If you are a pastor, when was the last time you preached on one of the Psalms? If you are not a pastor, when was the last time you heard a sermon on one of the Psalms? Is it just me, or are the Psalms often overlooked and underused in preaching? I began to notice this several years ago and found I was not alone. Others had noticed a lack of Psalms sermons too.
In this weekend’s Gospel reading, we find Jesus calling Peter, Andrew, and James and John, the sons of Zebedee, to be His disciples. Mark moves quickly through John the Baptist’s call in the wilderness, his Baptism of Jesus, and Jesus’ temptation. When John baptizes Jesus, Jesus’ Father in heaven endorses His Son with the words, “with You I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11) After this, Jesus endures Satan’s temptation in the wilderness, proving Himself to also be the Son of Man: He resists the lure of sin, unlike Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and unlike the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness for forty years (an important parallel to the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness). Jesus calls out that the kingdom of God—His kingdom—is at hand. In this context, Jesus initiates His earthly ministry by calling the disciples with whom He will share it.
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.
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 is an adapted excerpt from the Concordia Commentary on Micah by Jason R Soenkensen.
Up until the late nineteenth century, the book of Micah was regarded as the work of the prophet Micah of the eighth century BC. Jeppesen surveys the progression of critical views on the book in detail, but included here are a few highlights. In his second edition of Die Propheten des Alten Bundes, Ewald estimated that chapters 6–7 did not come from the prophet Micah. In an 1881 article, Stade theorized an even smaller corpus of genuine material; it included chapters 1–3 with the exception of 2:12–13.25 Marti affirmed the positions of his predecessors but further limited the corpus of Micah’s material, excluding 1:2–5a, 7, 10–15; 2:5; and 3:3b.
On November 8, 15, and 22, the three Sundays between All Saints’ Day and the First Sunday in Advent, the Gospel readings from the three-year lectionary cover the entirety of Matthew 25. This chapter is about the return of Jesus and the end of the world. In a way, these three Sundays serve as a sort of pre-Advent season that focuses (much like Advent) on the hope and expectation of Jesus’ return.
Jesus teaches the parable of the wedding feast as the third in a series regarding the rejection of the message of salvation by many Jews, the identity of Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God, and outreach to the Gentiles. It is noteworthy that He teaches these three parables after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where He will eventually endure torture and suffer death on the cross. This circumstance raises the tension to a fever pitch as the chief priests and elders seek to arrest Jesus and bring an end to His ministry.