Third Sunday in Advent A

Matthew 11:2-15

“…Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind” (Mt. 11:7)?  Here is yet another reversal.  The Old Testament readings for Advent have been received from the prophet Isaiah and they are replete with reversals.  In this text, Jesus confronts the crowd with a reversal of its expectations.  Jesus reveals the truth of what they expected to find in the wilderness.  They went expecting to find someone unmoved by the shifting winds of change (vs. 7).  They went expecting to find someone clothed as befits a preacher from the wilderness and not arrayed in the finery of the palace and Temple (vs. 8).  They went out expecting a prophet and, lo and behold, they received more than a mere prophet; they received a messenger of the Lord.  Jesus’ question confronts you… you who go into the wilderness of your church building’s sanctuary.  It demands to know whether you expect to hear a speaker mouthing pious platitudes of self-improvement unto righteousness; or do you expect a preacher handing over Jesus Christ to be the life of sinners dead in their sin, killed by the unrelenting accusation of the law?  Do you enter that sanctuary expecting to see your preacher dressed indistinguishably from someone on the street?  Or do you enter expecting your preacher clothed in the badge of office, wearing that which marks him or her out as a dispenser of law and gospel, the Word of God that kills and makes alive?  Your church building’s sanctuary and the one that presides there are as distinct from your regular haunts and the people in them as John the Baptist and his wilderness haunt were distinct from the finery of Jerusalem and its Temple.

Prayers from one who would prefer a comfortable and pleasant worship but needs to encounter the death-dealing, life-giving Word of God handed over by the Lord’s own messenger…

Holy Father, your enduring Word kills and makes alive, so grace me with its death and new life that I would live from the future established in my Lord Jesus Christ.

Holy Father, your enduring Word continues from generation to generation, grant me a preacher of this Word so that my ears are filled with it and the world’s competing voices are drowned out.

Holy Father, your enduring Word establishes me in a New Creation, tearing me away from and placing me in contrast to this old, passing away creation.

Holy Father, your enduring Word sets before me a creation filled with neighbors and their needs, set my hands to useful tasks that those needs may be met, and the days of my baptism would pass quickly in hope and anticipation.

Holy Father, your enduring Word sustains me in these days as I wait for your Son’s arrival in glory, grant that I do not grow weary in doing the good of being useful to those neighbors of mine.

Holy Father, your enduring Word calls forth teachers and preachers so that its proclamation would persist from generation to generation.  Grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology continue in its call to produce teachers and preachers of your Word.

Holy Father, your enduring Word holds me in expectant hope for that day when faith shall become sight and the glory long waited for becomes visible; grant me my glory when your Son’s glory is manifest at last.

For all these things, Holy Father, I wait upon you, trusting your goodness and mercy to supply all that I need—my daily bread for this creation and for the next.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen

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The Third Sunday in Advent A – December 11, 2022

The prophet Isaiah fills his book with depictions such as these, i.e., the total reversal of what is expected and anticipated in the normal course of things.  Isaiah prophesies that the Lord will stand the usual practices of the world on their heads.  Here, in our passage for today, Isaiah tells us that when the Lord works the barren desert will blossom (vs. 1), the weak will be made strong (vs. 3), the anxious will be reassured (vs. 4), the lame will leap, the mute will sing (vs. 6). Our God is Lord of the unexpected.  The proclamation of these reversals from the Lord has occupied this Advent’s Old Testament readings.  For the first Sunday in Advent (Is. 2:1-5), the nations will cease their continual warring and their instruments of war will be turned into tools of productivity.  For the second Sunday in Advent (Is. 11:1-10), the warring creatures—that is, predator and prey—will have peace with one another and tranquility will reign.  Coming up for the fourth Sunday in Advent (Is.7:10-17), the fortunes of the House of David will be reversed and the sign for this will be the most improbable of all:  a virgin shall give birth to a son!

All these prophecies of reversal are gathered up in the opening verses of the gospel of Luke.  There, John the Baptist preaches from Isaiah, chapter 40, declaring that the geographic landscape will be torn up as hills are leveled and valleys filled (cf. Lk. 4:1-6).  There, Mary, the virgin expectant mother of our Lord, sings her magnificent song of the Lord’s great reversal of the human social landscape—the mighty tossed down, the low lifted up… the rich go unfed and the poor feast (cf. Lk. 1:46-55).  Continuing in this tradition, the Apostle Paul comes to preach reversal, especially to the Corinthians.  There, in his first letter to them, Paul speaks of the reversal of religious expectations—that is, no signs or wonders to be given… Paul speaks of the reversal of wisdom and wise expectations—that is, the foolishness of God, the cross of Jesus Christ, is the content of Paul’s preaching.  This theme of reversal runs through the entirety of scripture, and it comes to you as well.  You, the manifestly unrighteous sinner receive the righteousness of Christ.  You, dead in your sins, receive the life of Christ.  Thanks be to God!

Table Talk:  Discuss these reversals and others you recall from scripture.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, grant that I enjoy these reversals of the world’s expectations and remain attentive for the unexpected.  Amen

Isaiah 35:1-10 English Standard Version

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;

    the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;

2 it shall blossom abundantly

    and rejoice with joy and singing.

The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,

    the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.

They shall see the glory of the Lord,

    the majesty of our God.

3 Strengthen the weak hands,

    and make firm the feeble knees.

4 Say to those who have an anxious heart,

    “Be strong; fear not!

Behold, your God

    will come with vengeance,

with the recompense of God.

    He will come and save you.”

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer,

    and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

For waters break forth in the wilderness,

    and streams in the desert;

7 the burning sand shall become a pool,

    and the thirsty ground springs of water;

in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,

    the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

8 And a highway shall be there,

    and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;

the unclean shall not pass over it.

    It shall belong to those who walk on the way;

    even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.

9 No lion shall be there,

    nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;

they shall not be found there,

    but the redeemed shall walk there.

10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return

    and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;

    they shall obtain gladness and joy,

    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

2022 Fall Board Meeting

The ILT Board of Directors met in Brookings, SD on November 16–18, 2022. During the fall meeting, the Board of Directors reviewed the previous year including the annual audit of the finances and the annual assessment report. The board accepted three new members as two members are leaving the board because their term has ended.

We would like to say thank you to John Bent and Phil Wold, who both served two 4-year terms. Thank you for your support and dedication to the mission of ILT. Your time on the board was helpful in moving ILT forward in many ways.

The three new members who were added to the board are Fran Hill, Don Simmons, and Barry Anderson.

The current Board of Directors list:
  • Kip Tyler (Chair)
  • Charles Stevenson (Vice Chair)
  • Fred Schickedanz (Treasure)
  • Becky Hand (Secretary)
  • Barry Anderson
  • Doug Bahr
  • Fran Hill
  • Curtis Lund
  • Dorothy McNaught
  • Don Simmons
  • Ed Skutshek
  • John Stiegelmeier

Thank you all for your service to ILT. May God bless you throughout your time on the ILT board. 

The Second Sunday in Advent A – December 4, 2022

Jesse was the father of King David and so stands as the founder, the root, of David’s lineage. From David’s lineage would come Jesus Christ, often bearing the title Son of David (Mt. 1:1 et al). The prophet Isaiah spoke to a mere remnant of the nation of Judah. The Babylonians had conquered and destroyed Jerusalem, dispersed her people, and carried many into exile. The lineage of David, and thus, Jesse, was but a remnant… a mere stump of the former root. Yet, Isaiah brings a word from the Lord, a word of promise and hope. The stump is not dead; it will bring forth a shoot that will grow into a branch and that branch will bear fruit. Jesus Christ is that fruitful branch.

Jesus Christ bears fruit because the “Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him” (vs. 2) and delivers unto him wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord, a fear that shall be his delight. In a later chapter, Isaiah announces that the Spirit of the Lord has anointed this appointed one to be a preacher bringing good news to the poor, binding up the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty to the captives, freeing those bound in prison, announcing the year of the Lord’s favor (Is. 61:1-2). Jesus would later claim the fulfillment of these verses for himself during his preaching in Nazareth (Lk. 4:16-20).

Isaiah delivers a depiction of what the fruitfulness of this branch from Jesse will be (vs. 6-9). All these images of carnivores resting among herbivores… of predators laying down amongst their prey… of children safe amid venomous serpents… all of these could be found in the Edenic Paradise where there was no eating of meat (that didn’t take place until after the Flood). In Eden, as in the fruitfulness of the branch of Jesse, animals were of no danger to each other or to humanity. Peace reigns eternal. In that day, the root of Jesse, Jesus Christ, shall stand as a banner… a signal… a rallying point… literally “something lifted up…” for Jesus, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy has promised, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself” (Jn. 12:32).

Table Talk: Discuss the similarity between the Edenic Paradise and the New Creation.
Pray: Heavenly Father, hold me in the promise of Isaiah and the promise of Jesus so that I, too, will know that peace. Amen

Isaiah 11:1-10 English Standard Version

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

Second Sunday in Advent A

Matthew 3:1-12

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt. 3:2). John the Baptist delivers the first half of the sermon preached by Jesus as he went into Galilee. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:15). The difference between these two preachers marks the difference between the old creation and the New Creation coming into being through Jesus Christ.  Jesus named John the Baptist the greatest man born of woman. Yet, John couldn’t come close to the least in the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt. 11:11). John, like Jesus, came out of the wilderness commanding the people to repent. Scripture tells us that the people of Jerusalem, Judea, and all the surrounding regions were going out to John (cf. Mt. 3:12). Similar remarks in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke speak of the large crowds gathered around Jesus (cf. Mk. 5:24, Mt. 8:13, & Lk. 14:25). The preaching of repentance attracted them. Jesus, however, could deliver on what he preached. John the Baptist could only command repentance of the people, for as Jesus had said, “He is a man born of woman.” Jesus, in contrast, had been conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. As the very Word of God himself, who brought into being all that exists, Jesus could command, “Repent!” Jesus could command, “Believe!” and establish repentance where there had been only sin-hardened hearts… establish faith where there had been only resolute idolatry and unbelief. Jesus himself sends out his apostles… his preachers… who speak with that same authority… the authority of the New Creation… the authority of the Holy Spirit. Such preaching brings about repentance and belief as the Holy Spirit works them in the hearts of its hearers.

Prayers from one whose sin-hardened heart must be created anew so it can repent and believe…

My Father, who is in heaven, you sent John the Baptist as that voice crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord… my Lord Jesus Christ. Grant me to hear John as he points to the one greater than he who will sift the chaff and gather the grain from his threshing floor that I, too, may be numbered among those grains of wheat he gathers in. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

My Father, who is in heaven, as John the Baptist is that voice preparing the way for my Lord Jesus Christ, grant me to hear his accusation against my lack of fruit and turn me to hear the preaching of my Lord Jesus that I may know true repentance… true faith… and produce true works. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

My Father, who is in heaven, use the witness of John the Baptist to point out your Son, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, that I, too, may know the true forgiveness of sins and your forgetfulness regarding my iniquity. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

My Father, who is in heaven, John the Baptist, when the crowds demanded of him, “What shall we do?” told them to be good neighbors and honest in their vocations. Grant me such neighborliness and such vocational integrity that good fruit would be produced through me. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

My Father, who is in heaven, John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed for his unrelenting confrontation of the people, especially their rulers, with the Word of God. Grant me such preachers that I, too, would be relentlessly confronted by the Word of God. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

My Father, who is in heaven, as John the Baptist continually pointed to and witnessed to the greatness of Jesus Christ, grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology would in like manner be a witness to Jesus Christ. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

My Father, who is in heaven, as John the Baptist went down to his death still awaiting the coming of his Lord in glory, grant that I, too, may wait… wait in faith, hope, and patience… for my same Lord to come in glory. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

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The First Sunday in Advent A – November 27, 2022

Take note of how verse one depicts Isaiah’s experience: “The word that Isaiah ‘saw’ concerning Judah and Jerusalem.” Isaiah did not have a faith experience with this word. He saw its reality. Isaiah had been taken to that place… an eschatological place… where he did not have to walk by faith but, instead, could walk privileged by sight (cf. 2 Cor. 5:7). In this reality of sight, Isaiah was allowed to “see” the equivalent of the apostolic sending Jesus delivered upon his disciples (cf. Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:6-11; John 20:19-23). Jesus sent out those apostles to preach “…repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Lk. 24:47).

As is given us in v. 3 (quoted above), Isaiah ‘saw’ the law go forth… Isaiah ‘saw’ the word go forth from Zion and Jerusalem. The Greek words used in the Septuagint to translate “law” and “word” are “nomos” and “logos.” You may already be familiar with the word “logos.” The evangelist John uses it in his gospel in reference to the Word of God, Jesus Christ (cf. Jn. 1:1-18). In those apostolic sendings, Jesus sent witnesses bearing him, the Word of God, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Likewise, the “nomos” went forth from Zion, a synonym for Jerusalem. “Nomos” is commonly used to translate the Hebrew word “Torah” and “Torah” has a very broad range of meaning. It can be taken specifically to refer to the laws of Moses, the first five books of the Hebrew bible, or even the entire content of teaching whether from the Hebrew bible or rabbinical tradition. All these meanings can be handily summed up by the phrase: “the life-giving Word of God.”

You and I have not been granted the gift of sight as Isaiah was in his vision. We must still walk by faith. The Word of God—that life-giving Word of God—has gone forth from Zion and Jerusalem. Preachers bearing witness to Jesus Christ as they preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins have come down to us generation after generation so that we enjoy the peace of God and “walk in the light of the Lord” (vs. 5).

Table Talk: Discuss “walking by faith” vs. “walking by sight.”
Pray: Heavenly Father, as I hear your life-giving Word, Jesus Christ, grant your Holy Spirit to work faith within me. Amen

Isaiah 2:1-5 English Standard Version

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

2 It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
3 and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.

5 O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord.

First Sunday in Advent A

Matthew 24:36-44

“But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into” (Mt. 24:43). Sinners are well-fortified against a frontal attack on their sin. Jesus must come subtly, like a thief in the night. Sinners, so tightly curved in upon themselves, are like that armadillo presenting only their tough and hardened outer shell to the one who would be their Lord. So, Jesus comes almost surreptitiously in ways you would not expect, using means that seem innocuous. Jesus comes to you on a puff of air past a preacher’s lips… Jesus comes to you in water poured and the Name spoken… Jesus comes to you in a bit of bread and a sip of wine, meager really, but with his promise attached:  my body… my blood… given and shed for you. Through these unpretentious means, Jesus comes like that thief in the night. Jesus comes, emptying out that tough and hardened outer shell curved so protectively around itself… Jesus comes and steals away your most precious possession. He takes away your “I.” He takes away that self… that sinful self at the center of you and replaces it with himself, his life, and his heart. With its center gone, that tough and hardened outer shell melts away, softened so completely that now the neighbors’ needs penetrate it easily. Therefore, to be ready, you must have a preacher who delivers Jesus Christ to be your life… Jesus Christ to steal away the “I” at the center of you… Jesus Christ who softens you up for the needs of the neighbor.

Prayers from a sinner who reflexively curls like an armadillo, but who nonetheless has a preacher…

Heavenly Father, on a day known only to you, your Son will come in all his glory. Until that day your Son my Lord must come like that thief in the night sneaking past my armor and stealing away my treasured “I.” While I wait for that day, give me ears to hear my preacher, give me a head to receive that water poured and the holy Name spoken, give me a mouth to taste the goodness of the Lord as he comes to me in his holy Supper. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, on a day known only to you, your Son will come in all his glory. As you have commanded, do not let me neglect your Word or the preaching of it. Pour it into my ears such that it not only drowns out the cacophony of the world’s voices but draws me into standing under its authority. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, on a day known only to you, your Son will come in all his glory. As I stand under the authority of your Word, Jesus Christ, grant that I would live by the faith he brings to me… that I would know the hope he delivers to me… that I would live in the readiness provided by my preacher who hands over Jesus Christ to be my life. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, on a day known only to you, your Son will come in all his glory. While I wait these many days in anticipation and readiness for the coming of your Son in glory, grant that I do not grow bored but rather pass these days by being of some use to my neighbors in their many and various needs. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, on a day known only to you, your Son will come in all his glory. As I try to be of some use to my neighbors, do not let my hands go empty of the works you have prepared for me to walk in. But even as I walk among those works, keep Jesus Christ as Lord of my conscience so that my obedience would not overwhelm my faith. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, on a day known only to you, your Son will come in all his glory. In these days as we wait, you have established the Institute of Lutheran Theology with the intent that preachers of Jesus, him crucified, and him alone handed over to be the life of dead sinners… that such preachers would be formed and fashioned for the upcoming generations. Grant its fruitfulness in this endeavor. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, on a day known only to you, your Son will come in all his glory. I live now in the days of my baptism… in the days between my sacramental death beneath the water and the Word and my physical death of going down to the dust from which I came. As I live between those two deaths, keep me confident of being joined to my Lord’s resurrection. Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Into your hands I commend all for which I have prayed trusting that you do not lie, and your promises are certain. In the name of Jesus… Amen

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Thanksgiving Day – November 24, 2022

Jesus tells the truth to these seekers. In truth, they only want what they can get from Jesus. They seek him only for their own profit and not for his own sake. Seekers… sinners… you and I, we all come to Jesus with one question, “What have you done for me lately?” None of us come to the Lord for his own sake but only for the benefits received from him. The charge against us is that we are self-seeking profiteers looking to “get something” from God.

Satan leveled this charge against Job when Satan had returned to the heavenly court: “Does Job fear God for no reason?” Satan challenged God to remove his gifts and Job would then curse him (Job 1:9-12 & Job 2:4-6). As the book of Job progresses, Job gets close to refuting Satan’s charge as he relinquishes all God’s benefits and cries out, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him…” (Job 13:15a). Job can’t quite make it. He has to insert a conditional clause at the end of his cry, “Yet I will argue my ways to his face” (Job 13:15b). Job cannot surrender the one final thing he wants God to give him—that is, his Lord’s legitimation of Job’s self-righteousness. He covets that legitimation. It is his sin and ours.

Jesus exposes the ones who had sought him… exposing them in this same sort of covetousness of the things God provides. First, he reveals their coveting of temporal gifts, like bread to sustain life in this world (vs. 26-27). Then, he reveals their coveting of the bread come down from heaven to sustain an eternal life (vs 33-34), leaving no doubt that self-benefit has been a marketing strategy of religion since antiquity.

Thanks be to God that Jesus Christ is the end of religion and the beginning of the life of faith. Religion is all about doing the works of God, as these ones attested (vs. 28). Jesus turns them away from their own doing… from their own works, even if done in God’s name… from their own practice of religious piety. Jesus sets before them God’s work which is simply belief… faith… trust… in the one whom God has sent, Jesus Christ.  He is the end of religion… the end of coveting… the end of hunger… the end of thirst. Thanks be to God!

Table Talk: Discuss loving God for himself without coveting his benefits.
Pray: Heavenly Father, forgive me my coveting of your benefits. Establish me in the faith of Jesus. Bring an end to my coveting. Amen

John 6:25-35 English Standard Version

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Christ the King Sunday

One sinner addresses another sinner.  Both are condemned to death.  Both are guilty of the accusations leveled against them and will justly die.  One mocks Jesus and seeks to avoid the just punishment meted out upon him.  The other accepts the justice of his impending execution and, rather than mock Jesus, he pleads to be remembered by Jesus.  This criminal, acknowledging his guilt and punishment, becomes a preacher to the other criminal who seeks to avoid punishment for the guilt of his sins.  The one becomes a preacher to the other, “Do you not fear God…?”  As Martin Luther reminds us in his giving meaning to the First Commandment: “We are to fear, love, and trust God above all things.”  These three are mutually inclusive emotions, absolutely—absolutely because each of the three must be total—that is, if we have no absolute love of God, there is neither fear nor trust… –that is, if we have no absolute trust of God, there is neither fear nor love… –that is, if we have no absolute fear of God, there is neither love nor trust.  All sinners, including you and I, fall under the same sentence of condemnation: “You shall surely die!”  Even Jesus Christ who takes away the sin of the world comes under that death sentence applied to all mortals.  And there… there on the cross where humanity carried out the death sentence upon him… there, he was enthroned as Christ the King!

Prayers from one who hates drinking from the cup that is set before him… and who abhors his King enthroned on the cross…

Father, you sent your Son as your love to the world, grant me to hear that he died on the cross for me because I wanted him dead.  Merciful Father, hear my prayer.

Father, you sent your Son as your love to the world, grant me to hear that his death on the cross for me announces my election to eternal life to me.  Merciful Father, hear my prayer.

Father, you sent your Son as your love to the world, grant me to hear that his drinking of the cup of crucifixion for me was on my behalf and for my benefit.  Merciful Father, hear my prayer.

Father, you sent your Son as your love to the world, grant me to hear that he died on the cross for me so that he could come again and take me to where he is.  Merciful Father, hear my prayer.

Father, you sent your Son as your love to the world, grant me to hear that his enthronement on the cross for me was his only glory in this world and, since he died in my place, will be my only glory as well.  Merciful Father, hear my prayer.

Father, you sent your Son as your love to the world, grant me to hear that his death on the cross for me satisfied the wrath of God by taking away the sin of the world. Merciful Father, hear my prayer.

Father, you sent your Son as your love to the world, grant me to hear that he died in this creation for me so that I would live in the new creation with him.  Merciful Father, hear my prayer.  Amen

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Christ the King Sunday – November 20, 2022

Jesus, even in his tortured state, confronts these “Daughters of Jerusalem,” the women responsible for bearing the future of the city, and its children.  Even though Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to it (Lk. 13:34), would be the death of him, Jesus prophesies to these women.  Jesus’ sorrow and pain at the death inflicted upon him cannot prevent the pain, sorrow, and death awaiting these women and their children which would be a magnitude greater.  He speaks of an event so tragic that barrenness would be blest, and fruitfulness cursed… so tragic that the ancient prayer would be invoked, “Mountains, fall on us; hills, cover us” (Hos. 10:8).

That ancient prayer to mountains and hills covered two circumstances, both involving idolatry.  The one circumstance represented the catching out of the people as they broke the covenant which the Lord had established with them as they entered the promised land.  The people are promised that, if they become “corrupt, make idols, or do evil things” (Dt. 4:25), then Moses would invoke the witness of both heaven and earth against the people (Dt. 4:26).  Their judgment would be swift and certain… they would be scattered.

The other circumstance arises when the prophet Hosea brings the Lord’s judgment upon Israel because it has erected altars to foreign gods upon the high places of Israel for their worship.  Those “high places” will be destroyed, chaos shall overtake them, and the people will “cry out to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’” (Hos. 10:8).

These Daughters of Jerusalem have yet to recognize their complicity in the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the King of Creation.  They may or may not have been among the crowds shouting, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!” but they—like you, me, and all humanity—put Jesus on the cross, giving him his only throne in this sin-broken world.

Table Talk:  Discuss Jesus the King enthroned on a cross.
Pray:  Father, make this crucified king, you Son Jesus, be my Lord.  Amen

Luke 23:27-43 English Standard Version

27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”