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Sunday, June 4, 2023
The secret to making congregations care about the doctrine of the Trinity, is to demonstrate how God’s identity connects with his mission and presence.
It is not accidental that Jesus instructs his disciples to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In Genesis, the Trinity appears as Creator, Word, and Breath. God’s love within himself does not remain inwardly focused, but begets a creation whose purpose is also to enjoy that communion of love with God.
So too is the revelation of the mystery of the Trinity to the church connected to the church’s mission to the world. The Father sends the Son and the Spirit draws people into communion with the Son, who leads them in turn into the life of the Father. Preached in this way, the Trinity is the pathway into God’s life, an invitation that is relevant to everyone.
Sunday, June 11, 2023
This Sunday represents a crossroads for the preacher. For the rest of this year, the Gospel lectionary returns to the Gospel of Matthew, but the attendant Old Testament and Psalm are split between two different tracks.
Option I walks through a mostly chronological series of Old Testament texts beginning in 1 Samuel which are not thematically linked to the gospel passage in any way.
Option II (which is sometimes listed as Option III) is the more traditional set of Old Testament (and some Apocryphal) texts which thematically link up with the Gospel for the day.
A third option is to follow the Epistle readings, which also run along their own track, disconnected thematically from both sets of Old Testament readings and the Gospel.
The preacher should be prepared to commit to one of these options exclusively for the rest of the Christian year, since each is designed with its own arc in mind.
This guide will follow the more venerable Option II, as the theological and typological connections therein will introduce the congregation to the Christological principle of the scriptures, which will aid in their Old Testament study going forward.
Jesus finds love and faith among the sinful and the sick, not the religious leaders. Matthew and his tax collector friends sit with Jesus and the woman with the flow of blood reaches out to touch him.
In reply to the questions about his behavior Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea, rendered in the first reading as: “For faithful love is what pleases me, not sacrifice; knowledge of God, not burnt offerings” (Hos. 6:6). The Pharisees are professional “sacrificers,” who police the ritual commandments of the Law, but for all that have not pledged their hearts to God. In their place the Gospels hold up those outcasts who welcome the Lord to their tables and reach for him for salvation. Ironically, it is these sinners and outcasts who are in a good position to pursue righteousness, even for it to exceed that of their naysayers (Matt. 5:20) because their desire is nearness to the Lord.
“Knowledge of God” in Hosea 6:3, 6 carries a deeper sense than merely collecting facts. To “know” in the Old Testament frequently connotes profound direct experience (cf. “knowing” as marital intimacy in Gen. 4:1; as exclusive fidelity in Amos 3:2). Through the Incarnation of the Son, knowing God becomes possible in a whole new way. The congregation should be encouraged to “press on” as the tax collectors and woman did, to know Christ by his word in the scriptures and his body in the sacraments. Moreover, today’s scriptures disclose the goal of these gifts: Not as one more set of rituals to be observed, but as the pathway to direct experience with God.
Sunday, June 18, 2023
All good pastors will recognize “like sheep without a shepherd” as the basic state of the common run of people in the world, not only the Jews in Jesus’ day. “Harassed and helpless,” the cruelty of fallen society and nature afflicts the poor. In response, they frequently go astray, following after false shepherds or turning on each other.
Jesus sees past their sorry state and instead “has compassion for them.” The word used means something like “affection from the inmost parts,” so this is not detached pity for the pathetic, but real love directly from the heart of God who is love.
In love, Jesus is not dejected or overwhelmed. Instead, he recasts the situation as a great opportunity awaiting them in their role as apostles. The lost lambs become a great harvest with a high rate of return since its reapers are so few. This is foreshadowed in God’s commission to Israel in the first lesson, whereby he declares “all the earth is mine,” and his people are to be priests on its behalf.
This is a key gospel passage for pastoral ministry and spiritual direction: the problems of the world are the gospel’s opportunity. A happy world would need no good news. Pastors as well as all Christians on mission therefore should not avoid tough cases, but thrill to them, trusting that God is not cowed by any obstacles to faith. Prayer is the core of this mission. The laborers are sent by the Lord of the harvest, they are not free agents. The church thus fulfills the mission handed down from Sinai to Israel: to bring the whole earth back into right relationship with God through his priestly people.
Sunday, June 25, 2023
Christianity will require courage of its adherents. Persecutions will be inevitable, one cannot expect to outdo Jesus for winsomeness and escape the bite (v. 24-25). However, Jesus’ disciples may rest secure that the occasions for their persecutions are Jesus’ teachings themselves, and one day they will be universally recognized to come from God (26-28). The Lord’s disciples are precious to him, and nothing that happens to them escapes God’s notice. But so too will God know if his disciples reject him in order to escape punishment (28-33). The Messiah may be the Prince of Peace, but his peace will be hard won. People will fall out from each other over Jesus. His disciples must be ready for this. Whether in small or large ways, each must be willing to walk the way of suffering for the sake of the gospel, but the one who does this will win life (34-39).
The preacher’s duty to prepare their congregation for suffering for the sake of the gospel is paramount. Without the expectation of hardship, even well-meaning Christians will be unprepared when their public fidelity to Jesus meets opposition, and the temptation to fall away will be very strong. Many today in the face of social censure, to say nothing of bodily harm, find it very difficult to remain true to Jesus’ teachings, suspecting that something must be wrong with their public witness when others are appalled by it. According to Christ, however, it is those moments that ought to affirm his disciples that they are truly emulating Jesus by walking the way of the cross.
Sunday, July 2, 2023
On the flip side of persecution, those who honor and welcome the Lord’s disciples receive the blessings of God. Jesus does not offer the world only judgment but opportunity to connect with God through his church.
In this short gospel passage, the rewards for those who devote themselves to the vocation of prophet, disciple, or even a simple lay-Christian (the meaning of “righteous person”) are transferred to those who aid them. The church is Christ’s body in the world. Therefore, those in the world who recognize this and receive his members with charity, even in small ways, will know the blessing of God through their connection to his body.
The preacher can use this text as an opportunity to encourage the flock not to go out in the world assuming ill-treatment from everyone. Each individual person in the world can either accept or reject Christ’s messengers. The church should thus be open-handed; as ready for a positive reception as a negative one.
Persecution tempts the believer to gloominess. Cynicism is the bane of joy. But Christ’s disciples are optimists, driven by hope rather than despair. Just as they should not be surprised when the world rejects them, they should not be surprised when it receives them. For after all, Christ died for the life of the world.
Sunday, July 9, 2023
The religious leaders are out of step with God, no matter the spirit in which he approaches them. Whether the message is self-denial and asceticism or joy and celebration, the Pharisees can be counted on to go another way than God’s leading.
The most probable interpretation of Jesus’ puzzling mini-parable is that the game-leaders in the marketplace are Jesus and John the Baptist. The uncooperative children are the religious leaders. The point is no matter the tune–John’s severe, Jesus’ joyful–those determined to reject the message will find a serviceable excuse.
This is an important point for today: if a message fails to get across, there is either a problem with the messenger or the receiver. Jesus is saying that the messengers are not the issue, it is the hearers who fail to repent and follow God because of their sin and selfishness.
We must be careful not to rationalize our own rebelliousness. Often the reasons we give for failing to worship–the style of music, a principled dislike of the pastor or preacher, the manifold bespoke liturgical tastes–are only so many excuses for failing to seek God. Instead, we should cultivate an active listening, yearning to discern God’s will in any circumstance. What would Christ have us do here and now? Wisdom does not consist of words–our many cultivated opinions about authentic church worship—but in aligning our wills to the Father through Christ, and going and living like he did.
Sunday, July 16, 2023
Why do some not respond to the gospel? The parable of the sower explains why. In the ancient world, a good yield for a crop was 10:1. A yield of “thirty, sixty, a hundredfold” is a fantastical amount of abundance. The point is that the message of the gospel is extremely fertile, capable of producing abundant growth. The condition of the soil, not the quality of the seed, is responsible for disparity.
The excluded interlude, when the disciples ask Jesus why he teaches in parables, is key for the preacher’s understanding of its message. Parables, unlike bullet-point propositions, require active listening. The gospel requires engagement from heart and mind to bear fruit. Those who hear but don’t engage their minds to understand have no root, and become easy prey for the devil’s tricks. Religious enthusiasm is nothing without commitment. Worldly wealth, like weeds, encroaches on our affections, until they crowd out love for God and neighbor.
The preacher should take care not to explain the parable in terms of eternal election. The point is exhortation: “How is your soil today?” might be a good question.
Sunday, July 23, 2023
The parable of the weeds among wheat is the second in a series of agriculture parables. Jesus pursues different spins on the same metaphors, turning them around to elucidate the many layers of the Kingdom of Heaven. This one “zooms in” on the matter of those who reject the gospel and how the management of the Kingdom accounts for it.
The parable points out that the work of the Evil One sows in the same field, producing an evil crop; the “children of the evil one” amid the “children of the kingdom” (v. 38). These two grow up together for the time being, but at the final judgment are separated cleanly.
Why the delay? Clues come from the offending weed that the Lord had in view. “Darnel” is a non-nutritious plant that looks like wheat, especially in its infancy. By uprooting darnel too early, one could uproot the wheat instead. Only in its full maturity can the difference be reliably determined.
Because only God is capable of knowing which is which, one should not be quick to pronounce judgment on a fellow believer who strays from the faith, lest they turn out to be wheat. Instead, the message is for the church to be patient and forgiving of those within its care, leaving the final judgment of each and every soul to God alone and encouraging one another to grow up into the good wheat of the Spirit instead of the darnel of the Devil.
Sunday, July 30, 2023
The gospel covers another succession of short parables, each likening the Kingdom of Heaven to things that are presently hidden, whose value is to be revealed later (the parable of the net excepted).
The mustard seed and the leaven are investments that yield a huge return, but only after a time of hidden growth. Like in the parables of the lost sheep and coin in Luke, these are aimed at male and female audiences. Here, the emphasis is on the return on investment. Our human efforts on behalf of the kingdom may seem unimportant or even futile, a tiny seed and just a little leaven, but like the boy whose loaves and fish seeded the feeding of the 5,000, God takes what little we offer and multiplies its effect.
The parables of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price illustrate how disciples of the kingdom are those who see the greatness of the reward, and are therefore eager to invest their entire lives into it. If one truly believes in eternal life in God, then there is no price that is not worth paying.
This Christian joy underwrites all Christian suffering, it is the motivation to take up one’s cross and the reason that so many Christians even today go joyfully to the grave rather than deny Christ. Light burdens indeed in the face of so great a reward.
The Lord’s teachings complete the old law, hence old and new treasures are the possession of those who keep them.
Sunday, August 6, 2023
Matthew’s account of the Feeding of the 5,000 emphasizes the connection to two Old Testament figures: Moses and Elisha. First, the Jesus and the crowd are in a desolate place, like the Israelites in the desert when they were fed by the manna from heaven. The disciples’ incredulous response to Jesus in verse 16 follows Elisha’s servant puzzled by how they could feed so many men with so few loaves. However, in contrast to these episodes, Jesus has them recline (“sit down” is an unfortunate English rendering) on “grass” indicating that Jesus’ feeding of his people will be a full meal, not just sustenance. After the four eucharistic actions (took, blessed, broke, gave) repeated in the institution of the Lord’s Supper, the crowd eats “as much as they wanted” with much left over.
Since the Feeding of the 5,000 is the quintessential sign of the Eucharist, the preacher should use their time to draw attention to the celebration of the bread and wine which (one hopes) will be coming at the end of service. In this, the preacher need not spend much energy on “application” since the reality of the Lord’s Supper is what brings these heady truths to bear on the present, with the people in the congregation. Like the bread, the breaking of Jesus’ body makes it possible for him to share his life through Holy Communion, empowering his people to live his life with him.
Sunday, August 13, 2023
Jesus walking on the sea toward the boat proclaims the Lord’s power over death. This episode completes every Gospel’s account of the feeding miracle, since it clearly identifies Christ himself, not just earthly bread, as the true source of life.
At the “fourth watch” of the night (just before dawn, foreshadowing the time of Jesus’ resurrection) Jesus walks physically over the stormy waves, the symbol of death, calling out to his disciples that he is not a ghost–not less than human–but rather something even greater. The typical translation “It is I” misses the portentous ego eimi of the Greek, or “I AM.”
Peter’s excursion onto the waves shows how Jesus’ power over death is not the preserve of Christ alone. Humanity too is invited to share in Jesus’ resurrection power and everlasting inheritance.
Sunday, August 20, 2023
The Canaanite woman (the “Syrophoenician woman” in Mark) is among the most frequently abused biblical stories today. Jesus’ nativist prejudices are not challenged by a woman’s sarcastic advocacy for herself. Rather, Jesus intentionally puts her radical humility on display to instruct the Jews about the meaning of saving faith. However, modern preoccupations with intersectional status notwithstanding, the woman’s ethnic status is a critical detail in the story, so the preacher must walk a careful rhetorical line, straying neither to the “colorblind” right or the social grievance-obsessed left.
Being a Canaanite, one of the peoples originally driven out of the promised land, put this woman at the bottom in the eyes of the Jews, and she would have had every reason to be resentful. Nevertheless, she has left her country to seek Jesus out, addressing him with the messianic honorific “Son of David” and responds to an intentionally belittling remark from Jesus (“dogs” likely being a common anti-Gentile slur which Jesus repeats, possibly softening it to “little dogs”) by gladly accepting dishonor if only it would result in God’s salvation, manifested in the near term as the exorcism of her daughter.
Thus, it is the woman’s childlike forgetfulness of her status before men and the grievances of the past that exemplifies her faith–given the rare honor of great by the Lord, contrasting with the little faith commonly attributed to his disciples–and this is the polar opposite of the sort of fashionable grievance-mongering prescribed to everyone today, which is just the storing up of another kind of social currency of “victimhood.”
In the end, the Lord is not content to merely throw the woman a scrap, as the disciples would have done in verse 23, but instead uses the situation to honor her over and above the chosen people, giving her a foretaste of the blessing that will come to all the Gentiles through him. Because the Jews have presumed on God’s favor as “the chosen” they are at risk of being excluded from the kingdom altogether. The poor and marginalized are to be considered blessed because they are most frequently free of the many species of pride that come from of birth, wealth, and status, making them especially open to receiving God’s blessings. Woe then to the rich of high station who trust in worldly wealth which decays and glory in the honors that die with them. The last, indeed, will be first.
Sunday, August 27, 2023
Peter says more than just that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the “Christ,” but also that he is the Son of the Living God. This means that Peter understands Jesus to be more than just an especially glorious human being commissioned by God, but the Son of God himself. “He will be my son” reads God’s promise to David in 1 Chronicles 17:13. Likewise, we are not to regard Jesus’ words and ways as merely good advice from a great human teacher, but as coming from God himself.
However, this confession can only come from the inspiration of God: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” Even addressing Peter’s parentage speaks to this, as “Jonah” is also the Hebrew word for “dove.” Peter then is truly a son of the Spirit to have made this confession.
So it is with all the baptized, that confessing and believing the divinity of Jesus Christ proves that we have spiritual parentage, and have been adopted into the life of the same heavenly Father who sent the Son.
Sunday, September 3, 2023
Peter goes from high to low in just a few short verses. For denying the way of the Cross, and trying to dissuade Jesus from following the same, Peter takes on the role of the Tempter, even if unwittingly. Jesus’ harsh reaction shows that a great deal is at stake not only Jesus’ saving atonement, but also the life his disciples expect to live.
The Cross is not only for Jesus but for anyone who would follow him. Suffering for the sake of the kingdom is a requirement for coming after Jesus, and the broad way that avoids suffering leads not to resurrection but to destruction.
Today, the health and wealth message that says that God is waiting on the right amount of faith to “bless” you with riches or success, and its more cultivated cousin, in which following Jesus is really the path to unlocking one’s inner potential are the very Satanic counterfeits the Lord demands be put behind us. Nothing is more fatal to Christian discipleship than misconceiving it as the path to a better earthly life. Suffering is not the obstacle in the Christian’s path, it is the Way itself.
Sunday, September 10, 2023
Jesus’ practices for reconciliation and discipline ought to be understood as pertaining to very serious matters of notorious sin where the health of the community is at stake, and it is not to be understood as a license for the church to resolve any conflict without the involvement of civil authorities when appropriate.
Still, membership in the community of faith is a matter of eternal significance, for “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (v. 18). Jesus is speaking about keeping earthly order within the heavenly community of faith. His process is one that avoids escalation, seeking to correct and reconcile without shaming or embarrassing the person in error, and seeking the offender’s repentance and return. The final measure of excommunication is to be taken only if the person persists in sinful behavior even against the will of the entire local community. Such a level of willful recalcitrance makes exclusion the only available step to remove the threat of a malign influence influencing others in the community to sin.
The preacher will need to walk a narrow way between those in the audience who are over eager to exercise what they suppose to be spiritual discipline and those who are repulsed by the very notion that their local church community claims any authority over their lives at all. The preacher would do well, regarding verse 17, to point out that Jesus pursued tax collectors and Gentiles with genuine love in order to invite them into his kingdom, but the price of entry was not remaining tax collectors, nor living like Gentiles.
Sunday, September 17, 2023
The preacher will not find it difficult for their audience to understand and accept the moral logic of the parable of the unforgiving debtor. Drawing attention to the imbalance of the debts forgiven intensifies the message. Unforgiveness is so utterly alien to the Christian because it requires a forgetfulness or unappreciation of the debts God has forgiven us and the life he promises us. Unforgiveness then, requires a level of functional atheism that so directly imperils the soul that we can understand why Jesus warns his disciples that unless they forgive, they will be damned.
On the other hand, remembrance of the depth of our forgiveness leads us to love those who have wronged us. In this way, the believer imitates God and so their sanctification is furthered. Wrongs done to us, and the debts they incur, become opportunities to fill them up with God’s love, forgiving as he forgave us.
Sunday, September 24, 2023
As in so many of Jesus’ parables, there is a macro and a micro level. On the broader view, we see him addressing Jewish superciliousness over Gentiles who would seek God. Because they do not receive with joy, the latecomers end up getting their wage ahead of them (cf. Matt. 21:31). Like the elder brother in Luke 15, those who grumble betray their unappreciation of God’s generosity and are disrespectful of his will. They reveal that their enjoyment of their wage comes from their status relative to others, not the gift itself. In the same way, individuals who look sideways at latecomers and converts reveal that their religion is of an entirely human cast. Yet God’s choice is to grant the same wage. As the owner of the vineyard and the money, he can do what he likes with it, and demanding his salvation be distributed on a graduated scale is to devalue the gift.
Sunday, October 1, 2023
The two Gospel episodes are distinct sections connected by their reference to the authority of John the Baptist.
In the first, Jesus successfully traps the temple priests in the same sort of double-bind that they unsuccessfully attempted to trap him. They reveal that they cannot recognize the commission of God when its marks are before their eyes: the “way of uprightness” (v. 32) and Jesus’ miracles and works of healing (see John chs. 5-10).
In the parable of the two sons, Jesus makes plain that his standard for inclusion in the Kingdom of God is not an outward show of godliness but the capacity to recognize the voice of the Lord and obey it.
Sunday, October 8, 2023
The remarkable thing about the wicked tenants is how dim they are. To think that killing the heir of the landowner would result in them seizing the vineyard is fantasy. But such as it is to scheme against the living God.
Jesus, aware of the plots of the Temple officials, warns them that their plan will not succeed, and that their status as God’s people will pass to outsiders. Although they get the message, they go on plotting anyway, sealing their own destruction.
The preacher may use this parable to point out how, in the present day, our own petty attempts at wresting control of our own lives and churches, our “vineyards,” away from God’s control can only meet with the same disaster. By tolerating sin, we crucify Christ all over again and forfeit our status as trusted partners in God’s work on earth. Being the masters of our own vineyards and attempting to kick God out of them is a boneheaded plan, destined for failure.
Sunday, October 15, 2023
The parable of the wedding feast shifts the focus from the Jews who reject God to those who accept him under false pretenses. The one who not only accepts Christ’s free gift of grace but clothes himself in his righteousness will be saved (cf. 7:21) Works of mercy are not ours alone but are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The guest does not earn his garment, but rather is “chosen” (cf. Eph. 2:10).
The thing to emphasize is how, although it may feel like effort, our good works flow from our participation in Christ, rather than our best efforts alone. The result of the invitation is a changed life and a new identity, which may set us apart on earth, but is the ordinary dress of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Sunday, October 22, 2023
Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees on paying taxes continues to befuddle and elude both modern activists and patriots. Jesus did indeed endorse dutiful paying of taxes, and therefore offering some level of submission and legitimacy to the ruling authorities. That this is what Jesus meant by “render unto Caesar” is confirmed by the fact that Christians in the Early Church were noted for voluntarily and honestly paying their taxes, an anomaly in a world that all but expected graft and corruption.
However, by “rendering unto God” Jesus subtly and inescapably prohibits the sort of jingoism that would subordinate the believer’s citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven to that of the City of Man. In “rendering unto God the things that are God’s” the Lord makes an implicit analogy between the coin made in Caesar’s image, and the human being made in God’s image. Therefore, the whole body belongs to God, and indeed this explains why Christians, though dutiful taxpayers, also went to the gallows just as dutifully when they refused to conform to the Empire’s unjust and impious laws.
As of this writing, the American church is in a state of political panic. On the one hand, many are certain that “Christian Nationalism” has overtaken American religious sensibilities and made them subordinate to the state. On the other hand, others are just as certain that the spiritual truths of the gospel have been traded for a tradition of cheap activism, no less captive to political interests.
The Lord focuses us on the true north in between these false paths. Recognizing ruling authorities and obeying them as far as is lawful while reserving ownership of the self for God alone is the real attitude Christians are to have for human authorities. Ultimately, no matter how fond we may feel for our nations and communities, we are after all created in God’s image, not man’s, and our real task is to offer ourselves to him, and not to men.
Sunday, October 29, 2023
The Greatest Commandment is an executive summary of the whole of the Jewish Law. Jesus is asked, not to name one of the Commandments, but for the principle that undergirds the whole. This, Jesus says, is love, both of God and neighbor.
God’s plan for human life is not legalistic but integrated, a whole life of “heart, soul, and mind” devoted to God and others. Self-giving love is the bonding agent that binds the scaffold of individual commands together. Augustine’s often misinterpreted quote “Love and do as you will” has this in mind. If you love truly, then you will not be contradicting the Law, but living it out in its fullness.
Not content merely to give a new teaching, Jesus uses the scriptures in the next section to illuminate his own identity. Psalm 110, which was for the Pharisees a universally recognized messianic passage, carries a curious feature hiding in plain sight. Typically, a father (or ancestor) would be reckoned greater than his son. However, Jesus points out that David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, calls his son “Lord.” Therefore, the Messiah, the Son of David is greater than his father. This is Jesus beginning to reveal his divine identity.
It is not only that the Lord is a great teacher, Jesus himself undergirds the Law in his divinity. Therefore, the teachings we receive from him are directly from God and greater than what has come before. Moreover, these teachings point us ultimately to him and his identity, not just as a pattern for our own conduct, but God’s self-disclosure: the Messiah given for us. Truly following the law of God is to receive Jesus Christ, love incarnate.
Wednesday, November 1, 2023
Sunday, November 5, 2023
The only source of authority in the Kingdom of Heaven is God himself, and it is the imitation of God that is the mark of true authority, not honorifics, nor even accurate teaching.
Believers’ common recognition of one head in Christ makes them equals on earth. Jesus’ point is not that no one should ever be given the title of teacher or father, but that these titles should not compete with God the Father and Lawgiver. Therefore, no Christian should be eager for spiritual authority, since those who lead must actively put themselves in last place.
For pastors today, the temptation toward honors and visibility increases as their profession wanes in social respectability. The desire for a “platform” can outstrip the imperative of pastoral care of souls and paying attention to the least in the congregation. Christ’s teaching is unambiguous, that if a leader is not willing to place themselves in a position of dishonor for the sake of the sheep, then they are disqualified from spiritual leadership in the kingdom, the example being Christ’s own humiliation on the Cross.
Sunday, November 12, 2023
The parable of the ten virgins sits uncomfortably with many Protestant Christians used to the idea that perseverance unto the end is a guarantee for the believer. The parable, clearly addressed to those who hope in Christ, rebukes passivity as presumption. The attitude of the believer is to be watchful for the Master’s return.
And yet, the Lord does more than warn us. The “helper” of the Holy Spirit aids us in our present watchfulness, calling to mind all the Lord said and did. Hence, we are not left alone to cultivate the proper attitude. The oil that fills our lamps is the Spirit of Christ himself, and because he is with us, we can live our lives in hopeful anticipation of his coming.
Sunday, November 19, 2023
Like the parable of the ten virgins, the parable of the talents ties the conduct of earthly life to heavenly reward or punishment. Characteristically, Jesus spins the previous parable to give a new emphasis: If the parable of the ten virgins is about disposition, then the parable of the talents is about action. Our lives are given to us by God to invest. The kingdom is an expansionist movement, and those entrusted with its assets are to yield a return.
The preacher would do well to leave detailed theological discussions of faith and works to one side in order to let the Lord’s warning come through. Though it would be just as well to dwell on those who gained a return than the lazy servant who did not. Even those given little can add value to the kingdom. It is not the amount of yield that qualifies one for the kingdom, but that it was expected and worked for. Our labor for the Lord is substantially connected to saving faith in him.
Sunday, November 19, 2023
Sunday, November 26, 2023
Thursday, November 23, 2023