Archive for September 23rd, 2019

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The appointed Gospel readings in the 3 year lectionary this year are from St. Luke. Recently, the Gospel was St. Luke 15: 1-10, the Parables of the Lost Sheep and Coin. The third parable is the one about the Prodigal Son, likewise lost. St. Luke 15 is a highlight of the Gospel as our Lord is answering the Pharisee’s accusation that He eats with sinners and tax collectors. The actual central characters in each parable (the Searching Shepherd, the searching Woman Householder and the Searching and Good Father) is our Lord teaching us: this is what the Lord is like and the reason He has come, to search and find the lost, that is sinners. Note that the purpose of each of the searches is repentance, 15:7 and 10, and the return of the lost son, his repentance is the dead now alive (vs. 32). Repentance is the purpose of St. Luke’s Gospels from beginning to end and continuing through St. Luke’s Volume 2: The Acts of the Apostles. This is the purpose of the Old and New Testaments: the joyful return of the lost in repentance. As the risen Lord instructed the disciples:  “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24).”

Too many Christians, conservative and liberal, get it all wrong as well in that Jesus is all about acceptance of sinners: no, the preaching of the good news of the kingdom is ever toward repentance.  I think this is a way to describe the divide in Christianity: The Tale of Two Churches, the Church of acceptance and the Church of repentance.  Which sounds better and sells better and is easier? Sure, acceptance.  “I accept you just the way you are”.  Just sign on the dotted line and you can remain in your sins.  The Lord is not cruel like that. 

We know we are lost when we know we have transgressed God’s Law and seen what we have done and left undone in the eyes of the Lord and our neighbor. And so the so-called ‘church’ of acceptance dumbs down the Law of God in order to make acceptance their central doctrine. They make the the path to destruction wide and easy and many are who find it (St. Matthew 7:13) . They do not preach the Word of Law and Gospel. They have done this to the point of accepting the LGBT, divorce, greed and abortion agenda. These are unbiblical doctrines. They deny the Doctrine of the Atonement.

Image result for wheat and the tares

The ‘church’ of acceptance is filled with ‘social justice warriors’, not spiritual warriors. They are the church of the broadminded and the repentant Church who repents daily is considered to be by them the church of the bigoted. Their central false dogma is tolerance not the truth which sets us free. The two churches look alike as the wheat and the tares (see Matthew 13:24-30) but we can not enforce pure doctrine, nor should we among them but faithfully and boldly preach and teach for the joyful salvation of all. His sound doctrine for all is to come to joyful repentance. Jesus came to find the lost and in finding the lost, the lost now found as they joyfully repented of their burdens of trespass and darkness. The Good Shepherd still does so and so He sent our His apostles to do the very same.   

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In this picture, St. Matthew is NOT saying, Look, at what I have written, but look to Jesus who has written me into the Book of Life and learn from Christ Jesus day by day in all He said and did for the life of the world. This book is not written about me or about thee, but about the Christ for thee.

Prayer of the Day:

O Son of God, our blessed Savior Jesus Christ, You called Matthew the tax collector to be an apostle and evangelist. Through his faithful and inspired witness, grant that we also may follow You, leaving behind all covetous desires and love of riches; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About St. Matthew: 

St. Matthew, also known as Levi, identifies himself as a former tax collector, one who was therefore considered unclean, a public sinner, outcast from the Jews. Yet it was such a one as this whom the Lord Jesus called away from his occupation and wealth to become a disciple (Matthew 9:9-13). Not only did Matthew become a disciple of Jesus, he was also called and sent as one of the Lord’s twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4). In time, he became the evangelist whose inspired record of the Gospel was granted first place in the ordering of the New Testament. Among the four Gospels, Matthew’s portrays Christ especially as the new and greater Moses, who graciously fulfills the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17) and establishes a new covenant of salvation in and with His own blood (26: 27-28).  Matthew’s Gospel is also well-known for the following:

The Visit of the Magi (2: 1-12)

The Sermon on the Mount, including the Beatitudes and The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 5-7)

The Institution of Holy Baptism and the most explicit revelation of the Holy Trinity (Matthew 28: 16-20). 

Tradition is uncertain where his final field of labor was and whether Matthew died naturally or a martyr’s death. In celebrating this festival, we therefore give thanks to God that He has mightily governed and protected His Holy church through this man who was called and sent by Christ to serve the sheep of His pastures with the Holy Gospel.

St. Matthew was an excellent, noble man–not only one of the 12 fountains of consolation, the apostle of Jesus Christ of paradise, a holy evangelist, whose  words flowed from the great fountain in paradise, Jesus Christ.  He not only praised the Lord in his heart and with his tongue but also put his quill to paper and wrote his account as a memorial…pay attention so that everything in and about you is directed toward the glory of the Lord, according to David’s example in Psalm 103:2. In the kingdom of God it is said…”Strive with every skill and word, to please your Savior, Christ the Lord.”   None of the other evangelists described the history of  the Lord Jesus to such an extent as Matthew. He also has many beautiful passages that cannot be found in the others.

Here the Lord Jesus says (Matthew 11:27-29), “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

And again (Matthew 18:19-21), “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.”

Andin Matthew 28:19-20“Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

These three passages, which should cause the legs of all devout Christians to run quickly to the Church, were written only by Matthew.

—Valerius Herberger

(Quotes above from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

 Reflection:  One word found only in St. Matthew is “church”.  Further, it is only in St. Matthew that his Gospel begins and ends in Baptism:   the Lord’s Baptism in the river Jordan and the Lord’s command and promise to baptize in God’s Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We teach Baptism of all people, infant to old age. Baptism is the Lord’s  forgiveness by which He builds us up and into His Church, His Body. We can return to our Baptism when day by day we repent and the new man arises.

Holy Baptism formally ends the written Gospel of St. Matthew but by no means does the Gospel end with the last verse of St. Matthew! The Lord said that His Baptism goes to the ends of the earth! We have brothers and sisters in Christ in the United States, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Siberia, Germany etc, etc.  The Gospel (written, preached, taught and administered in the Sacraments) and the Church and Baptism are all one by which Christ  builds His Church.  These are the means, the living tools of the Words of the Holy Spirit to build us up in His Church. The Holy Spirit inspired the Scripture and so St. Matthew and His Christians as well, and all creation.  

1. By all Your saints in warfare,
For all Your saints at rest,
Your holy name, O Jesus,
Forevermore be blest!
For You have won the battle
That they might wear the crown;
And now they shine in glory
Reflected from Your throne.

St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist:

25. Praise, Lord, for him whose Gospel
Your human life declared,
Who, worldly gain forsaking,
Your path of suff’ring shared.
From all unrighteous mammon,
O raise our eyes anew
That we in our vocation
May rise and follow You.

3. Then let us praise the Father
And worship God the Son
And sing to God the Spirit,
Eternal Three in One,
Till all the ransomed number
Fall down before the throne,
Ascribing pow’r and glory
And praise to God alone.

(“By All Your Saints in Warfare”, Hymn #517, The Lutheran Service Book)

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