GLORY. HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST.” (part of the prefaces in the Divine Service).

We are not alone, we are baptized into the  Holy Communion, not by an angel from heaven, but from one of the Lord’s messengers, your pastor, in the  communion of the whole Church on earth and angels and archangels and  all the saints in heaven!

A blessed Feast Day to all!

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A Sad Division

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A sad division has been made between a court of law (innocent until proven guilty) and the court of public opinion (guilty until proven innocent), as if the former has no say on the latter. 

If this division becomes rigid and hard, then the court of public opinion will become an even worse wild west kangaroo court and the twitter mobs and cyber bullies will have further justification for breaking the 8th Commandment. It only takes the old Adam to have the slightest justification to use our tongues to spread falsehood, always under the guise of “helping”, about a friend, family member, co-worker or a fellow student. We are seeing that this is now the old Adam run amok and the playing out of this Psalm verse which is the Church’s prayer:  

3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
    the tongue that makes great boasts,
4 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
    our lips are with us; who is master over us?” (Ps. 12)

A Christian’s tongue’s master is Christ and at the very least not to participate in the mob mentality of our days.

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Bible is food | “IF ANYONE THEREFORE DOES NOT EAT OF THE WORD OF GOD, THE SAME SHALL NOT LIVE; FOR AS THE HUMAN BODY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT EARTHLY BREAD, SO T | image tagged in scripture | made w/ Imgflip meme makerThe New Testament reading in the Daily Lectionary this day is St. Matthew 4: 1-17, The Temptation of Jesus.  Three times Satan tempts the Lord and three times, Jesus begins by saying, “It is written”.  What does this mean?

  • First, Jesus knew the Bible.  He memorized the Scripture. Can we do no less so that we have the “sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God” (Eph. 6) at the ready?

  • Second, this means the Scripture is without error so we can rely on the written Word of God. If the written Word is not inerrant, then Jesus would not have had a chance and He would not have cited the Bible.   Satan knew God’s Word is inerrant, otherwise Satan would not, “have left him”;  but that does keep the evil one from trying again.  We should also know as well the inerrancy of Scripture as the Scripture unfailingly points us to Jesus, see St. John 5:38-40.

  • Third, it is clear that through the Word of God, the Father’s will was made known to Jesus in temptation’s hour and the Lord’s will is clear:  to fight for us and win for us as His people and keep us safe from the devil’s lies.

  • Fourth, this means that the Lord wants to guard us, strengthen us, as He loves us in His gracious will to save sinners.   Through His Word He makes His will known for us through today’s Scripture reporting the temptations of Jesus. “If Christ had not wanted it, Satan would not have appeared before Him and tempted Him. He willed for this to happen…But Christ here did not fight for Himself. Instead, he fought as surety, as third party, as substitute for the  entire human race.” (C.F.W.Walther) He fought for you and still does with the weapons of the Spirit.

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True Speech | A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. Proverbs 15: 4 | image tagged in proverb | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

The Eighth CommandmentYou shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.

(The Small Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther)

The giving of false testimony is not limited to courts of law but also applies to the court of public opinion.  With the advent of the internet and with it, Facebook, blogging, tweets and the like, there seems to be an exponential growth of virulent breaking of the 8th commandment.  Lies, betrayal, slander, ruining a neighbor’s reputation have exponentially increased in cyber-speed.  In politics, defending our  neighbor, speaking well of him and explaining his actions in the “kindest way” is a joke.   This should not be a joke in the Church. Yet, in both Church and society, if there is an actual breaking of civil law and/or God’s Law, there are established means to correct the lawbreaker.  The first means of keeping the Commandment is for us:  upon hearing or reading a bad report about someone is to first keep still about it.  Why? 

1.  It might not be true.

2. I probably don’t have the whole story.

3. I am not jury nor judge.

4. If it is a wrong, to pray for the wrong doer.

Loving your neighbor as yourself under this Commandment means I would want those considerations when I have done that which is immoral and unethical.   We can clearly read the continuing slander and the hurting of reputations go apace each and everyday. 

We are living in lawless times when even the Constitution is up for grabs as many want even a new constitution.  But that uncivil social desire was born in ungodliness from many church bodies who rebelled against the Word of God in the Holy Scriptures, even voting down the 6th Commandment as they went for same-sex “marriage”: 

Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,  and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 5:24

Many in Israel, “rejected the Law of the Lord of hosts”.  Many in the Church have likewise done the same, so we hear the Babel of our days.

We can use our tongues to betray, slander, or hurt the reputation of our neighbor.  During World War II, with Nazi spies in our cities, they could overhear casual conversations of soldiers and sailors talking about  troop deployments in Europe or the location of the fleet in the Mediterranean.  There was a saying then, Loose lips, sink ships.  Biblically, this goes for us today and this would mean the nation is sinking as it is taking on water at an alarming rate.  Psalm 12:3-4:

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us

We see daily the results of the old Adam as master of his own tongue from gossip around the water cooler to around the block, from the White House to our house:  wrecked reputations, fake gospels, innuendo, half-truths and heresies.  In Baptism, we have a crucified tongue in Christ, and alive in Him our tongues loosed to praise of God and edification for our neighbors. The Lord is the Lord also of our tongues.  In Vespers, the Church sings, Psalm 141:3,

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” 

This is an apt prayer before writing and speaking.  We speak of Him who from His lips says to us in our  ears for the sins of the tongue, Your sins are forgiven.  Then in the morning, the Church sings, Psalm 51: 15,

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”

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Text:  St. Mark 9:30-37

Our Lord spoke frequently about His suffering, death and resurrection.  He preached frequently about Good Friday, Easter morning and the Ascension. In fact all of the Scripture points to it.  If He preached frequently about the Cross, so should the Church frequently hear the Holy Spirit’s sermon.  He “…was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter”, ‘…and upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Since His Sacrifice and His resurrection brought us peace and His wounds healed us, is reason enough to hear the preaching often and gladly.

Three times in the middle of Mark’s Gospel, beginning at 8:31, 9:31 and 10: 34, the Lord prophesies of His death and resurrection, and in other places as well. The Lord’s death and resurrection is the model or the paradigm of our lives in His, as we are forgiven and cleansed as His own is the Gospel. This paradigm, the Gospel, “…is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Rom. 1) This sermon, this paradigm is “for salvation” for faith and flowing forth is discipleship.

In the cartoon strip, Agnes Day, the two sheep are talking about the disciples after the 2nd passion prophecy, discussing who’s the greatest:


Amen!  Christ’s death and resurrection is the only thing that makes discipleship possible!  We’ve probably all heard that dreaded cliché, “There is no ‘I’ in team”.  Actually there are whole bunch of “I”s in team and that’s the problem!  And none of us wants to cut the I out!  Discipleship is not about merely cutting the “I” out. The reason that is dreaded cliché because we can’t do it and more to the point:  we don’t want to.  Discipleship is about the death of the Old Adam and the rising of the new man is Baptism. I heard a sermon this past week in which the preacher said that God will forgive the blackest, most sinful soul. No, no!  Not God will forgive, the Lord has, the Lord has forgiven the most sinful soul! This is why His scars, His crown of thorns, His, “It is finished” can strengthen us if but contemplated and prayed.

If the Lord will forgive, then we are waiting for a future event. If the Lord will only forgive when I repent, then the Lord is dependent upon me to make a decision.  Like a child, we are dependent upon HIM to receive us as His child, forgiven and freed!  We do not repent to be forgiven, but we are forgiven so we can repent. This is clearly His will for all the fallen children of Adam. If the Lord will forgive, then we do not know an important Biblical word “is”.  The Lord is our salvation. The Lord’s forgiveness through His Son is the rock of our salvation. This is My Body.

His forgiveness is reason for all the seasons of our lives.   We need to hear the Lord’s sermon of His being killed and risen many times. We look to the gentle lamb of God who personally pointed the way to the Cross for His apostles.  They didn’t understand it, couldn’t wrap their heads around it. “Grace flows from (the Lord) not on those who attempt to earn it, but on those who confess their need for it. The Spirit-empowered response is then to share it.” (Dr. Reed Lessing from his commentary on Jonah)

He wraps us in His steadfast love and mercy. Forgiven and repentant sinners need not only the comfort of the gentle and slaughtered Lamb of God, His death as bore our sin but  the second enduring and eternal comfort:  He is risen! Pr. Johann Gerhardt preached:

  • “Just as His death is a sacrifice for our sin, so also His resurrection is a victory over our enemies.

  • Just as His death is the lowest depth of His state of humiliation, so also His resurrection is the beginning of His state of exaltation.

  • Just by His death He showed Himself to be a true Man, so also in His resurrection He was mightily shown to be the true Son of God (Rom. 1:4)

  • Just as His death is our life, so also His resurrection is our awakening from death.

  • Just as our old man should be crucified and put to death along with Him, so also our new man should arise with Him to a new life (Rom. 6: 3-6)”

“Just as our old man should be crucified and put to death along with Him, so also our new man should arise with Him to a new life (Rom. 6: 3-6)”   Baptism is our given way of life in Christ Jesus.  The disciples thought in terms of comparison that is pride, not humility:  I love Jesus more than you.  I found Jesus first.  We don’t know what it is they were saying but James certainly spells out the results of such pride in the Church: bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. We see pride in the world in the daily pomp of the world:  bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, wisdom that is from below earthly, unspiritual, demonic: quarrels, fighting, murdering, coveting. We cannot make friends with the world to further the way of the Lord. We have been cleansed in Baptism to further the way of the Lord. No wonder James wrote and the Holy Spirit inspired:

Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 

I certainly cannot receive a child if I am trying to be the greatest and especially spiritually! The Lord wills all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve to be saved and come to the knowledge of His Son!  An apostle, and a disciple, certainly cannot receive a child when “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” is in my heart!  I cannot receive a child when my prayers are spent on my passions! When it’s about MY spirituality, we certainly cannot receive Jesus and the Father. Then I am looking to me, not to Thee Lord Jesus. The Lord has paved the way home with His blood, sweat and tears to relieve our fears by redeeming us from the old way of life in the world. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?  We need to oppose even ourselves and our desires.

It is true as James wrote that we resist the new man in Christ when the sinful heart is filled with “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” (James 3:14), which causes hostility, quarrels and conflicts, even among those who are fellow members of the Body of Christ. This should not be so!. Rather, God “opposes the proud” with His Law, in order to humble them unto repentance; He “gives grace to the humble,” in order to exalt them by His Gospel of forgiveness (James 4:6–10). This true “wisdom from above” is found in the gentleness, mercy and peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself and sacrificed Himself for the salvation of sinners (James 3:17). How we need to hear of Good Friday and Easter in Pentecost!

 “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

 Jesus knew something about children as He was a child, born of the virgin Mary. He knew the frailty of children when King Herod killed the male children in Bethlehem. The Church’s discipleship is receiving a child and if the Church cannot do that, we can’t receive the Child, the Son of God and God the Father who sent Him.  Receiving a child in Jesus’ Name is receiving Him and Him who sent Jesus: His Father. This is Christ’s mission and so His Church’s mission as well.  Jesus humbled Himself to be our Savior, and in His sermon of His Passion, we can do as He did:   humble ourselves before the Lord as His own so He can exalt, lift us up in the humility of the Lord’s wisdom. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  In the Name of the…

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Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city.Now the Lord God appointed a plant[b] and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort.[c] So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

General Intro to Commemorations of Old Testaments:

The introduction of Old Testament saints into the cycle of commemorations in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is most welcome because it is most Biblical.  We may not think of the Old Testament worthies as “Saint”, but that is not so.   Hebrews 11 has been called the “hall of heroes”, or  the roll-call of the saints in Christ and all of them as recorded in the Old Testament!  In the Eastern Orthodox Church, they put “St.” in front of the OT saints, so:  St. Jonah!  It is these saints who first cheer us  on and encourage us saints in Christ Jesus to persevere, as recorded in Hebrews 12, the crescendo of the roll-call:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Now let’s look at St. Jonah:

A singular prophet among the many in the Old Testament, Jonah the son of Amittai was born about an hour’s walk from the town of Nazareth. The focus of his prophetic ministry was the call to preach at Nineveh, the capital of pagan Assyria(Jonah 1:2). His reluctance to respond and God’s insistence that His call be heeded is the story of the book that bears Jonah’s name. Although the swallowing and disgorging of Jonah by the great fish is the most remembered detail of his life, it is addressed in only three verses of the book (Jonah1:17; 2:1, 10). Throughout the book, the important theme is how God deals compassionately with sinners. Jonah’s three-day sojourn in the belly of the fish is mentioned by Jesus as a sign of His own death, burial, and resurrection (Matthew12:39-41). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, published by Concordia Publishing House)


Many years ago, when I first read Jonah on my own, no longer in Sunday School, I was amazed by it!  Now if you have not read it (it’s short, more like a short story). 

Notice that in chapters 1-3, we are not told why Jonah runs away when the Lord called him to preach to the great capital of the Assyrian Empire, Ninevah.  Oh, Jonah was reluctant prophet, we were taught.  Yes, he was, but  reluctance is the result, not the cause.  We are not told why he was reluctant.

When Ninevah, from the King down, repents, the Lord forgives and changes His mind about His judgment towards them.  The Lord takes no pleasure in  the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from their evil to the Lord and live (see Ezekiel 33:11) 

So Jonah, after Ninevah’s repentance unto life in the Lord’s grace, parks himself outside of the great city and we are told he is angry. Dr. Reed Lessing (professor OT, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in his commentary Jonah), points out that  the 4 times the word anger appears (really:  infuriated), it is in the last chapter and it’s subject is Jonah!  Why was he angry?  Finally, after all the action in the first 3 chapters we find out that his anger is coupled with the reason why he fled to Tarshish and away from  the Lord’s call, from Dr. Reed’s translation: 

“For this reason I previously fled toward Tarshish because I knew you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abounding in loyal love, and changing your verdict about evil.” 

 Jonah fled because of God’s grace! He fled because the Lord did not destroy the Gentile Assyrians!  Jonah’s true confession of the Faith (“…you are a gracious and merciful God, etc.) becomes in Jonah’s heart and mouth his accusation against the Lord!  

When Jonah fled, maybe he thought he was in control of  his own destiny.  Maybe when Jonah preached God’s Word of Law, he thought he was in control:  ‘Now Ninevah will get what’s coming to it”, and quite frankly that sounds like something I would think.  Is your evil because I myself am good? (see  Matthew 20:1:  literal translation of the second question!). Yes.

Ask any congregation, ‘do you want to grow?’ and the answer is yes. But I would maintain we may  not want this to happen  to the point of those people joining who don’t deserve it like we do who have “…borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat”  (Matthew 20: 12) and they receive the same, even the most wicked and at the 11th hour:  the Lord’s free gift of grace to all who hunger and thirst, and repent and turn to the Lord (see Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Matthew 20: 1-16/ Matthew 20 ).  From Dr. Lessing’s commentary:

We simply stand under God’s overflowing grace like rain, allowing its cool refreshment to fill our dry cracks. Then we pick up the bucket and dump it on someone else. Grace flows from Yahweh not on those who attempt to earn it, but on those who confess their need for it. The Spirit-empowered response is then to share it. But Jonah is like the angry older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:28-30): he views God’s lavish welcome for undeserving sinners who repent as an insult to his “deserving” self. The prophet has yet to embrace the Law and Gospel character of God expressed in James 2:13: “For judgment is without mercy to one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

One last thought:  Jonah ran away twice from the Lord when he took passage on the ship and when he sat outside of Ninevah waiting it’s destruction.  The Lord never runs away and He sought Jonah twice and you as well and maybe more times than you can count!   Blessed Jonah’s Day!

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Jonah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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Meme of the Day

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Prayer of the Day:

Almighty God, You gave Your servant Cyprian boldness to confess the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, before the rulers of this world and courage to die for the faith he proclaimed. Give us strength always to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Cyprian (A.D. ca. 200–258), was acclaimed bishop of the north African city in Carthage around 248.During the persecution of the Roman Emperor Decius, Cyprian fled Carthage but returned two years later. He was then forced to deal with the problem of Christians who had lapsed from their faith under persecution and now wanted to return to the Church. It was decided that these lapsed Christians could be restored but that their restoration could take place only after a period of penance that demonstrated their faithfulness. During the persecution under Emperor Valerian, Cyprian at first went into hiding but later gave himself up to the authorities. He was beheaded for the faith in Carthage in the year 258. (From the LCMS website)

Regarding his martyrdom, from The Penguin Dictionary of Saints:

 “When persecution began again in 258, under Emperor Valerian, St Cyprian was one of the first victims. There is an account of what happened compiled directly from contemporary documents. Cyprian was first examined by the proconsul, and on affirming his adherence to the one true God, and refusing to divulge the names of his priests, he was exiled to Curubis. When a new proconsul came into office, Cyprian was brought up for trial in Carthage. He again refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods, and was sentenced to death. Accompanied by a tumultuous crowd, he was led to the field of Sextus; there he knelt in prayer. He gave a generous gift to the executioner, blindfolded himself, and his head was struck off.”

Reflection:  St. Cyprian lived before the Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 312 which made Christianity a legal religion of the Empire.  From the time of our Lord’s Ascension to that time the Church went through persecution from social ridicule to martyrdom.  In 250, under Emperor Decius, with the threat of death, many Christians denied the faith, gave-up fellow Christians to the authorities or when told to burn incense to Caesar bought letters called,  libelli, or certificates, that they had done so. Based upon 1 Timothy 2: 1-4, the Church prayed for Caesar, but did not pray to Caesar (see the 1st Commandment).

 When the persecution ended, many wanted to return to the Church. My speculation is those who denied the faith were regarded as traitors.   One party wanted them to be re-baptized or one Novatus said they committed apostasy and were not saved.  He denied absolution to the repentant.  Novatus’ heresy, Novationism, was also condemned in The Augsburg Confession because he denied absolution/forgiveness (1).   The Bishop of Rome , Pope Stephen I rightly said that once baptized, still baptized and like Saul and Judas a Christian can be lost. The Church Biblically agreed  that a time of penitence, that is, repentance would return one to the flock. The Biblical understanding is absolution for the penitent restores one to the Church.   This crucial understanding of repentance and absolution is reflected in the true Reformation understanding: 

“Repentance, therefore, is nothing else than a return and approach to Baptism, that we repeat and practice what we began before, but abandoned.”(The Large Catechism).

Two of the lessons we can learn from St. Cyprian are:

  1. Cyprian and all the martyrs remind us that faith in Jesus Christ matters. Even in the midst of persecution, Cyprian and the Church debated right doctrine and the resulting right practice. They did not soften doctrine in order to be accepted by society and culture or by those who denied Christ.  Much  was at stake as in their lives but even more: true doctrine which is eternal life. There were those who denied Christ and so ‘saved’ themselves, but those who sell out doctrine and faith and true worship are not saving  the Church. They remove themselves from the Savior.  

  2. Cyprian and the Church took seriously  the right Biblical way of ministering to those who denied Christ and they sought the true way:  repentance.  Cyprian was beheaded for the faith, for true worship, for right doctrine and practice.  

The beheading of Cyprian has a relevance in the news these past years of Islamists beheading  Christians. We are so readily led to  water down doctrine and the faith to “reach out” to the world which fits the devil’s game plan.  We need the courage of a Cyprian and the love poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit to minister in the Name of the Lord to our neighbors:

“…having received the Holy Spirit, we are living holy and spiritually; if we have raised our eyes from earth to heaven; if we have lifted our hearts, filled with God and Christ, to things above and divine, let us do nothing but what is worthy of God and Christ, even as the apostle arouses and exhorts us, saying: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” [Colossians 3:1-4]. Let us, then, who in Baptism have both died and been buried in respect to the carnal sins of the old man, who have risen again with Christ in the heavenly regeneration, both think upon and do the things that are Christ’s.”  –Cyprian of Carthage

Remove the pow’r of sin from me/And cleanse all my impurity/That I may have the strength and will/ Temptations of the flesh to still.—Renew Me, O Eternal Light (LSB 704:2)

(1) From The Augsburg Confession: Article  XII, Of Repentance  (emphasis added):  Our churches teach that for those who have fallen after Baptism there is remission of sins whenever they are converted and that the Church ought to impart absolution to those thus returning to repentance. Now, repentance consists properly of these two parts: One is contrition, that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of  the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ’s sake, sins are forgiven, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance.They condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost.Also those who contend that some may attain to such  perfection in this life that they cannot sin.The Novatians also are condemned, who would not absolve such as had fallen after Baptism, though they returned to repentance.

They also are rejected who do not teach that remission of sins comes through faith but command us to merit grace through satisfactions of our own. 

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