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Luke 10:1-16

  

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

 

"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.

 

"The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me." (ESV)

 

 

 

Burdened Lips

Tuesday of Pentecost 4

23 June 2015

What a burden the lips of the preacher must bear! When he speaks, he must speak for God. He must ever and always deliver the gospel; nothing more and nothing less. Sometimes people presume that this is the easiest thing in the world to do. Church bureaucrats will often encourage parish pastors to move on from the gospel, to bigger and better things; to be about leading, organizing, and telling people what to do. "The gospel, obviously, everyone has down. They have it in their hip pocket. It is their possession. So why do we need to spend all this time preaching it, reinforcing it, and proclaiming it? Let's get on with doing the work of the church." And in that very mentality the gospel itself is put at risk and lost; covered up by our own busyness, activity, and doing. The cross of Christ is covered up by our beautiful works, like the church that installed a PowerPoint screen, which when it was lowered covered the crucifix! The Reformation historian Martin Brecht is right when he says, "The real medium of the Reformation was first the preached Word, not action."

 

The proclamation of the gospel is the entirety of the church's doing. It is the good tidings, good message, good news and good report; telling of what God has done and is still doing for our salvation in Christ. Nothing better or greater can be done than this. For in God's speech there is all the doing in the world. He accomplishes everything by speaking into being the life that comes from the cross of his Only-begotten Son. Here is God's doing! And even this doing is passive. He allows himself to be arrested. He permits hands to be placed upon Him. He watches His hands be bound. He allows Himself to be led away to a place of unjust judgment. He accepts unjust accusations. He faces those who ripped out His beard. He exposes His back to beatings. He bears His cross tearing into His shoulders. He lets wicked men lead Him to the place of His execution. He refuses the narcotic offered to Him and stretches out His arms on the cross bar. And yet no one takes his life from Him, he gives it up of His own accord (Jn 10:18). All his doing is an active passivity. In this non-doing there is the greatest doing. His gospel, because it is the message about this, also is the greatest doing. The preachers are armed with nothing else, but this sort of the spirit. He must rely not upon his own capacity or ability, his own cunning or human wisdom, his own charismatic personality or showmanship. All these will fail, because they are not the gospel; they are not the message of the death of Christ for the sins of the world. If active passivity is good enough for God's Son, it is good enough for those who carry the message that He has delivered to them. The preacher's lips will bear the weight of what God has sent to them.

 

If they bear that burden, then the burden of the law will be removed from God's people. Then what Jesus promises will be true for God's people: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Mt 11:28-30). When they bear that burden, you will hear Christ.

 

Martin Luther

 

"Now to preach of the kingdom of God is nothing else but to preach the gospel, in which the faith of Christ is taught, by which alone God dwells and rules in us. But the doctrines of men do not preach about faith, but about eating, clothing, times, places, persons, and about purely external matters which are of no profit to the soul.

 

"Now look at the 'pious shepherds and faithful teachers,' how honestly they have dealt with the poor common people. This text, 'Who hears you, hears me' (Lk 10:16), they have in a masterful fashion torn out of its context and have terrified us with it, until they have subjugated us to themselves. But what precedes, 'Preach about the kingdom of God' (Lk 10:1-11), they have taken good care not to mention. Bravely have they leaped over it, so that by no means should they be compelled to preach only the gospel. These noble and most excellent teachers! And we are even supposed to thank them in addition!"

Martin Luther, A Reply to the Texts Cited in Defense of the Doctrines of Men  
 
Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, send us pious shepherds and faithful teachers who will truly proclaim only and always Your gospel. Free us from legalism, which is about eating, times, places, persons, and external matters. Portray before us only Christ as crucified for sinners that You might do all the doing You have promised to Your church. Cleanse the lips of our preachers that they might bear the weight of this proclamation. Defend them from Satan who would steal this good message from them and us. Help us to honor them when they are faithful with Your Word. Amen.

 

For Sandra Stohlhandske, as she continues to undergo therapy for a stroke, that her recovery would be aided by the strength that only God can give

 

For Micah Ahern, a child suffering from a neuroblastoma, that he might be kept in the care of the good Shepherd

 

For those who are seeking faithful churches where God's doing is proclaimed, that they might be led where the preachers proclaim Christ alone

Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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