The Lord Comes in Meekness and Humility to Save Us Now
The Lord Jesus enters Jerusalem “humble, and mounted on a donkey,” riding on “a beast of burden” (Matt. 21:5), as He Himself bears the sins of the world in His body. Now He comes by the ministry of the Gospel to save us from sin, death, the devil and hell. Therefore, we sing, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 21:9). For we are called “to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob,” His Holy Church, “that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths” (Is. 2:3). By His Word, we “walk in the light of the Lord” (Is. 2:5). That is to live in love, which “does no wrong to a neighbor” (Rom. 13:10). We “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light,” for “salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11, 12). Hence, the entire Christian life is a time to wake and watch, “for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24:42).
2nd Sunday of Advent...................................................December 4, 2022
By the Preaching of Repentance, We Are Prepared for the Coming of the Lord
“John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent’” (Matt. 3:1–2). His preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins prepared people for the coming of Christ into the world. St. John’s work was historically complete with the incarnate advent of Jesus, but his vital ministry continues in preaching Law and Gospel. The Son of God has come in the flesh, “a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots” (Is. 11:1), and continues to bear the fruits of righteousness. His good tree of the cross is “a signal for the peoples” (Is. 11:10), by which He calls the nations to repentance. “With the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips” (Is. 11:4), He slays the wicked and brings the dead to life, making sons of Abraham out of lifeless stones. So also the “root of Jesse” comes to us, “even he who arises to rule the Gentiles” (Rom. 15:12), that “we might have hope” and be filled “with all joy and peace in believing” (Rom. 15:4, 13).
3rd Sunday of Advent.................................................December 11, 2022
The Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ Brings True Rejoicing, Even Under the Cross
Sometimes life requires the astonishing patience of Job. Like him, we are to rejoice in the midst of affliction, be grounded in repentance under the cross of Christ, and hope relentlessly in His resurrection, that we might see “the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). In the promise of the Gospel, therefore, “be patient” and “establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:7, 8). Like St. John the Baptist, whatever your own kind of prison or suffering may be, call upon Jesus and receive the strength of His Word from those He sends to you. For as “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up,” so is the Good News of Jesus preached to you also (Matt. 11:5). He comes and restores the fortunes of Zion, His Holy Church, so that “sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Is. 35:10).
By Faith We Are Prepared for Christ’s Return
“The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:1–11). The arrival of the bridegroom will be sudden and unexpected. Therefore you are to be watchful and ready like the five wise virgins. “For you know neither the day nor the hour” when the Son of Man is to return. (Matt. 25:1–13). The lamps are the Word of Christ. The oil in the lamps is the Holy Spirit, who works through the Word to create and sustain the flame of faith in Christ. The foolish are those who do not give proper attention to the working of the Holy Spirit in baptism, preaching, and the supper, and so their faith does not endure. The wise, however, are those who diligently attend to these gifts of the Spirit, and who therefore have an abundance of oil. The flame of faith endures to the end. By God’s grace they are received into the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth created by the Lord for the joy of His people (Is. 65:17–25).
Walking humbly with our God and forgiving one another
With what shall we come before the Lord (Micah 6:6) who forgives all our sins, and how often shall our fellow Christians sin against us and we forgive them (Matt. 18:21)? Our gracious God on high does not need our “burnt offerings” or “thousands of rams” (Micah 6:6-7), which we could legitimately offer in thanksgiving. He is the Savior who gave His only-begotten Son for our transgression. He offers the fruit of His body, once hanging dead on a cross but now living and giving life in His holy Meal, for the sin of our souls (Micah 6:7). Because He releases us from our enormous debt of sin against Him, we need not imprison our fellow sinners with our lack of love and refusal of forgiveness (Matt. 18:24, 27, 30). As partakers of His grace, we yearn for one another “with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:8). As forgiven sinners, “filled with the fruit of Christ’s righteousness,” our “love may abound more and more, with knowledge and discernment” (Phil. 1:11, 9), for He leads us “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8).
All Saints’ Day
Preaching in our churches on All Saints’ Day is always preaching to the saints on earth. This is not only the simple reality, but also the biblical model, since Jesus in today’s Gospel, is describing the life of the saints here on earth. But this day also connects us with the saints in heaven, pictured so vividly in the First Reading from the Revelation to St. John. Appropriately, it is also John who, in the Epistle for All Saints’ Day, makes the connection between the two: “children of God” is what we “are” (1 Jn 3:1), presently, now—wherever we are currently living our eternal life as saints. This, too, is the point of the Collect: “Almighty and everlasting God, You knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You. -
Rev. G. Robert Heimgartner, Emeritus
The Son of God Has Set Us Free from Sin and Death by His Grace
“Wisdom is justified by her deeds” (Matt. 11:19), and the true Wisdom of God, Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son, justifies us by His deeds. He prepares His way by the preaching of repentance, but He has suffered the violence of the Law and voluntarily handed Himself over to violent men, that we might eat and drink with Him in His Kingdom and “remain in the house forever” (John 8:35). For He is “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:19), and He has rescued us by His grace from the slavery of sin and death. By the proclamation of His eternal Gospel “to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev. 14:6), “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law” (Rom. 3:21), “that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). And by hearing the Gospel of Christ Jesus, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:25), “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).
St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr
“A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household” (Matt. 13:58). James the Just was once offended at Jesus’ “wisdom and … mighty works” (Matt. 13:54). But he came to faith following His resurrection, when Jesus appeared to him (1 Cor. 15:7). He then became a leader of the Early Church in Jerusalem, present at the council recorded in Acts 15. There James recognized from the prophets that Jesus was the Lord “known from of old” and returned to rebuild David’s fallen tent and restore it, “that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name” (Acts 15:16–18). “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2–3). Josephus and other historians record that James was martyred by stoning in the 60s A.D. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
In Life and Death, Christ Fulfills the Law of God
The Pharisees ask a Law question. Jesus asks a Gospel question. The Pharisees seek to test Jesus in His own words. Jesus seeks to “test” them in the saving reality of who He is as the Messiah (Matt. 22:34–46). The Law requires you to “fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” and to “love the sojouner” (Deut. 10:12–21). Failure to keep the Law perfectly brings judgment. On the other hand, the Gospel brings the grace of God given by Jesus Christ, that you may be blameless in the day of His return (1 Cor. 1:1–9). Jesus is David’s Son yet David’s Lord, true God and true man. He is Love incarnate who fulfilled all the demands of God’s Law on our behalf, that we might be saved from the Law’s condemnation and sanctified in the Gospel’s forgiveness. Thereby we see that “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9).
Whoever Humbles Himself Will Be Exalted
“Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence” (Prov. 25:6–14). Rather, take the lowest position at the table. Humble yourself before Him. For your place is not for you to take but for Him to give. Conduct yourself with all lowliness and gentleness, bearing with one another in love (Eph. 4:1–6), that the King may give you glory in the presence of those at the table with you. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:1–11). Is this not the way of Christ? He is the one who took the lowest place, who humbled Himself even to the point of death for us. He is now exalted to the highest place at the right hand of the Father that penitent believers may be exalted together with Him in the resurrection. To the humble at His Supper He says, “Friend, move up higher,” giving you His very body and blood for your forgiveness that you may ascend to take part in the great wedding feast which has no end.
Jesus Calls forth Life from Death
A large funeral procession carrying the only son of a widow is confronted by another large procession, Jesus and His followers. Death and Life meet face to face at the gate of the city (Luke 7:11–17). Filled with compassion, Jesus comes into direct contact with our mortality in order to overcome it. He touches the coffin and speaks His creative words of life, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” Jesus does what is neither expected nor requested. For through Christ, God the Father “is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think” (Eph. 3:14–21). Jesus bore our death in His body that we may share in His resurrection. Even as Elijah stretched himself out three times over the Zarephath woman’s son (2 Kings 17:17–24), God stretched Himself out over us in the threefold application of His name in the baptismal water, breathing new and everlasting life into us. “To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Anxious Bondage vs. Confident Trust
“You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24–34), for they require two contrary forms of
service. Worry is the worship given to the false god of mammon, an unbelieving anxiousness and
focus on the things of this world. Faith is the worship of the true God, a confident trust that He is
a loving Father who will care for all of our needs in both body and soul. The widow of Zarephath
served God— that is, she believed the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah that the bin of flour
would not be used up nor would the jar of oil run dry (1 Kings 17:8–16). He who feeds the birds
and clothes the flowers will certainly provide for our daily needs. For He has already provided
for our eternal needs, clothing us with Christ’s righteousness in Baptism and feeding us His body
and blood for our forgiveness. With such confidence we are liberated from worry and freed to do
good with our material resources, especially to those who are of the household of faith (Gal.
The Cry of Faith: Lord, Have Mercy
The ten lepers cried out from a distance, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:11–19).
Their condition cut them off from God and others. So also do the works of the flesh cut us off
from God and others. “Those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal.
5:16–24). Thus we cry out with the lepers, “Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have
mercy,” eagerly seeking His good gifts. Jesus said to the lepers, “Go and show yourselves to the
priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. So too, we walk by faith and not by sight, being
confident of Jesus’ help before we see any evidence of it, trusting that Jesus’ cleansing words of
forgiveness will restore us to wholeness in the resurrection. Let us be as the one leper who
returned to the true High Priest to give Him thanks and glory. For Jesus bore our infirmities in
His sacrifice at Calvary. His words are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh
Jesus Is Our Good Samaritan
The Law cannot help us or give us life. Rather, it confines everyone under sin as wounded and
naked before God (Gal. 3:15–22). So it is that two figures of the Law, the priest and the Levite,
passed by the injured man on the side of the road (Luke 10:23–37). Only the promised Seed of
Abraham can rescue us and make us righteous before God. Only the Samaritan, our Lord Jesus,
had compassion, as did the Samaritans of old (2 Chronicles 28:8–15). He came down to us in our
lost and dying condition, pouring on the oil and wine of the Sacraments. He placed us on His
own animal, bearing our sin and brokenness in His body on the cross to restore us. Jesus brought
us to the inn, that is, the Church, and gave the innkeeper two denarii, that His double forgiveness
might continue to be ministered to us. In this way the Lord, by whose Law we are torn and
stricken, heals us and revives us by His Gospel and raises us up with Himself.
Faith Comes from Hearing
A man who was deaf and therefore also had an impediment in his speech was brought to Jesus (Mark 7:31–37). In the same way, all are by nature deaf toward God and therefore also unable to confess the faith rightly. For “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:9–17). Jesus put His fingers into the man’s ears, and He spat and touched His tongue. Even so in Holy Baptism, water sanctified by the words of Jesus’ mouth is applied to us; and the finger of God, that is, the life–giving Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:4–11) is put into our ears in the hearing of the baptismal Gospel. Jesus’ sighing “Ephphatha” opened the man’s ears, and his tongue was loosed to speak plainly as Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah, “In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book” (Is. 29:18–24) So also, He who sighed and breathed His last on the cross for us has given us to hear and believe in Him and has opened our lips that our mouths may declare His praise.
The Lord Lifts Up the Lowly
“And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no
regard” (Gen. 4:1–15). For unlike Abel, Cain’s offering did not proceed from a heart that
revered and trusted in the Lord. Thus, the lowly tax collector who prayed, “God, be merciful to
me, a sinner!” was the one who went down to his house justified before God, not the respectable,
outwardly righteous Pharisee who trusted in himself and his own good living (Luke 18:9–14).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of
God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:1–10). The one who penitently
despairs of his own righteousness and relies completely on the atoning mercy of God in Christ is
the one who is declared righteous. For Christ died for our sins and rose again the third day (1
Cor. 15:1–10). Therefore, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who
humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus Weeps for Jerusalem
Our Lord wept over Jerusalem for the destruction that would soon come upon her. For she did
not recognize the time of God’s visitation in Christ, who had come to bring her peace (Luke
19:41–48). Through His prophets God had consistently called His people to turn from their
deceit and false worship. “But My people do not know the judgments of the Lord” (Jer. 8:4–12).
They sought to establish their own righteousness rather than receive Christ’s righteousness
through faith (Rom. 9:30–10:4). So it was that God was in His temple to cleanse it, a precursor to
the once-for-all cleansing from sin which He would accomplish in the temple of His own body
on the cross. God grant us to know the things that make for our peace—His visitation in the
Word and Sacraments—that by the Holy Spirit we may penitently confess “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor. 12:1–11).
The Steward’s Shrewdness Sanctified
“The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness” (Luke 16:1–9). The
steward’s shrewdness is praiseworthy for two reasons. First, he knew the master would be
merciful. He trusted that the master would honor the debts he forgave in the master’s name. In
the same way, though we have squandered our heavenly Father’s possessions in selfishness and
sin, Jesus is the Steward who has canceled our debt, knowing that His forgiveness will be
honored by the Father because of the holy cross. Secondly, the steward was shrewd in using oil
and wheat to provide for his earthly welfare. So also do these earthly elements aid us when
pressed into heavenly use in the anointing of baptism and the wheat of the Lord’s Supper. Those
who have the Sacraments will have an eternal home when their earthly home fails. These provide
us aid in times of temptation (1 Cor. 10:6–13). For the Lord is our strength and a shield to all
who trust in Him (2 Sam. 22:26–34).
Beware of False Prophets
Jesus Restores Paradise and Feeds Us Freely
Our Only Hope Is in Christ's Righteousness
Jesus Makes Fishers of Men
Christ's Mercy Is Ours to Show to Others
"Be merciful, even as your Father also is merciful" (Luke 6:36-42). The old Adam in us wants to condemn and seek vengeance. But the Lord says, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay" (Rom. 12:14-21). To condemn, to avenge yourself, is to put yourself in the place of God. It is to fail to trust that He is just. Ultimately, it is to disbelieve that Jesus suffered the full vengeance for all wrongs. Only Christ is merciful as the Father is merciful. He is the one who overcame all evil with the good of His cross, forgiving even His executioners. Jesus is our Joseph, who comforts us with words of pardon and reconciliation (Gen. 50:15-21). He is the One who does not condemn but gives life that runs over. Only through faith in Christ are we sons of the Father-being merciful, forgiving, doing good to our enemies. For in Christ we know that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:8-13).
Jesus Receives Sinners
"This man receives sinners and eats with them" (Luke 15:2). The Pharisees' statement of judgment against Jesus is in fact a proclamation of Gospel truth. For our God is one who delights in mercy, who casts all our sins into the depths of the sea through the cross (Micah 7:18-20). "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). Those who refuse to be counted as sinners also refuse Jesus who came only for sinners. Those like the older son (Luke 15:11-32), who think they are righteous of themselves, will not join in the heavenly celebration over the sinner who repents and so remain outside of the Father's house. Let us therefore be on guard against self-righteously trusting in our own merits. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you" (1 Peter 5:6). Rejoice that Jesus receives sinners like us and that He still sits at table with us in the Holy Supper, bestowing His forgiveness and life.
The Augsburg Confession, the principal doctrinal statement of the theology of Martin Luther and the Lutheran reformers, was written largely by Phillip Melanchthon. At its heart it confesses the justification of sinners by grace alone, through faith alone, for the sake of Christ alone. Signed by leaders of many German cities and regions, the confession was formally presented to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Augsburg, Germany, on June 25, 1530. A few weeks later Roman Catholic authorities rejected the Confession, which Melanchthon defended in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1531). In 1580 the Unaltered Augsburg Confession was included in the Book of Concord.
Faith Trusts in Christ for Life Eternal
When the beggar Lazarus died, he was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. For he was truly Abraham's seed. Like Abraham, he believed in the Lord, and the Lord "counted it to him as righteousness" (Gen. 15:6). The name Lazarus means "God is my help." The unnamed rich man, on the other hand, did not love and trust in God. For he evidently cared little for the beggar at his gate. And "he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20). He who loved and trusted in possessions and prestige died and was in torments in Hades (Luke 16:19-31). Repentance and faith are worked only through Moses and the prophets-that is, the Word of God, for it points us to Christ. Only through His death and resurrection are we brought the comfort of life everlasting.
Trinity Sunday .............................................................................. June 12, 2022
The Holy Trinity Reveals Himself to Sinners
When Isaiah beheld the glory of the Lord, he cried out "Woe is me!" For the sinner cannot stand in the presence of a holy God and live (Is. 6:1-7). But God the Father lifted up His Son Jesus for us on the cross, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. This eternal life of Christ is given us according to the Holy Spirit's good pleasure in Baptism. "Unless one is born [again] of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). To sinners in fear of death, the messengers of God place on our lips the living body and blood of Christ and speak His words of absolution, "Your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for" (Is. 6:7). Having received forgiveness and life from the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit, we join with the angels in praising the blessed Trinity, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!" (Is. 6:3). "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen" (Rom. 11:33-36).
Jesus Is with Us in His Holy Christian Church
Feast of Pentecost ..................................................................... June 5, 2022
The Holy Spirit Gives Peace
Christ Ascended Is with You Always
We Pray to the Father in Jesus' Name
Jesus Turns Sorrow into Joy
4th Sunday of Easter ................................................................... May 8, 2022
The Good Shepherd Cares for His Sheep
3rd Sunday of Easter ................................................................... May 1, 2022
The Good Shepherd Feeds His Lambs
That You May Believe and Have Life in His Name
Easter Sunday ............................................................................... April 17, 2022
Christ's Resurrection Is the Firstfruits of the New Creation
Our Redeemer Lives!
Easter Vigil ....................................................................................... April 16, 2022
We Live and Love in the Peace and Promise of the Resurrection of Christ Jesus