We focus on the Gospel text today and read an excerpt from Luther’s Works, Volume 68 (Sermons on the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapters 19–24).
1 Thessalonians 4:1–12
Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.
In today’s Gospel text, Jesus instructs the crowd on how to respond to those God has placed in positions of authority. May God grant us humility in our vocations as we recognize and honor those in authority over us. We pray also that those in positions of authority would continually seek God’s glory and not their own.
Christ distinguishes here these various estates: rabbis, fathers, and lords. So there are three estates: under the rabbis are disciples, under the parents are children, under the lords are subjects. The entire world is comprised in these estates. Christ Himself distinguishes these estates and does not want them dispensed with. Instead, everything should be done so that the rabbi, father, and lord direct you to the one God, so that discord, false doctrine, sectarianism, and division are avoided, and one faith, Church, doctrine, and Word remain.
Nevertheless, there is a distinction among the estates. In the Church there are rabbis and listeners; in the secular estate there are princes and subjects; at home there are mother and father, children and servants. These are all countlessly subdivided, yet they must be understood as all honoring the one God. The preacher says: “I am not your preacher. It is Christ, who speaks through me.” Likewise, the parents say, “That is your true Father, who created you and gave you your body and soul.” The lord says, “God is the only Lord,” as Gideon said, “I will not be the lord of the Israelites, neither will my children be,” when he had defeated the Midianites and was offered lordship. Instead, he said, “The Lord shall be your lord” [Judg. 8:23]. My goodness! Was he not their lord and leader, who had done so much to their benefit? Why does he speak like this? He does it so that they would recognize God through it.
This is how all lords should be, so that they serve God—as it is written in Matthew 4 [:10]: “You shall serve God alone”—and so that we serve and obey God in the people [of authority]. Therefore, Christ says: “Whatever happens, see to it that you serve Me alone and that I alone am your Lord. If that does not happen, then nothing will be left, all will be ruined: the spiritual estate, secular estate, and domestic estate. But if I alone am Rabbi and Master, then everything will be fine. Only see to it that you regard Me alone as your Lord and Master. And when a father teaches his child, he serves the one God. When the child hears you, he does not hear you but God, and yet he also hears you.”
Thus the distinction of all estates remains, and yet it is drawn into unity so that there is only one Rabbi, Father, and Lord.
Devotional reading is from Luther’s Works, Volume 68 (Sermons on the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapters 19–24), pages 160–61 © 2014 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.