This post is adapted from Gospel Sermons: Volume 1 by C. F. W. Walther.
The season of Epiphany is one that often gets overlooked in the Church Year calendar. We’re on board for Advent and Lent, with many congregations meeting midweek to mark these penitential seasons.
Much like the seasons of Christmas and Easter, the season of Epiphany is sparked by a specific feast day that colors the rest of the season. On the Feast of Epiphany (January 6), we observe the Magi visiting Jesus and bringing Him the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Christmas is a time of celebration that the Savior of the Nations is born! His name is revered throughout the earth as we rejoice in God’s promises fulfilled. Isaiah 9:6–8 is an incredibly well-known verse about Christ’s birth. Read Luther’s commentary on these verses from Luther’s Works, Volume 16: Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 1–39 below.
Today, as we read John 1:6–8 and 19–28, we can connect the message of John the Baptist to God’s presence among the Israelites wandering in the wilderness prior to entering the Promised Land. John, Christ’s herald, is not himself the light, but he will eventually baptize the light, Jesus. This begins Jesus’ ministry, at the end of which, He will die and rise again to open the gates of heaven.
This post is adapted from Luther's Works, vol. 18 (Lectures on the Minor Prophets I).
When the destruction of the Jewish people was imminent, when the new age and kingdom—namely, Christ—were coming, God sent many great prophets to cry out and lament about the coming destruction of the entire people so that at least some who heard the preaching of a threatening evil might believe, be converted, and, thus converted, be saved. In this way they might delay that terrible and wretched destruction. Thus at the same time prophesied Amos, whom I regard as the first, Hosea, who must be counted after Amos, and Micah. Isaiah also prophesied at the same time, although he would have been the last of these. Now all of them prophesied about the destruction of the old people and the bringing in of a new people, about the abolition of the external kingdom and the establishment of a new spiritual kingdom which would happen through Christ.
The hymnody of Advent is exceedingly rich. Among this richness is the classic “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” As you open your Lutheran Service Book to this hymn (357), you will also find the Great “O” Antiphons. These ancient prayers have long been used to count down the days until Christmas. As you can see, each begins by addressing the Lord with a different phrase: “O Wisdom,” “O Key of David,” “O Emmanuel,” and so on.
Originally written in Latin, the Great “O” Antiphons create a reverse acrostic with these names of God that begin each prayer. They spell out ero cras; that is, “Tomorrow I will be” (cras means “tomorrow,” while ero is a first-person singular future form of the verb “to be”) or perhaps, “I will be there tomorrow” or “I come tomorrow.”
In Matthew 25, context plays a vital role to interpreting Jesus’ explanation of the final judgment. Jesus has made his triumphal entrance into the city of His crucifixion. Our Lord has taught many things: the parable of the two sons, in which the son who first refused to work in the vineyard changes his mind; what the signs will be of His return and how humanity will remain ignorant of the date; the parable of the ten virgins. These all stress a central theme—Christ’s return and the necessity of salvation in Christ alone.
This post is adapted from Commentary on Luther's Catechism: Confession and Christian Life by Ablrecht Peters.